The following are previews and betting tips for Round 19 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 224.5 units
Won = 220.65 units
Profit/Loss = -3.85 units (1.7% loss)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on West Coast to win, Jack Watts to kick at least one goal and Michael Walters for most goals in the Carlton vs. Fremantle match @ 10.90 (Sportsbet)
North Melbourne vs. Geelong
This match kicks off Round 19 and it also signals the start of a horror final five rounds for North Melbourne, which will see the blue and white vertical stripes take on four of the top seven teams before the end of the season. So even though the Kangaroos are sitting 10th on the ladder, finals are not really a possibility for North unless they manage some sort of miracle.
Geelong , on the other hand, are looking pretty secure in the top 4 and if the Cats maintain their current position in the top 2, they will earn a home Qualifying Final.
Despite their ladder position North Melbourne have been very competitive in all matches this season and really should have beaten Geelong when the teams clashed earlier this season in Round 2. On that occasion North let a 40 point lead slip as they stumbled to a 4 point loss.
The line for this match has been set at 22.5 points, which initially seems like great value for the Kangaroos given they have only lost two matches by more than 16 points this year, however North will be without skipper Andrew Swallow who injured his Achilles last week and will miss the rest of the season.
The Cats should strengthen their hold on a top two position.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit Brent Harvey under 23.5 disposals @ 1.90 (Sportsbet)
Greater Western Sydney vs. Melbourne
For some strange reason, even though the skill level can be fairly ordinary, basement battles such as this can be just as exciting to watch as top of the table clashes. It is probably the novelty factor that makes this game something to look forward to, so whether it’s the prospect of watching the Giants try and win their first match of the season, or that Melbourne will enter their forward 50 more than five times in a quarter, this matchup offers something fresh at such a late stage of the season.
In the match between these clubs earlier this season the Giants actually led the Demons by 19 points heading into last change before Melbourne piled on 12 last quarter goals to win by 41 points. That sort of fade-out has been a typical feature of the Giants this year, with Kevin Sheedy’s youngsters winning four first halves but no second halves.
To be honest, Melbourne don’t perform that well in those stats either, winning just three halves for the year, but perhaps the Demons more mature bodies will propel them to a second half surge, much like the meeting between these clubs earlier in the year.
There are a couple of crucial outs for Melbourne this week as they lose their best defender, James Frawley, and probably their best forward, Chris Dawes, both to injury. Those outs are compounded by GWS including talented youngsters Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield.
With Frawley out, 20-year-old Giants goalkicking sensation Jeremy Cameron will be confident of adding a few majors to his impressive haul of 50 already for the season, including 11 in the past fortnight.
It feels strange to write, but I think GWS will have too much depth and should get the job done. But I will have a saver on the half-time/full-time double just in case the Giants do one of their classic fade-outs!
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on GWS to win @ 1.75 (Multiple Sites)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on the GWS/Melbourne half-time/full-time double @ 8.00 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Jeremy Cameron for most goals @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn vs. Richmond
For those not so keen on watching the clanger festival in Western Sydney, the other Saturday afternoon match should be a highly skilled alternative between table-topping Hawthorn and 6th placed Richmond. The Tigers are one of the season’s big improvers and will play finals this year for the first time since 2001, which is certainly getting their vocal supporter base excited.
These sides enter this match in contrasting form after both clashing with top 4 teams last weekend. Hawthorn justified their league-leading status with a big win over Essendon last Friday night, while Richmond fell away in the second half and suffered a heavy defeat in the twilight match against the Swans in Sydney.
Richmond’s form against the top 7 teams this season has been telling, with the Tigers recording a sole victory against Fremantle from their six matches against top class opposition. Furthermore, four of Richmond’s five losses against those teams in the top 7 have come by 29 points or more, so the numbers point to a reasonably comfortable Hawthorn win. The case for the Hawks was strengthened further by the powerful return of Lance Franklin last weekend, with the enigmatic forward booting 8 goals in his most impressive display this season. The Tigers undersized defence could be exposed by both Franklin and his fellow Hawks forward threat Jarryd Roughead.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Lance Franklin to score more dream team points than Isaac Smith @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)
West Coast vs. Gold Coast
West Coast have been one of the season’s big disappointments as the pre-season Premiership fancies have stuttered to regular defeats during 2013 en-route to their current occupation of the 11th rung of the ladder. Gold Coast have performed similarly to West Coast this year, with the Suns knocking up six wins to sit 14th on the table, however Gold Coast have probably exceeded expectations this season as they have become a lot more competitive against the better teams than they were during their first two campaigns across 2011 and 2012.
