The following are previews and betting tips for Round 4 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 35.75 units
Won = 43.44 units
Profit/Loss = +7.69 units (21.5% profit)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Essendon and Port Adelaide to win by 16 points or more and Melbourne to win by 11 points or more @ 7.08 (Sportsbet)
Sydney vs. Geelong
The corresponding fixture last year was one of the matches of the season. Sydney stormed to a 6 goal lead by quarter time, then the Cats gradually clawed their way back into the contest before fringe Swans forward Andrejs Everitt kicked a late goal to settle the contest in the home teams favour. Ironically, Everitt has been dropped for this week’s game! Expectations are high for another classic contest this time around, with both teams entering the match unbeaten this year.
Sydney have turned the SCG into a fortress, winning 8 of 10 matches on the league’s shortest playing surface since the start of 2012, and those losses were only 5 points to Adelaide and 7 points against Hawthorn. Given their record at the ground, the Swans are unlikely to suffer a heavy defeat.
For their part, Geelong have come through three tight matches already this campaign, so if this is a close match as expected, the Cats could easily spring a surprise on the reigning Premiers.
This match could go either way, so I am going to sit on the fence and cheer home a close game. After bombing out on Friday night games so far this season, I am going to play conservative and back either team to win by 24 points or less. Hopefully that will kick off a good weekend!
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team to win by 24 points or less @ 1.75 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Dan Hannebery to score more dream team points than Luke Parker @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Paul Chapman for most goals @ 21.00 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn vs. Fremantle
Hawthorn has responded well to an opening round stumble against Geelong, following that loss with comprehensive victories over fellow premiership contenders West Coast and Collingwood. Fremantle has also beaten the Eagles in the early rounds of this season, but surprisingly slipped up against Essendon last week as they succumbed to their first defeat.
Troubled by the Magpies in the first half last week, the Hawks reeled in their opponents by half time and then found top gear during a pulsating third quarter to set up a crushing 55 point victory. The ease of scoring has been a notable feature of the Hawks early season form, with the brown and gold boys averaging a whopping 126 points per game so far in 2013, particularly impressive when you consider the quality of opposition they have played.
This match will be a classic contrast of styles, with the free-wheeling Hawks opposed by a disciplined Dockers defence. Fremantle conceded the second fewest points during the 2012 home and away season, so coach Ross Lyon clearly tightened things up in his year at the club.
Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich has been ruled out for a month with an achilles injury, significantly denting Fremantle’s chances in this one, with the odds really looking stacked in Hawthorn’s favour when you consider the Dockers were already missing influential ruckman Aaron Sandilands,.
When Hawthorn win, they win big. The Hawks have won 19 matches since the start of 2012 and 16 of those victories have come by 25 points or more, with 11 being by 50 points or more! But knowing Fremantle are pretty solid defensively, I’ve only gone for the Hawks by the conservative margin of 25 points or more
Richmond vs. Collingwood
Saturday afternoon, a sunny Melbourne day and a clash between two traditional rivals at the MCG. All the key ingredients are present for a top game of footy, so get yourself a ticket! Richmond enter this match as one of five unbeaten teams and if they can get past Collingwood here, the Tigers will be on course for their first Finals appearance since 2001 and their bandwagon will fill to capacity.
The first three quarters of Collingwood’s match against Hawthorn last Sunday was easily the highest standard of football I have seen this year. The Magpies wilted in the last quarter though, which will be a worry for the fitness staff as the black and whites are in the middle of a 12 day period in which they play 3 games.
Silky smooth Collingwood midfielder Scott Pendlebury was under an injury cloud this week, but has been selected to play and his continued presence will significantly aid the Magpies. Pendlebury will team up with Dane Swan to take on Richmond’s vaunted midfield led by Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio. It will be a great battle!
The Tigers will need to play close to their best to win, so I am leaning towards the Magpies because they have proven their ability to perform in big matches during the past few seasons.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 2.50 (Multiple Sites)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Shaun Grigg for most disposals in Group 2 @ 3.20 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda vs. Essendon
The Saturday twilight match will be an emotion charged encounter this week as St Kilda host Essendon at Etihad Stadium. Brendan Goddard was taken by St Kilda as a number one draft pick and played over 200 games during his 10 seasons as a Saint, before joining Essendon as a free agent at the end of last season. A star for the Saints during the Grand Final campaigns of 2009 and 2010, Goddard’s decision to walk out on St Kilda as the club appear to be headed for a few tough years has left a bitter taste in the mouth for many Saints fans. Expect those fans to vocally direct their displeasure towards Goddard on Saturday.
Essendon’s versatile big man Paddy Ryder has been suspended for three weeks for a crude bump on Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin last week, while youngster Nick Kommer has also been rubbed out for a couple of matches.
If St Kilda are to win, skipper Nick Riewoldt will need to take plenty of marks and bag a few goals, however improving Essendon defender Jake Carlisle will line up on Riewoldt and I expect him to make life very difficult for the Saints talisman.
Even though St Kilda are back playing at their favourite venue for the first time this year, Essendon are playing like a top 4 team and should have too much firepower for the Saints.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Essendon to win by 25 points or more @ 2.40 (Centrebet)
West Coast vs. Carlton
After a tough start to the season, things won’t get any easier for Carlton this Saturday night as they trek east to tackle one of the toughest away trips in football. West Coast were outplayed in their first two matches but responded last week with a big win over Melbourne. However, the Demons are really struggling, so the Eagles are yet to prove themselves against a decent side.
