The following are previews and betting tips for Round 7 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 74.75 units
Won = 89.83 units
Profit/Loss = +15.08 units (20.2% profit)
Cheeky Multi: 0.5 units on Steven Motlop most goals in Geelong vs. Essendon match, Adelaide to beat GWS by 50 points or more and Carlton to beat St Kilda by 24 points or more @ 58.98 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs. Essendon
The two remaining undefeated teams square off in this fully fledged Friday night blockbuster at Etihad Stadium. Essendon are the season’s surprise packet, refusing to be distracted by the drugs controversy as they top of the table, while Geelong keep defying the so-called experts that have predicted the decline of the champion Cats team each season since 2011.
Geelong have already notched very impressive wins over last season’s grand finalists and look every chance to continue their streak of winning a premiership every second year since 2007. Essendon, meanwhile, have earned top spot due to an attack which has scored the most points of any club and a defence that has conceded the fewest. That Bombers stat is all the more meritorious when you consider the Dons have travelled interstate to two of last year’s finalists and also faced off with Collingwood on ANZAC Day.
Essendon have made six changes at selection, recalling some star players, including marking forward Michael Hurley, classy midfielder Dyson Heppell, and key defenders Dustin Fletcher and Jake Carlisle. Conversely, Geelong lose veteran midfielder Joel Corey, while forward flanker Paul Chapman still hasn’t overcome his hamstring injury and remains sidelined.
Essendon’s key inclusions have swung me across to them and I think the Bombers will claim another key scalp to continue their impressive start to the season.
Port Adelaide vs. Richmond
Port Adelaide may have lost their first game of the season last weekend, but the Power lost few admirers as they battled back from a hefty deficit to go down by only 10 points, and all this happened despite Port being on the wrong end of a lopsided 38-15 free-kick count. Richmond faced umpire issues of their own last week as they undid their good first half work with a few undisciplined acts early in the third quarter that were punished by whistle-blowers, helping Geelong race to a match winning lead.
AAMI Stadium should hold no fears for Richmond as an away trip given the Tigers have won 3 of their past 4 at the venue, including 2/2 against Port Adelaide at the venue since 2010. However, in a blow for Richmond, skipper Trent Cotchin will miss this match with a knee injury. The injury was actually sustained a fortnight ago in a match against Fremantle, but Cotchin took the field last week and was severely down on his regular output, so the decision has been made to rest him this week. Hopefully his knee will heal sufficiently to allow him to get back to playing the A-grade football we like to see from him.
With Cotchin joined on the sidelines by big men Tyrone Vickery and Dylan Grimes, the pendulum starts to swing Port Adelaide’s way, so I’ll be backing the Power to bounce back immediately from their first defeat last week. Some of Port’s key players played very poorly last week, so I’m hoping Hamish Hartlett and Justin Westhoff, in particular, rediscover their sparkling early season form.
Brisbane Lions vs. West Coast
It is hard to know whether West Coast’s big win over the Western Bulldogs last weekend represents an upswing in fortunes for the Perth based club, because the quality of opposition was pretty poor. But a win should still lift the mood inside the Eagles camp and a long trip to Brisbane represents a strong chance to record back-to-back wins for the first time this campaign. The Lions certainly wouldn’t be proud of their start to the year, with a heavy loss to Sydney last weekend dropping the pre-season champions down to 14th on the ladder.
Both teams have recorded two wins against lowly ranked opposition, but whereas Brisbane have scrapped past Gold Coast and Melbourne, West Coast have posted huge wins over Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.
I am pretty confident West Coast will win this match comfortably even though they are the visitors. The principal reason is that the Eagles have much greater scoring power than the Lions, which is demonstrated by a quick glance at the points scored column for this year. West Coast rank as the 6th best attacking team, while, alarmingly, Brisbane sits in 17th and only above the Western Bulldogs.
I expect this match to be reasonably low-scoring and that West Coast should win it comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 16 points or more @ 1.56 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on total match score under 187.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Matt Priddis to score more dream team points than Scott Selwood @ 2.15 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs vs. North Melbourne
The veterans will be out in force for the Saturday twilight match as three over 30’s have been recalled for this game. 34 year old Brent Harvey will play his first game for the season for North Melbourne after finally serving all of his suspension that was handed down at the end of last year, while the Western Bulldogs have added over 600 games of experience with the inclusions of 31 year old Daniel Giansiracusa, 30 year old Bob Murphy and 26 year old Ryan Griffen, a relative youngster! The aforementioned Doggies are all fit again after spending between 2-3 weeks on the sidelines through injury.
These clubs clashed twice last year, with the Bulldogs securing an upset 3 goal win in the first encounter before North Melbourne got revenge later in the season with a 9 goal triumph. The Kangaroos are very warm favourites this time around and the line has been drifting out as the week has progressed, now siting at 43.5 points. The Bulldogs have lost 3 of their past 4 matches by more than this margin, with a bold showing against Geelong the only decent performance during this spell.
North Melbourne has been very predictable during 2013, winning the matches they should and losing the matches they shouldn’t, so I reckon they will win, and should do so comfortably. Harvey, although short in stature, is a massive inclusion for a North team that has been really lacking that bit of class required to overcome the good teams. The Western Bulldogs are not a good team, but they generally give an honest performance and will themselves be boosted by key ins, particularly by Griffen’s explosive ball winning ability in midfield. If the line gets out to 50 points I will take the Bulldogs, but until then I will plump for a fast starting North Melbourne team – the Roos have led at the first change 5 times in 6 matches so far this season – to lead this one wire to wire.
