The following are previews with betting tips for Round 15 of the 2017 AFL season.
Friday, June 30
Melbourne v Sydney
7:50PM AEST, MCG
After a stunning round of footy that had more than it’s fair share of upsets and epic finishes, this week has a lot to live up to, but if recent form is anything to go by, we should be in for a good start on Friday night. The Demons and the Swans are currently the two form teams of the competition, and they’ll go head to head in a massive Friday night clash at the MCG. The stakes are large, with the Swans now sitting just outside of the top eight, and the Demons likewise just out of the top four.
After watching the Swans pull off a Friday night miracle against the Bombers, the Demons won in an eerily similar fashion over the Eagles the following night. What it means is that both clubs have the confidence to win from anywhere and will never give up while there’s a sniff of hope left. So who gets up on Friday night? Well, the Demons have been hit hard by injuries and have had multiple, consecutive six-day breaks. So in that regard, they’re up against it. The Swans haven’t had the same workload and should be feeling much fresher. They’ll also be bolstered by the return of midfielder Zak Jones from his one week suspension, and ex-skipper Jarrad McVeigh from injury.
I love the way the Demons are playing at the moment and I expect they’ll push the Swans all the way, but with Jeff Garlett and Christian Salem joining Jack Watts, Jesse Hogan and Nathan Jones on the sidelines—and with Jack Viney carrying what must be a very sore shoulder—I think the Demons depth will be stretched too far for them to be able to overpower the Swans.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.86 (Marathon Bet)
Saturday, July 1
Western Bulldogs v West Coast
1:45PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Eagles will be sorely disappointed with their last-minute capitulation against the Demons, and will be looking to make amends against a Bulldogs outfit that managed to do what the Eagles couldn’t—to just hang on against a fast-finishing opposition. It was by the barest of margins, but after a couple of absolute beltings the reigning premiers will just be glad to bank the four points and move on. They were a significantly improved team against the Kangaroos, but still nowhere near their best. The main positive was the improved form of some key players, such as Marcus Bontempelli, Jake Stringer and Liam Picken. This week they take on the Eagles, in a battle that will tell us quite a lot about each club.
One of these days, the Eagles must break the curse that sees them struggle so much in Melbourne, and what better time than against a struggling Bulldogs team. The issue is, however, that while the Dogs are ripe for the picking, the Eagles are also not at full-strength. Josh Kennedy has been ruled out yet again, and skipper Shannon Hurn will miss due to concussion. When you struggle to win in Melbourne, taking two players of that calibre out make it that much more difficult. I’m not confident about this game at all, but because of the outs West Coast have combined with the Melbourne factor, I’m backing the Dogs to win by at least a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs (-16.5) @ $1.87 (Ladbrokes)
Carlton v Adelaide
2:10PM AEST, MCG
The Blues and their fans headed into Sunday’s clash against the Tigers buoyant about their chances following a couple of great wins, but they weren’t really able to challenge the Tigers all day. The margin never totally blew out, but they just didn’t look like taking the lead away from Richmond at any point. They weren’t bad, but it was a timely reminder that you have to be at your best each week otherwise it’s difficult to string wins together.
The Crows are also coming off a disappointing loss where they didn’t play at all close to their lofty capabilities. The Hawks were very good and made it hard for them, but if the Crows are truly a top four team they shouldn’t be losing games such as that one too often. This is another one they shouldn’t lose, so we’ll wait and see how they bounce back at the MCG on Saturday. Carlton are capable of giving any opposition side trouble—as witnessed by their victory over the Giants a few weeks back—but the Crows should be too strong offensively for them in this contest, even if they do try to bog it down into an arm wrestle.
Betting tip: Adelaide By 25+ @ $1.86 (Ladbrokes)
Gold Coast v North Melbourne
4:35PM AEST, Metricon Stadium
Last week was supposed to be Gary Ablett’s 300th game of AFL footy, but perhaps it’s worked out well that he had to pull out due to calf soreness. The Suns were beaten rather easily by the Saints on Sunday afternoon, and now, as long as he is fully recovered of course, they’ll get the chance to win for him in front of their home crowd at Metricon Stadium against the Kangaroos.
The Roos travel up north after a disappointing loss to the Bulldogs at Etihad. They were behind all game and probably didn’t deserve to win, but a really strong last quarter almost got them over the line. Once they levelled the scores with just a few minutes left they were clearly in a winning position and will be sorely disappointed they couldn’t capitalise on that.
This should be a good game of footy. Not much separates these two clubs at the moment, and while they’re both down the bottom end of the ladder, they’re capable of playing good footy at times. The omission of midfielder Ben Cunnington due to a one week suspension really hurts the Roos, so they’ll need others to stand up to cover the loss. The Suns will be hoping co-captain Tom Lynch can find some form and kick a few goals after a lean patch that’s lasted a number of weeks now. If there’s ever an occasion for the Suns to lift and play some inspired football, this is it. I think they’ll get the job done, but only just.
Betting tip: Gold Coast (-13.5) @ $2.14 (UniBet)
GWS v Geelong
7:25PM AEST, Spotless Stadium
If Friday night’s clash between the Demons and the Swans is the biggest game of the round, this one is not far behind. There’s obviously a long way to go, but there’s every chance these clubs will playoff again deep in September, and it’s always nice to have a small preview of what might be come finals action.
