The following are previews and betting tips for Round 17 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 199.25 units
Won = 192.44 units
Profit/Loss = -6.81 units (3.4% loss)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Sam Gibson most disposals in Group 2 of the North Melbourne v Carlton game and ‘Any Other Result’ in the wire to wire market in the Brisbane v Melbourne game @ 10.80 (Sportsbet)
North Melbourne vs. Carlton
Carlton leapt to 9th place on the ladder after their workmanlike victory over St Kilda last Saturday night, and the Blues could even climb into the top 8 with another win this Friday night. North Melbourne, meanwhile, had yet another second half fadeout last week, once more failing to convert a great opening hour of football into a victory. That loss left the Kangaroos in 11th spot on the ladder, one win behind the Blues, however the Roos are running out of time to narrow the gap to the top 8 and play 4 of the top 7 teams in the final five rounds.
North Melbourne were hit by a flurry of injuries that helped explain their lacklustre second half against Brisbane, with captain Andrew Swallow, forward Robbie Tarrant and defenders Lachie Hansen and Aaron Mullett all restricted by injury last Saturday night. Amazingly, all four of those players have recovered enough to be selected for this match and North will be boosted by the returns of goal sneak Lindsay Thomas and reliable defender Scott McMahon. For their part, Carlton have named an unchanged team and captain Marc Murphy has been included despite tweaking his hamstring last weekend.
Given North Melbourne’s line-up has been strengthened, the Roos play Etihad quite well and Carlton are still without forward lynchpin Jarrad Waite, I think the Kangaroos might just shade this one.
Hawthorn vs. Western Bulldogs
If Hawthorn superstar Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin is to leave Waverly Park for a new home over the summer, perhaps his loss won’t be as damaging to the club as some fans fear. Franklin was a late withdrawal against Port Adelaide last weekend, but his teammates had little trouble covering his absence as they secured a comfortable 45 point win to remain on top of the ladder. Showing just how different the current aspirations for these clubs are, the Western Bulldogs would have been delighted with their bold performance against Essendon last Sunday despite ending up 31 point losers.
Franklin is still sidelined for this match, while both teams lose valuable midfielders. Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne has been suspended and the Bulldogs have lost Clay Smith to a serious knee injury.
Hawthorn have only won two matches by greater than 58 points all season and the Doggies have not lost a match by more than 70 points, so there appears to be value taking the Western Bulldogs at the line of +64.5 points.
Andy’s Bet: 0.75 units on Western Bulldogs at the line (+64.5 points) @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Greater Western Sydney vs. Essendon
This game is a mismatch on paper, with third placed Essendon expected to really thrash their winless hosts who are currently occupying the bottom rung of the ladder, a location owned by GWS since Round 4. However, the same expectations were held by most pundits ahead of the pairs Round 6 meeting, which the Giants led and outplayed the more fancied Bombers for more than half the game before running out of steam and suffering a 39 point defeat.
Essendon captain Jobe Watson is still sidelined by a collarbone injury, and he is joined on the sidelines by fellow midfielder David Zaharakis who is nursing a back injury that forced him to be subbed out of last weekend’s match. The Giants have made even more changes than they usually make, with 7 new faces from last week’s squad and I am sure that volume of rotations can’t be good for the continuity of the group.
After a rare close game a fortnight ago, the Giants reverted to being easy-beats last weekend, losing by 129 points to crosstown rivals Sydney, making it the Giants 7th loss by 75 points or more in their last 9 outings. That form means I am happy enough to take Essendon at the line of 68.5 points.
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Essendon to win by 70 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Gold Coast vs. Collingwood
For the second week in a row, Gold Coast welcome to the north a top 8 team from Melbourne. In this timeslot last weekend the Suns were only just beaten by 9 points by Richmond during a windy match in Cairns. That result left Guy McKenna’s young developing team in 14th spot on the table, 7 places below this week’s visitors Collingwood.
The Magpies are on something of a recent hot-streak with 5 wins from their past 6 matches, and all of those wins have been by 27 points or more. The Suns haven’t been travelling as well in recent times, losing four on the spin to spiral out of finals contention. Three of those four losses by Gold Coast have been by 28 points or more, with only last week’s weather-affected Richmond match remaining close on the scoreboard.
Last Saturday night Rory Thompson was in Cairns hospital being treated after copping a nasty knock to his chest, however the promising centre half back has been cleared of internal injuries and has been named for the Suns this week, meaning he will face more punishment, almost certainly playing on Collingwood’s marking machine Travis Cloke. That match-up is hard enough for someone fully fit, but Thompson will need help from his defensive teammates to stop Cloke and the Magpie man-mountain is in great form, leading the competition for marks inside 50 with 72 grabs in that part of the ground this season, 50% more than the next best player.
Gary Ablett had 53 disposals last time these clubs met, however despite the Ablett masterclass his team still lost by nearly 100 points. The margin won’t approach that mark this time, but I still think Collingwood will win fairly comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win by 25 points or more @ 1.74 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. Brisbane Lions
Since being able to recall six key players from injury and suspension during the middle of the season, Brisbane have been one of the best performed teams, winning 3 of their past 5 matches, with the wins including a stunning last quarter fight-back to beat second placed Geelong, while the losses were against top-class opposition in Hawthorn and Fremantle. Melbourne have also improved recently, which is directly linked to the replacement of former coach Mark Neeld with caretaker Neil Craig. Under Craig’s stewardship the Demons have had a greater spring in their step and until last weekend’s disappointing loss against Geelong, Melbourne had actually strung three credible matches together.