Fremantle vs. Collingwood
It is still relatively early in the campaign, but this is a big, big game in the race to secure an all-important top 4 berth come the end of the season. Fremantle sit 6th on the ladder and Collingwood are 7th, however teams above them are meeting this weekend, so an opportunity to close the gap has been presented. Looking in the other direction, the loser of this match will be back in the middle of a bunch of teams scrapping for the last couple of places in the top 8.
Speedster Stephen Hill is a welcome addition to the Fremantle lineup, with his game-breaking abilities a necessity while Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe and Matthew Pavlich are still missing in action. Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell has returned from a broken hand earlier than expected, while quick Irishman Caolan Mooney gets his chance to impress at senior level after booting 5 goals in the VFL last week.
Collingwood has only lost to Fremantle once since 2006 and the Magpies have also won their past two clashes against the Dockers at this venue, so with Fremantle still missing some key players, I’m on the Pies to continue their good recent record against the purple haze.
Hawthorn vs. Sydney
The grand final rematch is always a highly anticipated clash and this year’s encounter has been no different. From a betting perspective, the market is almost identical to the big day last year, with Hawthorn clear head to head favourites. That favouritism is hard to understand though, because both teams are on 5 wins this season, Sydney beat Hawthorn twice in three matches last year (including in their only MCG showdown) and excitement machine Cyril Rioli is missing for the Hawks with a nasty hamstring injury.
For Hawthorn to win, Lance Franklin needs to find some form. The glamour forward has been held goalless during the last couple of weeks and his mob has only scraped over the line against teams of a lesser standing than Sydney. Franklin will almost certainly be manned up by Ted Richards and this will be a match-up to savour as the All Australian centre-half-forward and centre-half-back go head to head.
If Sydney are to win, it is extremely unlikely they will be able to win by more than 40 points, so if you were thinking of picking the Swans head to head, go for them to win by under 39 points and boost your odds.
For me, this is too close to call, so I will back either team to win by 24 points or less. Let’s hope the sequel is just as good as the original!
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team to win by 24 points or less @ 1.75 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.75 units on Sam Mitchell to score more dream team points than Ryan O’Keefe @ 1.95 (Sportsbet)
Greater Western Sydney vs. Adelaide
The young Giants had the football world in shock last week as they outplayed table topping Essendon in the first half to take a 21 point into the main break. The good times couldn’t last though, with the Bombers putting the foot down to dominate the second half and win the match by 39 points. Adelaide were plucky in their game against Hawthorn, and may have even snuck a win but for an awful free-kick being paid against them at a crucial stage of the last quarter.
Hit hard by injuries in recent weeks, Adelaide happily welcome back skipper Nathan van Berlo for this clash, while the Giants regain ruckman Dean Brogan and number 1 draft pick Lachie Whitfield. Adelaide’s gun midfielder Paddy Dangerfield returned to form last weekend with a massive game against Hawthorn and he will need to be closely monitored by one of the Giants stoppers, either Tom Scully or young Jacob Townsend who did a great job on Essendon captain Jobe Watson last weekend.
The Crows were a cumulative 165 points better than the Giants across their two matches last year, so I am happy to take Adelaide at the line of 50 points. Even with Taylor Walker out the Crows should be able to cover that.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Adelaide to win by 50 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Adam Treloar to score more dream team points than Stephen Coniglio @ 1.65 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. Gold Coast
Ordinarily, a match between 13th and 17th isn’t anything to get excited about, but it is still a novelty when the Gold Coast are a genuine winning chance, so there will be plenty of interest in this game to see if the Suns can get past Melbourne and remain within 4 points of the top 8! It is also a big game for the Demons and their coach Mark Neeld as a defeat to the franchise club would focus the media spotlight on Melbourne.
The scenario was pretty similar for Melbourne a few weeks ago when they hosted GWS. The Giants threatened to play out the Demons nightmare scenario before the red and blues piled on the goals in the final quarter. Gold Coast are probably more advanced than GWS, so the Suns should have an even tighter match against Neeld’s team.
Melbourne will be without both co-captains for this match as Jack Grimes injured his collarbone last week, while Jack Trengove picked up a calf injury. In better news for Melbourne, key forward Chris Dawes will make his club debut after crossing from Collingwood in the off-season. Despite Dawes’ inclusion, I think Gold Coast actually have a bit more class around the ground and should sneak a victory.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gold Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.60 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Harley Bennell to score more dream team points than Jaeger O’Meara @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda vs. Carlton
My least favourite timeslot is back. Monday night football is designed for the television audience, proving the AFL doesn’t really care about the fans that like to turn up to matches. It is nearly impossible for young kids to attend a night match so early in the week before school, while country members have no chance of trekking in to watch their team play.
Enough ranting, time to assess the on-field battle! Carlton has done well to turn their season around, winning three on the spin to charge into the top 8 and looking more settled under new coach Mick Malthouse. St Kilda is not travelling so well, languishing in 15th place on the ladder and playing a far less enterprising brand of football than last season.
Last week against Collingwood, the Saints frequently poured extra numbers behind the ball, and while this tactic disrupted the Magpies attacking thrusts, it also meant St Kilda were outnumbered when going forward and the Saints forward line needs all the space it can get right now, with only Nick Riewoldt is in goal kicking form.
Both tall Carlton defenders Michael Jamison and Lachie Henderson have good attributes to matchup against Riewoldt, so I can’t see the Saints finding a way to kick enough goals to beat the free-wheeling Blues.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 24 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Leigh Montagna to score more dream team points than Nick Riewoldt @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)