The following are previews and betting tips for Round 8 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 90 units
Won = 99.80 units
Profit/Loss = +10.80 units (10.9% profit)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Western Bulldogs to win by 39 points or less, Sydney to be leading at half time and full time, and Geelong to win by 21 points or more @ 10.47 (Sportsbet)
West Coast vs. North Melbourne
It was a slow start to the year for these clubs, but the fortunes of West Coast and North Melbourne have improved during the past few weeks as their respective fixture lists have eased a little, and now both teams enter this match on two game winning streaks. It is also worth noting that the last time these teams met, West Coast ended North Melbourne’s 2012 season with a merciless 96 point drubbing at this very venue, so there is likely to be a bit of niggle between the two sets of players.
West Coast welcomed Nic Naitanui back into the team a fortnight ago and the human-highlight-reel was very influential in the Eagles last quarter surge against Brisbane last weekend, while North Melbourne’s veteran playmaker Brent Harvey looked at home in the Kangaroos jumper last weekend as he played his first game for the season in the blue and white after serving a six-game suspension to start the year.
The home ground advantage is enough to make West Coast firm favourites for this match, however I think the Eagles will get home because of another reason. That reason is tackling and pressure. So far in 2013, West Coast have laid more tackles than any other team, while North Melbourne ranks a lowly 16th in this stat.
The Eagles seem likely victors if they bring their enthusiastic tackling game, and with a bit of drizzle forecast, the greasy conditions should ensure it is not a blowout.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Scott Selwood most disposals in Group 1 @ 6.50 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Daniel Kerr most disposals in Group 2 @ 3.80 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs. Brisbane Lions
It will be interesting to see how Essendon respond to their first setback of the season after the Bombers were beaten by Geelong last Friday night to relinquish top spot on the ladder. Brisbane have had plenty of experience backing up after a defeat, but unfortunately for the Lions it is usually only followed up by another loss.
Even though they went down last weekend, Essendon should still take some solace from playing quite well last Friday, winning most of the statistical categories against Geelong, but the Bombers didn’t make the most of their opportunities and were ultimately punished by a clinical Cats outfit.
Young Bomber defender Jake Carlisle took the points against potent Cat forward Tom Hawkins last weekend, adding another name to his impressive list of scalps this campaign. Carlisle will be involved in another definitive matchup during this week’s game as he battles with Brisbane spearhead Jonathan Brown. Brown is a barometer for his team, scoring eight goals across the Lions two wins and only four goals in their five losses.
Brisbane have really struggled at Etihad Stadium in their two matches at the ground during 2013, losing by more than 10 goals against both the Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne. That sort of margin is likely to be replicated again here.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Essendon to win by 53 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: .5 units on Michael Hurley for most goals @ 8.00 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn vs. Greater Western Sydney
The young GWS team had their first 100 point blowout of the season last weekend in their match against Adelaide, which is not a good form-line for them heading into a match against an imposing Hawthorn side that breezed past Sydney last Saturday night to record their sixth consecutive victory.
The biggest problem for the young Giants has been minimising the opposition’s scoring. The lowest score they have conceded so far this season was 106 points against Sydney, which is much worse than the same time last year when GWS had restricted their opponents to less than 106 points in 4 of their first 7 matches.
The defensive deficiencies of the Giants were also exposed last week by unheralded Adelaide forward Tom Lynch who booted 10 goals. Prior to last week, Lynch had only kicked 13 goals in his 15 career matches. If Lynch can snag 10 goals against the Giants, just imagine what enigmatic Hawthorn forward Lance Franklin might do if he has a day out!
Hawthorn won this fixture 193-31 last year, so things could get ugly, especially with hawks skipper Luke Hodge looking fit and in his best form for a couple of years.
Andy’s Bet: None
Gold Coast vs. Western Bulldogs
Gold Coast won their third game of the season last week, taking them to the same number of wins in just 7 rounds this season as they managed for the whole of the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. In contrast, the Western Bulldogs are still bottoming out after a gradual decline in recent seasons and have managed just the single victory during 2013.
Despite the Suns better record so far this year, I think they have had a much softer draw than their opponents and the teams are pretty well matched. God Coast have only played two finalists from last year, while the Bulldogs have played five. This fixture actually represents the easiest match the Bulldogs have played since their opening round contest against Brisbane, and the Doggies went on to win that game by 68 points.
The pivotal matchup in this game will be Gold Coast’s ball winning superstar Gary Ablett up against Western Bulldogs underrated stopper Nick Lower. Lower usually goes to the best opposition midfielder each week and he has taken the points more often than not so far this season, however Ablett is the best midfielder there is. Heavily tagged every game, Ablett has still managed to collect the most disposals of any player as we head into Round 8. And for those that still think he only gets the cheap touches, Ablett has the most contested possessions of any player too.
Despite another likely virtuoso performance from Ablett, the Bulldogs looked a much improved team with some of their experienced players back on deck last week and I think the Doggies will just scrape home.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Western Bulldogs to win by 39 points or less @ 3.10 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Matthew Boyd under 112.5 dream team points @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Daniel Giansiracusa for most goals @ 7.00 (Sportsbet)
Sydney vs. Fremantle
Sydney were very disappointing last Saturday night in the grand final replay against Hawthorn, with the 37 point margin of defeat actually flattering the Swans. Fremantle were far more impressive, losing their ruckman, Jonathon Griffen, to a serious knee injury in the first quarter and then digging deep in the final term to halt a Collingwood charge, before kicking clear to win by 27 points.
