The following are previews and betting tips for Round 14 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 159.25 units
Won = 154.11 units
Profit/Loss = -5.14 units (3.2% loss)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Adelaide to win, Collingwood to win by 39 points or less and Richmond to win by 29 points or more @ 8.97 (Sportsbet)
Sydney vs. Carlton
Last weekend’s surprise loss to Port Adelaide was a bit of a reality check for John Longmire’s Sydney team, who have now lost their place in the top 4, while Carlton are fresh off the bye and hoping to leap into the top 8 from the current position of 9th.
This game will be keenly contested in the midfield, with both teams batting deep in that regard, however the Blues will be without skipper Marc Murphy who has been ruled out with a broken cheekbone. Countering that is the absence of Sydney star Adam Goodes to a knee injury.
The weather bureau is forecasting a few showers in Sydney from tomorrow afternoon and Carlton have a dangerous fleet of small forwards that should thrive in greasy conditions. Coupling that with the fact that the Blues have not lost a match by more than 17 points this season, means that I am happy to take Mick Malthouse’s men at the line with a head-start of 20.5 points.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton at the line (+20.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Eddie Betts for most goals @ 8.00 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast vs. Adelaide
Both these clubs will be rested after the bye weekend and both are sitting on 5 wins from 12 matches, which is probably a better the expected result for Gold Coast, while Adelaide will be disappointed with their first half of the year and now look likely to miss the finals.
The highlight of this match will be the battle between modern-day midfield supremo, Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett, and the man looking most likely to take over that title in a few years, Adelaide ace Paddy Dangerfield. It is unlikely the coaches will let these guys go head-to-head, but it will still be good to see them in close proximity on the same field.
Gold Coast’s key forward line target Tom Lynch is out with a knee injury, meaning the Suns will have to do a massive restructure of their forward line and I am not sure they will be able to find enough goal-kickers to kick a winning score, so I will be on the Crows to secure a much-needed win.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Tom Lynch for most goals @ 9.00 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs. Collingwood
This match is definitely a ladder shaper in the bottom half of the top 8. Port Adelaide is back in form, following up from the their flogging of GWS with a spirited victory over Sydney at this venue last weekend to reclaim a place in the top 8, just as I was beginning to think their season was slipping away after 5 straight losses from Rounds 6-10. Collingwood, meanwhile, have comfortably won their past three matches, although their opponents in those matches were all in the bottom third of the ladder.
Recent history suggests a straightforward Collingwood victory. The Magpies have beaten the Power in all 6 meetings between the sides since 2007, while the Pies have also won their last 8 matches at this venue since 2006.
The team news reduces the Collingwood favouritism a little bit, with Magpies key-position players Ben Reid and Darren Jolly ruled out through injury, however clearance specialist Luke Ball returns for the black and whites. Port Adelaide captain Travis Boak has recovered from the finger injury that kept him out last week and will be a vital inclusion against a formidable Collingwood midfield.
I think Collingwood’s greater depth will mean they get a better output from their fringe players, helping them to a narrow win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs
This Saturday night the home of football will play host to a classic basement battle as second from bottom Melbourne clash with third from bottom Western Bulldogs. Given their struggles for victories this season, both clubs – and their supporters – will have been eyeing off this as a winnable fixture for at least the last few weeks.
The Bulldogs have been much more spirited and competitive than the Demons this year, never losing by more than 70 points in any match this year, a margin of defeat that Melbourne has experienced in half of its 12 matches.
With most eyes focussing on the big match down in Geelong, this game won’t get much attention, but I’ll have a small interest on the Doggies to win by 39 points or less. I think the Dogs are the better team, but don’t have a lot of scoring power and I doubt the margin will blow out too much.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Western Bulldogs to win by 39 points or less @ 1.76 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs. Fremantle
The final quarter between Geelong and Brisbane at the Gabba last Sunday night was by far the most bizarre 30 minutes of football I have seen this season. Comfortably cruising to victory with a 52 point lead late in the third term, the Cats were overrun in the last stanza as the Lions recorded the 8th largest comeback victory in league history. In the past Geelong have always been able to raise their game when challenged by much lower ranked opponents, but on Sunday night they had no answer, so it will be interesting to see what their response is this Saturday night against top 4 rival Fremantle. The Dockers are certainly in great form and, despite a lengthy injury list, have not lost since a mid-April defeat against Hawthorn.
