The following are previews and betting tips for round 19 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 174 units
Won = 185.53 units
Profit/Loss = +14.38 units (6.6% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 19 AFL MULTI
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Port Adelaide at the line (-50.5) and West Coast and Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 7.55 (TAB Sportsbet)
Hawthorn v Geelong Cats
This matchup is arguably football’s greatest modern rivalry, and these clubs will go head to head this Friday night in a match that will help shape the ladder positions within the top 8. Hawthorn’s upset victory in the 2008 Grand Final is the origin of the hatred between these teams, with a core group of senior Geelong players allegedly making a pact and promising to never be beaten again by the Hawks during their careers. The intrinsic desire to atone for that 2008 defeat inspired those Geelong players and the Cats have managed to avoid defeat against the Hawks in all 8 matches played between the clubs since the start of the 2009 season.
Geelong have been in gradual decline this season, while Hawthorn is looking the most menacing it has been since the back-end of that Premiership winning 2008 season. Even without power forward Lance Franklin, the Hawks have been in outrageously good touch, smashing top 8 rivals Collingwood and Essendon during the past fortnight. Even though they haven’t matched the dizzyingly high standards of recent years, the Cats have been still been effective this campaign and have managed recent wins against Essendon and Adelaide to consolidate a previously shaky position within the top 8.
The team news for this game is of great importance and the Geelong match committee will have been pleased to name Steve Johnson after the mercurial forward recovered from a concussion injury sustained last weekend. The Cats will also be boosted by the return of their bookends, full back Matthew Scarlett and full forward James Podsiadly. Hawthorn has made only the one change and David Hale has been recalled, which will give the Hawks an advantage in the ruck.
This should be the night when Hawthorn snaps that famous 8 game losing streak against Geelong. The Hawks have been in imperious form recently, winning each of their last 8 matches by at least 46 points, however with Geelong fielding a solid defensive unit, this margin shouldn’t get out of hand.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 39 points or less @ 2.40 (TAB Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne
These teams have already met once this season and the results was an upset win by the Western Bulldogs. That win was the high point of the season for the Dogs, with their only other victories coming against clubs ranked 14th or lower. North Melbourne has been in splendid form since a mid-season bye, winning 6 of their past 7 matches to surge into the top 8.
Of the teams fighting for those last few places in the top 8, the Kangaroos have probably got the softest draw, and they can really pile the pressure on the top 8 challengers with a big win early in the weekend. North Melbourne should win this match, and win it well, with their opposition’s focus already turning to blooding youngsters for the future. The Bulldogs lose key in and under midfielder Daniel Cross, half-forward livewire Luke Dahlhaus and veteran defender Lindsay Gilbee all to injury, while two others have been dropped due to poor form. None of the inclusions are top line players, so North Melbourne should be able to dominate their under-strength opponent.
The Bulldogs have played honest football under new coach Brendan McCartney this season, and by that I mean the Dogs have generally played with good discipline and intensity, however they have been outclassed most weeks by more talented opposition. Look for North Melbourne to win comfortably and for Drew Petrie to continue his great recent form (18 goals in his past 3 games).
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne at the line (-48.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Drew Petrie for most goals @ 3.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
GWS Giants v Port Adelaide
The last month and a half has really proved just how far GWS is behind the established clubs. The Giants have been really out of their depth against some of the top teams recently, with the young lads losing each of their last 5 matches by at least 90 points. Ouch! A home game against 14th placed Port Adelaide represents a better chance for GWS to provide a contest, however the Power are capable of putting away an opponent, which was proved earlier this season with a 48 point victory over Gold Coast and a 54 point thumping of Carlton.
Port Adelaide’s chances of a big victory have been boosted by the return from injury of key forward Jay Schulz and midfield young gun Hamish Hartlett, while the Giants made their regular raft of selection changes, with talented teenage midfielder Stephen Coniglio the pick of the GWS inclusions.
The line for this match is set at 47.5 points and given GWS has lost 9 of their past 10 matches by more than 60 points, I’m happy to take Port with that handicap.
Fremantle Dockers v West Coast Eagles
This match is the first leg of a super Saturday double header, with the western derby a fiery prelude to the Collingwood v St Kilda match. Rarely has the derby meant so much, with West Coast needing a win to remain in the hunt for a top 4 finish, while a loss for Fremantle would most likely see the Dockers slip to a game and percentage outside the top 8.
Rewind back to Round 9 and the second half of the match these teams played. It was seen as a pivotal hour of football and many expected it would define the rest of the home and away season for these clubs. Scores were level at half time, before West Coast went on the rampage, booting 9 goals to 2 in a one-sided second half. The win lifted the Eagles to the top of the ladder and football pundits were quick to pencil the Eagles in for a top 2 finish and home Qualifying Final, while Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was subject to serious derision for his overtly negative game plan.
West Coast must have missed out on the script as the Eagles have stumbled to 4 wins and 4 losses since that triumph over Fremantle, and John Worsfold’s men now sit a game outside the top 4. Fremantle is just starting to gather some momentum, winning four matches in the trot to jump up to 9th spot on the ladder and become a real finals contender.
West Coast will miss the suspended Darren Glass and prolific midfielder Matt Rosa for this game, however the Eagles should still be too good for the Dockers with West Coast ruckmen Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui dominating against a Fremantle team still missing giant ruckman Aaron Sandilands.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.35 (TAB Sportsbet)
Collingwood v St Kilda
With the results of the North Melbourne and Fremantle matches known before the first bounce, extra importance will have been added to this match for St Kilda. If one those clubs is successful earlier in the day, the Saints will start this match two games outside the top 8. Collingwood will also be primed for this match, with a top 4 spot on the line for the Magpies.
