Welcome to the Round 14 AFL preview. The first week of the bye rounds went mostly to plan, but it was Geelong who announced itself as the team to beat again. The Cats kept the highly rated Western Bulldogs to one goal at half time, eventually running away to an impressive 57 point victory. The premiership favouritism tag has been a rollercoaster throughout the entire season, but the result on Saturday night has seen Geelong shorten to $4.25 ahead of GWS, Hawthorn and Sydney who are all priced at $6.00.
The second scheduled bye looks like being the most difficult to read, as every game involves a Round 13 bye side taking on a Round 13 playing side. Every game has lopsided breaks between games, which could mean anything. Some clubs come out flat after the bye, others relish the rest. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
St Kilda vs Geelong Over 182.5 Total Points @ $1.88
ADELAIDE ($1.35) VS NORTH MELBOURNE ($3.25)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, THURSDAY 23/06, 19:50
Line: Crows -19.5, North +19.5
Adelaide entered its bye on the back of a massive away win against West Coast, a result that now has many believing that this side could do some damage in September. The Crows managed to break even with West Coast in the middle and were dominant on the outside, taking full advantage of the wide open spaces Domain Stadium offers. The greater uncontested possession led to lopsided efficiency percentages, as Adelaide finished at 72% compared to the Eagles 66%. Adelaide currently sit 8th on the ladder, but are the only top eight side with a game in hand and are two victories clear of ninth.
North Melbourne would be absolutely distraught to have given up such a great opportunity to get over the line against Hawthorn, a club that it is now level on points. It was your classic “8 point” match, but the Kangaroos couldn’t capitalise on its dominance. It won almost every key performance indicator, but poor kicking in the first half kept Hawthorn in the game. Brad Scott’s game plan was well implemented, restricting the Hawks to an incredibly low 270 disposals. While there was plenty to take out of the game considering it was short on personnel, the loss has brought North Melbourne back to the pack and off the top of the table. Swallow and Cunnington return for the Roos, but Wells, Waite and McDonald are vital exclusions.
8-25mm of rain is expected in Adelaide tomorrow according to the Bureau, so expect a wet and sloppy match. Adelaide have had twelve days off compared to North Melbourne’s six and have been convincing victors in the two encounters between the clubs at Adelaide Oval. It is difficult to tip against the Crows with North missing Wells and Waite.
ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 15 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Adelaide 1-39 @ $1.90
COLLINGWOOD ($1.75) VS FREMANTLE ($2.10)
AT THE MCG, FRIDAY 24/06, 19:50
Line: Pies -3.5, Dockers +3.5
By the time this game begins, Collingwood would have had 11 days to stew over its horrid Queens Birthday performance and will be desperate to make amends. The Pies plain and simply let Melbourne get far too much of the ball by conceding 470 disposals, while only gathering 344 themselves. Somehow Collingwood ended with two more I50s to the Dees, but the statistic was misleading with many being shallow and ultimately ineffective. The Pies scoring has completely dried up since the Geelong win, failing to score over 60 points in any of its last three outings. It is lacking targets and forward options, which will see the return of Travis Cloke.
This Fremantle outfit is completely different to the one that sat 0-10 at the bottom of the ladder three weeks ago. The biggest improvement is the competitive output at the stoppages, which has increased dramatically. Contested possession and clearance numbers have had major spikes, which has led to greater scoring opportunities. The return to form of Michael Barlow has been one of the major factors and he went to another level against Port Adelaide. He gathered 43 disposals, 9 clearances, kicked 2 goals and just as importantly did the job on Robbie Gray. It is amazing what wins can do for a club.
A victory to Fremantle will amazingly see it jump ahead of Collingwood on the ladder. While Collingwood has a good record at the MCG against the Dockers, form lines are very difficult to ignore.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 16 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Fremantle Head to Head @ $2.10
RICHMOND ($1.07) VS BRISBANE ($9.00)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 25/06, 13:40
Line: Tigers -47.5, Lions +47.5
Richmond at one point looked like entering the bye on the sourest of notes, but some Dustin Martin inspiration got the Tigers out of an extreme pickle. Matt Rosa’s bouncing goal halfway through the final quarter saw Gold Coast up by 15 points and seemingly on the way to ending an eight game losing streak. Richmond hit the lead again before Tom Nicholls kicked a momentum killing goal to get back in front. Enter Dustin Martin, who provided a goal assist to Sam Lloyd and kicked the match sealer himself to see the Tigers win by 17 points. Martin is having a career best season and must be considered a sneaky Brownlow chance.
