The following are previews with betting tips for Round 23 of the 2016 AFL season.
Friday, August 26
Adelaide v West Coast
7:40PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
By the last round of the footy season the make-up of the final eight is usually just about set in stone. There’s perhaps a game or two that could be important in shaping the finals, but for the most part it’s a weekend full of dead rubbers. Not so in 2016. With only one game separating 1st and 7th, there’s still so much to play out, and Friday night’s game is arguably the biggest of the round. The Crows sit in second position and a win would guarantee them a top four position and most likely a home final as well. And for the Eagles, a win keeps them in the hunt for a top four spot pending other results, and at the very least ensures they host an elimination final.
The stakes are high for both clubs, but they’ll both be missing key players. The devastating news to come out of last week’s win over the Hawks – Nic Naitanui’s ACL tear – has cast a dark cloud over the Eagles just when they were starting to hit some really solid form at the right time of the year. Can they keep it up without him? Their past form without him says no, but we’ll find out on Friday night, because the Crows at home are currently one of the toughest tasks in footy. Rory Sloane will be missing after accepting a week’s suspension, but you’d suspect the Crows will be able to cover him more easily than the Eagles will Nic-Nat, and should be able to get the all-important win leading into the business end of the year.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $1.31 (Marathon Bet)
Saturday, August 27
Geelong v Melbourne
1:45PM AEST, Simonds Stadium
After a couple of the most encouraging weeks in their recent history, the Demons reverted back to old habits and were bitterly disappointing against the Blues in a game where a win would’ve kept them in touch with the top eight leading into this week. They clearly struggled with the weight of the occasion and the Blues led them all day. It should be another good learning experience for them at the very least, and they can now have a crack at the Cats with absolutely nothing to lose. Not only will the Demons have nothing to lose, but the Cats will be under immense pressure to get the points because a loss means a big chance of them falling out of the top four. They lose Lachie Henderson to a knee injury but welcome back Jimmy Bartel, Josh Caddy and Daniel Menzel.
Win or loss, the year has been a success for the Demons and they’ll be keenly looking forward to 2017. And the Cats, well their time is now, and because of that you’d expect they bank the much needed four points and move onto focusing on an assault on the premiership. Oh, and there’s still the possibility of the Cats jumping up to second position, but they’d need either the Swans or Crows to lose, otherwise they’d need to beat the Dees by at least 100 points and for the Crows to only win narrowly. It’s possible, but very unlikely.
Betting tip: Geelong to win by 1-39 @ $2.32 (Pinnacle)
Essendon v Carlton
2:10PM AEST, MCG
The Blues have avoided finishing a solid year off on a sour note by snapping a nine game losing streak with a great win over the Demons last weekend. They’ve now got a great opportunity to make it a total of eight wins for season 2016, which was a number no one was predicting they’d be able to manage prior to the beginning of the season. The Bombers will be equally keen to finish off a tough year on a positive note, but probably aren’t going to be good enough.
They also don’t have a massive amount of motivation as a club, with one final loss earning them the number one draft pick at the end of the year. They had a couple of AFL – but not club – stars retire last weekend in Matthew Stokes and Adam Cooney, but this week is not a massive occasion for the club other than being the final scene in what has been a year from hell. In hindsight this year could turn out to be a blessing for the Bombers, but for now ‘goodbye and good riddance’ is all they’ll be thinking.
Betting tip: Carlton by 25+ @ $2.05 (Luxbet)
Sydney v Richmond
4:35PM AEST, SCG
After their win over the Kangaroos last weekend, all the Swans need to do to ensure they finish on top of the ladder is beat the Tigers on Saturday afternoon, which surely shouldn’t be too difficult a task considering the way the Tigers are currently travelling. The Tiges went down to the Saints in one of the scrappiest games of the year and didn’t exactly show anything that suggests they’d be capable of beating the Swans in Sydney this weekend. Buddy Franklin has apparently recovered from the hip knock he received against the Kangaroos and should be fine to run out against the Tigers, which will no doubt please Alex Rance.
I doubt much is going to come of this game. The four points are very important for the Swans, but they are almost certain to get them against a Richmond side that has disappointed all year and has no incentive to start impressing now. The Tigers have thrown in the towel for 2016, and I’d be surprised if they got within seven goals of the Swans on Saturday afternoon.
Betting tip: Sydney by 40+ @ $1.48 (Palmerbet)
Gold Coast v Port Adelaide
7:25PM AEST, Metricon Stadium
2016 has been an underwhelming year for both of these clubs. The Power were again talked up as potential finalists, but once again failed to get anywhere near the heights of 2014. The Suns were dealt blow after blow on the injury front, and were missing many of their best players for large portions of the year. The last couple of weeks have also delivered a blow to their long term future, with young guns Dion Prestia and Jaeger O’Meara both requesting trades at the end of the year.
