The following are previews with betting tips for Round 9 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, May 18
Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs
7:50 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
The Crows were on track for a fourth consecutive win mid way through the third quarter on Saturday, but they had no answer for a sudden avalanche of Port Adelaide attacking pressure which saw them concede five goals in 10 minutes. Regardless, they managed to hit the front with less than a minute left in the contest and will be bitterly disappointed they couldn’t hang on from there. They’ll hope to bounce back this week against the Dogs, a club not playing great footy despite winning their past three matches. Those wins have come against Carlton, Gold Coast and Brisbane, and none of them have been particularly convincing. They’ve done what’s been necessary, but you’d think if they play the same way against the Crows they’re in for a long night. Both clubs have some significant injury woes, although this week the Dogs welcome the return of captain Easton Wood, along with big men Jordan Roughead and Jackson Trengove.
The Dogs’ defence is always an area of concern, and against the strong Adelaide forward line — despite some big omissions — they’ll be made to look silly if the Crows get the ball out of the middle with ease. I’m expecting this to be a fairly low quality game with the Crows to have it iced by half time.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-25.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Saturday, May 19
North Melbourne vs GWS
1:45 pm AEST, Blundstone Arena
After surprising the Swans in Sydney in round 7, the Kangaroos nearly did it again against the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Even though Richmond were in front for the majority of the game, it was a tight contest the whole way through and when North took the lead early in the final quarter they would’ve been able to taste victory. The Tigers showed their class in the end, but it was another encouraging performance from the Kangaroos. This week they head to their second home to take on the Giants in Tasmania.
GWS have been heavily impacted by injuries in the last month and they haven’t coped well — they were smashed by the Cats in Geelong and then easily beaten by the Eagles at home. Their season is quickly slipping away, and while they’ll get their injured players back over the next few weeks, they need to lift their game immediately. The Kangaroos are hard to beat in Tassie, but the Giants desperately need a win so I expect this to be a hard-fought contest. If we’re going on current form, the Giants clearly aren’t anywhere near their best and they haven’t yet shown they’re capable of scrapping out a tough win, so I think the Roos should get the points here.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $1.64 (BlueBet)
Gold Coast vs Port Adelaide
3:15 pm AEST, Jiangwan Stadium, China
The second ever international game of footy takes place between the Suns and Port in Shangai on Saturday, and it’s expected to be the most watched game of footy in history. Which is a shame, because it’s probably not going to be the best display of footy that you’ll see this season, or anything resembling a great game to be honest. Port are back to performing at a high level, while the Suns are battling hard each week but a little out of their depth. Sam Day will miss this week due to suspension, leaving their forward line looking very weak. It’s hard for the best teams to win too many games of footy with a make-shift forward line, but it’s almost impossible if you’re battling like the Suns are at present. Let’s hope they put in a strong effort for the sake of the occasion, but in all honesty it’s likely to end up like last year’s game with the result being a handy percentage boost for Port.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $1.81 (UniBet)
Essendon vs Geelong
4:35 pm AEST, MCG
After a very poor couple of weeks, the Bombers officially hit rock bottom last Saturday at the MCG when they lost to the then-winless Blues by 13 points. They played with a distinct lack of confidence, and it looked like they didn’t have any faith in each other. Assistant coach Mark Neeld has been the first casualty of their horror start to the season, and you’d think there’ll be plenty more to come if things don’t turn around soon.
This week they take on a pretty decent team in Geelong, and while Cats’ coach Chris Scott has publicly stated that he’s wary of what the Bombers are capable of, I don’t think Essendon are capable of going down to the Blues in one week and then beating the Cats the week after. Especially not when Michael Hurley is set to miss, and Tom Hawkins is back in the Geelong team. Too many Essendon players are out of form, and when you’re up against a midfield of Dangerfield, Selwood and Ablett, you need to be competitive in the clinches to be any chance. I expect the Bombers are in for another tough afternoon at the office; I can see this one turning into a real belting.
Betting tip: Geelong By 40+ @ $2.35 (Ladbrokes)
Sydney vs Fremantle
7:25 pm AEST, SCG
The Swans have been all over the shop without superstar forward Lance Franklin; one week they’re useless and can’t buy a goal, the next week a three-gamer stands up and slots seven majors to propel them to an incredible win over a quality team in Hawthorn. Buddy was apparently set to miss this week as well, but he’s made an incredible recovery to be named in the starting 22. Whether he plays or not is another matter, but it’ll be a massive boost for Sydney if he gets up. The other issue is they’re back at home, and they’ve been terrible at the SCG so far in 2018. If they’re to be a genuine contender this season it goes without saying that their form at home needs to get markedly better, and it probably needs to start this week. The Dockers aren’t the best side in the competition, but their best is solid and when Nat Fyfe is in the form he’s in they’re always going to pose a threat.