I’m heavily favouring a Brisbane win, however matches at TIO Stadium in Darwin tend to throw up some surprising results, so I am wary of putting too much money on the Lions. But I still think Brisbane has a much better ruck and midfield division, so I am on the Lions to triumph. Perhaps for a sneaky bet, you could try the ‘Any Other Result’ in the wire to wire market, this would have paid out in two of Brisbane’s past three wins.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on ‘Any Other Result’ in the wire to wire market @ 2.40 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda vs. Port Adelaide
St Kilda have been one of this season’s biggest disappointments, with the magnitude of their decline greater than many were predicting pre-season. I thought I was being bold when I predicted them to slide to 13th on the ladder in my season preview, but with more than two thirds of the season gone the Saints have plunged to 16th place on the ladder from a final position of 9th last campaign.
St Kilda’s regression will be placed firmly in the spotlight this weekend as the Saints play host to Port Adelaide, a team that has contrasted St Kilda’s dismal campaign by performing well above expectations, so much so that the Power are still clinging to a spot in the top 8.
Port Adelaide have been hindered by a one match suspension to in-form midfielder Kane Cornes, but the Power will be helped by the return from suspension of laconic utility player Justin Westhoff, while the Saints have stuck with their youth policy by handing recalls to some younger fringe players.
The Saints have played with a lot of character during the past week and play Etihad relatively well, so I think they will ensure this is a close game. The Power should still edge it though, so I’ll stick with them in a tight one.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Port Adelaide to win by 24 points or less @ 3.40 (Sportsbet)
Richmond vs. Fremantle
The early-afternoon Sunday match can often be a bit of a non-event playing host to low-profile matches, however this one should be a cracker with 6th placed Richmond hosting 5th placed Fremantle. Richmond bounced back from a disappointing loss to North Melbourne a fortnight ago by beating Gold Coast in a tight contest last weekend, which was the Tigers 7th win from their past 9 matches. Fremantle’s form has been even more impressive as the Dockers have cruised through the past 3 months, suffering only one defeat during that time, when they were severely undermanned playing in Geelong.
Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich had recovered from a lengthy injury layoff to play the last two games, however the Dockers forward line fulcrom laid a reckless bump last weekend and has been suspended for the next three matches. Pavlich is a great player, but the Dockers proved they could cover his absence earlier this year, so, in isolation, his loss shouldn’t have a huge bearing on the outcome of this game. Unfortunately for the Dockers though, fellow forward line member Hayden Ballantyne has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, meaning coach Ross Lyon will need to delve deep into his bag of tricks to find a forward line structure capable of kicking a winning score. It is also worth noting that Pavlich was the difference in this fixture last year, booting six goals in a low-scoring game.
I don’t know who to pick in this game, but Freo are the value option in the head to head market, so I will go for them. With the following stat helping tip me over the edge – Richmond are 0-4 against teams currently in the top 7 of the ladder.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle to win @ 2.10 (TAB Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs. Geelong
At the start of the season this would have been pencilled in as one of the games of the year, however Adelaide have been rather underwhelming and are basically out of finals contention after last Friday night’s loss to Collingwood. Geelong, meanwhile, have reacted perfectly to the shock loss to Brisbane a few weeks ago by winning three matches in a row and being very stingy defensively. During those three matches the Cats have managed an amazing 90 scoring shots to 41, giving a great indication of their recent form and dominance.
Adelaide’s season has been unravelling since key forward Taylor Walker severely injured his knee very early in the campaign. Without Walker, young star Patrick Dangerfield has been sensational, however Dangerfield copped a fierce knock to his shoulder last week and will be sidelined for this match. Geelong also suffered a selection blow this week as prime midfield mover Steve Johnson was suspended for one match.
Geelong have proven over the course of the past 7 years that they can cover injuries to key personnel, so I think they should be able to reasonably survive in the absence of Johnson, however I doubt Adelaide’s ability to cover both Dangerfield and Walker, therefore I think Geelong should win comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong to win by 25 points or more @ 1.71 (Centrebet)
West Coast vs. Sydney
The round concludes with this intriguing match-up between West Coast and Sydney. The Eagles suffered a crucial loss to local rivals Fremantle in this timeslot last weekend, and I suspected that loss might have left West Coast well back in the finals race. But a win here could change all that for John Worsfold’s men, especially given the Eagles can look forward to winnable games against Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast immediately following this fixture.
Sydney thrashed GWs last weekend to remain 4th on the ladder, however the Swans big win lifted their percentage to 142%, which is the best in the league and a decent indicator of their form this season. Given Fremantle are snapping at their heels, Sydney need to keep winning to retain their all-important top 4 slot.
West Coast have been able to recall former Collingwood premiership player Sharrod Wellingham from injury, along with gun midfielder Luke Shuey. That reduces some of Sydney’s personnel superiority and I think this could be a great close contest, perhaps reprising some of the close battles from the middle of the past decade. And if it reaches the heights of the 2005-06 Grand Finals played between these teams then we could be in for a real treat.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)