Finals are now extremely unlikely for the Eagles, and the westerners can hardly argue with that given they have a 0-9 win-loss record against teams 9th and above, while they are 7-1 against teams 10th and below.
For all God Coast’s 2013 improvements, the Suns have only recorded interstate victories against the bottom two teams this year and have not gotten within 26 points on each of any of their trips outside of Queensland. Because of this, I’m happy to take an undermanned Eagles side at home.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 16 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gary Ablett over 32.5 disposals @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Brisbane Lions vs. St Kilda
Brisbane’s finals hopes were effectively extinguished when the Lions lost to Port Adelaide last Sunday. That loss left Michael Voss’s men three wins plus percentage outside the top 8 with only 5 rounds to play, so even with a decent run of fixtures over the next month, it is difficult to see Brisbane having anything to play for when they go to Geelong on the final weekend of the home and away season.
St Kilda have had a forgettable campaign and the 101 point loss to Geelong last weekend was probably the lowest ebb of the Saints’ wretched season, meaning the players are unlikely to be heading north with much confidence for this clash with Brisbane. The Saints mood has probably not been helped by the news that fringe goalsneak Ahmed Saad has tested positive to a banned substance and could potentially be facing a ban of somewhere between 6 months to 2 years.
At least the Saints have been able to name influential skipper Nick Riewoldt, who was in doubt for this game due to injury, however valuable defender James Gwilt misses with a knee injury.
Explosive Irishman Pearce Hanley is back for Brisbane and I think he brings a bit of an x-factor with him, so the Lions might just have too much in their favour and should get the win.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Brisbane to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Multiple Sites)
Carlton vs. Fremantle
This Saturday night showdown at Etihad Stadium is critically important to both clubs. Carlton currently sit 9th and are pressing hard for a spot in the top 8, while Fremantle are in a similar position in relation to the top 4. Obviosuly, any point-deduction penalty to Essendon would give both teams a great shot at reaching their respective end of season ladder position goals. As yet though, no punishment has been handed out to Essendon, so Carlton and Fremantle will feel they need to keep winning to ascend the ladder.
Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich will miss again this week as he serves the third and final week of his suspension, but a fellow Dockers star, ruckman Aaron Sandilands, has now played three matches since his return from a serious hamstring injury and has shown gradual improvement each week. Pesky Dockers small forward Hayden Ballantyne returns for Fremantle and that will be annoying news to Carlton’s defence, although Irishman Zach Tuohy has proven himself more than capable of negating opposition small forwards this campaign.
In the past couple of months, I think Carlton coach Mick Malthouse will have been pleased with his team’s style of play as Blues matches have been frequently turning into scrappy low-possessions games. Malthouse has also quickly instilled his kicking philosophy into his new players. In his last five years coaching at Collingwood (2007-2011), Malthouse’s Magpies ranked 1,1,1,1,2 in the league in each of those years for the kick:handball ratio. Ranked 6th for this stat last year, the Blues, now under Malthouse, are ranked 2nd and clearly adopting the coaching doyen’s philosophy. Kicking the ball more is something Fremantle do a lot too, so both coaches clearly favour getting field position quickly over running the ball down the field through handball chains.
Because of the defensive mindsets of both coaches, I expect this to be a scrappy game and it will probably come down to the wire, so I will take either team to win by 15 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Brock McLean for most disposals in Group 2 @ 6.50 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs vs. Sydney
Western Bulldogs’ win over West Coast last week was probably the Bulldogs finest moment of the season since their Round 1 thrashing of Brisbane. The win was all the more meritorious when you consider that the Doggies got past an Eagles team that was virtually playing for its season. Sydney, meanwhile, continue getting the job done in their characteristic unassuming manner that belies how brutally they assault the opposition on the scoreboard. Last weekend’s win over Richmond was the Swans 5th win in a row and the third time this season that they have beaten a top 8 team by more than 40 points.