I’m sure Sydney will have made performing at their next home game a real focus following their shock loss to the Kangaroos and I’m backing them to come out firing and take the game away from Fremantle early in the contest.
Betting tip: Sydney By 1-39 @ $2.28 (MadBookie)
St Kilda vs Collingwood
7:25 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Saints weren’t completely terrible against the Dockers last week, but nevertheless, it’s getting really difficult to see where their next win is going to come from. To make things worse, their next four opponents are Collingwood, Richmond, West Coast and Sydney, so it looks as if things are only going to go from bad to worse. First up is Collingwood, and while the Pies have been good over the past month, the Cats taught them a lesson in a dour contest at the MCG on Sunday arvo. The Pies had the same number of inside 50s as Geelong, but they didn’t seem as dangerous, and their inaccurate goal kicking obviously didn’t help the cause. This week should be different; you wouldn’t think the Saints will be able to restrict them to such a low score under the Etihad Stadium roof, and with some work on their forward structure and some tidier finishing around goals they should be able to cruise to a comfortable win. The Saints will be without young key forward Paddy McCartin again as he struggles to recover from his seventh concussion, while Jake Carlisle is another big out. On the other hand, the Pies will welcome the return of skipper Scott Pendlebury, and I’m sure the Collingwood skipper will be glad he’s making his return this week as the Pies should get the points easily.
Betting tip: Collingwood By 40+ @ $2.85 (Bet365)
Sunday, May 20
Carlton vs Melbourne
1:10 pm AEST, MCG
The Blues have finally got their first win of 2018 on the board, and won’t they be delighted it came against old rival Essendon. Not only did the Blues bring their fans some joy, they’ve plunged the Bombers into a deep hole of despair, and really, what more could a Carlton fan ask for? A win this week over the Dees would be nice of course, but it’s probably not going to happen.
Both sides have big midfield inclusions for this week: Marc Murphy is back to lead the Blues, while Jack Viney will play his first game of the season after returning to footy via the VFL last weekend. Ed Curnow — who is a very solid role player for the Blues — will miss after his big week at the MRP/Tribunal/Appeals board, while little brother Charlie is fortunate enough to be taking part on Sunday. Ed is very important for Carlton, but even if he was playing you wouldn’t think they’d be much chance against the Dees on Sunday. Melbourne are building into 2018, and I think that will continue with a big win over Carlton at the MCG.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-35.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Brisbane vs Hawthorn
3:20 pm AEST, Gabba
In what will most probably be a lacklustre game of footy, some genuine excitement will come from seeing ex-Hawk superstar Luke Hodge line up against his former club for the first time. The experienced campaigner wasn’t great in Brisbane’s loss to the Dogs on Saturday night, but if there’s one game of the year that Hodge is going to get up for it’ll to be this one. And while I’ve said it’s likely to be a lacklustre game, with Jaeger O’Meara out of the Hawthorn lineup the Lions might be a sneaky chance if they bring their absolute best. Dayne Beams was another Lion to have a poor game last week, so you’d expect him to stand up this week, and if Dayne Zorko can hit the scoreboard again the Lions might prove a pesky opponent for the Hawks, as they have for a handful of other teams this year. I still expect the Hawks to get over the line in the end as they’re clearly the better team, but I reckon the Lions will trouble them at stages and force them to work hard for the win.
Betting tip: Hawthorn By 1-39 @ $2.16 (MadBookie)
West Coast vs Richmond
4:40 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The best game of round 9 has been saved until last: the top-of-the-table clash between the Eagles and the Tigers in Perth should be an absolute belter. The Tigers got a slight scare from the Kangaroos last week at Etihad but were too good in the end, while the Eagles travelled to Sydney and took care of the Giants, leaving the two clubs sitting two wins clear of everyone else at the top of the ladder. The Eagles put in another strong performance against the Giants, with the impressive win coming without Nic Naitanui and Jeremy McGovern. Those two are set to return this week, along with midfielders Dom Sheed and Lewis Jetta. Those are some more than handy inclusions but the Tigers have a few of their own, with Brandon Ellis and Shaun Grigg set to come in to the team and make the trip over to Perth.
So who wins? The Tigers are still the team to beat so far this season, but I really like the way the Eagles are going about it and I think they match-up really well against Richmond. They’ve got versatile mobile big men in Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass to handle the small Richmond forward line, while Josh Kennedy and the in-form Jack Darling are sure to make life difficult for Alex Rance and David Astbury. If Rance has to focus all of his energy on defending they lose a lot of his rebound, and that’s definitely a possibility this week against the Eagles.
It should be a ripping contest; I think it’ll be a great game to watch and both sides will put on a show, but I have a feeling the Eagles may just pip the Tigers to claim the top spot on the ladder outright.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $2.02 (PalmerBet)
Best Bets of the Round
West Coast to win @ $2.02 (PalmerBet)
All Bets: -12.28 units
Best Bets: -2.56 units