The following are previews and betting tips for Round 23 of the 2013 AFL season
Season tally so far
Bets = 278.50 units
Won = 280.96 units
Profit/Loss = +2.46 units (0.9% profit)
Last Week = +1.66 units (12.5% profit)
Cheeky Multi: 1 unit on Michael Barlow for most disposals in Group 1 of the St Kilda vs Fremantle game, Jobe Watson to kick at least one goal in the Essendon vs Richmond match and Adelaide to win @ 11.21 (Sportsbet)
Sydney vs. Hawthorn
This juicy replay of last year’s Grand Final is the perfect entrée to next weekend’s main course of finals matches. This could also be a preview of a Qualifying Final for next week, with a Hawthorn victory in this game guaranteeing the Hawks will host the Swans at the MCG next week.
Sydney are going to finish in fourth place on the ladder regardless of the result in this match, but the Swans can affect who finishes top of the ladder and thus the identity of their week 1 finals opponent. For their part, Hawthorn are assured of a home Qualifying Final, which will be against either Sydney or Fremantle, so perhaps the Hawks may take this one a little bit easier than they normally would.
Both teams have selected strong teams, so have given the indication they will go all out for the win, and if that’s the case I will stick with Hawthorn because I don’t think Sydney play their ‘other’ home ground very well. Removing the outlying results from matches against GWS, Sydney have only won 4 from 10 at ANZ Stadium since 2010, which is not a great record for a home team that has generally been near the top of the ladder during that time.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win @ 1.51 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda vs. Fremantle
This week Fremantle have made more changes to their team than the Labour party after a leadership change! Saints boss Ross Lyon has swapped nearly half his squad, with 7 players rested among 10 changes in total. Clearly the Dockers boss values freshening up his players over good form in the lead up to the club’s finals campaign.
For the Saints it’s a bit of an old boys reunion, with Justin Koschitzke included in the team to play his 200th, and final, match before retirement. Koschitzke will join fellow St Kilda veterans Stephen Milne and Jason Blake for their farewell match. Hopefully the trio can perform well, but Fremantle’s frenzied pressure game might be too much for an old lumbering forward like Koschitzke and the slow big man might be a bit like a trampoline, inadvertently helping springboard the Dockers rebound. Hopefully people don’t forget just how good he was during his prime when he was able to shake off his numerous injury problems.
For all their problems this year, St Kilda have actually started to get a decent team on the park in recent weeks and this Saturday will field 13 players from their Grand Final side of 2010. I’m going to back them in to cause an upset against a much depleted Fremantle team this week.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on St Kilda to win by 39 points or more @ 2.85 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Michael Barlow for 27 or more disposals @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs. Brisbane Lions
This game will commence with something riding on the outcome for both teams. Geelong will be playing for a home Qualifying Final, while Brisbane will start the match playing to try and snatch the last finals berth from Carlton. But even if the Lions do manage to conjure an amazing upset win in this match, they will still need the Blues to lose to Port Adelaide later in the afternoon for their finals spot to be assured.
These clubs met earlier in the year, with Brisbane staging an outrageous comeback to retrieve a 52 point deficit en-route to a rousing 5 point win thanks to a goal after the siren from Ash McGrath. Including that win, Brisbane have won 7 of their past 10 matches, which is definitely the form of a finals contender and makes a mockery of the club’s decision to sack coach Michael Voss a fortnight ago.
Even though Brisbane are in great form they face the toughest road trip in football, playing Geelong at a venue where the Cats have won 42 of their past 43 matches. I can’t see that changing in this one with something as valuable as a home Qualifying Final for Geelong to play for. The Cats brilliant midfielders, led by Joel Selwood and Steve Johnson, should ensure there isn’t a second Brisbane miracle this season.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Geelong to win by 40-59 points @ 4.20 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Geelong to win by 60-69 points or less @ 7.80 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs. Carlton
Of all the teams chasing the coveted 8th spot, Carlton is in the best position. The Blues control their own destiny and will secure a finals berth with a win at Port Adelaide in the twilight match this Saturday. However, if they don’t succeed here, Carlton would have to rely on getting the right result in three other games to make it through to September. Port Adelaide have got nothing to play for in this game, with the club’s first finals campaign since 2007 certain to be started from 7th spot.
Port Adelaide haven’t done a Fremantle and rested up some big guns, with Power coach Ken Hinkley picking his strongest available team. That is bad news for Carlton, but the Blues do have some selection joy with the inclusions of Matthew Kreuzer in the ruck, Andrew Walker in defence and Jeff Garlett in attack strengthening Mick Malthouse’s team all across the park. The only downside is the loss of underrated midfield machine Brock McLean to a quad injury.
This is the typical scenario that Malthouse coached teams revel in – underdogs in a season on the line match away from home. You can guarantee his players will be up for the fight and with nothing to play for next week, a full strength Port Adelaide team might just go through the motions a little bit opening the finals door for the Blues.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 39 points or less @ 2.70 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs. Richmond
For Richmond this match will help determine whether the Tigers finish the season in 5th or 6th, but that doesn’t matter too much because Damien Hardwick’s men will play a home Elimination Final either way. Pride is the only thing for Essendon to play for after the AFL handed down the punishments for the supplement scandal which included demoting the Bombers to 9th place on the ladder for the end of the season.