These clubs are two of the better clearance teams, so the battle in close at the stoppages will be really good to watch. The Bulldogs clearance differential to their opponent is +4.9 per game this year, which is the 2nd best in the league, while Sydney ranks 4th in that stat with a +3.9 differential.
This stat might actually mean bad news for the Bulldogs as far as this match goes, because if the Swans can break even at the stoppages it will negate the Doggies only real strength. Therefore I think Sydney can put a stop to the Bulldogs promising recent form. I don’t think the Swans will thrash the Dogs though, so I will take Sydney in 10 point intervals between 30-59 points, effectively getting odds of about $2.60 for the Swans to win by 30-59 points.
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Sydney to win by 30-39 points @ 8.00 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Sydney to win by 40-49 points @ 7.80 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Sydney to win by 50-59 points @ 7.80 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs. Port Adelaide
Showdown XXXV will take place at AAM Stadium this weekend, which is significant because it will be the final Showdown at the ground affectionately known as Footy Park before matches are played at Adelaide Oval from next season. It is also a significant match because a Port Adelaide win would keep the Power in the top 8, while a loss would open the door for Carlton. It also has ramifications for Adelaide because the Crows, who are currently not in top 8 calculations, could close the gap to Port Adelaide to two wins with four rounds remaining, which is noteworthy because Adelaide close the season with four winnable fixtures against teams outside the top 8.
Adelaide’s season of injury pain continues as impressive onballer Rory Sloane and marking forward Josh Jenkins have been ruled out with ankle and eye injuries respectively. However, at least the Crows can recall their best player, Patrick Dangerfield, from a fortnight on the sidelines due to a shoulder injury.
Port Adelaide have won four of their past 6 and the Adelaide have lost four of their past 6, and looking at the line-ups I just don’t think Adelaide have enough forward-line firepower to kick a winning score, so I will take Port in the head to head market.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Port Adelaide to win @ 1.85 (TAB Sportsbet)
Collingwood vs. Essendon
For a season that has been running parallel to an explosive drugs scandal, the fallout from the past week has just about topped everything. Essendon has been the club engulfed by the drugs saga and chairman David Evans stepped down from his role last weekend due to reported health concerns. This followed the resignation of CEO Ian Robson in May. The departure of Evans increased the pressure on Bombers coach James Hird who has remained in charge of the playing group despite seemingly playing a pivotal role in driving the controversial supplements program that has seen others depart the club.
The scrutiny on Hird then increased on Wednesday night when the club’s former High Performance Manager Dean Robinson gave an emotional interview in which he claimed he had been made a scapegoat by Essendon, while also calling on Hird to step down as coach.
A further explosive claim made by Robinson was that Hird wanted to initiate a supplements program specifically because he was concerned at the way his players had been outmuscled by bigger and stronger Collingwood bodies during the 2011 season. According to Robinson, Hird believed the Magpies were using Human Growth Hormones.
So, amid those explosive claims, Collingwood and Essendon will square off in the twilight match this Sunday. Given all that has gone on during the past seven days, the occasion itself makes viewing just as compelling as the on-field action between the sirens.
Speaking of the on-field stuff, Essendon skipper Jobe Watson has made a speedy recovery from a collarbone injury to resume his midfield role, while experienced defender Dustin Fletcher is also back and Scott Gumbleton has been added to the squad to stretch the Magpies down back. Collingwood have dual-purpose recruit Quinten Lynch to play up forward and pinch-hit in the ruck, however the Magpies have still got ruckman Jarrad Witts and Brodie Grundy in the side, so there might be a late change to the team before the match, otherwise the Pies appear to be too top heavy. Ben Reid copped a knock to his ankle last week and has only been named on the bench, so the important swingman might be the late out due to his injury.
Collingwood are the favourites with the bookies, but on form Essendon should be the shorter price. Given that, and that the Bombers have already proven this year that they can rally on the field despite off-field turmoil, I will round out my weekend with a cheeky something on James Hird’s men to get the four points. Whether they’ll keep them is another matter!
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Essendon to win @ 2.10 (TAB Sportsbet)