Steve Johnson has been Geelong’s best player this season, transforming himself from a mercurial half-forward flanker to a prolific, but still mercurial, ball-getting midfielder. Unfortunately for Geelong, Johnson laid an over-zealous bump on Brisbane’s Pearce Hanley last week and received a two-match suspension, ruling him out of this contest. With Johnson out, and skipper Joel Selwood likely to cop a heavy tag from Ryan Crowley, some of Geelong’s youngsters will have to raise their games, so I will be looking for improvement from players like talented 22 year olds Allen Christensen and Mitch Duncan.
Like Geelong, Fremantle have midfield concerns this week, with their best two midfielders missing this glamour clash. Michael Barlow has been ruled out with a jaw injury sustained late in last week’s match, while David Mundy again misses with a niggling calf injury.
Fremantle are so solid defensively, which is demonstrated by this amazing stat which has been doing the rounds during the past week or so. Before Ross Lyon began coaching the Dockers, the purple haze conceded fewer than 49 points in a match just three times from 1995 to 2011. Since Lyon took over at the start of last season, the club has done it in nine out of 36 games.
This will be played at a finals like intensity and should be a classic, tight contest and I will take either team to win by 24 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team to win by 24 points or less @ 1.75 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Total Match Score under 172.5 points @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Hawthorn vs. Brisbane Lions
Hawthorn were very impressive in victory against West Coast during a high-quality and physical match last Friday night. The win was the 11th in succession for the Hawks, who are now clear ladder leaders after Geelong’s slip-up last weekend. Given their position, Hawthorn has almost sewn up one of the all-important top 4 spots already! Brisbane have been mostly awful this season, although the Lions have been quite brilliant in small patches, specifically their wins over top 4 sides Geelong and Essendon.
Even though Hawthorn’s most potent forward from the last couple of years – Lance Franklin – has been below his best this season, I reckon Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson would be delighted with how well his forward line functioned last week, with Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston combining for 5 goals each, while underrated small-forward Luke Bruest chipped in for three majors. Hawthorn look just as dangerous sharing the load in attack, rather than being reliant on a brilliant but erratic key forward.
Brisbane have been much better during the past fortnight as a plethora of key players have returned from injury and suspension. Despite this, the Lions were pretty horrible for most of the match against Geelong last weekend, so don’t let the last quarter miracle fool you, there is still a gulf in class between these teams and Hawthorn won’t make the same mistakes Geelong did.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 40 points or more @ 1.71 (Centrebet)
North Melbourne vs. Greater Western Sydney
North Melbourne’s flickering finals hopes were all but extinguished by Fremantle last weekend as the Dockers held the Kangaroos to a paltry final score of just 29 points. At least the ‘Roos should get a result this weekend, with Kevin Sheedy’s winless GWS youngsters coming to town.
GWS should begin the match in an energetic and enthusiastic fashion after having the bye last weekend, so I expect them to serve it up to North Melbourne for at least a half, but eventually North’s mature bodies will get on top of their lighter opponents to post a comfortable victory.
North Melbourne have generally been pretty good at killing off the bottom teams at Etihad Stadium this year, whipping Brisbane, Western Bulldogs and St Kilda all by 54 points or more there this campaign. After a tight first half half, I’m tipping this one will head the same way.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on GWS at the first half line (+37.5) @ 1.90 (Bet365)
Richmond vs. St Kilda
I remember watching the Round 2 meeting between these clubs on a warm Friday night in early April. It was a close match all night, with Richmond holding sway for most of the game, although the Tigers were lacking the authority of a good team and were unable to pull away from a plucky St Kilda line-up containing plenty of seasoned pros. Despite their lack of surety, Richmond’s class was enough to help them to a 17 point victory that night.
Fast-forward nearly three months and the Tigers are still the classier of the two teams, but they have really grown in confidence during the season and added a killer-instinct to their kit-bag, which has helped them notch five victories of 34 points or more during their past 6 games. St Kilda’s stocks have gone the other way during that period, with the Saints declining to a team in 15th on the ladder and still bottoming out during a rebuilding period.
If you indulge me in a crazy analogy, Richmond are a bit like an assassin this season, not as comfortable showcasing their full range under the spotlight with big crowds around (see MCG losses to Collingwood, Essendon and Geelong), but more than willing to make a low-profile kill against a vulnerable opponent!
The Saints don’t get thrashed very often, but this might be one of those rare occasions.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Richmond to win by 40 points or more @ 2.40 (Sportsbet)