The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2019 AFL season.
Thursday, March 28
Richmond vs Collingwood
7:20pm AEDT, MCG
Richmond’s winning start to the year came at a huge cost on Thursday night, with star defender Alex Rance going down with a serious knee injury in the 33-point victory over the Blues. The Tigers have had a good run with injuries over the past few years but that was a brutal blow, making their quest to go one better than last year all the more difficult. They’ve got other capable key defenders who will be able to perform shut-down roles, but Rance’s intercepting and rebounding will be difficult to replace. Their first test without Rance will be a tough one, with the Pies set to be fired up following their Friday night loss to Geelong. Not that the Tigers don’t have motivation of their own: to atone for last year’s disappointing preliminary final performance should be more than enough to put some fire in their belly.
After a scrappy, error-riddled opening round, you’d expect most clubs to improve this week and these two should be no exception. The Pies would have been seriously happy with how Jamie Elliott and Darcy Moore performed last week, but it was their vaunted midfield group that really let them down. Richmond would have been happy with everything save for the Rance injury, but they’ll know there’s plenty of room for improvement. Tom Lynch managed to kick three goals and he’ll only get better as the weeks go by, which is a scary proposition for opposition clubs. The Magpies will have their hands full with Lynch and Jack Riewoldt, but at the other end Richmond will need to come up with something to counter Mason Cox and the array of small-to-medium forward options the Pies possess.
It should be a cracking game of footy, and while the Tigers are weakened without Rance and Bachar Houli, I still think they’ll be good enough to get the four points. I feel as if the Pies are still settling into the new season and adjusting to playing with different personnel to last year, and that will take a bit of time to come good. The Tigers by a kick.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.97 (BetFair)
Friday, March 29
Sydney vs Adelaide
7:50pm AEDT, SCG
Neither of these clubs will be pleased with how their 2019 season started, with both clubs losing round 1 games they were expected to win. The Crows lost a home game against the Hawks despite dominating the clearances and overall possession; they just couldn’t get clean entries into their forward 50. The Swans were the opposite, beaten in the midfield by the Dogs, but good enough to kick a flurry of goals late in the game to mount a challenge. Both teams are now under pressure to win this contest; history has shown it’s difficult to make much of a season that begins with two losses. The Swans will be looking to turn their SCG fortunes around after a shocking home record in 2018, while the Crows need to find something quickly to make sure this season doesn’t follow a similar trajectory to last year.
Despite the losses of key defender Tom Doedee and experienced midfielder Richard Douglas, I’m backing the Crows to get over the Swans in this one; I expect the Adelaide midfield to be too strong, and this week I think they’ll be able to put a winning score on the board. I’m not confident tipping the Swans at the SCG until they prove they’ve overcome the issues from last year, because whatever the cause, it was clear it wasn’t a one-off problem.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $2.24 (BetFair)
Saturday, March 30
Essendon vs St Kilda
4:35pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
Essendon’s loss to GWS was probably the most disappointing performance of the opening round, and that’s really saying something because there were some outstanding contenders. A 72-point defeat is not what you want when all preseason you’ve been gearing up to have a crack at making finals and potentially pushing for a premiership. It’s put the whole club under immediate pressure, from the administration down to the coaches and players. The Saints ever-so-narrowly escaped being subject to similar pressure when they held on to a slender one point lead in the dying stages against the Suns on Sunday afternoon. If the result had fallen the other way, the Saints would be copping just as much (OK, almost as much) as the Bombers. Fortunately for them they got over the line, so now they get a stress-free crack at the Bombers.
Essendon really need to make a statement and win this game comfortably, and you’d expect they will. Surely they don’t play that listlessly two weeks in a row, and at their best they’re a much better team than the Saints. Even if they can at minimum halve the midfield battle, they’ll give their dangerous forwards enough ball to kick a winning score. Orazio Fantasia will be better for the run, while Jake Stringer has made a miraculous recovery from a bruised foot and will be looking forward to more opportunities up forward this week.
