Friday, April 10
West Coast vs Carlton
8:10PM AEST, Patersons Stadium
These two clubs are coming off disappointing starts to the season, with the pain of losing their respective first matches compounded by long term injuries to key players in Dale Thomas and Mitch Brown.
Carlton were very poor against the Tigers after quarter time, whilst the Eagles were actually quite solid in their loss to the Dogs, but struggled to win enough ball in the midfield to get over the line in one of the more entertaining games of the first round.
The injury to Mitch Brown means the Eagles will need to rush defender Will Schofield back into the side, and may also depend on Elliot Yeo to play tall, something I’m sure he’s probably not looking forward to all that much. This clearly leaves the Eagles backline susceptible against sides with several quality key forwards.
The Blues have several key forwards. Quality is the issue for them. They’ll be hoping for at least one of Liam Jones and Levi Casboult to improve enough this season to entrench themselves in Carlton’s best 22 and become a serious headache for opposition coaches. This week provides them with a good opportunity to get the ball rolling.
I’m backing the Blues in for a big game to bounce back from last week. It should be a tight one but the Eagles just have a few too many injuries and underdone players of importance for my liking.
Betting tip: Blues to win @ $2.75 (Ladbrokes.com.au)
Saturday, April 11
Richmond vs Western Bulldogs
1:45PM AEST, MCG
After a shaky first quarter, the Tigers had a fairly comfortable win against the Blues, as they should have if they expect to play finals footy this year. It wasn’t the ideal start to the season however, with Brett Deledio being reported and subsequently suspended for a week for his high bump on Simon White in the opening seconds.
The Bulldogs were impressive in their first game with the new coach and captain combination. They moved the ball more quickly than they did last season, taking more risks and playing on whenever possible. The new look game plan was impressive, but will still need some time and smoothing out; they were caught out on the rebound more than they would have liked, with the Eagles kicking four coast-to-coast goals.
If the Tigers aren’t heavily pressured, they’ll win by 10 goals. If the Dogs can constantly pressure the ball and close down space, we should end up with a tight finish. Playing most of their games at Etihad, the Dogs will likely struggle with the wide expanses of the MCG and the Tigers outside runners will cause enough damage to help them to a 2-0 start to season 2015.
Betting tip: Jake Stringer – Most WB Goals in 2015 @ $2.75 (Sportsbet)
GWS Giants vs Melbourne
2:10PM AEST, StarTrack Oval
Well, weren’t the Demons impressive last week? It was their first round one win since 2005, and their first score over 100 since round 14 in 2013. Records the Dees probably don’t want to be reminded of, but records that are necessary to break and move on from, which the Dees were able to do convincingly on the weekend.
Speaking of records, GWS had a win against the Saints for the first time in their short existence. They didn’t play all that well and would want to improve this week, but did enough to get over the line and would be satisfied with the four points.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how both these teams back up this weekend. It’s difficult to judge form on a single game, and I’m not confident in either side playing consistent football just yet, but I think it’s safe to say that both clubs have improved significantly since the end of 2014.
The Demons were incredibly impressive last week and I just can’t go past them, I think they’ll bring the same intensity and really get their fans excited, not only about the future, but for the rest of this season as well.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $2.90 (Betfair)
Collingwood vs Adelaide
4:35PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
Two big, impressive round one wins here. Collingwood travelled to Brisbane and knocked off a more fancied opponent, while the Crows stayed at home and thrashed a contender/pretender Kangaroos side.
Steele Sidebottom being out really hurts the Pies and I think they’ll struggle to win the midfield battle. They won’t be able to shut the Crows down, and they won’t be able to win a shoot out. However, if both teams play as well as they did last weekend, this will easily be one of the games of the round. Collingwood have the home ground advantage, but I’d say the Crows will be too good and should get home.
