The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2019 AFL season.
Thursday, April 4
Adelaide vs Geelong
7:50pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval
Geelong’s opening round win against the Pies was a hard-fought scrap, but in round 2 they played some blistering footy to record a massive 80-point victory over Melbourne. They’ve put together a very impressive start to the season, but another tough challenge awaits them on Thursday: the Crows in Adelaide, off a five-day break. It’s hard to get a good read on Adelaide so far; they were poor against the Hawks, and pretty good but not outstanding against the Swans. If they can lift another gear again this week they’re good enough to beat the Cats at home, but on current form the Cats are clearly the better team. Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan have both slotted into the team seamlessly, while the youngsters have been great—this week it was Charlie Constable’s turn to stand up and have a ripping game.
If those young players can handle the pressure of playing in front of the big Adelaide crowd then I expect the Cats will notch up their third win of the season. And with Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, and Tim Kelly leading the way, I can’t see any reason why they’d falter at this stage. Sam Jacobs is a big out for the home team, but the Crows have high hopes for his young replacement, Reilly O’Brien, who will line up for just his third game of AFL football. Despite the quick turnaround, I’m backing Geelong to be too strong for an Adelaide team that still looks fairly unsettled after a few early injuries.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.93 (BetFair)
Friday, April 5
Melbourne vs Essendon
7:50pm AEDT, MCG
Prior to the season who would’ve predicted that these two clubs would be 0-2 entering this game? Highly unlikely you would’ve thought, but the Bombers have begun 2019 looking like a wooden spoon contender, while the Dees are also well off the pace, not at all resembling the team that made last year’s preliminary final stage. Neither club has deserved to win so far this season, but one of them will walk away with four points on Friday night. And the other, well, they’re in deep strife. If the Demons go down, a season that promised so much is already going to waste. And while I didn’t have massive expectations on the Bombers this year, they should be performing at a much, much higher standard. The first quarter against the Saints was one of the worst quarters of football I’ve ever witnessed, and it didn’t get much better from there. The effort was slightly better than it was against GWS, but their confidence is quite clearly shot, and their skill level atrocious.
There needs to be a major shift in attitude for them to get out of the mire, but who knows when that will come. If they can do it quickly they can still salvage something from the year, but if it takes them another month or two to flick the switch then it’s another wasted year for the Bombers. The Demons haven’t been great, but they’ve been better than Essendon. It might not be a pretty win, but I fully expect Melbourne to get their first victory of the season on Friday night.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.52 (BetEasy)
Saturday, April 6
Carlton vs Sydney
1:45pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
The Blues fought hard in wet conditions to push Port Adelaide late in the game on Saturday, but it wasn’t quite enough in the end. The positive for Carlton is that they don’t look like the worst team in the competition so far. We’re only two rounds in but the signs are good; I’d say this week even has the potential to be a win if they play at their best, although Charlie Curnow’s loss will hurt, even if he has been below average so far this year.
The Swans are looking old and slow, and their poor record at the SCG continues. They need to reinvigorate their midfield; it’s time for Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills to become permanent fixtures in there, regardless of how much they may be needed in other areas of the ground. You can’t win games of footy if your midfield is consistently beaten, and since Heeney and Mills are destined to become midfielders eventually, why not make the move now? Things can’t get much worse, and there’s plenty of upside. I do think the Swans will beat the Blues on Saturday, but it will be a danger game for them if they’re not switched on from the opening bounce. I expect ‘Buddy’ Franklin to be back at his best soon, now that he’s had a few games to warm up, and think he might kick a bag against Carlton this weekend to lift the Swans to their first win of the season.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.54 (BetFair)
GWS Giants vs Richmond
4:35pm AEDT, Sydney Showground Stadium
A week after losing Alex Rance to a season-ending knee injury, Richmond’s chances of a premiership in 2019 took a further battering when they were pummelled by the Magpies on Thursday night. The loss on it’s own would’ve been hard enough to take, but to make matters worse spearhead Jack Riewoldt will be out of action for at least four weeks after fracturing his wrist. Not to mention the one-week suspension to Dylan Grimes, who is incredibly important to the Tigers now that Rance is out. It was one of those nights where nothing went right, and so many things went wrong.
They’re going to find it difficult to bounce back as well—they’ve got the Giants up there this week, and GWS are a very good team despite a big loss to the Eagles in round 2. Josh Kelly will come back into the team to bolster an already-strong midfield, but Toby Greene and Callan Ward will be at least another week away. I don’t think it’ll make too much of a difference to the result though; the Tigers are struggling in the midfield, with Dustin Martin nowhere near his best and the rest of their mids unable to pick up the slack, and GWS have one of the best midfields in the competition. They should get on top of Richmond completely and make life very difficult for the undermanned Richmond backline. I expect the Giants to win this one comfortably.
Betting tip: GWS By 25+ @ $3.00 (Bet365)
Brisbane vs Port Adelaide
7:25pm AEDT, The Gabba
This week’s only clash between two undefeated teams comes in the unexpected form of the Lions hosting Port Adelaide on Saturday night. Brisbane have been fantastic in their opening two games, easily accounting for the reigning premiers in round 1 before battling hard to overrun the Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Their young players are growing in stature, while the experienced heads are leading the way magnificently. Ex-Docker Lachie Neale has slotted in seamlessly, as has his good mate Lincoln McCarthy, who wasn’t a required player at Geelong.
