The following are previews and betting tips for Round 3 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 24.25 units
Won = 32.54 units
Profit/Loss = +8.29 units (34.2% profit)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Nick Riewoldt for most goals in the GWS v St Kilda match and Gary Ablett for most disposals in Group 1 in the Gold Coast v Brisbane match @ 6.64 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle vs. Essendon
Just when it appeared the drugs issue had gone away and Essendon would be able to enjoy the start of the season, Thursday brought further controversy, with Bombers coach James Hird alleged to have taken banned substances. I think the media has blown this out of proportion because Hird is a coach and not bound by the anti-doping policies that players have to adhere to, but it is still not a good look, and yet another unwanted distraction that could derail Essendon’s impressive start to the season.
Both teams enter this match undefeated, which brings added excitement. Fremantle play the style of footy that is all the rage at the moment, with the Dockers able to absorb opposition attacks and then hurt them on the counter attack. Essendon, for their part, have looked quite slick in their first two matches and have been particularly effective around the stoppages as big-bodied midfielders Jobe Watson, Heath Hocking and Brendan Goddard, with the assistance of Dyson Heppell, have been able to get the ball going the Bombers way.
Essendon used to be awful travellers, however the red and blacks have improved their fortunes on the road during Hird’s guidance, winning 7 of their 11 interstate trips since the new coach arrived. Despite this, Fremantle look to be playing with few weaknesses at the moment and should overcome their visitors.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Michael Walters for most goals @ 9.00 (Sportsbet)
North Melbourne vs. Sydney
Sydney have eased into their premiership defence with two comfortable victories over new-boys GWS and Gold Coast, while North’s campaign to hold their top 8 position from last year has been dented by successive defeats against league heavyweights Collingwood and Geelong.
I would have no hesitation picking the Swans if this game was in Sydney, but I was not as convinced about their record at Etihad Stadium. I shouldn’t have been worried though, because my quick analysis found the red and whites have won 7 of the 10 matches they have played at the venue since 2010.
The North Melbourne players are probably feeling a bit flat this week after letting slip a 40 point lead against Geelong last weekend. The Kangaroos led for 90% of the game and were in front with less than a minute to go, compounding their misery.
North are a solid outfit and generally give a good to their opponents, so if you fancy their opposition to win, you can generally back that opposition to win by 39 points or less, confident in the knowledge that the Kangaroos won’t let me them get too far away.
I am banking on North’s early season trend to continue and will have a small wager on Sydney to win by 39 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sydney to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Multiple sites)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Ryan Bastinac to score more dream team points than Jack Ziebell @ 1.75 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. West Coast
While tuned in to the second half of Melbourne’s match last weekend, it felt a bit like I was watching somebody playing FIFA on a really easy setting. Perhaps James Hird selected Amateur as the difficulty level, because the Melbourne players never chased or pressured their Essendon opponents, making for the most one-sided half of football I have ever seen.
A fixture against Melbourne couldn’t come at a better time for West Coast, with my early season premiership fancies desperately needing a win to kick-start their season after being comprehensively outplayed in their first two outings this campaign. The clearance work of Matt Priddis and a fit again Josh Kennedy in attack have been the only positives for the Eagles so far in 2013.
For Melbourne the positives have been rookie midfielder Jack Viney and high-flying Jeremy Howe, however the negatives are almost endless and the Demons have looked clueless on the field during their heavy defeats during the past fortnight.
Even though Melbourne should come out more fired up than they were against Essendon, West Coast should still run away with this one once it opens up in the second half.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Josh Kennedy for most goals @ 3.50 (Sportsbet)
Greater Western Sydney vs. St Kilda
With media attention focussed elsewhere this week, this match has escaped the spotlight. That is probably a good thing for St Kilda, because Scott Watters’ team heads to the national capital hoping to avoid the ignominy of losing to both league newcomers – Gold Coast and GWS – in the space of 14 days. A loss here for the Saints would not only mean their season is terminally wounded, but they would also become the laughing stock of the competition.
GWS is already improving from last year, losing their first two matches this season by an average of 43 points, compared with 96 points last year. The improvement has mostly come from enhancement in the forward line, with the Giants scoring above 75 points on both occasions this season, a vast improvement on last year when the youngsters only scored more than 75 points once in the first 18 rounds, and the time they did pass the 75 mark was only against fellow newcomers Gold Coast.
Two experienced St Kilda players, Adam Schneider and Sean Dempster, miss this game through injury, allowing tall forward Tom Lee and athletic midfielder Nathan Wright to make their AFL debuts.
This is definitely a banana skin game for the St Kilda, but I am still going to back the Saints to get the job done.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win by 16 points or more @ 1.48 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs. Carlton
What a difference a goal here or there makes. Geelong could easily be entering this match winless, while Carlton was not far from turning up for this game unbeaten. As it stands, the Cats are 2-0 and the Blues are in danger of losing touch with top 8 at 0-2.
