The following are previews and betting tips for Round 18 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 209 units
Won = 201.79 units
Profit/Loss = -7.21 units (3.4% loss)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Jeff Garlett for most goals in the Gold Coast vs. Carlton game and Michael Barlow for most disposals in the Group 1 of the Fremantle vs. Adelaide game @ 19.25 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs. Hawthorn
The top two on the ladder clash in this potential Friday night classic! These clubs have a rivalry that dates back to a trio of consecutive Grand Finals in the 1980s, with some spiteful clashes since the turn of the century only fuelling the hatred each has of the other.
Hawthorn has won the past three matches between these teams, although Essendon is performing better this year than it did in the past couple of seasons. As well as having an edge in the recent head to heads, the Hawks will also be buoyed by the inclusions of league superstars Lance Franklin and Sam Mitchell at the expense of fringe players Kyle Cheney and Will Langford. Essendon, meanwhile, have made 5 personnel changes, notably losing key position players Stewart Crameri and Dustin Fletcher to injury, although half forward flanker David Zaharakis and tagger Heath Hocking are decent inclusions.
Perhaps the most exciting spectacle will be the sight of mobile 201 cm forward Joe Daniher playing his 3rd match for Essendon after being included in the team for the first time since a 2-game cameo in Rounds 11-12. Daniher has plenty of potential, but I wouldn’t expect too much from him in a high-pressure match against quality opposition. But he will certainly gain some valuable experience and the Bombers coaching staff can work out whether they should keep him in their finals plans.
I think Hawthorn are better than Essendon, but perhaps not quite worth their $1.36 favouritism, so I will take the Hawks to win by 39 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Lance Franklin for most goals @ 4.25 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast vs. Carlton
Gold Coast netted arguably the biggest scalp of their three year history with by defeating Collingwood by 7 points at this venue last weekend. It was a convincing display by the Suns, who led their more fancied opponents for the entirety of the second half, and the young team were able to answer Collingwood’s mini-fightback at the start of the last quarter.
Ironically, Carlton is the team travelling north to take on Gold Coast this week and the Blues were previously considered to be the Suns most high-profile victim before last weekend’s result. That loss by Carlton to Gold Coast late last season knocked the Blues out of the finals race and cost coach Brett Ratten his job.
Gold Coast’s win over Collingwood was due to the Suns dominance in a couple of key positions. Firstly, Gary Ablett was at his brilliant best, accumulating 49 quality disposals and booting 2 crucial goals, Trent McKenzie got off the chain in the back half area and orchestrated a lot of the Suns forward thrusts, while Tom Nicholls was great in the ruck and helped contribute to the Suns incredible centre square clearance dominance of 15-8.
Carlton appear to be a team well equipped to mitigate those Gold Coast strengths. The Blues have an incredible array of shutdown players that could rotate on Ablett in the middle. Players like Andrew Carrazzo and Ed Curnow will rotate on Ablett and even if they can’t stop him getting the ball, they should be able to reduce the effectiveness of his disposals. Dennis Armfield has excelled in a forward-tagging role and he seems like the obvious choice to play on McKenzie, while Matthew Kreuzer has been the dominant ruckman of the competition during the past month and I expect him to get the better of Nicholls.
I am backing the Blues to win because I think they should match-up well against the Suns.
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Carlton to win @ 1.52 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Chris Judd over 24.5 disposals @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Andrew Walker for most disposals in Group B @ 3.75 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. North Melbourne
Melbourne showed some encouraging signs against Brisbane last Saturday night during the match played in Darwin, consolidating the improvements made under caretaker coach Neil Craig during the past month, however the Demons still ended up losing by 19 points in slippery conditions. For North Melbourne things don’t seem to change too much week to week – it’s the same story just a different opponent. Last week it was Carlton that beat North by 1 point, which was the Kangaroos fifth loss of the season by 4 points or less. Those losses are the difference between North Melbourne being a top 8 side versus their current lowly position of 13th on the ladder.
