The following are previews and betting tips for the 2012 AFL Grand Final.
Season tally so far
Bets = 242 units
Won = 237.81 units
Profit/Loss = -5.19 units (2.1% loss)
Hawthorn (1st) v Sydney (3rd)
Background: This year’s showpiece match is set up perfectly! It will be a match of contrasts; Hawthorn’s individual brilliance against Sydney’s collective brilliance, the free-wheeling and high scoring Hawks opposed by the defensively disciplined Swans, and the hot-tempered Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson pitted against mild-mannered John Longmire.
The teams have clashed twice already this campaign, with the Swans comfortably accounting for the Hawks to the tune of 37 points in an early season match in Launceston, while just 5 weeks ago the Hawks overcame a sluggish start to overhaul the Swans by 7 points in a thrilling game at the SCG.
During the finals both teams have beaten Collingwood and Adelaide to progress through to the season decider. Sydney has won their matches by 29 and 26 points, while Hawthorn followed up a 38 point victory over the Magpies with a nervy 5 point success against the Crows.
Finally, the MCG is classified as a neutral venue for the Grand Final, however it is Hawthorn’s home ground and Sydney rarely play here, with the Swans winning just one of their past 15 matches at football’s holy venue.
Team news: Hawthorn has made one change to its Preliminary Final team, with skipper Luke Hodge fully recovered from his bout of gastro in time to lead the Hawks into battle on the most important day of the season. Defender Tom Murphy is the unfortunate player to make way for Hodge. Sydney, meanwhile, is sticking with the team that got the job done against Collingwood last Friday.
The hamstrings of Hawk Brent Guerra and Swan Ben McGlynn have not sufficiently healed and both ruled themselves out of their respective teams earlier in the week.
Who will win and why?
This is a tough match to split. Really tough. I thought about sitting on the fence and tipping either team to win by 24 points or less (at approx. $1.70 for those interested), however I’ve decided I shouldn’t let a nervy showing last week put me off the team I’ve been fancying all season. Yes, I’m tipping the Hawks to get the job done this Saturday!
Hawthorn’s outside game is the best there is and the Hawks wonderful array of skillful ball users do their best work on the spacious MCG surface, however that advantage will be tempered by the weather this Saturday. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a wet day in Melbourne with possible hail, meaning the match will be played in very slippery conditions and there will be plenty of work in the packs with lots of tackling, rather than out in the open the way Hawthorn prefers.
Sydney leads the league for contested possessions and tackles this season, which is very important considering they will be the two of the most important indicators this Saturday. Despite this, I’m sticking with Hawthorn because I don’t think Sydney possess enough scoring power to beat the Hawks, even if the Swans enjoy an advantage around the ground. Hawthorn’s greatest trouble this season has been curtailing tall opposition forwards, and Ryan Schoenmakers has been shown to be particularly vulnerable during this finals series, with the much-maligned Hawk conceding 10 goals to his direct opponents across his two finals matches. Sydney doesn’t possess any in-form tall forwards, which will come as a relief to Schoenmakers! Of the Swans forwards, only Sam Reid fits the height criteria, but the out of form Swan has been cursed by the fumbles for much of the campaign. The Hawks will also have Josh Gibson floating across to break up the Sydney attacks, so I don’t think Sydney will score many goals and I’ll be taking the unders on the Sydney total points line.
Even if Sydney is holding sway with the contested possessions, Hawthorn will still break free every now and then, and I expect the Hawks, with their classy forwards, to do plenty of damage when they have the run of the play. I expect a tight match for most of the day, with the Hawks escaping for two or three short bursts to maintain scoreboard superiority.
In the last couple of season’s there has been a few very early Grand Final goals, but I think this year might be different and I’m going to have a cheeky bet on the first goal being kicked after the 5 minute mark. Normally I’d steer clear of these novelty bets, but it’s the grand final so I can’t help a little silly bet!
Finally, if you’ve come to this page, you’ll probably be making a wager on the Norm Smith Medal, so I better go over this market too! This is award voted on by the media, so I’ll be on Hawthorn’s midfield extractor, and media darling (remember the outcry after the little champ missed out on All-Australian selection), Sam Mitchell. However, in case the Hawks have an off day, I’ll have something small on Sydney’s Ryan O’Keefe. ‘ROK’ has had a stellar second half of the season and often sneaks in a goal or two, which might be enough to sway the adjudicators. For those of you who like the big odds, I reckon classy left-footers Matt Suckling and Dan Hannebery are at very attractive prices.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 16 points or more @ 2.05 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Sydney Total Points under 79 @ 1.90 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Time First Goal kicked 5.01+ @ 3.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sam Mitchell to win the Norm Smith Medal @ 6.50 (Sportsbet))
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Ryan O’Keefe to win the Norm Smith Medal @ 15.00 (TAB Sportsbet)