Essendon coach James Hird has also been suspended, leaving his assistant Simon Goodwin to take the reins ahead for the club’s final fixture of 2013. The Bombers have lost reliable tagger Heath Hocking to suspension, which is great news for Richmond’s midfield ball winners Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio, who should be free to gather plenty of the pill. The flip side for the Tigers is that they have decided to give key forward Jack Riewoldt a week off to rest his injured knee.
Essendon beat Carlton here last weekend to snap a demoralising run of four successive thrashings. That win by the Bombers was largely due to some awful kicking at goal by the Blues, who booted a very wasteful 9.22 to lose by 6 points despite having 9 more scoring shots. I don’t expect Richmond to be so profligate in front of the big sticks and the Tigers should get home pretty comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 40 points or more @ 2.90 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Jobe Watson anytime goalscorer @ 1.76 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Brandon Ellis most dream team points in Group 2 @ 6.00 (Sportsbet)
West Coast vs. Adelaide
Depending on what Carlton and Brisbane do earlier in the day, this match might mean everything or it might mean nothing. And then by tomorrow evening, evening it did mean something at the time, North Melbourne could make it mean nothing with a victory over Collingwood on Sunday afternoon.
Realistically, West Coast are not a chance at making the finals because their percentage is too bad, but Adelaide could make it to September if things fall the Crows way. But that is a very big if. For Adelaide to make the finals they need to win and for Carlton, Brisbane and North Melbourne all to lose. Even if that happens it may not be enough because the Crows would need to pull back more than 3 percentage points on the Blues, which is roughly the combined margin of a Carlton loss and Adelaide win being at least 10 goals. I can’t see all that happening, but you never know.
West Coast were simply awful against Collingwood last week, which followed on from their horrible display against Geelong a week earlier. It is difficult to be confident on the Eagles after two successive 10 goal hidings, so I expect the Crows to prevail in this battle between two injury-hit teams that have spectacularly fallen short of early season expectations.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Adelaide to win @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Gold Coast vs. Greater Western Sydney
The interest in this match will be the ability to look at both expansion clubs and see how the new boys are doing after three years in the big league for Gold Coast, and two for GWS. This time last year these clubs looked to be on a par, even though the Gold Coast boys had an extra year of development. This season things have changed dramatically and the Suns have started to show a lot of promise and have been well worth their 7 wins for the season, while the Giants have managed just the single victory all season.
If anything, Kevin Sheedy’s giants have regressed this season, with that single win bringing their tally to three wins from two seasons. At the same stage Gold Coast had managed six wins, and that isn’t counting the relatively bountiful return from Guy McKenna’s team this year.
Despite their great season, Gold Coast have slowly ran out of puff during the past month, netting just 1 win from their past 5 games, which was only the expected home win against Melbourne – even GWS managed to win that fixture!
The Giants have been beaten by at least 60 points in each of their previous three fixtures, and given the youngsters usual cycle sees them put in a decent showing at least once a month, they are due to be competitive and I think they are great value at the line.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on GWS at the line (+41.5) @ 1.95 (Bet365)
Collingwood vs. North Melbourne
If Carlton and Brisbane both lose on the Saturday then this is virtual Elimination Final for North Melbourne. Collingwood also might not have anything to play for, because a Richmond win on Saturday night would consign the Magpies to 6th place unless the black and whites can manage a very, very big win in this game.
Most commentators agree that North Melbourne are playing football of a good enough standard to compete strongly in the finals, but the Kangaroos are in their current predicament because they have lost 5 games by less than a goal during this campaign, while a further 5 have been lost by between 7-16 points.
Collingwood are the antithesis of North Melbourne and I regard the Magpies as the league’s icemen, keeping their nerve to get the job done when things get tight. The Magpies have won 12 of their past 13 matches that have been decided by 18 points or less, with only a 7 point loss to Gold Coast breaking a perfect streak, and that was a match in which Collingwood were already 19 points behind entering time-on in the last quarter.
A close loss against a good team would be a fitting way for North Melbourne’s season to end.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne
The home and away season concludes with this low-key fixture between two low-drawing teams in the low-rating Sunday twilight timeslot.
Melbourne will be eager to get this season over and done with after continually launching from one catastrophe to the next. The Demons season started with the tanking investigation, then a series of huge defeats resulted in the sacking of coach Mark Neeld, and now they are likely to be investigated for their links to shady supplement scoundrel Stephen Dank.
The Western Bulldogs may only be two places higher on the ladder than their opponents, but the Dogs’ improvement during the second half of the year has been majorly impressive and they are currently playing a brand of football that is infinitely superior to anything Melbourne has been able to produce.
These teams actually met as recently as Round 14 and Melbourne sprang an upset to record their second win of the season, however the Demons have been winless during 8 matches since that triumph, while the Bulldogs have scrapped to 4 winds during that time, including three wins against higher ranked opposition at this venue.
The last time Melbourne played here they lost by 122 points to North Melbourne, while the Western Bulldogs have beaten finals chasing Adelaide and Carlton in their last two outings under the roof. I think the Doggies will sign of 2013 in style.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Western Bulldogs to win by 43 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)