The following are previews and betting tips for the second weekend of Round 1 matches in the 2013 AFL season.
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Western Bulldogs to score less than 81.5 points, Sydney to win by 16 points or more and David Swallow most possessions in Group 2 in the St Kilda v Gold Coast game @ 11.00 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs v Brisbane
Brisbane should win this game reasonably comfortably. The Lions have had a brilliant pre-season, punctuated with a 40 point victory over Carlton in the NAB Cup final at this ground just two weeks ago. The Western Bulldogs, meanwhile, have not fared as well through February and March, with the attacking options at the kennel still looking to be very weak. I saw them live during the pre-season and was very concerned to see little tagger Liam Picken playing as a key forward!
Investigating the Bulldogs attacking woes further, I have found that the Western Bulldogs scored less than 81 points 68% of the time last season. 81.5 points is the line for the Western Bulldogs team score this Saturday, so I recommend chucking a few shekels on that as well as the in-form Lions to win by 16 points against a Bulldogs team missing captain Matthew Boyd.
My final bet for this match relates to the absence of Boyd. Without the midfield ball-magnet, other players will have to carry a bit more of the load around the stoppages. One such player is Thomas Liberatore, who averaged over 20 disposals per game in 2012, just his second season in the big time. Liberatore gathered the most possessions for the Bulldogs in the corresponding fixture last year and is juicy odds to take out the second-tier possessions group here.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Thomas Liberatore most possessions in Group 2 @ 7.00 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Western Bulldogs to score 81 points or less @ 1.88 (Sportsbet)
Greater Western Sydney v Sydney
I am going to be cautious with GWS at the start of this season. The youngsters surprised many with their competitiveness at the start of last season, so I will assess the level of their improvement before I invest heavily in this campaign.
The Giants, wooden spooners from last year, have been set a very tough first up challenge, facing crosstown rivals and defending champions Sydney. The Swans have selected a very strong team too, including 19 of the 22 players that wore red and white on Grand Final day last year.
Based on the strong Sydney lineup, I’ll be having a little nibble of the Swans at the line.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney at the line (-46.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast v St Kilda
The story during Gold Coast’s first pair of seasons was the amazing output of bald superstar Gary Ablett. The midfielder doesn’t choose quality over quantity, he chooses both! While his team has frequently been well beaten, Ablett has consistently turned in stellar performances. After the first few weeks of last season, Ablett was generally a $1.50 chance to win his most disposals group each week, but with a new season offering new possibilities, the champ is at what I think is a generous $1.85 to win his disposals group this week. Remember, Ablett gathered at least 40 possessions in each of his first three matches last season.
Another player to look out for is fellow Gold Coast midfielder David Swallow, who burst onto the scene with a silky debut season in 2011 before injuries dented his output last year. Fighting fit after a big summer, Swallow looks set to make an impact on the 2013 season and stamp himself as a star of the future.
For St Kilda, the interest will be to see how dangerous their forward line can be. Nick Riewoldt and Stephen Milne still have a couple of good years in them, while Saints fans will be looking for improvement from goalsneaks Ahmed Saad and Terry Milera.
St Kilda should be too good, but there are enough other things to keep an eye on that will keep this game interesting.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gary Ablett most disposals in Group 1 @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on David Swallow most disposals in Group 2 @ 5.00 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne v Port Adelaide
This game is very definitely a case of new beginnings. Melbourne’s recruiting department was very active during the off-season and the Demons will field seven club debutants during this match, while Port Adelaide are likely to run out with five players wearing teal for the first time.
Looking at the two teams, Melbourne’s inexperience in the middle concerns me, while five of Port Adelaide’s back six have played 22 or fewer games, with full-back Jackson Trengove the senior figure in the Power defence despite having played only 61 AFL games.
As this match progresses, I think Port Adelaide’s battle hardened midfield will be too much for the young Demons onballers that include teenage first-gamers Jimmy Toumpas and Jack Viney. Hence my unusual bet idea to have a small go at the half time/full time double.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Melbourne to be leading at half time and Port Adelaide to win at full time @ 7.80 (Sportsbet
North Melbourne v Collingwood
Two finalists from last season clash in this Sunday twilight showdown at Etihad Stadium. Last season the Kangaroos turned the tables on the Magpies by recording a 30 point win, which bucked the trend of previous matches, with Collingwood winning all four matches between the clubs from 2009-2011 by an incredible average margin of 80 points.
North Melbourne’s veteran playmaker Brent Harvey is suspended for this match, as is dependable defender Scott McMahon, while Collingwood is missing a handful of senior players to injury, including Luke Ball, Dale Thomas and Alex Fasolo.
I think Collingwood have a bit more class and experience, so should get the points in a tough match against a determined North Melbourne team.
Hawthorn v Geelong
The recent history between these clubs is borderline insane. Since Hawthorn’s 2008 grand final triumph, Geelong has won their past 9 meetings against the Hawks. Remarkably, Hawthorn has led at three quarter time in five of these games, five of the victories have been by less than a goal and two have come after the siren. Drama this Monday is all but guaranteed!
Despite Geelong’s impressive pre-season, there are two reasons for why I am selecting Hawthorn to win. The first is the club debut of ex-Bulldogs full-back Brian Lake. Lake has been recruited to take over the role previously held by the error-prone Ryan Schoenmakers, which should reduce the heart-rate of nervous Hawthorn supporters!
The second reason Hawthorn should win is the ruck dominance its big men should exert over AFL novice Mark Blicavs, the middle distance runner turned Geelong ruckman.
With Steve Johnson also suspended, the time is right for Hawthorn to end the curse.