The following are previews and betting tips for Round 15 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 173.25 units
Won = 169.29 units
Profit/Loss = -3.96 units (2.3% loss)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Western Bulldogs to win by 30 points or more, Hawthorn to win, West Coast to win by 39 points or less and Fremantle to win by 57 points or more @ 14.54 (Sportsbet)
Carlton vs. Collingwood
Home and away matches don’t get much bigger than this. Carlton are hosting Collingwood on a Friday night at the MCG in front of 80,000-90,000 people, with both teams battling for the final few remaining places in the top 8. Oh, and throw in an ex-Magpie coaching legend who is now in charge of Carlton and all the ingredients are present for this to be a passionate and keenly fought match.
Collingwood’s game plan subtly shifted last weekend during the loss to Port Adelaide, with the Magpies attempting to emulate Fremantle’s style of absorbing pressure in the defensive half of the ground before breaking quickly. However, the Pies made too many errors with their ball use coming out of the back half, which was demonstrated in the stats that showed Port Adelaide’s first 5 goals all came from Collingwood turnovers.
In the last three meetings between these clubs, Carlton’s small forwards have caused problems for Collingwood’s defenders. Eddie Betts kicked 9 goals across the two matches in 2012, while Chris Yarran, Jeff Garlett and Andrew Walker covered the absence of Betts in the earlier meeting this year, booting 3 majors each.
Carlton skipper is a handy inclusion for the Blues, returning just three weeks after breaking his cheekbone against Hawthorn, while tagger Andrew Carrazzo’s long-awaited return from a calf injury is further good news for the Blues, but bad news for his likely opponent, classy Collingwood midfielder Scott Pendlebury.
This match is really tough to predict, given their form this year, Carlton could win by a lot or Collingwood could win by a little. I think it will be close and the Magpies have the form in the close ones, so I’ll go for the underdogs.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win @ 2.20 (Sportsbet – note that Sportsbet have a money back promo in this market if your team loses by 20 points or less)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Scott Pendlebury to score less than 107.5 dream team points @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Greater Western Sydney vs. Western Bulldogs
The Western Bulldogs were very disappointing last week as they played awful football during the first three and a bit quarters of their shock loss to lowly Melbourne. GWS, meanwhile, suffered their usual thrashing as they endured an 86 point defeat against North Melbourne under the roof at Etihad Stadium.
That loss was the 12th time in a row the winless Giants have conceded 120 points or more to their opposition, which is made worse given their impotency in attack, with Kevin Sheedy’s young side scoring less than 60 points in 6 of their last 7 matches. The Bulldogs represent an easier opponent for GWS though as the Doggies have only won three games so far this year and average just 78 points per match.
The Bulldogs are without skipper Matthew Boyd due to a fractured cheekbone, but mature-age recruit Brett Goodes is an inclusion for the Dogs and his steadying influence across half back should not be underestimated. Even though the Giants can recall leading goal scorer Jeremy Cameron from injury, the Doggies should be able to cover the line of 29.5 points, a margin the Giants have not been within this season.
North Melbourne vs. Richmond
North Melbourne professionally took care of business against GWS last Sunday afternoon, however the Kangaroos are still a long way back from entering the race for the top 8. Richmond are having no such problems and smashed St Kilda last week to record their fourth victory in a row, leaving the Tigers in 6th place and a whopping 3 games plus percentage ahead of the pack in 9th-11th that are chasing a finals berth.
The routine victories against the cellar-dwellars have not been North’s problem this year, which was again demonstrated last week. The Kangaroos have only won 5 games this year, but they are 4-0 in matches against the bottom 5 ranked teams and have won those matches by an average margin of 68 points. The flip side of that is the ‘Roos are only 1-7 in matches against teams 13th and higher, although they have only lost by an average of 17 points and never by more than 39.
Given those figures, I am pretty happy to bet on Richmond to win by 39 points or less in what should be a pretty high-scoring and very watchable game between two attacking teams.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast
The 6th Q Clash will take place in the Saturday twilight fixture at the Gabba. After Gold Coast shocked their local rivals in the inaugural match in 2011, Brisbane has hit back strongly to win the last four match-ups between the AFL’s two Queensland clubs.
Despite Brisbane’s victory in Round 3 this season, the Suns have actually been the better team in 2013 and enter this match higher on the ladder the Lions. Gold Coast’s ascension of the ladder has been built on an across the board improvement from their young midfielders and a stellar year from 22-year-old key position defender Rory Thompson.
Brisbane recalled six of their best players from injury across Rounds 12-13, so those players should now have good match fitness and the Lions form has improved during the past three rounds as they beat Geelong and pushed Fremantle and Hawthorn for more than a half.
I reckon this match is pretty much line-ball, so Gold Coast’s head to head odds are very tempting, however I think this will be a very close game and will instead go for either team to win by 24 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team to win by 24 points or less @ 1.77 (Centrebet)
Adelaide vs. West Coast
It is season on the line type stuff this Saturday night as Adelaide and West Coast do battle in a virtual elimination final. Both teams are locked on 6 wins and the loser will end the round at least two wins outside the top 8, and the Crows and Eagles have tough fixtures to close the home and away season. Interestingly, both clubs have not managed a victory over any of the top 11 teams all season, which goes someway to explaining their predicaments.
