Cheeky Weekend Multi
Hawthorn to win by 40 points or more @ 1.62
Nick Riewoldt to score the most goals in the St Kilda v Melbourne game @ 2.75
1 unit @ combined odds of 4.45 (Sportsbet)
Friday 21 March
North Melbourne v Essendon
7:50 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Essendon will be happy to get the season underway and shift their focus back to playing football rather than worrying about the ongoing drug investigation that again flared up in the media a few weeks ago. The Bombers lost all three of their pre-season games, while North Melbourne only managed the one victory, a narrow triumph over Geelong in their final practice match.
I reckon the Kangaroos have a well-balanced side, and with a core group of players entering the prime of their careers, Brad Scott’s team will contend for a top 4 finish this season. Essendon also have the talent to challenge for a top 4 position this year, particularly due to their enviable array of key position players, but as I mentioned in my season preview, I’m just not feeling it from the Bombers this year. Dennis Denuto said it best in the legendary movie The Castle, “It’s just…the vibe…of the thing.”
The Bombers will field three first-gamers on Friday night and it is rare for teams to win when doing that, so I am going for North to get the job done. I am also going to make a small play on Ryan Bastinac to get the most dream team points in his Sportsbet group, which is the group containing second-tier midfielders and a couple of key position players. Bastinac is a bit more of an outside player than the other midfielders in this group and has the greatest capacity to complement a lot of disposals with a few marks, which are good for point scoring.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne to win Fremantle to win by 39 points or less @ 2.35 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Ryan Bastinac to score most dream team points in his group @ 8.00 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Aaron Black most goals @ 11.00 (Sportsbet)
Saturday 22 March
Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions
4:40 PM AEDT, Aurora Stadium, Launceston
Hawthorn embarrassed Brisbane with a 131 point thrashing when the clubs met back in the first round of pre-season games. Although both teams were missing a few key players that night, the magnitude of that defeat will surely be on the minds of Brisbane’s players in the lead-up to this daunting season opener.
There will be plenty of new faces in this match as the Hawks have selected Tim O’Brien and Derick Wanganeen for AFL debuts, while ex-St Kilda ruckman Ben McEvoy will play his first game in the brown and gold. For Brisbane, exciting young midfielder James Aish will play his first AFL game, as will Michael Close and Lewis Taylor. And similarly to the Hawks, the Lions have handed a club debut to a recycled ruckman, with Trent West playing his first game for the northern club.
After winning their three pre-season games by an average of 102 points, the Hawks enter the season in a mean mood. Look out Brisbane!
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn at the line (-46.5) @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Jarryd Roughead to kick 5 or more goals @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda v Melbourne
7:40 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Two wooden spoon candidates will square off in this fixture, with both clubs confident of getting some positive early season momentum with a first-up win. The recent history between these sides heavily favours St Kilda given the Saints have won their past 9 matches against the Demons since a 2006 Elimination Final defeat.
The most impressive thing about Melbourne’s squad is their forward line potency, however their three big-bodied attacking hopes in Mitch Clark, Chris Dawes and Jesse Hogan will all be on the sidelines for this match, leaving high-flyer Jeremy Howe as the only goalkicking hope in red and blue. St Kilda’s problems are in the midfield as the Saints will be without Lenny Hayes, Leigh Montagna and Jack Steven – arguably their three best midfielders.
Both sides have named five new players each, so I am not going to list them all, but there will be plenty of exciting talent on show in this match. But perhaps the defining battle will be between experienced Melbourne defender James Frawley and veteran St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt. I think Riewoldt can win this match up and his goals might just win the game for his team.
Finally, Bernie Vince had a massive pre-season and looms as Melbourne’s prime mover in the midfield this year after his off-season switch from Adelaide. I think he is a steal to score more than 87.5 dream team points at $1.87 in this game.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win @ 2.55 (Betezy)
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Bernie Vince to score over 87.5 dream team points @ 1.87 (Sportsbet)
Sunday 23 March
West Coast v Western Bulldogs
7:40 PM AEDT, Patersons Stadium, Perth
There has been a lot of optimism for West Coast this pre-season, with many pundits believing their non-finals appearance last year was due to a terrible run of injuries and that with less bad luck this season, the Eagles can soar back into September action. For their part, the Western Bulldogs also have many admirers and the Doggies are considered to be only 1-2 years away from returning to the finals for the first time since 2010 thanks to their burgeoning fleet of talented young midfielders.
The Bulldogs will be without skipper Ryan Griffen, which will make this trip west that much tougher. West Coast have selected both of the gun ruckman – Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui – a luxury not available to them for most of last year.
With their big guns in, this is the sort of game West Coast need to win if they expect to play finals in 2014.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 25 points or more @ 1.82 (Sportingbet)