The following are previews with betting tips for Round 15 of the 2018 AFL season.
Thursday, June 28
Richmond vs Sydney
7:20 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but this season has seemed to lack the usual number of exciting clashes between premiership contenders. Maybe that’s because there are no real standouts this year — other than perhaps the Tigers — but it has felt a little strange. Hopefully that’s set to change this week when the Tigers host the Swans at Etihad in a top-of-the-table clash. Both clubs are coming off the bye so the players should be revitalised and ready to put on a show, and their respective form prior to the bye was strong; the Swans knocked off the then first-placed Eagles, while the Tigers defeated the Cats in a big game at the MCG.
It’s still tight at the pointy end of the ladder, so the four points gained here will be vitally important for each club’s chances of securing a top four berth. If the Tigers win, you can just about guarantee they’ll end up with the double chance — they’re likely to do that either way. If the Swans can get over the line, they prove themselves as the real deal in 2018 and will be in a fantastic position to make sure they also earn a double chance and potentially a home final as well. There’s a long way to go of course, but this is a classic eight-point game and both clubs will be desperate to get the win.
I’m not clear on why this is being played at Etihad, but that probably makes Sydney fairly happy considering Richmond’s current record at the ‘G. The duel between Lance Franklin and Alex Rance will be a delight to watch as always, while the midfield battle between these two clubs should be intriguing. Dion Prestia returns to bolster the reigning champs in that area and David Astbury is back in time to help the Richmond defence against Buddy and co., while Jarrad McVeigh is a big in for the Swans.
I love the way Richmond continue to attack and pressure, and I find it almost impossible to tip against them, but this week I’m doing just that. I think the Swans will set themselves for a big performance and take it right up to the Tigers, and at Etihad, I think they might just be able to sneak home in what should be a great game of footy.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $2.60 (BetFair)
Friday, June 29
Western Bulldogs vs Geelong
7:50 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Dogs were stiff to lose to the Kangaroos on Saturday night, but they only have themselves to blame. The game was theirs for the taking when they hit the front with just two minutes remaining, and when they were streaming inside 50 with less than a minute left on the clock it was all but over. But from there onwards they made mistake after mistake, giving the Roos the opportunity to waltz the ball forward and kick an easy goal from 10 metres out. Coach Luke Beveridge apparently gave the players a rare spray straight after the game, and has said they’ll be much better in the same situation in the future. They’re unlikely to get the chance to put that into action this week when they take on the Cats at Etihad — Geelong are a much stronger side than the Kangaroos and one that the Dogs have typically struggled against in recent years, even when they were at the pointy end of the ladder.
The Cats are poised perfectly to secure another top four berth, but they can’t afford to drop games like this one. They’ll know the Dogs were much improved against the Kangaroos last week and will be wary of a young opponent who are throwing players all over the ground, but their best should be good enough to win this by at least five goals, regardless of how the Dogs go about things. I’m going with the Cats by over four goals and Dangerfield to have a blinder.
Betting tip: Geelong By 25+ @ $1.63 (UniBet)
Saturday, June 30
Carlton vs Port Adelaide
1:45 pm AEST, MCG
Port strengthened their premiership credentials last weekend with an important victory over the Demons at the Adelaide Oval. It wasn’t the most convincing win you’ll ever see — in fact, it was utterly unconvincing. The Demons dominated all aspects of the game except the scoreboard. Not that Port will be too concerned with that at this stage — they’ll take the four points and run — but they won’t win too many games of footy in that fashion. This week they head to Melbourne to take on a Carlton outfit that was significantly better against the Pies on Sunday than they had been for a number of weeks. Their young stars in Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow were outstanding and provided plenty of moments to get Carlton fans excited, but they still fell well short of taking home the chocolates.
That situation is likely to be repeated this week when they take on Port Adelaide; there might be some moments of brilliance from their young stars, but the Power should be much too strong overall. Marc Murphy and Levi Casboult both return to the side in encouraging news for Carlton fans, but they once again lose Matthew Kreuzer to injury.
If the Blues can keep the margin to below five goals it’ll be a solid effort, but I expect it might blow out to seven or eight in the end.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-36.5) @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Adelaide vs West Coast
4:35 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
A month or so ago these two clubs were right up there as this year’s contenders, but their fortunes have taken a tumble. In Adelaide’s case, it’s been a sharp fall that sees them in danger of missing the top eight altogether. The Eagles, well, they aren’t in quite as much strife, although they’ve now lost their tight grip on a top four position after two consecutive losses. Both clubs have had their reasons, namely, multiple injuries to key players. That might be set to change this week for the Crows, as they welcome the return of Rory Sloane and Rory Laird. The curse looks to be just getting started for West Coast however, with Josh Kennedy still missing and now Mark LeCras joining him on the sidelines.
Still, this should be a fascinating game of footy. At their best both of these clubs are capable of playing scintillating football, but have had their season cut down at present by injuries. It’s a huge game for the Crows; if they lose, their finals hopes grow significantly dimmer. And for the Eagles, they don’t want to lose three games in a row and have to fight tooth and nail to force their way back into the top four in the latter parts of the season. I’ve been disappointed with how the Eagles have managed without Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy and can’t see that changing much this week, especially without LeCras. The Crows should be able to move the ball much better with the return of Sloane and Laird, and they’ve still got enough dangerous forwards to kick it to, unlike the Eagles — I expect the Crows to get the job done at home and breathe some life into their faltering season.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-12.5) @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Gold Coast vs Collingwood
7:25 pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Pies’ win over Carlton at the ‘G on Sunday wasn’t particularly pretty but they got the job done; despite their patchy form, the worst thing to come out of it was the late double hamstring strain to star midfielder Adam Treloar. He’s in need of surgery and will be out of action until sometime in August, which will hurt Collingwood’s chances of a potential top four finish. Nevertheless, he should be cherry ripe to go come September, and they won’t need him to win against teams like the this week’s opponent, the Suns.