West Coast have impressed me more than Adelaide in recent weeks, with the Eagles running top sides Hawthorn and Essendon very close in the past fortnight, while Adelaide were well beaten by Richmond before doing enough to get past Gold Coast last Saturday afternoon.
At the selection table West Coast have lost one premiership star for another, with clearance specialist Daniel Kerr ruled out with a rib injury, while fellow veteran Andrew Embley returns from suspension. Adelaide have lost defender Brent Reilly and have replaced him with back-up ruckman Shaun McKernan, which is probably a smart move given West Coast have the dominant rucking pairing in the league.
I think West Coast have really been on the improve during the past fortnight and that should finally translate into a victory this Saturday night.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win @ 2.28 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs. Hawthorn
Having talked up the magnitude of Friday night’s match, this Saturday night special is just as eagerly awaited by football fans, with the top 2 teams on the ladder squaring off. These clubs have also got some pretty tasty recent history too!
Since Hawthorn’s upset victory over Geelong in the 2008 Grand Final, the Cats have beaten the Hawks in all ten matches between the clubs, although that doesn’t fully describe the drama! Geelong’s average winning margin in those ten wins has only been 8.6 points, with eight of the meetings decided by less than 10 points.
The origins of Geelong’s winning streak have been traced back to some defamatory comments made against the Cats after the 2008 Grand Final by then Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett., which has led to the media dubbing the winning streak as the ‘Kennett Curse’.
Ironically, it appears as though the Hawthorn players have been mentally affected by the ‘Kennett Curse’ because they have blown 20 point leads in five of the ten matches, while in the Round 1 matchup earlier this campaign the Hawks were more than 30 points in front before falling to a defeat.
Important Geelong midfielder Steve Johnson will miss this game as he serves the second of a two-match suspension, but his loss is mitigated by the fact that he was also on the sidelines when his team won this fixture in Round 1. Powerful and influential forward-flanker Paul Chapman’s absence may be significant, while off-season Hawthorn recruit Brian Lake could be the Hawks missing link in defence as he plays against the Cats for the first time since his switch from the Bulldogs.
With the dynamic Cyril Rioli back from injury and Brian ‘brick-wall’ Lake in good touch, the Hawks might finally get the win they have been craving.
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Hawthorn to win @ 1.73 (Sportsbet – note that Sportsbet have a money back promo in this market if your team loses by 20 points or less)
Melbourne vs. Sydney
Are Melbourne a team revitalised under Neil Craig, or does it just look that way because the tough fixtures of May and early June have eased and the Demons have played St Kilda (15th) and the Western Bulldogs (16th) in Craig’s first two matches in charge as caretaker coach? This match against a top-4 chasing Sydney team should help answer that question, and the Swans will be in no mood to take this match lightly given they currently own their top 4 spot on percentage only.
Part of Melbourne’s rejuvenation has come from an impressive fortnight from the much-derided Jack Watts. A former number 1 draft pick, Watts was originally recruited to the club as a forward, but never really took hold of that position in his first couple of years at AFL level, and his form has fluctuated during the past two seasons as he was played across half-back, with spells in the VFL all too common. Craig has played Watts back in the forward line during the past fortnight and his faith in the youngster has been repaid by Watts, who booted a career best 4 goals last week against the Bulldogs.
With Watts joined by big marking players Chris Dawes and Mitch Clark, Melbourne’s future forward line is looking really bright. That’s not even including 18-year-old pre-listed powerhouse Jesse Hogan!
Despite Melbourne’s apparently rosy future, the Demons midfield is simply awful at the moment and they will get thrashed in that area by Sydney’s never-ending contingent of elite midfielders that are just as proficient at using the ball as they are at getting it!
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 50-59 points @ 7.40 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 60-69 points @ 7.20 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle vs. St Kilda
It is difficult to get excited about this match as Fremantle (5th) host lowly St Kilda (15th). Perhaps the best way to get interested in the game is because former St Kilda coach Ross Lyon is now the Fremantle boss and Lyon will be coaching against his old mob for only the second time since he walked out on the Saints.
If the Ross Lyon angle doesn’t work for you, perhaps the main event is the return of Fremantle’s big guns from injury. Big in terms of star power like Matthew Pavlich, Michael Barlow and David Mundy, and big in terms of physical size, like Aaron Sandilands, although Sandilands has got a bit of star power about him too!
The selection news is not quite so bright for the Saints as their skipper Nick Riewoldt, arguably their best performed player this season, has been left out of the squad due to soreness. With goalsneek Stephen Milne already on the sidelines, St Kilda will play this match without their two leading goal-scorers.
Fremantle should win this game by plenty. This could get really ugly.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Fremantle to win by 57 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs. Port Adelaide
The round closes with this reasonably important match between Essendon (3rd) and Port Adelaide (7th). The Bombers continued their impressive backs against the wall season with an astonishing final quarter to over-run the Eagles last Thursday night despite Stewart Crameri limping off with an ankle injury during the third quarter, leaving the red and blacks a man down on the bench.
This promises to be a tough match for the high-flying Bombers as Port Adelaide’s form during the past fortnight has been as good as any team in the competition, with the Power knocking off Sydney and Collingwood in successive weeks.
Both teams are playing good football at the moment, but I think Essendon are the better side, and they have the home-ground advantage, so I will pick the Bombers to win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Essendon to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)