The following are previews and betting tips for Round 22 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Last Week = -1.81 units (13% loss)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Steele Sidebottom to get 25 or more disposals, Brock McLean to get 25 or more disposals and Jack Steven to get 28 or more disposals and @ 6.33 (Sportsbet)
Collingwood vs. West Coast
When the AFL were setting the schedule for this season they were probably expecting this to be a showpiece top 4 clash at the MCG on a Friday night. However, West Coast haven’t lived up to the pre-season hype and are not even in top 8 contention at this late stage of the year. Collingwood have probably also performed below expectations, but at least the Magpies are well entrenched in the top 8 and with an MCG Elimination final all but guaranteed for the first week of the finals, the Pies main focus this Friday night will be maintaining their decent form from the past few weeks.
West Coast’s finals campaigns of 2011 and 2012 were built on putting lots of pressure on the opposition and last Saturday night was a clear example of what happens when that pressure drops off. Geelong cut through the Eagles with ease and piled on the goals in a couple of bursts to win by 66 points.
The West Coast players will surely have been told during the week to up their pressure and I expect them to come out with more endeavour this Friday night. Despite that, Collingwood’s midfield should be too prolific. The famed trio of Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Beams have all been in good touch during the past few weeks and I reckon they’ll dominate this match with plenty of touches, and probably a couple of goals as well.
After I tight opening, the Magpies should get on top and win comfortably. The Pies might switch off a little bit if they develop a big lead by the last quarter, so I will take them at the line for the 2nd and 3rd quarters when I expect Nathan Buckley’s men to do the majority of the scoring.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win the second quarter by 9 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win the third quarter by 10 points or more @ 1.93 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Steele Sidebottom to get 25 or more disposals @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs. Melbourne
After an initial period of improvement under caretaker coach Neil Craig, Melbourne have now regressed to their dismal and shambolic form from the first half of the season. Last week the Demons managed just 5 goals as they were beaten by 95 points against Fremantle, which was the 3rd time in the past 6 games that Melbourne had scored 5 goals or less. So it is no surprise to learn that Melbourne averages the fewest ppg (points per game) this season with 63ppg.
Adelaide’s forward line has been ripped to shreds to this season, with their three leading goalkickers from 2012 playing just 9 games between them so far this year. During the off-season tall forward Kurt Tippett left the club to join Sydney, while major goal scorer Taylor Walker’s season was ended in Round 5 with a serious knee injury. The clubs attacking options have been further compounded by the form of small forward Ian Callinan who has fallen out of favour this year despite kicking 39 goals last year. Callinan returned to the Crows team last week for only his fourth game of the season and was more than handy with three goals.
Melbourne will be helped by the return of centre-half-back James Frawley and centre-half-forward Chris Dawes from injury, so I will have a small interest on the Dees at the line in what I expect will be a low-scoring match.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Melbourne at the line (+63.5) @ 1.95 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Total Match Score under 181.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
North Melbourne vs. Hawthorn
This match could be a beauty. North Melbourne, the Etihad Stadium specialists, host the league leaders from Hawthorn in the traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot. Even though North Melbourne are no longer a chance to make the top 8, the Kangaroos season is still alive because they are hot on the heels of 9th placed Carlton and depending on what happens to Essendon, the 9th placed team may yet play finals.
For Hawthorn, a win would secure them a top 2 finish and a home Qualifying Final, significantly boosting their chance of September glory. The Hawks were pretty impressive last Friday night, brushing aside an in-form Collingwood outfit to the tune of 35 points.
I have dubbed North Melbourne the Etihad Stadium specialists because the Kangaroos have already beaten top 8 opponents Geelong, Richmond and Essendon at Etihad this season, proving their credentials under the roof on the fast track.
North Melbourne regain tough midfielder Jack Ziebell, but key defender Scott McMahon is still missing and has now been joined on the sidelines by fellow defender Nathan Grima who has a foot injury.
With some key players missing from North Melbourne’s backline, I think Hawthorn’s forward line firepower might be too strong in this shoot-out.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 unit son Total Match Score over 203.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Geelong vs. Sydney
Alright, I’m just gonna put it out there, Geelong has won 41 of their past 42 matches on home turf since 2008! They only lose here very, very rarely. Interestingly though, the only time they have lost here during the past 6 years was to this weeks opponent, Sydney, in 2011. This might actually work against the Swans though because the Cats don’t like it when somebody upsets them, just ask Hawthorn!
This match has an extra edge given that it Geelong are 2nd and Sydney are 3rd, making this a pivotal clash in the race for a top 2 position and an all-important home Qualifying Final.
Another exciting element of the match-up is that we will get to see the league’s two most influential players from the past month on the same field. Sydney forward Kurt Tippett has booted at least 5 goals in each of his past three matches, and has averaged the most goals per game of any player this season. The other player in great touch is Geelong captain Joel Selwood. Always highly regarded as an in-and-under player, Selwood has added some outside polish to his game this year, which is clearly demonstrated by the midfielder’s 14 goals in his past 5 matches.
I expect the home ground advantage to be crucial and will take Geelong to win what will hopefully be a great game!
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle vs. Port Adelaide
If 4th placed Fremantle are to remain in the race for a top 2 spot, then the Dockers simply have to win this week. For Port Adelaide, a loss for Carton in the night’s other match would secure the Power a finals position, however if Port are good enough to win this match then they can be safe in the knowledge that they don’t have to worry about other results.
Fremantle have lost towering ruckman Aaron Sandilands to a cheekbone injury, while Port Adelaide also lose a star, with damaging winger Hamish Hartlett suspended for the final two matches of the home and away season.