Despite having an unlucky year, North have still found the time to beat up on lower ranked opposition at Etihad Stadium this season. The Kangaroos have played four matches at the Docklands venue this campaign against teams 12th or below on the ladder, winning all of those matches by margins between 54-86 points. That is fairly ominous for Melbourne, considering the Demons sit second last on the table and have no experience under the roof this year.
The line is a bit high for my liking at 57.5 points, but I am still not keen on taking Melbourne for the reasons outline earlier. Instead I will put a couple of small plays on a North Melbourne win by between 40-69 points, which is essentially amounts to odds of about $2.50-$2.90 that North will win by 40-69 points.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on North Melbourne to win by 40-59 points @ 4.30 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on North Melbourne to win by 60-69 points @ 7.60 (Sportsbet)
Collingwood vs. Greater Western Sydney
Collingwood will be eager to return to the field to put last week’s shambolic performance behind them. That shock loss to the Gold Coast weakened the previously firm grip Nathan Buckley’s men had on a top 8 spot, leaving the Magpies 7th on the ladder and two games clear of 9th placed Carlton, but with a worse percentage than the Blues.
GWS is still on course for a winless season, but might be looking past this game to a winnable fixture against Melbourne next weekend. So perhaps a strong showing last week against Essendon will precede a weaker performance this Saturday, which has been a cyclical pattern for the Giants during the past six weeks as reasonable performances against Geelong (59 point loss), Western Bulldogs (4 point loss) and Essendon (39 point loss) have been interspersed with heavier defeats against Port Adelaide (75 point loss), North Melbourne (86 point loss) and Sydney (86 point loss).
One of Collingwood’s weaknesses this season has been in the ruck, and with the Giants relatively strong in this area through Jon Giles and Dean Brogan, GWS should be competitive in the clearances, which could help them keep the scoreboard respectable.
Given the line is set at 86.5 points and the Giants have covered this margin in 5 of their past 6, while Collingwood have only won one match by more than 50 points this season, I am happy enough to take GWS at the line.
Andy’s Bet: 0.75 units on GWS at the line (+86.5) @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on total match score over 197.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Fremantle vs. Adelaide
If anybody plots the frequency of AFL pundits and supporters using the phrase ‘mathematically possible’ then they are about to see a big spike in their graph during the next couple of weeks as clubs like Adelaide cling to the faint possibility of appearing in the finals. The Crows gutsed out a 2 point win over Geelong last weekend, keeping them two games behind their crosstown rivals who currently hold down the coveted 8th position.
Fremantle’s top 4 chances are reducing after the Dockers fell to a 27 point defeat against Richmond last Sunday, slipping the purple haze to a game and lots of percentage behind 4th placed Sydney. But the Dockers will be lifted this week by the return of massive ruckman Aaron Sandilands, a late withdrawal last week which the club insist was due to injury, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because they couldn’t find a plane big enough to fit him in. He is that huge!
Dockers forward line dangers Matthew Pavlich and Hayden Ballantyne are still out of action, but so is Adelaide’s damaging midfielder Paddy Dangerfield. With Dangerfield missing due to an ongoing shoulder injury, Fremantle stopper Ryan Crowley will be off to inflict some tagging pain to one of the Crows other midfielders, potentially clearance specialist Scott Thompson or powerful runner Rory Sloane.
Fremantle have lost just once at Patersons Stadium all season, and that was only by four points against Essendon, so they should get up again here. Also, given their defensive nature, it is probably worth getting the better value and betting on the Dockers to win by 39 points or less ($2.00) rather than the head to head market ($1.26).
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle to win by 39 points or less @ 2.00 (Centrebet)
Geelong vs. St Kilda
Circa 2009-10 when these teams developed a finals rivalry this would have been one of the premium fixtures of the season, however just a couple of years later things are certainly very different. Both clubs have turned over their lists considerably in a short space of time, with Geelong fielding only 9 players this Saturday night from their 2009 Premiership team, while the Saints will line-up with just 8 surviving members from 2009 Grand Final side. Geelong’s list regeneration has been far more successful than the Saints, with the Cats still very much a finals force in contrast to St Kilda’s current 16th placed ladder position.