The Bombers can’t afford to lose this; I expect them to look like a completely different team this week and win by at least four goals.
Betting tip: Essendon By 25+ @ $2.10 (Bet365)
Port Adelaide vs Carlton
5:10pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval
External expectations were low for Port Adelaide in their opening round clash against the Demons, but a new-look Power outfit decided to make a major statement. They out-pressured and out-performed the Demons in almost every facet of the game, and it was the youngsters who led the way: Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, and Willem Drew were all super impressive. That’s not to say the older guys didn’t pull their weight; Tom Rockliff and Travis Boak were superb in the midfield, and Jack Watts played an impressive defensive role against his former team. If the Power can maintain that sort of pressure for the majority of the season they’ll have a very, very good year.
In their first home game of 2019 they’ll host the Blues, who weren’t disgraced in their Thursday night loss to the Tigers. They’ve still got plenty to work on, but the signs were positive; Sam Walsh was great in his debut, Paddy Dow looked more comfortable through the midfield, and Harry McKay showed signs of becoming a reliable key forward. They’re probably not going to win too many games this season, especially outside of Melbourne, but a more consistent, four-quarter effort is what coach Brendan Bolton will be after. If they can manage that, they’ll stay in most games, but I expect a few lapses will cost them at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 25+ @ $1.57 (Bet365)
Geelong vs Melbourne
7:25pm AEDT, GMHBA
The Demons were utterly disappointing against Port on Saturday afternoon, and while credit goes to Port for their immense pressure, the Demons should have been better. They were beaten convincingly on their home deck by a club with four debutants, in a year they’re supposed to be challenging for a premiership. A false start is forgivable, but they need to make sure they’re switched on against the Cats otherwise they’ll be making up ground for the rest of the season.
The Cats caused an upset of their own on Friday, beating the highly-rated Magpies by seven points. It was a scrappy game, but the Cats will be pleased they were able to beat the Collingwood midfield for the majority of the game; the confidence gained from that will hold them in good stead when they face another quality midfield containing Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney, and Max Gawn, all of whom were below their best last week.
There’s been plenty of chatter regarding the off-the-ball treatment Gawn received from Port Adelaide, but it didn’t look like there was much in it to me. Gawn needs to bounce back this week, and I’m sure he will; Geelong don’t exactly have a gun ruckman, so look for Gawn to make a real impact. If he does, the Demons will have the midfield advantage, and that should go a long way towards them winning the game. Steven May’s inclusion is also massive for the Dees and comes at the perfect time—he’ll be asked to nullify big Tom Hawkins. They’ve shown they don’t fear playing down in Geelong, and I reckon they’re every chance to knock the Cats off this week. It’ll be a close one, but I’m expecting the Demons to fight back after a poor initial performance.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $2.60 (BetFair)
West Coast vs GWS Giants
8:10pm AEDT, Optus Stadium
This is a massive game of footy for both clubs, and it should be a ripping contest. The Eagles were shocked by the hungry Lions last weekend, but the reigning champs will back themselves to lift considerably in their first game at home. They’re in for a tough one however, with the Giants looking to back up an intimidating opening game performance against the Bombers. The Giants suffocated the Bombers, dominating the clearances and applying pressure all over the ground. It’ll be more difficult to do that at Optus Stadium, but there’s no reason they can’t back up the effort. The Eagles are always a better team at home, and you’d also expect some of the rust evident last week will be improved upon.
For an early season match, there’s plenty on the line: if the Eagles get up, they resume business as usual; a win at home, and they’re back to an even ledger. A loss, and all of a sudden their premiership defence is looking shaky. If the Giants win, they really set themselves up for the year; it’s tough games like this that need to be won in order to claim a top four spot.
