The following are previews and betting tips for week 2 of the 2012 AFL finals series.
Season tally so far
Bets = 231.5 units
Won = 227.74 units
Profit/Loss = -3.76 units (1.6% loss)
CHEEKY WEEKLY AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Michael Barlow and Dane Swan for most disposals in their groups @ 15.27 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide (2nd) v Fremantle (7th)
Background: The recent history between these clubs strongly favours Adelaide, with the Crows winning both matches against the Dockers this season, and five of the last seven clashes between teams dating back to the start of 2009. Adelaide defeated Fremantle by 29 points in Perth during the middle of the season, before backing up that win with a 28 point success in Adelaide just a month ago. Despite their poor recent form against the Crows, the Dockers will enter this match in a confident mood after impressively dispatching Geelong in an Elimination Final at the MCG last Saturday night. Meanwhile, Adelaide’s plan to win through to a home Preliminary Final was thwarted by a lackluster loss to Sydney at this venue last Saturday afternoon.
Team news: This time last week, Adelaide defender Daniel Talia was celebrating his AFL Rising Star award and looking forward to his first finals campaign, however the talented youngster unfortunately broke his arm during a fall in the final quarter against Sydney last weekend. When these teams last met, Talia contained Fremantle superstar Matthew Pavlich to only 2 goals from just 6 kicks. With Talia going out of the side, Adelaide veteran Ben Rutten is likely to get the defensive job on Pavlich, while Talia’s position in the team will be taken by fellow young defender Luke Thompson, who comes in for only his second game of the season. The Crows have made a second change, with sneaky forward flanker Ricky Henderson preferred to Aidan Riley. Fremantle has made the one like-for-like change, replacing forward and backup ruckman Kepler Bradley with the tall and athletic Zac Clarke.
Who will win and why? It is a bit of an oxymoron, but even though the stakes are equal you feel like Adelaide has everything to lose and Fremantle has everything to gain. Adelaide surely couldn’t be knocked out in straight sets at AAMI Stadium. Could they? A loss this week for Brenton Sanderson’s men would mean such a positive home and away season would be wasted in just 2 weeks, while Freo boss Ross Lyon wouldn’t agree, but the Dockers season is already a success after last week’s finals win over Geelong in Melbourne.
Along with the Rutten and Pavlich duel, the other crucial matchup will be Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley and the unlucky Adelaide midfielder who is opposed to the stopper. Crowley has easily curtailed Scott Thompson in both matches between the teams this season and I expect him to again target Thompson this week, potentially allowing Thompson’s dangerous Crow teammate Paddy Dangerfield more freedom to burst away from the stoppages. Dangerfield has gathered more than 30 possessions in both matches against the Dockers this season. For Fremantle, Michael Barlow is in hot form, and the ball magnet has amassed at least 25 disposals in each of his last four outings.
Adelaide’s key forwards Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker will be hoping two is better than one, as they try to outscore Docker talisman Matthew Pavlich. Tippett and Walker will be helped by the continued absence of Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin, meaning Zac Dawson will need all his defensive mates to support him against the powerful Crows forward duo. Adelaide’s forwards will have to do better than Geelong’s forwards last week, as the Cats didn’t make their opponents accountable, which meant Zac Dawson was never isolated in a one-on-one contest against the dangerous Tom Hawkins. If the Crows can separate the Freo defenders, I reckon they’ll win this game.
