The following are previews and betting tips for round 20 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 184 units
Won = 194.65 units
Profit/Loss = +10.65 units (5.8% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 20 AFL MULTI
West Coast Eagles v Geelong Cats
We footy fans have been spoilt this season, and the excitement continues with another weekend of tantalising fixtures ready and waiting for us. The action commences with this juicy Friday night battle between 5th placed West Coast and 6th placed Geelong. These teams both finished in the top 4 last year and ended up meeting in the Preliminary Final. This season will provide a different outcome, with the loser of this match doomed to finish outside the top 4, while the winner will still have to rely on slip-ups from Collingwood or Hawthorn to get the coveted finals double chance.
Just when I felt all set to tip Geelong for a minor upset win playing away from home, the team lists are released and there are some big name inclusions for West Coast, while the Cats promote three inexperienced youngsters. Classy Eagle Andrew Embley is back for only his third game of the season after a lengthy layoff due to a shoulder injury. Perhaps more importantly for West Coast, full back Darren Glass returns from suspension just in time to match up on one of Geelong’s big power forwards, either Tom Hawkins or James Podsiadly.
I am always wary of backing a team with three young players promoted together, so I’ll give West Coast one last chance before I write them off for season 2012. Also, I say it every week, but West Coast ruck paring Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui should really dominate this week against 7 gamer Orren Stephenson.
St Kilda v Melbourne
Melbourne has been proficient at beating both expansion sides this season, which is lucky for them, because successes against Gold Coast and GWS aside, the Demons have managed only one victory. While at the risk of repeating myself from previous previews, St Kilda continue to be the yo-yo club, oscillating from win to loss with astonishing regularity. Last weekend was the Saints 9th loss of the season, but they’re a resilient bunch down at Moorabbin, proved by the fact they’ve bounced back from all 8 previous losses this season to record a win the following week.
Grand performances from some of the senior warriors nearly lifted St Kilda to a shock win last Saturday night against Collingwood, however the Saints fell short by one straight kick. Brendan Goddard was particularly effective and he looks set for a big finish to the season after playing below his best for a number of weeks.
When they’ve lost in 2012, Melbourne have done it properly, with each of their losses coming by 23 points or more, while 9 of those defeats have been by over 40 points. Given St Kilda’s stars are getting back to the form of the 2009 and 2010 Grand Final seasons, this should be another blowout for the hapless Demons.
Adelaide Crows v Fremantle Dockers
Second hosts ninth in this little Saturday afternoon teaser from AAMI Stadium. On the surface, Adelaide should be much too strong for Fremantle, especially playing in front of a raucous home crowd, however the Crows haven’t been as dominant as one might expect on their home patch since their mid-season bye. Don’t be alarmed, Adelaide has still won all four of its home matches during that period, but three of those matches were mighty close and only decided after tense last quarters. So, play well enough and the Crows will give you a look at victory.
Fremantle has hit form just in time to make a charge for the top 8, winning five matches in a row to surge to 9th spot on the ladder and only out of the top 8 on percentage. Matthew Pavlich’s form has been the catalyst for Fremantle’s revival, and the skipper has booted 44 goals during his past 9 games. A phenomenal return! Adelaide has a sound defensive set up and Daniel Talia or Ben Rutten would be well suited to matching up against Pavlich, so I would be surprised if Pavlich manages to kick more than 3 goals this week.
If Pavlich is restricted, as I expect, I don’t think Fremantle has a big enough spread of goalkickers to boot a winning score against the Crows, who recall concussion-prone forward Kurt Tippett. Adelaide should be too strong in a tight tussle.
Gold Coast Suns v GWS Giants
Those with long-standing bets on GWS to win the wooden spoon will be nervously awaiting the outcome of the game. Looking at the fixture list, this appears to be the last winnable game for Gold Coast in 2012, and the Suns are still rooted to the foot of the table. If the Giants win this week, they’ll avoid the wooden spoon in their debut season!
The win by GWS over Port Adelaide last weekend came from nowhere, especially considering the Giants had lost each of their previous 5 games by more than 90 points! It was some turnaround by the fledgling club.
Over the next few seasons these teams will be continually compared and measured against each other. It’s inevitable given their similar entry into the competition just one year apart. The Giants struck the first blow in the rivalry with a shock 27 point over the Suns in the first ever meeting between the clubs earlier this season. That result heaped the pressure on Gold Coast and coach Guy McKenna, with much of the media questioning whether the Suns had shown any improvement since their 2011 inception.
Since that early season loss Gold Coast will have pencilled in this game as a chance for revenge, so I expect the Suns to come out hard, however the Giants should have an advantage in the ruck, where Jonathan Giles has been in good touch and should dominate against a Suns team without number one ruckman Zac Smith. Even if Giles dominates the hit outs, I still expect a fierce contest at ground level and that is the domain of champion Gold Coast midfielder Gary Ablett. I fancy a ferocious Suns team to take this one wire to wire.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gold Coast to lead at the end of every quarter @ 2.15 (TAB Sportsbet)
Sydney Swans v Collingwood
There has been a high-profile side story in the lead up to this game, but in case you missed it, I’ll summarise it in three short sentences; This week the Swans play the Pies. Swan plays for the Pies. Swan won’t play against the Swans. Got it? Yep, Collingwood’s Dane Swan was handed a 2 game club suspension during the week and will be forced to watch on from the sidelines. This match will be a beauty and it’s a shame that the reigning Brownlow Medallist will miss it.