Unfortunately for the Gold Coast, things keep going from bad to worse: another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of Hawthorn, was followed up by the news that skipper Tom Lynch will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and it’s entirely possible that Lynch has played his last game for the club. The other co-captain, Steven May, returns to soften the blow this week, but I don’t think it’s going to make too much difference. Collingwood are going to win this one, and it’s not going to be close.
Betting tip: Collingwood By 40+ @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)
GWS vs Hawthorn
7:25 pm AEST, Spotless Stadium
GWS have got their season going again with three consecutive wins, although that latest win over the Lions has come at a hefty price: the Giants will be without spearhead Jeremy Cameron for the next five weeks after he copped a heavy suspension for knocking Lion Harris Andrews out with a stray elbow. That really hurts the Giants — Cameron had kicked 12 goals in his previous three games and was building into some really solid form. Now Jon Patton is left to carry the GWS forward line over the next month, and if the absence of Cameron doesn’t force him to lift his game, the Giants will struggle to kick winning scores regularly. This week they’ve got a tough test against the Hawks, a team that will be fighting for one of the top eight spots the Giants have their eyes on.
The Hawks took care of the Suns in Tasmania last weekend, and while the margin probably wasn’t as large as expected, they did everything they had to. Veteran Shaun Burgoyne copped another soft tissue injury to his hamstring and will be out for a few more weeks, casting doubt on his long term future, but other than that the Hawks are in a good spot. This week won’t be quite as easy, although I do expect them to beat the Giants without Cameron. Being at Spotless does make it a tough ask, but Hawthorn don’t have a problem travelling and are the better team at present; they should get the win in what I expect will be a tight, low scoring game of footy.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $2.16 (BetFair)
Sunday, July 1
Melbourne vs St Kilda
1:10 pm AEST, MCG
Despite dominating Port Adelaide in clearances, contested ball and inside 50’s, Melbourne struggled to capitalise and let the Power run over them in the end to steal victory from their grasp. It was a hollow result and one they’ll be ruing for weeks to come, but surely they’ll learn a lot from it; there’s no point bashing in and winning the ball and then kicking it forward aimlessly. It doesn’t result in scoring opportunities and it makes the team incredibly predictable and easy to defend. The Demons have plenty of attacking options so they need to make sure they lower their eyes and use the ball well, and then they won’t have any issues whatsoever kicking a large score.
This week they take on the Saints, who are fresh off the bye after their triumphant come-from-behind victory over the Suns the week prior. The Saints still aren’t exactly flying, and their issues aren’t something that a week off is going to fix. I’m expecting the Demons to bounce back strongly here and really make a statement by crushing the Saints. That’s something Melbourne have proven they don’t have any problems with: rubbing lowly teams into the dirt and recording very, very big wins. I have a feeling they might do just that this week against the Saints.
Betting tip: Melbourne By 40+ @ $1.93 (BlueBet)
Essendon vs North Melbourne
3:20 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Bombers caused another big upset on Thursday night when they travelled to Perth and knocked off the Eagles in a mightily impressive performance. The Eagles weren’t on their game, but the Bombers forced them into making errors and punished them heavily, particularly in the first half. The remainder of the game was a little lacklustre, but I guess that’s what happens when you have the game wrapped up midway through the second quarter.
They won’t be able to beat the Kangaroos this week by playing just a half of footy; the Roos are one of those teams that run on effort and never give their opponent an inch. They’re not the most skilled team, but they’d be close to the hardest working and that’s why they’re poised to play finals footy in 2018. A great example of this came on Saturday night when the Dogs jumped them and held them at arm’s length for the first three quarters of the game. North kept coming and eventually ran over the plucky Dogs in the last quarter. It wasn’t until the last 20 seconds when Jack Ziebell kicked a goal that the Roos sealed the game, but that’s how North Melbourne play their footy. And it’s also, unfortunately, the opposite of how the Bombers seem to go about things. Essendon are a talent-laden team who only turn up to play when it suits them. That could be for a variety of different reasons, but it means when they come up against a team like North Melbourne, you’re always going to go with the latter.
North have a strong midfield with Shaun Higgins and Ben Cunnington both in career best form, and I’m not sure the Bombers will have any answers for them. I still think it’ll be a relatively close contest, but I’m backing the Kangaroos to take home another four points.
Betting tip: Kangaroos to win @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Fremantle vs Brisbane
4:40 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
Round 15 ends with the Dockers hosting Brisbane at Domain Stadium, a game that isn’t likely to feature in too many 2018 highlight reels. Fremantle have had the week off and will be chomping at the bit to feast on the Lions, who last week went down to GWS in a game most talked about for the Jeremy Cameron hit on star full back Harris Andrews. Andrews has had some bleeding on the brain and will be unavailable for a number of weeks which is a big blow to Brisbane. He’s one of their most important players, and would have been well in All-Australian contention. It opens the door for another youngster to step up, and this is probably a good week for that initial opportunity; the Dockers don’t really have a star full forward to take care of so the Lions can afford to ease someone into the role, although goal sneak Michael Walters is a big inclusion for Fremantle that the Lions will need to be wary of.
I’m hoping it turns out into a half decent game of footy, but I think the trip over to Perth might take it out of the young Lions and set them up for a real beating. Despite their troubles, I think the Dockers win this, and win well.
Betting tip: Fremantle (-22.5) @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Best Bets of the Round
Adelaide (-12.5) @ $1.91 (William Hill)
All Bets: -7.22 units
Best Bets: -0.48 units