The Giants are back on top of the ladder after thumping the bottom-placed Lions, while the Cats sit a game behind them in third place after surviving a major scare from the Dockers. Fremantle played well for most of the game and applied significant pressure to the Cats, but one of the main reasons the game was so close was no doubt due to the fact Geelong lost Joel Selwood to a serious concussion in the first minute of the contest. It’s bad enough being a man down for what was effectively the entire game, but when’s it Joel Selwood—a player the Cats are still so heavily reliant on—it makes things really difficult.
They will be stoked they managed to get over the line, but now the test is whether they can beat a far superior opposition without Selwood if he doesn’t get up this weekend against the Giants. It’ll be a real test for them, and probably one that they’re not quite capable of. I’d say that if the Cats were to beat the Giants at Spotless Stadium they’d need to be at their absolute best, and without Selwood they are not. With his brother Scott Selwood and a few other Cats joining Joel on the sidelines, I expect the Giants will win, and win with ease.
Betting tip: GWS By 25+ @ $1.96 (Ladbrokes)
Port Adelaide v Richmond
7:40PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
The second Saturday night game in round 15 is another clash between top four hopefuls, with Port Adelaide hosting the Tigers at the Adelaide Oval. The Tigers don’t necessarily have the fondest memories in recent times of playing in Adelaide, so while they’re a much improved side this year, this will be a significant challenge for them.
Last weekend saw the Power pass the test of playing decent opposition at the MCG with flying colours, as they smashed the Pies by 31-points and strengthened their premiership credentials in the process. This week they return to their home fortress to take on Richmond, and will be heavy favourites to notch up another win. The Tigers are a strong side at the MCG, but have had their issues playing good opposition away from home. It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out, but I’m not expecting the Tigers to get within four goals of Port as I think they’ll struggle to contain Port’s multiple options in attack.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-19.5) @ $1.87 (Ladbrokes)
Sunday, July 2
Essendon v Brisbane
1:10PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
Essendon’s last minute capitulation to the Swans was the stuff of nightmares. The game was over; Sydney fans were leaving the ground, and Essendon fans were celebrating a great win. And then the impossible happened. I’m still not quite sure how, but it did, and Gary Rohan kicked the winning goal after the siren to break Essendon hearts. It would have been a huge win in the context of their season to set the Bombers up for an assault on the top eight, but it just wasn’t to be. Fortunately, they should be able to redeem themselves with a big won over the Lions on Sunday.
Brisbane again copped some seriously bad luck, with skipper Dayne Beams going down with a nasty shoulder injury, that will once again put him on the sidelines for a significant amount of time. One of these days they’ll start to have some good fortune, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be coming in 2017. The Bombers need to make sure they put their foot down and have a percentage-boosting win, as they should realistically beat the Lions by at least 10 goals.
Betting tip: Essendon (-46.5) @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Hawthorn v Collingwood
3:20PM AEST, MCG
Last weekend, the Hawks pulled off an upset against the Crows when no one gave them much of a chance. On the other hand, their opponent this week, Collingwood, were talked up as a real chance to upset Port Adelaide at the MCG, but didn’t come close to it. It’s a fair indication of the unpredictability of the year as a whole, but it also shows how large the gap is between the best and worst form of these two clubs. The Hawks can beat the Crows in Adelaide, but from two attempts they haven’t been able to beat the Suns. Likewise, the Pies have beaten Geelong, and Sydney at the SCG, but have struggled in games probably considered more winnable.
All things considered, this game is close to a 50/50 contest. Despite last week’s results, i still think the Pies are the better team, but their issues converting opportunities into goals is a big problem. That’s why the expected return of Jamie Elliott will be crucial. Last time these clubs met he kicked three goals, and Collingwood won by that same margin. You can’t expect him to be at his best first game back, but he’s a vitally important part of the Collingwood forward line.
I reckon we’re in for a really tight, closely fought battle, but I feel like the Hawks just lack a bit of midfield depth to match it with Collingwood over four quarters.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.82 (Marathon Bet)
Fremantle v St Kilda
4:40PM AEST, Domain Stadium
The Saints once again feature in the last game of the weekend, but this time around their task is significantly more difficult. Fremantle aren’t exactly flying at the moment, but they nearly beat the Cats in Geelong last weekend and are set to welcome back two of their most important players in Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands. Which makes this a great test of where St Kilda are at. If they can get the four points, it puts them in a strong position for the rest of the season, one from which you would back them to make the final eight. Freo are in a similar boat—a loss would just about end their finals hopes, but a win keeps them right in contention.
While they’ve had their moments, I’m yet to be convinced by the Saints so far this year. If Freo can get an advantage out of the middle with Sandilands and Fyfe returning, it’s difficult to see the Saints getting up. I expect it will be a close, low scoring game that could go either way, but if I had to choose, I’d go with the Dockers at home.
Betting tip: Fremantle to win @ $1.97 (UniBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Gold Coast (-13.5) @ $2.14 (UniBet)
Essendon (-46.5) @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
All Bets: -17.53 units
Best Bets: +1.97 units