Statistically, you could easily mount a case that Brisbane were more competitive against West Coast. It won the contested possession by 13, won the clearances 44-32 and got much more of the footy. This is the issue though, when on the outside Brisbane are constantly looking for the easiest option. It inflates individual numbers, but most importantly freezes ball movement. Had the Lions been more direct, it could have threatened an Eagles side that was clearly off. It makes you wonder whether these are directions from the coach or the players doing as they please. Either way, it spells trouble for Leppitsch. Dayne Zorko won’t take his place due to personal matters.
Richmond have had the wood over Brisbane in recent times, winning the last eight encounters. That coupled with an extra break, it is hard to go past the Tigers.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 39 POINTS
No Bet to Consider
GWS ($1.09) VS CARLTON ($7.50)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, SATURDAY 25/06, 16:35
Line: Giants -49.5, Blues +49.5
GWS came out almost expecting things to happen and were probably surprised by an Essendon side that was willing to have a crack. While the Giants were down on the scoreboard for a long period of time, you always just had a feeling it could up the intensity when needed. It is usually a sign of a side becoming comfortable of its position in the competition when the gears can change when required. We’ve all seen the successful Hawthorn and Geelong sides of recent times do it, but the young Giants can’t become too complacent yet. They are superbly placed though.
It was an extremely disappointing way for Brendon Bolton’s men to begin a 13 day break between games, going down to a St Kilda side it expected to beat. After so many positive results leading into that game, it is sure to have left many feeling quite flat during the bye. The negative vibe wouldn’t have lasted too long though, but a better performance defensively will be demanded against the Giants. Carlton could only lay 43 tackles against St Kilda and if that occurs at Spotless Stadium, GWS will have an absolute field day from the stoppages. Johnson, Mumford and Palmer are impressive inclusions for the Giants.
GWS are still yet to lose a game at Spotless Stadium in 2016. It shouldn’t have too many problems dealing with Carlton considering the large gap of depth at the stoppages.
GWS TO WIN BY 44 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Most Possessions Gr2 Josh Kelly @ $6.00
ST KILDA ($4.85) VS GEELONG ($1.18)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 25/06, 19:25
Line: Saints +33.5, Cats -33.5
The Saints would have been ecstatic to produce a four quarter effort against Carlton before the bye after weeks of inconsistent performances. St Kilda were able to exit a stoppage and run to space with seemingly minimal pressure, delivering the ball forward with precision. While they were without usual targets in Riewoldt and McCartin, Tim Membrey worked tirelessly to ensure the midfielders had something to kick to. His 5 goals were vital to the final result, especially with Josh Bruce well held. The return of a freshened Nick Riewoldt will be a welcomed sight.
Geelong couldn’t have turned around its upset losses to Collingwood and Carlton any better, knocking off top four contenders GWS, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in consecutive weeks. The Cats have returned to premiership favouritism and considering it has now beaten six of the current top eight teams, it isn’t difficult to see why. The Dangerfield and Selwood combination just seems to become more dangerous with every game that passes, so much so that they are now placed on the first and second lines of Brownlow betting. Could these two be the first quinella from the same club since Cousins and Kerr? Josh Caddy will miss 1-2 months with a knee injury, but Cam Guthrie returns.
Geelong haven’t lost to St Kilda for the last six encounters, including last year’s draw. The Cats still managed to kick 100 points against a very defensively minded Dogs outfit and considering the Saints like to score, the 182.5 point over/under should be easily covered.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 48 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Over 182.5 Total Points @ $1.88
HAWTHORN ($1.05) VS GOLD COAST ($10.00)
AT AURORA STADIUM, SUNDAY 26/06, 15:20
Line: Hawks -49.5, Suns +49.5
You can doubt Hawthorn all you want but it just continues to will games and is now equal top of the ladder. Admittedly the Hawks were very lucky that North Melbourne didn’t kick straight, but you can’t give these champion teams a chance. Winning becomes second nature for successful teams and Hawthorn were too close will it mattered. There is still plenty to work on for the Hawks, as it still struggles to win the ball anywhere near as much as it once did. It is hard to imagine Hawthorn winning too many games over recent years with only 270 disposals, but it did so on Friday night. Luke Hodge returns, but Cyril Rioli misses to attend the funeral of his grandfather.
The Suns had a brilliant opportunity to turn its season around at the MCG in Round 12, but it couldn’t hold a 15 point advantage halfway through the last quarter against Richmond. Gold Coast had to work hard for that lead as Richmond were winning the ball first, but the Suns defensive efforts deserved to be applauded. Its 16 tackles inside 50 helped retain the ball and Rodney Eade will finally be thinking that his focus on pressure is getting through after dropping Aaron Hall to make a statement. Unfortunately, Richmond’s stars took the game away late, but at least there are signs.
Hawthorn’s ridiculous record at Aurora Stadium is set to continue to 18 consecutive wins, but don’t discount Gold Coast at the line. The Suns are fielding one of its stronger sides of the year.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 35 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Gold Coast +49.5 Line @ $1.92