Betting tip: Crows to win @ $1.53 (TAB Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs Sydney
7:40PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
It’s probably no surprise, but this is the game I’m most looking forward to watching this weekend. I wonder how many times I’ll say that this year for games involving Port Adelaide. They were unlucky to go down against Fremantle, as both teams played some outstanding footy. Port probably deserved four points more than many of the teams who actually won in round 1, but, either fortunately or unfortunately, the only thing that matters is beating the team you’re up against.
Sydney were lacklustre, then stormed home in the wet against a Bombers side that was always going to run out of gas. It seemed impressive because of the comeback, but Sydney won’t win too many games this year playing like that for three quarters.
This should be a sensational game of footy. I can’t see Port losing too many games at home this year, and I think this one will be incredibly difficult for the Swans.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 1-20 @ $3.85 (bet365)
Gold Coast vs St Kilda
7:20PM AEST, Metricon Stadium
Barring the insipid performance from the Kangaroos, the Gold Coast took the award for biggest disappointment of round one. I’m not 100% sure that they knew this was the first game of the season. I’ve got a suspicion they thought it was another NAB challenge game and are just too embarrassed to admit their mistake.
Unlike the Suns, the Saints didn’t lose due to a lack of effort. They tried hard all day in their loss to GWS, and nearly managed to steal the game in the last quarter. The Gold Coast will need to bounce back after a pitiful performance, as the Saints will be trying to take advantage of any chances they have of winning games this season.
The Suns will also need to find a way to spread the load as Gary Ablett is clearly not yet capable of carrying the majority of the midfield workload on his still-recovering shoulder. Against the Saints this shouldn’t be a problem, but bigger tests are awaiting the Suns in coming weeks.
Betting tip: First goal scorer – Harley Bennell @ $11.00 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, April 12
Geelong vs Fremantle
1:10PM AEST, Simonds Stadium
Are Geelong an average side this year or are the Hawks just that good? That’s the question AFL fans are left pondering after an Easter Monday demolition. I’m not really sure and I think at this stage I’ll take a bit of both and sit on the fence for another few weeks. The Cats looked slow, reactive and fumbled way too often. They struggled to put any pressure at all on the Hawks, who moved the ball from one end of the ground to the other like it was a training drill.
The Cats can take some heart out of the fact that they won’t be the only side be to subjected to a Hawthorn training drill this season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much easier for them this week, they’re up against a Dockers outfit that last week showed no signs of slowing down, and one that the Cats have struggled against in recent times.
The positive for the Cats is that they’re playing in Geelong, where they very rarely lose. I’m not sure that will be enough; the Dockers have proven they can do it and I’d say there’s a fair chance they’ll do it again.
Betting tip: Dockers to win @ $1.94 (BetStar)
Essendon vs Hawthorn
3:20PM AEST, MCG
The Bombers were outstanding against the Swans before they tired after slogging it out for three quarters in torrid conditions. They’ll be better this week for the run, but you’ve got to think they’re still a few weeks behind every other club in terms of preparation.
I expect it will be another spirited performance from the Bombers, but coming up against the best team in the competition they’ll have to do something extraordinary to get the win considering their lack of match fitness.
Betting tip: Hawks By 25+ @ $1.75 (Luxbet)
North Melbourne vs Brisbane
4:40PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
Round 2 ends with a chance at redemption for two clubs that let their fans down in the opening round of the season. North Melbourne were horrible. Simple as that. It was one of those games that as a club you almost just try to forget ever happened, file it under the favourite word of the stunned coach, ‘aberration’, and quickly move on.
The Lions were also disappointing after some pre-season hype. They only ended up losing by two goals, but you can’t expect to win a game of footy when you’re 9 goals down late in the third quarter.
Obviously the loss of Tom Rockliff doesn’t help the Lions, but the midfield is probably the area they are most capable of covering. They have significant problems at either end of the ground when it comes to tall options, and I’d expect the Kangaroos to be able to exploit this, especially playing under the roof at Etihad.
Betting tip: Kangaroos By 1-24 @ $3.90 (Sportsbet)