The following are previews and betting tips for round 23 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 213 units
Won = 217.89 units
Profit/Loss = +4.89 units (2.3% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 23 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 16 points or more, Taylor Walker to kick the most goals in the Adelaide v Gold Coast match and Collingwood to win by 40 points or more @ 6.89 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn v West Coast Eagles
The final round of the home and away season has been arranged in such a way that teams playing finals next week have been scheduled on Friday and Saturday, maximising the number of rest days for the clubs that will compete in the finals.
This is a high stakes match. West Coast currently sit in 4th spot on the ladder and will maintain that position with a win in this match, earning a finals double chance. The Hawks, meanwhile, currently top the table, however a loss in this match could see them slip to 3rd if other results go against them. The difference between 1st and 3rd is the difference between Hawthorn hosting a home Qualifying Final or travelling interstate to play Sydney or Adelaide. All to play for then.
Cyril Rioli has overcome his shoulder injury and has been selected to play for the first time in 3 matches. Following on from full-forward Lance Franklin’s inclusion last weekend, Rioli’s return ensures the Hawks are close to full strength on the eve of their finals campaign. West Coast lose two players through injury as midfielder Matt Rosa and defender Eric Mackenzie are both sidelined.
With home ground advantage and the Franklin-Rioli partnership reunited, I’m tipping the Hawks to win by more than 16 points.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by16 points or more @ 1.54 (Sportsbet)
Geelong Cats v Sydney Swans
This match kicks off a certifiably super Saturday of AFL action. Saturday is known as ‘moving day’ in major golf tournaments and that description is equally appropriate for the final Saturday of home and away matches in this AFL season, with the outcome of all five matches critical to determining which teams get the finals double chance and home ground advantage.
The scenario for this match is all about home ground advantage for next week. Sydney has already secured a double chance in the finals, while Geelong will play in an Elimination Final. With Fremantle and North Melbourne likely to win their games by plenty, a loss in this match will almost certainly mean Geelong finish 8th and face a likely cut-throat final against West Coast in Perth. A win for Sydney would mean a home Qualifying Final against West Coast or Adelaide, while a loss would mean an away match against Adelaide or Hawthorn.
Geelong has been boosted with the inclusions of captain Joel Selwood and champion defender Matthew Scarlett, while tough as nails midfielder Jude Bolton returns for Sydney. With so much on the line, this match should be a beauty. Normally the home ground advantage would sway me into backing the Cats, but the Swans got the job done in this fixture last year, so the Simonds Stadium factor will be somewhat negated.
I’m expecting this match to be tighter than a Scotsman with his money, therefore I’m on either team to win by 15 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team to win by 15 points or less @ 2.75 (TAB Sportsbet)
Adelaide Crows v Gold Coast Suns
It is lucky this clash is being played almost concurrently to the Sydney match, because it means Adelaide will begin the game with a top 2 spot still up for grabs. If Hawthorn win on the Friday night, Adelaide need to win and hope Sydney lose for the Crows to earn the right to host a Qualifying Final next week. Even though an Adelaide loss to Gold Coast is extremely unlikely, it’s not impossible (just ask Carlton). If the Crows do lose this game it will mean an interstate Qualifying Final against Hawthorn or Sydney next week.
Adelaide was boosted by the return of Kurt Tippett last weekend, with the tall marking forward playing well in his first game back after a month on the sidelines recovering from an unlucky trio of concussion injuries. Tippett and forward line partner Taylor Walker were dominant against Melbourne last Sunday and will be a handful for Gold Coast’s unheralded backline. I can’t see the Suns defenders containing Tippett and Walker, and the only way I reckon Adelaide’s score can be kept down is by very inaccurate goalkicking!
Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett was well tagged by Andrew Carrazzo last week, but the Suns ball magnet has enjoyed playing matches against Adelaide during the past couple of years. Ablett has averaged over 40 possessions and 2 goals during the 3 matches he has played against Adelaide since the start of 2011. Extraordinary numbers!
The margin of the victory is not of importance to Adelaide, so I won’t be touching that market, instead I’ll be on Taylor Walker for most goals and Gary Ablett for most disposals in his group.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Taylor Walker for most goals @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gary Ablett for most disposals in Group A @ 1.90 (TAB Sportsbet)
GWS Giants v North Melbourne
If Geelong lose earlier in the day this match will take on extra importance. North Melbourne will start ‘moving day’ in 8th spot, but could rise to 6th if Geelong lose and they (North) win their game by at least 20 points more than Fremantle. If Geelong win, then the stakes are still pretty high for North Melbourne as the Roos could face an Elimination Final against West Coast in Perth if they remain in 8th spot, while 7th place would at least see the Kangas play their final in Melbourne.
It will be a bit more like static day for GWS as Kevin Sheedy’s young team will finish in last spot regardless of whatever happens this weekend. Perhaps the most important thing for the Giants will be to try and measure some improvement since their 129 point defeat to the same opposition way back in Round 2.
