The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, April 20
Sydney vs Adelaide
7:50 pm AEST, SCG
After getting back to some of their best form after a disappointing loss to the Bombers in round 1, the Crows let themselves down big time in a shock loss to the Pies at home on Friday night. And they didn’t just lose, they got pummelled by a hungrier side. It leaves them in a tough position, heading into this huge clash with the Swans at 2-2. The Crows are gunning for a top four spot, so they’ll be desperate to keep their win/loss tally in the positive region, but it’s not going to be easy for them to beat the Swans at the SCG. They’re already struggling with injury, and now they’ve lost Eddie Betts for at least a couple of weeks, and Rory Sloane for at least this week to top it all off.
Sydney are doing what needs to be done without setting the world on fire. It was a real arm wrestle for them against the Dogs but in the end their class prevailed. Lance Franklin again proved a match-winner, and the backline held strong despite the Dogs’ continued pressure. They should be able to beat the Crows in the midfield this week, and if that happens they’ve got enough firepower up forward to put a winning score on the board. This would be a great game if the Crows were closer to full strength but as it stands, the Swans should win this with ease. There have been some funny results so far this season, and the Crows will be keen to bounce back after last week so you’d suspect they’ll put in a strong performance, but I just can’t see the Swans dropping this one.
Betting tip: Sydney (-22.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Saturday, April 21
St Kilda vs GWS
1:45 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
I was certain the Saints were going to lift on Sunday against the Cats, but instead they put in another really poor performance that has their season dangling by the barest of threads. This year was supposed to be the year they challenged for finals, but instead they’re wallowing in the deepest hole they’ve been in for quite some time. There’s pressure on them from all angles. Their forward line isn’t functioning at all, and while the coaches have tried various things, none have worked. The coaching staff has also copped criticism for not being flexible and not allowing the players to play to their strengths. A week like this usually brings out some form of response from a team under siege, but the Saints are looking devoid of all confidence, so I’m not sure they’re capable of producing a dramatic turnaround at the moment. It doesn’t help that they’re up against the Giants, who are still one of the best teams in the competition despite missing a few of their best players.
The Saints may be stung into action this week, and they do welcome Tim Membrey back to give them some sort of forward structure, but it’s not going to be enough for them to knock off a strong GWS outfit. Let’s just hope for their sake that it doesn’t get too ugly.
Betting tip: GWS (-19.5) @ $1.70 (Ladbrokes)
Carlton vs West Coast
4:35 pm AEST, MCG
The Blues turned in their worst performance of the year against the Kangaroos last weekend, allowing a team that isn’t particularly strong to absolutely trounce them. They’re still winless after the opening four rounds, and question marks are starting to be raised. We knew the Blues weren’t going to win a whole lot of games this season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t feel the pressure if they perform like they did on the weekend.
This week they face a red hot West Coast outfit and their only saving grace may be the venue, as the Eagles always struggle on the MCG. I’m not sure that’s going to be enough for Carlton though; the Eagles are looking really good right now, and Josh Kennedy looks to have seamlessly slotted back into the forward line. Do the Blues have anyone capable of stopping him? Both Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering have struggled so far this year, so it’ll need to be a real team effort. If the Eagles can get over their MCG issues they should win this by a fair margin, especially with Matthew Kreuzer not taking part. Even if they perform below their Perth best, they should still be good enough to take care of the Blues.
Betting tip: West Coast By 25+ @ $1.60 (UniBet)
Port Adelaide vs Geelong
7:40 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
Saturday night has the Cats travelling to Adelaide to take on the Power in what should be one of the biggest games of the weekend. Both clubs look like being strong contenders this season and they’ve had some mighty battles between them in recent times. The Cats were thumped by the Crows last time they played at the Adelaide Oval, and while the stakes aren’t as high this time around, they’ll be keen to make amends.
Both clubs are coming off a six day break, and they’ve both got some injury issues to deal with. The Cats lost another soldier in their win over the Saints, with Cory Gregson going down with an ankle injury, while Port have lost experienced recruit Tom Rockliff.