Fremantle are one of the few teams to have troubled Sydney at the SCG in recent seasons, winning by 11 points in 2011 and losing by only 13 points last year. Those meritorious performances were built from good work in the ruck and the clearances, which are vitally important on the small SCG ground, where matches tend to have a lot of stoppages. The injury to Griffen last week and the continued unavailability of first-choice ruckman Aaron Sandilands due to a hamstring injury mean the Dockers will go into this match with a makeshift ruck setup, which is a recipe for disaster against a Sydney team leading the league in hit-outs through ruck pairing Mike Pyke and Shane Mumford
The size of the ground also detracts from Fremantle’s greatest strength, the pace of their forward line. The confined nature of the playing surface means Fremantle’s speedy small forwards, so damaging against Collingwood last week, will not have as much room to work their magic against Sydney.
Even though they were rubbish last week, I think Sydney should quickly bounce back with a win over an injury-hit opposition in this match.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sydney to be leading at half time and full time @ 1.76 (Sportsbet)
Collingwood vs. Geelong
After knocking off Essendon last Friday night, Geelong stand atop the AFL ladder after 7 rounds as the only undefeated team. The Cats were superb with ball in hand last week, clinically taking apart the Bombers despite having fewer disposals. Collingwood, meanwhile, were very disappointing in their match against Fremantle, lacklustre in the first half and unable to finish the job when hitting the lead against their injury-hit opponent early in the last quarter.
That Magpies loss reiterated a theme from Collingwood matches during the past year and a bit, confirming the Pies really struggle to defend against an opposition with quick small forwards. Docker Michael Walters provided a real handful and it took the Magpies three goes at finding a suitable matchup in the first half before Harry O’Brien was moved back from his wing.
Compounding the Magpies defensive woes are the suspension of rebounding defender Heath Shaw and an ankle injury to Dale Thomas, whose recent shift to the backline had helped improve Collingwood’s speed in that part of the ground.
Geelong probably possess the best range and depth of mid-sized forwards, and with James Podsiadly and Tom Hawkins crashing packs above them, players like Steven Motlop, Matthew Stokes and Allen Christensen should combine for plenty of goals this Saturday night. That’s not even including the goal scoring threat of Steve Johnson and Jimmy Bartel.
The Cats just look irresistible right now.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Geelong to win by 21 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Carlton vs. Port Adelaide
Both clubs are backing up after losing matches they were favoured to win. Carlton were surprising losers against St Kilda in the Monday night match, while Port Adelaide were well beaten at home against Richmond.
The Blues suffered a few early injuries against St Kilda and were two men down by quarter time, with a further injury to Michael Jamison particularly noteworthy because his injury enabled the dangerous Nick Riewoldt to dominate the match for the Saints. Turning to this weekend and the pain continues for the Blues with Chris Yarran misses this match through injury and forward line accomplice Eddie Betts has been suspended for three matches following his late hit on young St Kilda defender Nathan Wright. The other selection news for Carlton is the recall from suspension of important forward Jarrad Waite, while the Blues are taking the cautious approach with Bryce Gibbs, giving his hamstring another week to fully heal.
Port Adelaide have recalled former skipper Dom Cassisi for some grunt work around the packs, while Matthew Lobbe returns to ruck against in-form Blues big man Robbie Warnock.
Even though Etihad Stadium isn’t the happiest of hunting grounds for Carlton, they have lost their last three games at the venue, the Blues ruck dominance should steer them to a narrow victory.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)
Richmond vs. Melbourne
Just when you think things at Melbourne can’t get any worse the Demons manage to find new depths to explore, with the latest offering a horrid 10 goal defeat against a fledgling Gold Coast team. To call the Melbourne performance embarrassing would actually be a kind thing to say! Richmond were much better last weekend and managed to snap a worrying three game losing run with a comprehensive win over a previously impressive Port Adelaide side. That victory should be built upon with another win in this match to ensure the Tigers are secure in the top 8 ahead of a tough couple of fixtures later in the month.
There are countless reasons why Melbourne are struggling so much at the start of this season, but I reckon the biggest of the lot is their inability to control the football. The Demons have averaged just 303 disposals per match during 2013, which is 30 lower than the next worst team and 54 less than their opponents this Sunday afternoon.
Richmond have the luxury of recalling talented skipper Trent Cotchin after spelling him for a week to get over a niggling knee complaint, and the Tigers seem to have unearthed another talented midfielder in Cotchin’s absence, with 3rd gamer Nick Vlastuin involved in a lot of the centre square action last week as he picked up 23 touches, 11 marks and even snared a goal.
Only a lot of rain will keep this from being a huge Tigers win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 71 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs. St Kilda
The final game of the round pits two winners from last weekend against each other. Adelaide produced the generic routine victory over GWS, while St Kilda impressed many with a solid performance to get the win over Carlton.
Former Saint Tom Lynch kicked 10 goals last week for the Crows, but it will be Interesting to see how he fares against his old mob this week. Was the 10 goal performance a flash in the pan, or was it a sign that Lynch could be the man to lead the Adelaide attack in the absence of Taylor Walker? Personally, I don’t think Lynch will kick 5 goals in a game for the rest of the season, however he clearly has some ability and could be good value to pitch in with 2-3 sausage rolls every week. If he does that, the Crows coaching staff will be happy with him.
St Kilda’s victory over Carlton was finally a reward for their efforts this year. I have been pretty harsh on them in this column, but coach Scott Watters was a bit more attacking with his game plan on Monday night and some bold attacks through the corridor helped get a bit more value out of his small forwards. Despite having a 2-5 record after playing some of the top teams early in the season, the Saints have not been beaten by more than 37 points in any of their losses and provide a decent test for quality opposition.
If this game was played in Melbourne, I would probably go for St Kilda, but since it is in Adelaide, I can’t go past the Crows.