Carlton vs. Richmond
After surviving for months without their beloved game during the off-season, football starved fans tasted the appetising entrée dished up last weekend, and will now dine on the main course as seven spicy matches are to be served up across the extra-long Easter weekend.
The first match is the now-traditional MCG season opening blockbuster between local rivals Carlton and Richmond. Historically this match fails to live up to the hype, with the Blues winning the Round 1 clash for the past four seasons by an average margin of 50 points. This dominance has also translated to the return match in the second part of the season, with Carlton’s winning streak over Richmond now at nine in a row. Although the Tigers seem to be getting closer, losing their most recent encounter (Round 18 last year) by only 4 points.
A subplot to this game is new Carlton boss Mick Malthouse coaching his first game for the navy blues against the club he claimed a premiership with as a player in 1980. It can take time for players to adjust to different game plans and Malthouse’s defensively minded game style that promotes low-risk attacks down the boundary line won’t be mastered instantly. Sure they have been testing it during the pre-season, but that can’t replicate the pressure of home and away football when four points are on the line and the opposition is going flat out!
I think this will finally be a tight Round 1 opener between these clubs. The skills might be still be rusty and with players at peak fitness, the pressure and intensity will cause lots of errors. Therefore I expect this game to be pretty low-scoring, meaning it could be worthwhile to keep an eye out for the total match points line. Bet365 have the line at 191.5, so I think the unders there are looking very good! TAB have the line at 195, but their odds are a miserly $1.87.
Carlton forward Jarrad Waite misses the start of the season through injury, while half back flanker Heath Scotland is sidelined due to a club imposed suspension. During the past two seasons the Blues winning percentage increases by 13% when Waite is in the team, which doesn’t seem like much, but with this match so difficult to call, a seemingly minor statistic like that might be a useful guide to picking the winner.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on the Total Match score under 191.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on either team to win by 24 points or less @ 1.70 (Centrebet)