It should be a close game of footy, but I think the Cats — with their inexperienced backline — might struggle to contain Port Adelaide. Both clubs are strong through the midfield, but the Power have plenty of options up forward and that might prove to be the difference in the end.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-11.5) @ $1.92 (CrownBet)
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs
8:10 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The Dockers stayed within arm’s reach of GWS for most of the game last week, but just couldn’t do enough to seriously challenge the Giants. It was a pretty good effort though, and now they return to the comfort of home to host the Dogs in what should be an intriguing contest. The way the Dogs played against the Swans was exactly how they played against Essendon the week before, and nothing like the opening two rounds. They took risks, backed themselves, and looked dangerous. If not for poor goal kicking they would’ve beaten Sydney, which means if they get that right this week, they’re every chance to beat the Dockers over in Perth. They are a very young side at the moment though, so I’m not sure how well they’ll handle the trip over to Perth. I expect them to still be very competitive as per the last two weeks, but in the end they might fall just short of taking the points.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 1-39 @ $2.25 (BlueBet)
Sunday, April 22
North Melbourne vs Hawthorn
3:20 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
For clubs that were supposed to be in the middle of a rebuild, both the Hawks and the Kangaroos have started the season fairly well. The Roos pantsed Carlton last week, while the Hawks had their way with the hapless Demons. It sets this up to be a huge clash under the Etihad Stadium roof, with the winner setting themselves up very nicely for an assault on the rest of the season.
The Hawks look to be the better team, but injuries to Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo leaves a gaping hole in their forward line. They may be able to replace those two with decent players, but they won’t be able to replace the goal sense they have or the forward pressure they apply. That might be enough to give the Kangaroos a sniff. That, coupled with the fact it’s being played at Etihad and not at the MCG, and the Kangaroos will back themselves in. I’d still expect the Hawks to be good enough to take over when the game is on the line, but I have a feeling this game might be a lot closer than expected.
Betting tip: Kangaroos (+19.5) @ $1.68 (UniBet)
Brisbane vs Gold Coast
4:40 pm AEST, Gabba
The two Queensland clubs started the year off in fairly good fashion, but last weekend was a wake up call. The Lions were embarrassed by the Tigers at the MCG, only managing to kick the two goals, while the Suns were beaten by a hefty 80 points by the Eagles in Perth. In both cases the opposition was quality and they were both away from home, but it’s still not good enough. So this weekend they’ll both be looking to bounce back from ordinary performances, and what better way than in a fiery Q-Clash.
The Lions are still looking for their first win of the season, while the Suns will be keen to keep their good start to the season from going to waste. The ruck battle will be interesting to watch, as will the duel between Tom Lynch and the Brisbane key defenders. If the Suns can keep Stefan Martin’s impact as low as possible it’ll go a long way towards them winning, and likewise for Brisbane with Tom Lynch. I expect this to be another tight contest, but I’m backing the Suns to get over the line.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $2.15 (William Hill)
Tuesday, April 24
Melbourne vs Richmond
7:25 pm AEST, MCG
After a decent but largely indifferent start to the season that netted the Demons a 2-1 record, Melbourne really dropped the bundle in last Sunday’s 67 point loss to the Hawks at the MCG. Like the Saints, the Dees are supposed to play finals this year, and they’ve even been talked about as a top four chance, so that sort of performance came as a shock. It won’t get any easier for them either — this week they’ve got the reigning premiers in an ANZAC day eve blockbuster, and the Tigers are getting pretty good at smelling blood. They destroyed the Lions last week and they should still be feeling fresh as you wouldn’t think they expended too much energy in the process.
I am expecting a strong showing from the Demons after last weekend, but are they capable of challenging the Tigers? At their very best, yes, but they’re nowhere near that level at the moment. The Demons are looking shaky in defence and that’s something that the Tigers prey on. If that doesn’t change rapidly, Richmond will have a night out, and I expect that’s exactly what might happen.
Betting tip: Richmond (-14.5) @ $1.91 (UniBet)
Wednesday, April 25
Collingwood vs Essendon
3:20 pm AEST, MCG
Last weekend’s result has set this clash up perfectly: Collingwood’s poor start to the season was turned on its head with a colossal win over the Crows in Adelaide, while the Bombers knocked off the then-unbeaten Power. Those results have provided some extra excitement in the lead up to the annual ANZAC day clash, a game that generally doesn’t need extra reason for excitement. Regardless of ladder position, either team can win, but this year the two teams look to be very evenly matched. The Bombers are strong up forward, while the Magpies are best in the midfield. The Collingwood backline has also performed well in recent weeks, and if they can do a solid job again this week it will be vital to their chances of beating the Bombers.
Overall I think the Bombers are the better side, but I’m a little worried that if the Pies bring some serious midfield pressure the Bombers might not win enough contested ball to give their forwards a chance. That’s still Essendon’s biggest weakness: winning the footy against a side with contested ball beasts who apply serious heat around the contest. I’m going to back them in against the Pies, because I think they’ll get up for the occasion and if they get it inside forward 50 often enough, they’re more than capable of kicking a big score.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $2.06 (BetFair)
Best Bets of the Round
Port Adelaide (-11.5) @ $1.92 (CrownBet)
All Bets: -11.20 units
Best Bets: -0.12 units