Ever since Chris Judd left West Coast to join Carlton, these matches have been very spicy. The Eagles have won this fixture both times during the past two years, although the winning margins did not exceed 10 points. Prior to that, the Blues shocked their hosts with victories in 2008 and 2010.
Both teams have been hit by injuries already this season, with Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer suffering a fractured thumb last weekend, meaning he will join West Coast counterpart Nic Naitanui on the sidelines for this game. That hands the advantage to Eagle big man Dean Cox, who should be able to get on top of Blues ruck inclusion Robbie Warnock around the ground.
I know it was only against Melbourne, but West Coast’s forward line looked dangerous last week, with Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Mark LeCras sharing 13 goals. They form a dangerous trio and could be too slick for the Carlton backline this week. The Blues have conceded an average of 32 scoring shots per game so far in 2013 and are leaking too many points, so I will have to back the Eagles.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
Gold Coast vs. Port Adelaide
Each year a surprise packet seems to emerge from lower part of the ladder and challenge for an unlikely spot in the top 8. Port Adelaide is the 2013 surprise packet! Energised by new coach Ken Hinkley, the Power made the most of a soft opening fortnight to record huge wins over Melbourne and GWS, before making the rest of the footy world sit up and take notice as they ran over the top of more-fancied local rivals Adelaide last Sunday.
Gold Coast have been more than decent in the opening three weeks, beating St Kilda, narrowly losing to Brisbane and pushing Sydney for three quarters. This represents a significant progression, confirmed by the Suns percentage, which sits at 89%, much higher than the 56% in 2011 and 60% in 2012.
The feature of this match will be the battle between Port Adelaide’s in-form stopper Kane Cornes and Gold Coast superstar Gary Ablett. Ablett was in doubt for this match with a hand injury, but he has been selected to play and will surely have Cornes shadowing him all night.
Gold Coast can only win if Ablett plays a blinder, but even then that might not be enough. With Cornes likely to curb Ablett’s influence a little, Port Adelaide should win this one comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 unit on Port Adelaide to win by 16 points or more @ 2.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Oliver Wines to score more dream team points than Jaeger O’Meara @ 1.65 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. Greater Western Sydney
For embattled Melbourne coach Mark Neeld’s sake, I hope his players can get the job done against GWS this Sunday. After three heavy defeats to open the season the Demons are the laughing stock of the competition and Neeld has been copping much of the blame from journalists and supporters. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Neeld could lose his job if his team is humbled by the Giants.
The team news has been favourable to Melbourne, with former number one draft pick Jack Watts recalled to the Demons backline, while GWS lose a former number one draft pick as Jonathon Patton has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury. The Giants chances have been further dented by the suspension of important players Dean Brogan and Devon Smith.
This game should be pretty close, but Melbourne have the most dangerous attacking weapon and Mitch Clark’s goals should keep Mark Neeld safe. For now.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Melbourne to win by 11 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Dylan Shiel to score more dream team points than Stephen Coniglio @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs. Western Bulldogs
After a positive start to the season, the Western Bulldogs had a day to forget last Sunday against Richmond, losing four players to a variety of serious injuries and some of those are key players that will miss big chucks of the season. Adelaide’s problems are mostly of their own doing, failing to get the job done twice at AAMI Stadium already this season.
After a tough week, there are a few glimmers of light for Doggies fans as skipper and ball magnet Matthew Boyd returns from a calf injury. Boyd has not played yet this season, so will be a big boost around the stoppages for young up and comer Tom Liberatore who struggled last week after starring in the first two weeks. Another positive for the Dogs is the inclusion of top draft picks Jake Stringer and Jackson Macrae for potential debuts this week. I caught some of Stringer’s work in the VFL last weekend and his five goal haul had me particularly excited.
Adelaide need to win to get their season back on track after a disappointing defeat against bitter rival Port Adelaide last week. Captain Nathan van Berlo is out with a knee injury, while midfielder Bernie Vince has been dropped after making only a substitute appearance last week.
There is too much on the line for the Crows and the Bulldogs have too many injuries for this game to be anything other than an Adelaide win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Adelaide to win by 25 points or more @ 1.44 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Rory Sloane to score more dream team points than Daniel Cross @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)
North Melbourne vs. Brisbane Lions
North Melbourne have had three tough matches to start the season and consequently suffered three losses. The Kangaroos have actually played the Premiers from each of the past three seasons, so it is no surprise they are 0-3. They will start favourites this Sunday against Brisbane though, with the Lions only just scraping to victory over Gold Coast last week, following two defeats to open their campaign.
Two debutantes have been named for this match, one for either team, although North Melbourne’s will gain much more publicity and attention. Powerfully built Kangaroo Majak Daw will become the AFL’s first Sudanese-born player when he takes to the field this Sunday afternoon. Daw has been closely followed by the media since being drafted by the Kangaroos and will be hoping to create some highlights in the AFL after lighting up the VFL with some outrageous plays during the past couple of seasons. Brisbane debutant Sam Docherty doesn’t have the profile of Daw, but the talented half-back flanker has recovered from an injury-hit first year in the AFL system and should slot into the pace of AFL without too many issues.
North Melbourne have beaten Brisbane the last three times they have played at this venue, so I am tipping the Roos to get the job done again, with key forward Drew Petrie surely overdue for a bag of goals.