The bigger the win, the better chance North Melbourne has of improving its finals draw, so the Roos at the line will be my bet.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne at the line (-85.5) @ 2.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
Fremantle Dockers v Melbourne
With this game following both the Geelong and North Melbourne matches, Fremantle will have the advantage of knowing their scenario. An extra dimension exists for the Dockers though and this factor could become more important if West Coast lose on Friday night and Geelong win Saturday’s early match. If that happens, Fremantle will be fighting for 7th and 8th with North Melbourne. In that scenario Fremantle might better served turning off the gas and settling for 8th spot and a likely Elimination Final against West Coast rather than travelling to the MCG to take on Geelong. Tanking could be taken to a new level!
I’ve been taken in with my little conspiracy theory and will wait until the Geelong match has been completed before placing my bet on this match. If West Coast lose and Geelong win I will be taking Melbourne at the line, otherwise I will take Fremantle at the line.
Finally, with Matthew Pavlich leading the Coleman Medal heading into this round, I’m expecting the Freo players to try and pass to their skipper at every opportunity in an attempt to boost his chances of winning the medal. With that in mind, I’m going to have a small interest on the ‘Pav’ for most goals in this match.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Matthew Pavlich for most goals @ estimated 2.00 (Odds not fixed at time of writing)
Andy’s Bet: If West Coast lose and Geelong win – 1 unit on Melbourne at the line (+53.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: If Geelong loses or West Coast win – 1 unit on Fremantle at the line (-53.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Essendon v Collingwood
Super Saturday concludes with this clash between Collingwood and Essendon to be played under lights at the MCG. Essendon’s wretched run of form over the past two months has seen the Bombers fall from a probable top 4 finisher to 11th place and, now, a confirmed finals absentee. Collingwood, meanwhile, has been uncharacteristically unpredictable since Carlton snapped a 10 game Magpie winning streak in early July.
Depending on the Friday night result, this match could be pivotal or it could be a bit of a non-event. If Hawthorn defeats West Coast in the first game of the round, then Collingwood could leap into the top 4 with a win over Essendon. To underline just how significant a top 4 place is, under the current finals system, which has been in use since 2000, no team has won the Premiership from below 4th place on the ladder at the end of the home and away season.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has reacted strongly to last week’s loss against West Coast, with the Magpie boss dropping four players due to poor form, including much-maligned key forward and back-up ruckman Chris Dawes. Dawes’s omission means Darren Jolly will be the lone Magpie ruckman against Essendon’s rucking duo of Tom Bellchambers and David Hille.
Despite a numerical advantage in the big man department, Essendon’s problem during the past few weeks has been a lack of leg speed. The issue was particularly apparent last week as many Essendon players looked out on their feet during the final quarter against Richmond. I reckon the Pies have an enviable midfield brigade and players like Swan, Pendlebury and Beams will have a field day.
Carlton v St Kilda
After the excitement of Super Saturday we unfortunately move on to Substandard Sunday. I don’t think the AFL administrators will take on my derogatory slogan, however it is an accurate way of describing a day when all three matches will be meaningless kickabouts played between clubs that won’t be involved in the finals.
Perhaps this game might buck that trend as Carlton could find some extra motivation to send outgoing coach Brett Ratten away with a win. Ratten was sensationally sacked by the board during the week after his team suffered a shock upset defeat to Gold Coast last weekend, ending the Blues’ chance of playing in the finals. Ratten remained dignified and showed a lot of class during the press conference when his sacking was announced so it would be nice to see his players reward him with a nice memory to end a harrowing week.
Young Carlton forward Luke Mitchell has been promoted to play his first game, while tall defender Pat McCarthy has been named on an extended bench and is also a chance to debut. St Kilda have taken the opposite approach to Carlton, recalling experienced quartet Jason Blake, Jason Gram, Justin Koschitzke and David Armitage.
I don’t really know which way this match will go, but I’m siding with Carlton due to a combination of the Ratten factor and also because St Kilda talisman Nick Riewoldt is missing through injury.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Carlton to win @ 2.10 (Multiple Sites)
Richmond v Port Adelaide
After coining this day Substandard Sunday, I’ve actually found a few things to look forward. Firstly, how Brett Ratten’s farewell goes, and now I’ve realised this match will decide the Coleman Medal for the season’s leading goalkicker. Jack Riewoldt heads into this round a goal behind Matthew Pavlich and only a goal ahead of Tom Hawkins. With Pavlich and Hawkins playing on Saturday, Riewoldt will know how many goals he needs to kick to take home the medal.
With Sunday expected to be a fine day in Melbourne, I expect the conditions to favour the slicker Tigers. Richmond has shown itself to be a more skillful team than Port Adelaide this season and I expect the yellow and black faithful to be in good spirits as their side looks to sign off the season with a win. A victory for Richmond would mean the Tigers finish the season winning as many games as they’d lost, which would be the clubs best result in a decade.
The future looks brightest for Richmond and I think that feel-good factor will help propel the Tigers to a big win over Port Adelaide.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond at the line (-42.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs
This really is a match I can’t get excited about! Brisbane has battled well to get 9 wins so far this season, although the Lions have never looked like joining in the finals race. Meanwhile, the Western Bulldogs season has been in free fall for some months now, with the Doggies on a 10 game losing streak.
The Bulldogs have lost each of their past 10 matches by at least 18 points, so I think taking Brisbane to win by 16 points or more. It should be a nice, albeit conservative, play to finish off the home and away season.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Brisbane to win by 16 points or more @ 1.42 (TAB Sportsbet)