Including this game, 4 of Geelong’s final 6 home and away matches will be played at their little fortress. Simonds Stadium has been an imposing destination for visiting sides during recent years as the Cats have won a whopping 39 of their past 40 matches on home turf since 2007, which makes them likely candidates to finish the season in the top 2 given their run of home fixtures to end the season.
St Kilda’s champion centre-half-forward Nick Riewoldt has been one of his team’s few excellent players this season, but ‘Rooey’ doesn’t have a great record against Geelong, with the marking machine booting only 14 goals in his last 8 matches against the Cats since the start of 2007.
If Riewoldt doesn’t fire then the Saints could be in for a heavy defeat, especially considering the Cats have recalled classy midfielder Steve Johnson from a 1 week suspension. Back Geelong with confidence.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Geelong to win at the line (-45.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs. Brisbane Lions
You can bet fans of Carlton, West Coast and Adelaide will also be tuning into this match as 8th placed Port Adelaide try to maintain a spot in the top 8 over those aforementioned teams. This match is also vital for Brisbane and is a classic ‘8 pointer’! If the Lions win this match they will be just one win and percentage outside the top 8, while a loss would mean Michael Voss’s side would be 3 wins and percentage outside the top 8 with only 5 rounds left to play. The mathematically possible thing I was talking about in an earlier preview would still apply, but yeah, finals wouldn’t be happening for Brisbane
Port Adelaide have been pretty solid at home this campaign, although they were shut-down by Hawthorn here a fortnight ago. The return of prolific midfielder Kane Cornes is a big boost for Port, while Brisbane have regained spearhead Jonathan Brown and grunt clearance specialist Brent Moloney. However, the Lions have lost dashing winger Pearce Hanley to a hand injury and are still without classy midfielder Simon Black.
Both teams are young and developing, but Port Adelaide have been consistent for longer periods this year and even though they blew a big lead against St Kilda, the response of the Powers leaders during the final quarter was very impressive and I am happy to take them for the win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Port Adelaide to win by 39 points or less @ 2.10 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Total Score under 175.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Kane Cornes to score more dream team points than Brad Ebert @ 1.88 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs vs. West Coast
West Coast have been a bit of a bogey team for the Western Bulldogs in recent seasons, winning 9 of their past 11 encounters against the Doggies. That history extends back to the start of 2007, so even when the Doggies were a regular top 4 side they were struggling to get the job done against the Eagles.
West Coast’s season is on the line in this game, with a win essential to keep any faint finals hopes flickering. However, the Eagles have been dealt another very ordinary selection hand, losing four top-liners this week due to injury and only able to recall one quality player (Scott Selwood).
The Bulldogs selection news is also very interesting, with skipper Matthew Boyd an excellent inclusion, although that good news is partially offset by the season-ending arm fracture to dependable defender Brett Goodes.
The Doggies have been great during the past two weeks and I am tipping them for an upset against an injury-hit Eagles team that is low on confidence.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Western Bulldogs to win @ 3.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
Sydney vs. Richmond
Friday night’s game could be a classic to start the round and this match between 4th placed Sydney and 6th placed Richmond should be another belter to finish it. Sydney were dominant in their victory over West Coast in Perth last weekend, while Richmond silenced their few remaining doubters with a sparkling performance at the MCG to get past a tough Fremantle side.
At first glance the line of +24.5 points to Richmond seems very generous, however in 10 of their 12 wins this season, Sydney have managed victories by 30 points or more. That is backed up by the fact that 4 of the 5 Richmond losses have been by 29 points or more. So if you think Sydney will win then definitely get on them to win by 25 points or more. I think the Swans should triumph because they are just as good as the Tigers in the middle and have a few tall marking options to expose Richmond’s defensive aerial weakness. With no rain forecast, Sydney might just break this one open in clear conditions.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 25 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)