Sydney are flying at the moment and another triumph last weekend stretched their winning run to an ultra-impressive nine in a row. Something will have to give this Saturday night, however, with Collingwood entering this match on a 10 game winning streak against the Swans, a streak which dates back to 2006.
Swan’s omission is, arguably, offset by Sydney’s gun midfielder Jude Bolton picking up a knee injury last weekend. I saw the Swans live at the ground last week and was amazed at how well they controlled the match against a fired up Carlton team. Sydney just don’t make mistakes and are very difficult to compete against for the whole four quarters. This match will be a low scoring arm wrestle and could go either way. I’m just favouring the Swans on the premise Adam Goodes will have a greater scoreboard impact than Magpie counterpart Travis Cloke.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 24 points or less @ 3.30 (Multiple Sites)
Carlton v Brisbane Lions
By my calculations, 13 wins should be enough to make the finals this year. Currently on 9 wins and sitting 11th on the ladder, Carlton needs to win its last 4 matches to earn a finals spot for the fourth successive season. The tough mission starts this Saturday night against 13th placed Brisbane at Etihad Stadium. This is a match the Blues really should win, and one which would give them the faintest whiff of a finals berth.
After a decent stretch which saw them win 3 from 5, Brisbane has had a horror last fortnight, thrashed by nearly 100 points against an otherwise out of form West Coast side in Perth before copping a belting at home against Richmond.
Brisbane is a chance at the win if the Lions midfield can feed key forward Jonathan Brown. If he gets enough supply, Brown could have a field day against an inexperienced and outsized Carlton backline. However, as long as Carlton brings the intensity it brought against Sydney last weekend, the Blues should keep their very faint finals flame flickering.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Multiple Sites)
Hawthorn v Port Adelaide
Depending on your take on life, Hawthorn’s performance last weekend could be looked at two different ways. For those like me that take the glass half full approach, to come back from a 51 point deficit and hit the front in the final quarter against last season’s champions showed real character and smacks of a team that is up for the fight heading into September. However, the flip side of the story was that Hawthorn lost to Geelong. Again. It was the 9th successive defeat by the Hawks against the Casts, and yet another one they lost despite leading late in the last quarter, with a post siren goal from Tom Hawkins snatching victory for Geelong. If Hawthorn couldn’t beat Geelong when leading at the final siren, when will they ever beat them again?
Things haven’t been dull at Port Adelaide either, with coach Matthew Primus parting ways with the club less than 48 hours after the Power suffered a shock defeat to lowly GWS. I think the decision to move Primus on was pretty harsh, especially considering his team had not lost a match by more than 10 goals this season, showing that even though they were outclassed most weeks, the team remained competitive and the players never dropped their heads and kept playing to the final siren.
Hawthorn power forward Lance Franklin is still out due to hamstring tightness, and his absence may mean the margin in this match doesn’t blow out beyond 100 points like it did the last time Hawthorn played in Tasmania, a day when Franklin booted 13 scintillating goals. With Franklin still missing, the new coach effect, and given they haven’t lost by more than 60 points this season, I’ll make a small play on Port Adelaide at the line of about 80 points.
Richmond v Western Bulldogs
In a round where something significant seems to ride on every match, this game is the single anomaly and doesn’t really have much going for it. Finals are out of reach for 12th placed Richmond, while Western Bulldogs supporters were already booking September holidays a few months ago.
Given the lack of excitement about this game, I won’t spend too much time on this preview, however I’ll leave you with a couple of thought provoking statistics. Richmond are warm favourites for this match, but be warned, the Tigers haven’t beaten the Bulldogs in any of the 9 meetings between the clubs since early 2005. Despite that stat, I still think Richmond will be too strong as this is the first year during that period the Tigers will finish above the Bulldogs on the ladder. Richmond’s poor recent form against the Bulldogs has simply been because the Bulldogs had the better team. That’s not the case anymore.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Richmond to win by 25 points or more @ 1.53 (Multiple Sites)
Essendon v North Melbourne
This match is like a mini-qualifying final to get into the finals, with winner all but assured of a place in September, while the loser will still be in with a good shot of finals action. Assuming Fremantle lose to Adelaide earlier in the weekend, these teams will start this game in 7th and 8th on the ladder and separated only by percentage. All to play for then!
It’s hard to make the case for an Essendon win. The Bombers were the early season surprise packet, but a recent slump has seen them descend the ladder as fast as Bradley Wiggins descended the Pyrenean mountains during the Tour de France. James Hird’s men have been really ordinary this past month, losing four of their past five games, three of which were losses by more than 60 points.
North Melbourne has been superb during the past two months, winning 7 of their past 8 matches to join Sydney and Hawthorn as the competition’s three form teams. During that stretch, the Kangaroos have beaten fellow finals contenders St Kilda, Carlton and Richmond, leaving only a victory over Essendon to complete the quartet. A win in this match and North Melbourne would really be a worthy finallist.
Some big names – and big bodies – are back for Essendon, with Dustin Fletcher, Stewart Crameri and David Hille a trio of returning big man, and all excellent additions for what is sure to be an aerial contest in perfect conditions under the closed roof at Etihad Stadium. Those handy inclusions for the Bombers will make this game a really good contest, however I’m still going to side with the in-form Kangaroos.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne to win by 39 points or less @ 2.40 (Multiple Sites)