I have found it really hard to get a gauge on St Kilda’s form this season as the Saints have yo-yo’d through this season, alternating from win to loss with the same regularity that night follows day. St Kilda’s formline should start to stabilise soon though as coach Scott Watters has been able to pick a more settled lineup, and the majority of the club’s senior players are available for selection.
Collingwood has had an interesting season, winning 13 of 17 matches to sit 4th on the table, but the interesting point to note is that the Magpies have only been beaten by two clubs this season, twice each by Hawthorn and Carlton. The Hawks were able to beat the Magpies with amazingly clean ball movement by foot, while Carlton got the edge through leg speed that enabled the Blues to break free on the wide MCG.
During the two epic 2010 Grand Finals between these clubs, St Kilda superstar Nick Riewoldt was well held by Collingwood defender Nathan Brown. It is surprising then that Brown has been dropped for this match, with Magpie utility Chris Tarrant likely to drop back to defence to take job on the in-form Riewoldt.
This should be a cracking game, but Collingwood has a bit more depth in the midfield and should eke out an important win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (TAB Sportsbet)
Brisbane Lions v Richmond
If Richmond’s season wasn’t over after the loss to North Melbourne two weeks ago, the agonising defeat to Carlton last Saturday night surely shut the door on their 2012 campaign. The Tigers have been bold this campaign and are certainly a team to watch next year, however three consecutive defeats by less than a goal have cruelly ended their season with five weeks still to play. Brisbane probably hasn’t received adequate recognition for toughing its way through the season to collect 7 wins (the same as Richmond) with a list that seems to be lacking talent.
Richmond seems to thrive on passion and emotion more than any other side, so it will be interesting to see how the yellow and blacks go now their season is all but over. The Tigers are giving rare games to trio Matt White, Ben Griffiths and Brad Helbig, while Brisbane get to recall classy midfielder Daniel Rich and talented ball user Josh Drummond.
I think the bookies have got the odds right for this match, Richmond are slight favourites, however Brisbane are definitely a chance for the win too. Therefore I’m thinking outside the square for this match and backing either team to win by 24 points or less. Given each of Richmond’s past 8 matches have been decided by less than 24 points, the $1.85 odds represent excellent value!
Melbourne v Gold Coast Suns
After a stellar set of Saturday fixtures, this early Sunday game will probably fall a bit flat, with an old-fashioned basement battle pitting 16th placed Melbourne against 17th placed Gold Coast. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this match will be the performance of the Suns’ bald superstar Gary Ablett. Ablett has been prolific this season and could move into serious contention for the Brownlow Medal with a 3-vote performance in this game.
Melbourne loses backup ruckman Stefan Martin to a foot injury, joining regular ruckman Mark Jamar on the sidelines. This means Demons youngster Jake Spencer will be the lone ruckman for the game, possibly providing Ablett and his Gold Coast midfield mates a better chance at getting first hands on the footy. Two underrated players are included for the Suns, with mature midfielder Michael Rischitelli and young forward Sam Day both returning to the team.
No dominant key forwards playing in this match, so perhaps a good option could be to chuck some coins on Colin Sylvia or Gary Ablett for most goals. The head to head and margin markets are too difficult to predict for this game, so I’d suggest waiting until the player markets are up (they were not available at the time of writing).
Carlton v Sydney Swans
Given their predicament of being a game and percentage outside the top 8, I reckon Carlton need to win 4 of their last 5 games to make the finals. Just to make things even tougher, the league leaders from Sydney will jaunt down to Etihad Stadium and present as stern opposition for this crunch game. Carlton is making a last ditch effort to salvage their season, securing back to back victories during the past two weeks, however that sequence is less impressive when compared to Sydney’s current 8 game unbeaten streak.
Carlton’s main marking forward Jarrad Waite has finally overcome his back injury and has been selected to play his first game since Round 7, while important running midfielder Kade Simpson has recovered from a broken jaw and is another key Blue to return. Sydney full forward Sam Reid misses with an injured knee, while ruckman Shane Mumford is back again after missing last week to manage his ongoing injuries.
I think this will be another ripping match as Carlton will throw everything they’ve got at the Swans. Passion and intensity have been enough to get the Blues wins in their past two matches, however this week they might be outclassed by a tough and talented Sydney team.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 24 points or less @ 3.30 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide Crows v Essendon
During the past 5 weeks Essendon has not been doing things by half measures, with all 5 of those matches being decided by 50 points or more, twice in the Bombers favour and three times in defeat. Adelaide, meanwhile, will be looking to win this match before another very winnable home game next week, then three matches to close out the season against bottom ranked opponents. With that set of fixtures to come, a win here would go a long way to securing the Crows a home qualifying final.
A popular theory for Essendon’s sudden decline during the past month has been the fatigue and wear and tear of the playing group, which seem to be struggling after what was believed to have been a very taxing pre-season. Perhaps the long season is catching up to them? Bomber ball winner Brent Stanton misses due to general soreness, while small forward Angus Monfries is out with an ankle injury. Thankfully for the Bombers, key forward Michael Hurley returns from a hamstring injury, but there is still no recall for injured stars Stewart Crameri and Paddy Ryder.
Adelaide were gallant down at Geelong last week before being overrun in the final few minutes. Ruckman Sam Jacobs is back and his inclusion is vital given the Crows have no adequate replacement for him.
Essendon is out of form and away from home, so Adelaide should win easily.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Adelaide to win by 25 points or more @ 1.47 (Multiple Sites)