The following are previews with betting tips for Round 1 of the 2016 AFL season.
Thursday, March 24
Richmond v Carlton
7:20PM AEDT, MCG
The recent spate of injuries down at Tigerland has, potentially, evened this ball game right up. OK, maybe I’ve gone a little overboard there, but Deledio and Maric are two of Richmond’s most important players, and it’s well documented that the Tiges don’t have a great track record without Deledio, and they’ve struggled in the midfield over the past couple of seasons when Maric has been injured. Add a missing Shaun Grigg and a slightly underdone Shane Edwards to that mix, and who knows, maybe the Blues have a sneaky chance.
But then you look through Carlton’s list and realize they don’t have a single genuine goalkicker in their midst. They’re going to find the path to the big sticks slow and treacherous in 2016. Over the rest of the ground, I can see them holding their own in this one, but the Tigers have too much firepower up forward and will be able to take advantage of a sloppy first hit out to get a winning score on the board.
Betting tip: Total Match Points Under 170.5 @ $1.95 (LuxBet)
Saturday, March 26
Melbourne v GWS Giants
1:40PM AEDT, MCG
Jeremy Cameron’s four week suspension severely hampers the Giants’ hopes of winning some of their early season games, but I don’t think this is one of them. Being the first game of the year, and with the new interchange restrictions, you’d expect this to be won by the team who can sustain midfield dominance for the longest period of the game, and the Giants bat much deeper in that department than Melbourne do. Up forward, they’ve got more than enough options to cover Cameron. Should be a close one, but the Giants will run the game out.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.68 (Marathon Bet)
Gold Coast v Essendon
4:35PM AEDT, Metricon Stadium
The Bombers have been lucky with their Round 1 match up. It could’ve been much, much worse. A top four team would’ve been a disaster, because Round 1 may well be the most important game of the year for Essendon. Show some competiveness, ensure they’re not blown out of water, and it might put some of the wind back in the sails of a slew of supporters who are feeling apathetic towards the footy this year. Back it up the following week against the Dees and the year might not be looking so bad after all. Still, they don’t have the side to get the win, and if they can keep it to 5-8 goals they’ll have done OK.
Betting tip: HT/FT Double – Gold Coast @ $1.40 (Centrebet)
Sydney v Collingwood
7:25PM AEDT, ANZ Stadium
Really looking forward to watching this one. Some Round 1 results will tell you absolutely nothing in regards to the year in store for either participant, but I reckon this game will tell us plenty. If the Pies are a genuine contender this year, they’ll show it on Saturday night. They’ve had a really solid pre-season and should be primed to take that momentum into the season proper and get off to a flyer. The Swans are probably looking to build some momentum more methodically and time their run a bit better this year, but they’ll be keen to start the year off well, especially at home. It could go either way, but I’m tipping the Swans by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Swans to win @ $1.72 (Pinnacle)
North Melbourne v Adelaide
7:25PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium
This should be a Round 1 ripper, between two clubs who should be playing finals come season’s end. Every game is equal, all worth just the four points, but early wins are so, so important in setting up a finals berth. They take the pressure off later on in the year, meaning you can start planning your finals campaign earlier and with more predictability.
In all likelihood, we know what North will produce, it’s the Crows who are the wildcard here, with new coach Don Pyke getting his first opportunity to showcase his spin on their brand of footy. I reckon the Crows might take a few weeks to get used to functioning post-Dangerfield, and I also have to lean towards the known quantity in a game like this, so I’m going with the Kangaroos by 4 goals.
Betting tip: Kangaroos at the line of -17.5 @ $2.12 (UniBet)
Sunday, March 27
Western Bulldogs v Fremantle
1:10PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium
Another contest that should be quite informative; will the Dogs be able to back up their 2015 season, or are they destined for a 2015-Port Adelaide-like middling season? We’ll have a lot better idea come the final siren on Sunday. While the Dockers will be without ruckman Aaron Sandilands due to suspension, and recruit Harley Bennell won’t be running out for his first game in purple, the Dogs are going to have play as well as they did at any stage last year to best the Dockers. I reckon they’ll be able to do it, we saw last year that once they get going, they’re hard to beat at Etihad. Should be an exciting game; if Freo are serious about scoring more, what better chance than in a free flowing game at Etihad.
Betting tip: Bulldogs to win @ $1.94 (Marathon Bet)
Port Adelaide v St Kilda
3:20PM AEDT, Adelaide Oval
The first game of the year at the Adelaide Oval isn’t going to be a blockbuster like many of those that South Australian fans got used to attending last year, but most Port fans won’t care, just so long as they get the four points. And they should, regardless of whether they’ll be good enough to challenge for a finals and/or top four position this year, a win here seems like a given. The Saints are still firmly in their rebuild stage and you wouldn’t think they’d win too many games outside of Melbourne in season 2016.
Betting tip: Power to win by 25+ @ $1.75 (Centrebet)
West Coast v Brisbane
7:40PM AEDT, Subiaco Oval
Remember when I said some Round 1 results would tell you absolutely nothing at all? Well, here we go. Strap yourself in for a long two hours of football. This could get ugly very quickly for the Lions. Though I am looking forward to seeing No.2 draft pick Josh Schache have his first crack at the big time. But other than that there won’t be much reason to watch this one. The Eagles by lots and lots.
Betting tip: Eagles at the line of -66.5 @ $2.20 (Sportsbet)
Monday, March 28
Geelong v Hawthorn
3:20PM AEDT, MCG
I’m cautiously optimistic that with their off-season recruits, the Cats will once again be good enough to challenge this mighty Hawks outfit, because let’s be honest, how good were those 2009-2013 era contests between these clubs? While I’m hopeful, and perhaps occasionally get down on my knees and pray, realistically I still don’t think the Cats have the squad to consistently challenge the Hawks over the length of the year.
However, injuries to Roughead, Shiels and Hill leave the door open for the Cats in this first up contest. If they’re going to beat the Hawks this year, what better chance than Easter Monday? Dangerfield is flying, Selwood should be right to play, and the Hawks are missing several stars. I reckon this will go right down to the wire and should be a magnificent Easter spectacle to finish Round 1 off and welcome the AFL season back in style.
Betting tip: Cats at the line of +9.5 @ $1.80 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Eagles at the line of -66.5 @ $2.20 (Sportsbet)
Bulldogs to win @ $1.94 (Marathon Bet)