Last, but certainly not least, I’ll address the home crowd factor. I’ve got a theory that the Adelaide crowd is more intimidating and vocal during night matches, so I think this will be a decisive advantage for the Crows. Last week, Sydney got to an early 3-4 goal lead and the crowd was never really a factor. I think the natives will be loud from the first bounce this Friday night and Adelaide will win a tight contest.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Patrick Dangerfield for most disposals in Group A @ 4.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Michael Barlow for most disposals in Group A @ 6.50 (Multiple Sites)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Taylor Walker for most goals @ 7.00 (Sportsbet)
Collingwood (4th) v West Coast (5th)
Background: The formbook is difficult to read for this one, with West Coast thrashing Collingwood by 49 points in Perth just three weeks ago. However, that was the Eagles first win over the Magpies since early 2007, while the last time West Coast beat Collingwood at the MCG was way back in 1995. Since the start of the 2011 season Collingwood has defeated West Coast three times at this venue, although the margin of victory has notably decreased on each occasion, from 52 points in May 2011, to 20 points in September 2011, and most recently 3 points in June 2012. The Eagles have been closing the gap on the Pies and the magnitude of their victory in Perth 3 weeks ago could be an indicator that they’re ready to conquer their Collingwood MCG hoodoo.
There is some fantastic finals history between these clubs since West Coast entered the league in 1987, and I’ll briefly describe some of the famous battles to whet your appetites ahead of this Saturday night’s main course. In 1990, the clubs drew in a tense Qualifying Final, with Collingwood winning the replay courtesy of some final quarter Peter Daicos magic. Just four years later the Eagles got their revenge with a heart-stopping 1 point win in the first week of the finals, while the clubs again tested the nerves of their fans with a draw in the 2007 Semi Final, which Collingwood went on to win in extra time.
Team news: Players from both clubs kept the tribunal busy this week. Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell accepted the two week suspension offered to him from the match review panel for an off the ball bump on Hawk Paul Puopolo, while West Coast’s Quinten ‘Q-stick’ Lynch is free to play after successfully challenging a 1 week suspension for kneeing North Melbourne defender Scott McMahon. Those decisions take on particular importance when you consider that Maxwell is a vital Collingwood defender and his organisational qualities will be missed against a potent West Coast attack, of which Lynch is now free to be a part of.
Tyson Goldsack has been selected to replace Nick Maxwell in the Magpie defence, while youngster Jamie Elliot replaces fellow small forward Ben Sinclair. West Coast vice-captain and important rebounding defender Beau Waters injured his foot last weekend and is the notable absentee from the Eagles team, with his spot being taken by midfield runner Matt Rosa.
Who will win and why?
It has been a harrowing week for the AFL after Port Adelaide midfielder John McCarthy died on an end of season holiday in Las Vegas. The news was especially devastating for Collingwood players as McCarthy spent four seasons at the Magpies (2008 to 2011) and was a popular figure amongst his former teammates. It is really hard to know what effect this will have on the Magpies, but I hope they play a good match to honour their friend.
At the time of writing, the weather is expected to be fine on Saturday night in Melbourne, suiting West Coast’s aerial dominance. The Eagles tall timber worked a treat in the forward line last week as Jack Darling, Josh Kennedy and Lynch imposed themselves on the match, and the scoreboard, sharing 11 goals them.
Collingwood actually played with a really good structure against Hawthorn last Friday night and the Magpies were mostly able to play the match on their terms, however some costly kicking errors in defence cost the Pies and the Hawks held a handy buffer for most of the match. The positive from that was the Collingwood players are in tune with coach Nathan Buckley’s game plan, however the negative is that they were still comfortably beaten despite the match being played the way they like it.
I am going to tip the Eagles to win because there are just too questions hanging over the Magpies. How are the players going to respond to the death of their former teammate? Can Travis Cloke kick another bag of goals to keep his team in the match? Can the Pies improve their foot skills? Can Darren Jolly stop the rampaging ruck pairing of Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox? How will the Magpies backline cope without their captain and defensive general Nick Maxwell? The funny thing is that I rate the Magpies a better chance to beat Sydney in Sydney next week, however West Coast look to be holding all the aces and should have this one covered. Oh, and finally, lock in Dane Swan for most disposals. Swan loves the MCG, looks to be fighting fit, and won’t be tagged.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win @ 2.05 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Dane Swan for most disposals in Group A @ 2.35 (Sportsbet)