They’ll get a nice return for Prestia, but it’ll be interesting to see how they fare in any trade for O’Meara. Prior to the knee injury, he was on track to be a future Brownlow medallist and a future superstar of the game. But now, considering he hasn’t played in two years, there’s serious question marks about his body and whether he’ll ever get anywhere near his potential. So the Suns are likely to lose out on him leaving, but they should still net something decent in return. They’ve still got plenty of talent at the club, and will be hopeful of pressing for the eight next year if they finally get some luck with injuries. While both clubs have been poor this year, I can see the Suns getting up at home against Port, who’ve struggled all year to back up a good game the following week.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $3.28 (BetFair)
North Melbourne v GWS Giants
7:25PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
This game was a dead rubber for the Kangaroos a few short days ago. Not anymore. With the shock announcement they won’t be renewing the contracts of Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo this game suddenly becomes much more meaningful and emotional. The club and all of its fans will of course be hoping that this won’t be the last time these guys play in Melbourne, but it’s a distinct possibility and will be celebrated accordingly.
And so the Giants now have a much tougher task at hand. Though it’s 2016 and all the senior coaches will have you believe every result comes down to structures and game plans, there is still in fact plenty of room left for raw emotion in footy, and if ever there was an occasion where it could propel a club over the line, it could be this one. The Giants are a good side, but aren’t overly convincing away from home, while the Kangaroos play Etihad well and should be well and truly fired up. It’ll be fascinating to see whether any of the axed players have a massive game to try and show the club they’ve made a mistake in moving them on. For what it’s worth, I’d say they’ve done the right thing in moving on Petrie, Firrito and Dal Santo, but surely Boomer deserved another year? I reckon he might turn it on this weekend and propel the Roos over the line in an emotional game of footy.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $2.75 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, August 28
St Kilda v Brisbane
1:10PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Lions were able to hold the Cats for half a game last weekend, but in the end their lack of polish meant the Cats ran out comfortable victors. On the other hand, the Saints were in front all day but struggled to put the Tigers away in what was a very, very scrappy game of footy. There have been ups and downs, but overall It’s been a great year for the Saints. They’ve already won 11 games, and they should beat the Lions on Sunday to make it 12. Most years 12 wins will sneak you into the finals, but not this year.
Even so, the Saints will be incredibly content with that result. The next step is seeing how they fare when Riewoldt, Montagna, etc. aren’t constantly in their best players. The Lions won’t be as happy with their year for obvious reasons. They’ve only managed the three wins, haven’t improved at all on last year, and are almost certainly going to be looking for a new senior coach in a couple of weeks. It’s not easy being the coach of a Queensland based AFL team, but unfortunately this will be Justin Leppitsch’s last game in charge. And he’s not likely to get a win to send him off either.
Betting tip: St Kilda by 40+ @ $1.50 (UniBet)
Hawthorn v Collingwood
3:20PM AEST, MCG
The Hawks may come to regret these last few weeks. It wasn’t long ago they were a game clear on top of the ladder, yet they’re now battling to hold their position in the top four. They were out-played by the Eagles all night, and they’ve also lost ruckman Jonathon Ceglar to a serious knee injury. If they beat the Pies they’ll earn the double chance, but they’ll still have to travel in week one of the finals. It’s not ideal, but they’ve overcome similar challenges in the recent past without any worries.
The main thing they need to focus on is getting the points this week. The Pies have lost Darcy Moore to a hamstring so Travis Cloke comes in for what is likely to be his last game in the black and white. At their best they’ve been really competitive, but it’s hard to see the Pies getting over the Hawks in this one. I doubt it’ll be a blow-out, but the Hawks should win by at least a couple of goals to make sure they get the double chance.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.30 (Pinnacle)
Fremantle v Western Bulldogs
4:40PM AEST, Subiaco Oval
The Dogs got another win on the weekend, but it again came at a cost, with acting skipper Easton Wood going down with an ankle injury. It’s not as serious as first thought, but he’ll definitely miss the trip over to Perth this weekend. And he might be needed. Fremantle have had a disappointing year to say the least, but this weekend will be the 353rd and last time that the great Matthew Pavlich will run out at AFL level and it’s safe to say the Dockers will be giving it everything they’ve got to get a win for their retiring club legend.
They look set to welcome back some experience in Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands and Zac Dawson, and in Perth are definitely not without a chance of stealing a fourth win for the year. While sentiment and emotion plays a part, you’ve still got to be a decent side to knock off a top eight team like the Dogs, and Fremantle’s 3-18 record this year shows that they’re probably just not going to be good enough, regardless of how hard they try. Both clubs struggle in the forward half and don’t kick as many goals as they should, but the Dogs have proved the better side all year and should be able to overcome the Dockers in the final game of the home and away season.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win by 1-39 @ $2.10 (William Hill)
Best Bets of the Round
Geelong to win by 1-39 @ $2.32 (Pinnacle)
Western Bulldogs to win by 1-39 @ $2.10 (William Hill)
All Bets: -4.16 units
Best Bets: -0.51 units