Backed by their passionate home crowd, Fremantle should be too strong at Patersons, although Port have generally been quite plucky this year and I doubt the margin will go beyond 40 points. The Power have also been the best performed team in last quarters this year, so I will have a small interest on them to win the final term.
Andy’s Bet: 0.75 units on Fremantle to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.50 units on Port Adelaide to win the last quarter @ 3.10 (Sportsbet)
Carlton vs. Essendon
I’m a big fan of the English Premier League and often get jealous of the final day drama that fans get to experience in the motherland when half of their attention is given to their team on the field, while the other half is focussed on the radio that is pressed firmly to their ear providing updates from a title or relegation rival.
This Saturday night is one of the few times fans of the Aussie game get to have a similar experience. Carlton need both results to go their way this Saturday night if they are to take their fight for a top 8 position to a final day showdown against Port Adelaide. There is a fall-back scenario for the Blues that involves a points penalty for their opposition this week. But the Blues will surely want to make it to September on merit.
This match definitely has a grudge match feel to it, with Carlton coach Mick Malthouse the most vocal coach in the media airing his displeasure at the way the Essendon drugs scandal has festered on for so long.
Essendon have really struggled during the past month and everybody has been attributing this to the mental toll the supplements saga has taken on the players. I have noticed a pattern with the Bombers fade-out in this season compared to their last two campaigns. Essendon endured a series of thumpings late in 2011, including two to Carlton by more than 60 points each time, while the Bombers also fell away last year, dropping their final 7 matches by an average of 52 points, again including a huge loss to the Blues. So this years fade-out is just the same form from previous seasons.
The Dons haven’t gotten within 45 points of any team during the past month so I am confident of a Carlton win, but with Chris Judd still absent from the Blues midfield, perhaps this won’t be the blowout many are expecting.
And just in case something crazy happens, I have the slightest inkling the Bombers might do something out of the ordinary, so I will put something very, very small on that happening.
Andy’s Bet: 0.80 units on Carlton to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Multiple sites)
Andy’s Bet: 0.20 units on Essendon to win by 40 points or more @ 17.00 (Centrebet)
St Kilda vs. Gold Coast
This game should have the classic end of season feel to it. Both teams are no chance of making the 8 and St Kilda is even unable to change their 16th placed ladder position. Gold Coast currently hold 14th spot and are in a tight scrap for that position with the Bulldogs, but 14th isn’t really a great incentive to fight for either! This game will be more about individuals than the team, with some players playing for contracts for next year and Brownlow Medal favourite Gary Ablett hoping to pick up a few more votes to help his chances in the race for that award.
Speaking of Ablett, the little master traditionally smashes it for the Suns against the Saints. He has amassed at least 34 disposals in 3 of his 4 matches against St Kilda since switching to Gold Coast from Geelong, while chipping in for 7 goals as well.
I’ll whisper it quietly, but for the Saints, Jack Steven has a little bit of Ablett about him. Steven is another small midfielder blessed with explosive pace and has elevated himself into one of his team’s premier on-ball players this campaign. The 23 year old Saint has gathered at least 33 possessions during 3 of his past 4 matches and, like Ablett, is one of the few payers that can carry the ball at speed away from a contest. He only needs to improve his finishing and foot skills to become an elite player.
These are the type of matches the Suns have been winning this campaign, so I will go for them to sneak over the line in a close one.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gold Coast to win by 24 points or less @ 3.60 (Sportsbet)
Greater Western Sydney vs. Richmond
Similarly to the earlier match on Sunday, this mid-afternoon stoush will end up being about the individuals. Well, individual to be exact. 20 year old GWS forward Jeremy Cameron enters the finals two rounds of the home and away season tied for the lead in the Coleman Medal for most goals this season. It is an amazing story for someone so young, especially considering Cameron plays for the bottom of the ladder Giants who have entered their attacking 50m arc the fewest times of any club this year.
The line for this match has been set at 62.5 points, which seems pretty accurate considering the Giants have been beaten by more than this 9/20 this season. But it is worth noting that GWS has generally performed better against the top teams, beaten by more than 62 points on only 4 of 10 occasions against top 8 teams, of which Richmond is one.
To be honest, I don’t know which side on the line this match will swing, so I’ll give it a miss. To keep some interest going though, I will have a small wager on solid Tigers midfielder Daniel Jackson having another reasonable game. Jackson is $1.85 to get 23 or more disposals, and given he has done this in his past two matches, I am confident he can keep that form going against lower ranked opposition.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Daniel Jackson to get 23 or more disposals @ 1.85 (Sportsbet)
Brisbane Lions vs. Western Bulldogs
Even though both clubs are not in finals contention anymore, they are actually two of the best performed teams in recent weeks. Brisbane gave GWS their customary thrashing last week, which was the Lions 6th win from their past 9 matches. For their part, the Bulldogs have been really good for the past month and a bit, following up from competitive showings against Essendon, Hawthorn and Sydney to win 3 of their past 4 fixtures.
The Bulldogs recent success has been built on a renewed goalscoring threat. Despite being one of the best performing clearance teams all year, the Doggies struggled to translate that onto the scoreboard. In their first 12 matches the Bulldogs only scored more than 86 points three times, however they have cleared that score on all but one occasion from their past 8 games.
For all their improvement, the Bulldogs have only won at an opposition team’s home venue once this season, and that was only by 4 points against GWS, so I will be backing the Lions to win a close one at the Gabba.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Brisbane to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)