The following are previews and betting tips for Round 21 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 251.25 units
Won = 253.86 units
Profit/Loss = +2.61 units (1.0% profit)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win, Tom Rockliff to score a goal at anytime in the Brisbane vs. GWS match and Geelong to win by 39 points or less @ 5.21 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn vs. Collingwood
The round kicks off with a battle of the birds in this potential Friday night classic in front of a packed house at the MCG. Table topping Hawthorn will go in as favourites against 5th placed Collingwood, although the Magpies are in great touch, beating Essendon and Sydney in successive weeks to sew up a top 8 slot.
Hawthorn have had the edge on Collingwood during their recent battles, winning 9 of the past 12 meetings between the clubs, including the last 4 since the start of 2012. One of the main reasons for Hawthorn’s head to head dominance has been the goalscoring prowess of forward line superstar Lance Franklin. ‘Buddy’ has booted a whopping 42 goals in 9 games against the Pies since the start of 2008, clearly lifting for the big occasion and the big crowd.
Franklin has been absent for two weeks due to hamstring tightness, however he is back to full fitness and has been named in the Hawks team for this week and will be hoping to continue his impressive record against the Pies. Another Hawk, Sam Mitchell, has also enjoyed playing the Magpies in recent years, however Collingwood have been employing Brent Macaffer as a tagger this season and Macaffer looks a perfect option to limit Mitchell’s output.
Even though Collingwood have played their best football of the season during the past two weeks, Hawthorn have generally had their measure in recent matchups and I expect that trend to continue here. Along with Franklin, skipper Luke Hodge and rebounding defender Grant Birchall are also back for the Hawks, so the mustard pots have selected their strongest side for a number of weeks.
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Hawthorn to win @ 1.55 (TAB Sportsbet)
Richmond vs. Carlton
Carlton’s season is on life-support after the Blues plunged to a shock loss against the Bulldogs last weekend. The good news for Carlton fans is that their team still occupies 9th position, which may well end up being 8th if Essendon get the points penalty many are expecting for their controversial peptide program. The bad news is that West Coast, North Melbourne and Adelaide are all within striking distance if the Blues slip up again.
Richmond have no such worries and the Tiger army will again flock to the MCG this Saturday expecting to see their team dispatch a long-term rival. The Tigers are in great touch, having won 8 of their past 10 matches and need only to win a couple of their remaining fixtures to earn a home Elimination Final.
Carlton have again been dealt a poor hand at the selection table, with Matthew Kreuzer still not back from his injury, which means Robbie Warnock will continue in the ruck. Warnock gets a heap of hit-outs in the ruck, but is useless around the gound, an area that Kreuzer excels. There are plenty of other concerns for Carlton too, with champion midfielder Chris Judd sidelined with a knee injury, goalsneak Jeff Garlett out with a glute problem and defender Matthew Watson will also miss with a foot injury. Judd’s absence is a big blow, particularly given the horrible form of skipper Marc Murphy since the little number 3 returned from his cheekbone injury.
Carlton looked like they were out of gas last Saturday against the Bulldogs, and with more injury concerns this week they should struggle against the MCG specialists. Richmond have won 8 from 11 at the ‘G this year and that statistic should improve by Saturday night.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 22 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs. Gold Coast
A win in this match would nearly ensure Port Adelaide return to the finals for the first time since a Grand Final loss in 2007. Few players from that 2007 campaign remain on the Port list and it definitely feels like the beginning of a new era at Alberton. Gold Coast, meanwhile, won their 7th game of the season last week and will be looking for another win before the end of the year to put the full-stop on a very impressive third season in the big league.
These teams met earlier this season on the Gold Coast in Round 4 and the Power won pretty comfortably by 38 points. In front of their home fans I expect Port Adelaide to get the job done again and complete the double over one of the AFL’s franchise clubs.
Port Adelaide have the best final quarter record of any team this year, winning 14 fourth quarters this year, which compares very favourably to their younger opponents who rank as the 4th worst last quarter team in 2013. Therefore I am pretty confident to take Port with a 7.5 handicap in the last quarter line.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Port Adelaide to win the last quarter by 8 points or more @ 1.72 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gary Ablett for most disposals in Group A @ 1.75 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs. North Melbourne
I’ve never been skydiving, but I imagine the sensation experienced by those that jump out of a plane is similar to that being felt right now by those connected with Essendon. The Bombers have been in freefall for three weeks now, and after losing their last three matches by more than 50 points, I think they may have just reached terminal velocity!
This week brought more from the peptide scandal, with the club and four senior officials (including coach James Hird) charged with bringing the game into disrepute for their role in the controversial supplements program run by the club. A hearing has been scheduled for August 26 and many expect the club to be stripped of premiership points for the season, meaning the Bombers, currently sitting in 7th place on the ladder, would be unable to participate in the finals.
After last weekend’s loss in Adelaide, this is a vital match for North Melbourne to win and remain in the hunt for 9th place, which may end up being a finals position depending on the potential punishment to Essendon. Given North close the season with matches against Hawthorn and Collingwood, they are probably outsiders to clinch that 9th position though.
Essendon have been forced into plenty of personnel changes this week, with key talls Patrick Ryder and Dustin Fletcher suspended, while Jason Winderlich will miss with a hamstring injury. Fletcher is a particularly important absentee given that North have an impressive array of dangerous tall forwards.