The Eagles welcome the return of spearhead Josh Kennedy, while Toby Greene’s injury issues continue for GWS. He’s a big loss, but Nick Haynes is a huge inclusion at the other end of the ground. While I really rate how the Giants played last week, it’s hard to go against the reigning premiers at home; I’m backing the Eagles in another really tight game.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.45 (TopBetta)
Sunday, March 31
North Melbourne vs Brisbane
1:10pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
North were a close second behind Essendon for the worst round 1 performance. They started well, but after the first 15 minutes the Dockers were way too good for them. To be fair, Fremantle played at a level that would be close to their absolute best; their pressure was outstanding all game, they had standout performances all over the ground, and they didn’t make too many mistakes when they had the ball. That obviously made things tough for North; we’ll get a better idea of what they’re made of when they host the Lions in a must-win contest at Marvel Stadium. They’re in an eerily similar situation to the Bombers; both received a hiding in round 1, after recruiting experienced talent in the off-season in the hopes of seriously challenging for the flag.
They’ll aim to make amends against a Brisbane team who were fantastic against the Eagles last weekend. Things couldn’t have panned out much better, and they’ll travel down to Melbourne full of confidence knowing that their best is good enough to beat the reigning premiers. The Lions are a much better team this year, and not only will they be hard to beat at the Gabba, they’re going to challenge teams away from home as well. North will need to be at their best if they’re to beat the Lions; fortunately they’ve shown in the past they’re capable of turning things around quickly, with big losses often followed up by wins. I’m backing them to do the same this week and get the four points.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $1.92 (BetFair)
Hawthorn vs Western Bulldogs
3:20pm AEDT, MCG
The Hawks caused a major upset last weekend when they knocked off the Crows at the Adelaide Oval. They were expected to struggle without star on-baller Tom Mitchell, but a convincing victory proved they’ve got more strings to their bow. Yes, they were beaten in the midfield by Adelaide, but their team defence stifled the Crows, and their clean ball movement going forward gave their forwards opportunities to capitalise upon. They’re going to be looking for a similar result this week when they face the Dogs, who have a strong on-ball brigade of their own. The Dogs should win the clearances via the likes of Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae, and Marcus Bontempelli, but if the Hawks can stop them from turning those clearances into effective inside 50s then they won’t mind conceding that battle.
The Dogs were impressive in their upset win over Sydney, with a midfield dominance being the basis of their 17 point victory. They were also much cleaner around goal, lowering their eyes and hitting targets when moving the ball forward. It won’t be as easy against Hawthorn, especially if there’s some rain falling on Sunday.
It’ll be a fascinating game to watch, to see how the battle between the Dogs’ strong midfield and Hawthorn’s overall pressure game plays out. The Dogs were impressive on Saturday night, but they’ve only beaten Hawthorn once in their past 11 meetings, and the Hawks look well-drilled at the moment. It’s potentially another close one, but I expect the Hawks will get the win.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.40 (BetEasy)
Gold Coast vs Fremantle
4:40pm AEDT, Metricon Stadium
The Dockers were one of the biggest surprises from round 1, putting on an astonishing display of pressure football to dismantle an experienced North Melbourne team. There was pre-season hope that the Dockers would be much improved this year, but there’s always pre-season hope and it generally doesn’t mean much. That hope turned into a reality on Sunday afternoon however, and if the Dockers can keep up that level of effort, they’ll give their fans plenty to be excited about for the rest of the year. There’s a good chance they head into the round 4 derby against the Eagles undefeated, as they’ve got the Suns followed by the Saints next week. Not to get too far ahead of myself though, they need to back up their form this week away from the comforts of Perth.
The Suns may not be the best team in the competition, but they showed against St Kilda that they’re willing to fight and scrap until the very end. They were bitterly unlucky not to get over the line in the end, but the experience will be good for them. I can’t see them beating Fremantle on Sunday, but if they apply plenty of pressure they should be able to keep the game competitive for the most part. I’m going with the Dockers by five goals, and look forward to seeing the new-look Freo forward line in action; the inclusion of star recruit Jesse Hogan is an exciting proposition for Fremantle fans after their scoring spree last weekend.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 25+ @ $1.92 (UniBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Melbourne to win @ $2.60 (BetFair)