The same situation seems to be taking place at Port Adelaide, though the serious injury to Jack Watts on Saturday was a big blow. The positive news is that co-captain Ollie Wines is on track to return for his first game of the season after a pre-season shoulder injury; his inclusion will be timely, helping Tom Rockliff and Travis Boak do battle against a firing Brisbane midfield. I’m not sure it’ll be enough to beat the red-hot Lions however; the home ground advantage is enough to sway me towards Brisbane in this one, and I reckon they’ll get the job done by at least a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.63 (TopBetta)
Collingwood vs West Coast
7:25pm AEDT, MCG
The Grand Final rematch comes at the perfect time, with both teams back to their best in round 2 after disappointing losses to open the season. On Thursday night the Pies looked a class above Richmond for the whole game, dominating in the clinches and then using the ball with precision kicking to starve the Tigers of possession. It was a stunning display of footy; it’ll be interesting to see whether they can replicate it regularly.
This week they look to atone for their heartbreaking Grand Final loss when the Eagles come back to the MCG, and what a game it should be. West Coast struggled against the Lions, but looked much better when they smashed the Giants at Optus Stadium on Saturday night. It was a game that should’ve really been a much closer contest, but the Eagles were never challenged after a five-goal burst to end the second term gave them a 28-point half-time lead. This week they finally welcome the return of Andrew Gaff, who will immediately add a great deal to their team despite not having played any footy for a substantial period. Regardless, I still think they’ll have their work cut out against the Pies, who were genuinely scary against the Tigers; if they play like that again, no one will beat them. I expect this to be a close contest for the first half or so before the Pies blow it out in the latter stages.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.47 (BetEasy)
Sunday, April 7
Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast
2:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
A stunning last-quarter comeback against the Hawks on Sunday afternoon has the Dogs poised to start the season at 3-0 and set up a blockbuster clash next Friday night against the Pies. That’s supposing they can take care of the Suns this weekend, which they should do comfortably if they bring the same pressure and energy they played with in the last quarter on Sunday. The Suns won’t be pushovers however, as witnessed in their upset win over Fremantle in their first home game of 2019. The Suns weren’t expected to be competitive this year, so to have their first win on the board in the opening two rounds is a good sign for coach Stuart Dew. And they should have won by more than just a kick, with their dominance for the majority of the game not being properly reflected on the scoreboard. That was mainly due to inaccuracy, which is something they’ll need to tidy up if they want to challenge more consistently throughout the year.
I still think the Suns will struggle outside of Queensland until they’re a bit more experienced, but that’s not to say they can’t take it right up to the Dogs if they play in a similar fashion to last weekend. If they do, I reckon it could be a tight game until the final quarter when the Dogs should get on top and run out four or five goals winners.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs (-30.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne
3:20pm AEST, MCG
Both the Hawks and the Kangaroos held comfortable leads in their round 2 games, but neither club was able to hold on and secure the four points. The Hawks were dealt a couple of nasty injury blows, with Liam Shiels and Shaun Burgoyne both set to miss a month of footy due to hamstring injuries; that is set to make things difficult for a midfield group already running thin. The addition of Chad Wingard should help, but you wouldn’t expect him to be at his best in his first game for a new club after an extended injury lay-off, similar to what we saw with Tom Scully on the weekend. Scully will be better for the run, but he didn’t have much of an impact.
The Roos have issues of their own and are without a win so far for 2019. They were towelled up by Fremantle in Perth, and then overrun by the boisterous Lions at Marvel Stadium. They need to get a win on Sunday otherwise their season is heading nowhere fast, but I reckon they might be a chance against the weakened Hawks. Without Shiels and Burgoyne, and an underdone Scully and Wingard, Hawthorn’s midfield stocks are incredibly thin. The Kangaroos have a decent on-ball brigade, with a nice mix of contested ball winners and outside run, with off-season additions Jared Polec and Aaron Hall having a significant impact on the latter. If they can make the most of their opportunities when they go inside 50 they should be able to get their first win of the year, and while I think it’ll be a tight game, I’m backing the Roos to do enough to get over the line.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $2.80 (UniBet)
Fremantle vs St Kilda
5:20pm AEST, Optus Stadium
St Kilda are, somewhat unbelievably, one of the five undefeated clubs after the first two rounds. It’s not that they’ve played well above expectations and have surprised everyone; the surprising aspect is that they’ve played exactly how most people thought they might, and yet they’ve still come away with two wins. Because, in all honesty, the Saints weren’t great against the Bombers on Saturday, it’s just that the Bombers were worse. The Saints gave it their all, and it was their effort and intensity that got them over the line, but their skills and their decision making were generally poor.
You would expect the Dockers will make them pay if that’s the case again this week, but who knows which Fremantle team will come to play: the one that demolished North Melbourne two weeks ago, or the one that meekly surrendered to the Gold Coast on Sunday. It was a drastic difference in form, and one that the Dockers will be desperate to reverse this week. Playing back at home helps, and you’d expect that might be the difference in this one. As hard as the Saints may try, the Dockers in Perth are a different beast to the Gold Coast and Essendon teams they’ve come up against so far. I can see this one being a scrappy game of footy in the opening period before the Dockers run away with it; in the end I expect them to win by a significant margin, probably around the 10 goal mark.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 40+ @ $3.40 (Neds)
Best Bets of the Round
North Melbourne to win @ $2.80 (UniBet)
Fremantle By 40+ @ $4.00 (Neds)