If I have referred to Richmond as the MCG specialists (see their preview), then I certainly have to refer to North Melbourne as the Etihad specialists, which was underlined by the ‘Roos victory here against Geelong a fortnight ago.
Unfortunately for grieving Bombers fans, I don’t think things are going to get any better this week.
Andy’s Bet: 0.75 units on North Melbourne to win by 22 points or more @ 2.10 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Total Match Score over 194.5 points @ 1.91 (Sportsbet)
West Coast vs. Geelong
West Coast are one of four clubs gunning for the unusually coveted 9th spot. If the Eagles are to finish in 9th, then they will need to sneak an upset win against either Geelong this weekend or Collingwood next Friday night at the MCG. West Coast will have to play well to defeat Geelong this weekend because the Cats will travel west desperate for a win that would keep them in the top 2, and on course for a home Qualifying Final.
There are a couple of key changes to note at the selection table, with dashing midfielder Luke Shuey returning for the Eagles, while Mark LeCras, the 5 goal hero from last week, goes out of the side with a rib injury. Geelong centre half forward Tom Hawkins is a big out for the cats with a back injury, although his exclusion was not unexpected given the big Cat struggled badly last weekend.
West Coast tend to lift when they host the big clubs and the Eagles are fielding a decent enough team this week. The key for John Worsfold’s men will be to limit the output of prolific Geelong skipper Joel Selwood who has torn opposition teams apart for the past month and a half. Hopefully ‘Woosha’ opts to use Scott Selwood to tag his brother Joel!
The Eagles will give it everything at home, but the Cats should have too much class.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
Brisbane Lions vs. Greater Western Sydney
After being widely credited with steering Brisbane out of a difficult early season period, Brisbane coach Michael Voss was surprisingly sacked during the week. The decision certainly seems very harsh on Voss who looked to have been getting the best out of a young playing group after rebuilding the club in recent years following some horrendous trading deals brokered before the start of the 2010 season that left the Lions in the doldrums.
The Lions senior assistant (and former Fremantle head coach) Mark Harvey will be the caretaker coach of the Lions for the rest of the season and is a great chance of grabbing a win this week with last placed GWS trekking north to Queensland.
It is always difficult to predict how a team will react after their coach gets the chop, but I get the feeling the Lions players were reasonably close to Voss and will be keen to honour their former leader with a big win this weekend.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Brisbane to win by 60 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Daniel Rich most disposals in Group 2 @ 5.00 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs. Fremantle
Fremantle embarrassed GWS last week, winning by 113 points, which included an incredible second half margin of 89 points! Another embarrassment looks likely here, with their Melbourne hosts enduring a wretched season that has yielded just two wins thus far. Fremantle, meanwhile, have climbed into the top 4 and are now gunning for a position in the top 2.
Without key forwards Mitch Clark and Chris Dawes due to injury, the Demons pose little forward line threat, which is particularly concerning given the Dockers are the most miserly defensive team in the competition. The Dockers defensive strength begins from the front, and half forward Chris Mayne is particularly brilliant at keeping the ball in his area, exemplified last Sunday when the mop-haired Docker laid a round-high11 tackles against the Giants.
Fremantle are too disciplined, and need to close the percentage gap to Sydney too badly, for this to end in anything but a big Fremantle victory.
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Fremantle to win by 60-69 points @ 7.00 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Fremantle to win by 70-79 points @ 7.20 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Fremantle to win by 80-89 points @ 7.80 (Sportsbet)
Sydney vs. St Kilda
Like the early Sunday kick-off, this match looms as a one-sided contest between a top 4 contender and a cellar dweller. Sydney is the top 4 contender, although the Swans lost to Collingwood last week and slipped from 2nd to 3rd on the ladder. St Kilda are clearly the cellar dwellers, languishing in a lowly 16th, which is now three games below the 15th placed Western Bulldogs.
St Kilda’s game against Hawthorn last Friday night was probably the worst match I have seen all season! The Hawks were clearly going through the motions but still managed to post an easy 46 point win. The only highlight for Saints fans would have been the 3 goal cameo from subsitute Adam Schneider, who was playing just his second match for the season.
The SCG is not suited to centre-half forwards, so I expect the influence St Kilda matchwinner Nick Riewoldt to be reduced. Indeed, Riewoldt has only managed 9 goals from 9 SCG appearances against the Swans, and given he has contributed 20% of his team’s score this season, I can’t see the Saints keeping this one close if Riewoldt is well held.
Sydney will want to make a statement after their shock-loss to Collingwood last week, so I think this one might turn ugly for the Saints.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sydney to win by 62 points or more @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Western Bulldogs vs. Adelaide
After a gutsy win last weekend, Adelaide may still be dreaming about a finals appearance this season. Given that 9th place may yet secure a finals berth, the Crows could make it if they win all their remaining matches this season and hope a few of their rivals drop games.
The Bulldogs are no chance of getting to the finals, but Brendan McCartney’s men have been shaping it like a 16th century Michelangelo masterpiece, with wins over finals chasing West Coast and Carlton at this venue in the past three weeks.
With both teams fielding forward lines that don’t strike fear into the heart of the opposition, this match will be won and lost in the midfield. This has been the Bulldogs strength this year, with Ryan Griffen elevating himself into the elite bracket, while Tom Liberatore has been a clearance king in just his third AFL season, winning more clearances than any other player this campaign.
The Dogs, with skipper Matthew Boyd returning to boost their midfield, are more than capable of springing another upset on their home deck.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Western Bulldogs to win @ 2.15 (Centrebet)