Mercurial forward Steve Johnson is back from injury and suspension to weave his magic for Geelong, but his return is tempered by the loss of reliable midfielder James Kelly to a calf injury. Carlton’s backline has been a source of weakness during their opening two matches, so the Blues will be delighted to regain the ball winning services of veteran half back flanker Heath Scotland. Scotland is one of four changes to Carlton’s line-up from last week, with marking forward Shaun Hampson another valuable inclusion, while tagger Aaron Joseph earns a recall and Dylan Buckley is promoted for his debut. Underperforming defenders Jeremy Laidler and Josh Bootsma have been dropped, along with Tom Bell and Levi Casboult.
Geelong coach Chris Scott must have landed on Community Chest a few times over the off-season, because he has played get-out-of-jail-free cards in both of the Cats first two wins! The danger is that his players may get in a routine of falling behind early in their matches, so it will be interesting to follow the pattern of this match.
I am on the Cats to make it 3 from 3. The Blues defence is really struggling, conceding an average of 34 scoring shots from their first two matches, so they will really need to tighten up here, otherwise Geelong forwards Johnson, Tom Hawkins, James Podsiadly and Paul Chapman will ensure another tough night for Carlton.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Heath Scotland most disposals in Group 2 @ 4.50 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast vs. Brisbane
It will be all action on Saturday night in the Gold Coast, with northern neighbours Brisbane travelling down to the glitter strip hoping to spoil the local party. The marketing gurus have been trying to hype up this clash, coining it the Q Clash for its inception in 2011, but the rivalry took off instantly as the Suns beat their more experienced opponents the first time they met. The Lions have won all three match ups since then to atone for that initial shock result.
Gold Coast have made some real gains over the off-season and were competitive for three quarters against Sydney last weekend after beating St Kilda the week before. Much better than waiting 16 rounds for a win, like Guy McKenna’s team did last year!
Given the Suns already have a win on the board, the pressure is all on Brisbane for this match, with the pre-season premiers failing to live up to their hype and bombing to two straight defeats during the real stuff.
I reckon this match will be a ripper and am not sure who will win, so will pick either time to win by 15 points or less and barrack for a close game!
Richmond vs. Western Bulldogs
This is an important game for both teams. Richmond will be aiming to bank their third consecutive victory of the season before a very tough trio of fixtures, while the Western Bulldogs also have a tough set of matches following this clash. Even though the Doggies are not realistically a finals contender this year, it is still important for their young players to experience as many victories as possible, and a loss here would likely set them on course to be 1-5 with their tough upcoming month.
For neutrals, Richmond might be the best side to watch this season, with Damien Hardwick’s men playing an exciting hard at it and direct style of football that is often enhanced by individual brilliance, but the Tigers are never secure holding onto a lead, so it really makes for compelling viewing!
Even though they don’t have much of a forward line set-up, the Western Bulldogs are still a force to be reckoned with in the midfield, with young gun Tom Liberatore impressively leading the league clearance count after the first two weeks.
Despite the enthusiasm of the young pups, Richmond are tracking for bigger things this season and should win this game reasonably comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 25 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Collingwood vs. Hawthorn
The MCG will be packed to near capacity for a Collingwood blockbuster for the second straight Sunday afternoon. After outlasting Carlton last weekend, the Magpies face another tough test as Hawthorn will be this week’s glamour opponents.
The Hawks had the wood on the Magpies last season, winning all three matches between the clubs, and convincingly so on the last two occasions. Hawthorn pairing Sam Mitchell and Lance Franklin have very good recent form against Collingwood, and those two will again have a big say in the outcome of this Sunday’s match.
Both teams have been hit by injuries to key players, with Hawthorn’s grunt midfielder Brad Sewell ruled out due to a hamstring complaint, while Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell misses with a wrist injury and Magpie ruckman Darren Jolly is suffering a rib injury. Ben Hudson should be an able deputy for Jolly, however Maxwell’s role as defensive general will be harder to replace and perhaps pivotal given Hawthorn might be able to manufacture more one on one contests for Franklin and forward line accomplice Jarryd Roughead.
It should be another Sunday afternoon classic and I’m going for the Hawks based on their dominance in this fixture last year.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 39 points or less @ 2.35 (TAB Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs. Adelaide
A rarity in recent seasons, Port Adelaide is actually the form team heading into the Showdown! Adelaide has won the past three clashes, although the Power got them the three times before that, often as the underdog, so these are matches that are often tough to predict. I recommend getting your enjoyment from watching a great contest rather than trying to cheer home a big bet.
Adelaide should have an advantage with Sam Jacobs in the ruck, while the Crows also possess the most damaging midfielder and dangerous forward, in Paddy Dangerfield and Taylor Walker respectively. This star power might be enough to get the Crows home in a tight finish.
Also in Adelaide’s advantage are the tough games they have played to start the season, which should have them more battle hardened than Port Adelaide, with the Power opening their campaign with soft wins over Melbourne and GWS.
The Crows should win, but should does not always apply in a Showdown!
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Adelaide to win by 14 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)