2016 Round 18 AFL Preview & Bets

AFL 2017

Welcome to the Round 18 AFL preview. The Thursday night matches are over and finals just around the corner, but there is still plenty of water to pass under the bridge. After it appeared that the eight finals teams had been decided, a fifth consecutive loss to North Melbourne has given a glimmer of hope for Port Adelaide and perhaps St Kilda. Games against Collingwood and St Kilda in the next two weeks are going to decide North Melbourne’s September hopes, as a brutal final month against the Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Sydney and GWS will be difficult to conjure points from. Port Adelaide look the most likely to catch North Melbourne, as its percentage is now higher after the two club’s encounter in Round 17. St Kilda can’t be discounted as it plays six games in Melbourne to finish the home and away season, four of which will be at Etihad Stadium. There will be some nervous staff down Arden Street way.

Best Bet:
Home Team (Essendon) Over 102.5 Points @ $1.88

COLLINGWOOD ($2.15) VS NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.70)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 22/07, 19:50
Line: Pies +5.5, North -5.5
Nathan Buckley would have been pleased with his sides overall effort against Adelaide, but conceding the first five goals meant Collingwood were always playing catch up. The Pies did well to break even in the midfield against the likes of Sloane, Thompson and the Crouch brothers, but it struggled to find answers against the Crows inform forward line and the run from defence. Collingwood conceded 19 marks inside Adelaide’s forward 50, while it struggled to retain the ball inside its own arc. The Pies defensive pressure couldn’t be questioned with 97 tackles, but it couldn’t restrict the space Adelaide were able to run into.
The North Melbourne fade is beginning to hit dangerous territory as it fell to a fifth consecutive loss on Saturday against Port Adelaide. It now sits only two wins ahead of ninth, but a plummeting percentage no longer protects the Kangaroos from an eight point swing as Port now possesses the slightly higher tie breaker. North Melbourne were made to look slow through the midfield by Port Adelaide and its senior players are struggling to find the ball. It could only manage 49 tackles, an indication that its intensity has dropped significantly. Despite having a swag of slow, contested players, it lost the clearance count by 10. Can the troubles be turned around? Jarrad Waite is out again with a hip injury.
Collingwood have won three of the last four encounters, despite North Melbourne having a sustained period of success. The Pies recent form has been impressive enough to get over a slumping Kangaroos outfit.

COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 10 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Collingwood head to head @ $2.15 (Sportsbet lead at any break special)

SYDNEY ($1.03) VS CARLTON ($12.50)

AT THE SCG, SATURDAY 23/07, 13:45
Line: Swans -49.5, Blues +49.5
A heartbreaking loss to Hawthorn has seen the Swans fall to fifth on the ladder after one of the games of the season. A fluky passage of play late saw Rioli take a mark and kick the match winning goal from outside 50. It isn’t the first time this year that the Swans have been beaten in the final seconds of the match, with Sam Lloyd and Jason Johannisen kicking late goals to win in Rounds 8 & 15 respectively. Sydney have never had an issue closing out games in previous years, but it is struggling with close encounters in 2016. Hindsight is a great thing, but there are certainly some decisions they’d like to have again in all those matches. McGylnn and Richards have been dropped, while McVeigh is out with a groin injury.
Carlton looked like it could be on the verge of being blown away when down by 27 points at three quarter time against West Coast, but its intensity lifted and the goals started to come in the final term. The Blues dominated after the final break with 26 more disposals, +10 contested possessions and an inside 50 count of 16-8. A five goal to two final quarter saw Carlton within seven points, but it was too little too late. It was the Blues best performance for weeks. Levi Casboult returns for Carlton.
Sydney have won the last six encounters between the two clubs and haven’t looked threatened in any of them. The Swans should make it seven with comfort.

SYDNEY TO WIN BY 44 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Gary Rohan to Score 3 or More Goals @ $2.80

GOLD COAST ($1.65) VS FREMANTLE ($2.25)

AT METRICON STADIUM, SATURDAY 23/07, 14:10
Line: Suns -8.5, Dockers +8.5
The Suns weren’t horrible against the Western Bulldogs, but the final 48 point margin was predictable. Gold Coast were always going to find it difficult to compete against an inform Dogs midfield without Ablett, Prestia and Rischitelli. The Suns ended the game -27 for contested possession, -10 for clearances and somehow -9 for tackles despite having 126 less disposals. The fact that midfielders like Stevens, Wallis, Picken and Smith all kicked multiple goals proved its defensive efforts were down. Rodney Eade will expect better, despite the margin ending a lot better than it could have been. Aaron Hall is out with a hamstring.
Fremantle played very competitive football in the first half against Geelong, jumping the former flag favourite to lead by 16 points at quarter time. At that time the Dockers were on top at the stoppages before a Patrick Dangerfield inspired second quarter slowly saw the momentum swing. Fremantle still led at halftime, but were restricted to only two goals in the second half. Michael Barlow and Hayden Ballantyne are out with shoulder and cheekbone injuries respectively, while Matthew Pavlich will be rested so he can play his 350th match in Perth the following week.
Gold Coast defeated Fremantle earlier in the season and both clubs have key players out. The Suns deserve favouritism at home.

GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 12 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Gold Coast 1-39 @ $2.25

WEST COAST ($1.15) VS MELBOURNE ($5.75)

AT DOMAIN STADIUM, SATURDAY 23/07, 16:35
Line: Eagles -37.5, Dees +37.5
Adam Simpson would have to be disappointed with his side’s effort against Carlton, especially the final quarter. The Eagles fourth quarter statistics read like a team that was waiting for the final siren and it almost cost four points. Low numbers like 68 possessions, 22 contested possessions and 8 inside 50s proved that there was an enormous drop in effort and output. It was a great opportunity for West Coast to gain some much needed confidence at the MCG, but there are sure to be doubts still lingering.
Melbourne’s poor Etihad Stadium record became worse on Sunday afternoon after losing its 24th match from the last 25 visits to the venue. It is impossible to know how a stadium with a roof and slightly tighter confines can make such a difference to a team’s attitude. Obviously it is all in the head, but what are these highly paid sports psychiatrists doing? It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Melbourne would prefer travelling to Domain Stadium this week than playing at Etihad again. Thankfully for Melbourne, it won’t have to travel to the Docklands again this year.
West Coast have won the last eight encounters against Melbourne and have produced some massive margins during that time. The Eagles 40+ looks decent value, despite the Demon’s overall improvement.

WEST COAST TO WIN BY 58 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
West Coast 40+ @ $1.91

GEELONG ($1.77) VS ADELAIDE ($2.10)

AT SIMONDS STADIUM, SATURDAY 23/07, 19:25
Line: Cats -4.5, Crows +4.5
It wasn’t the most convincing of wins for Geelong against Fremantle, but it secured four valuable points and was able to take away some positives. The Cats were on the back foot early as Fremantle dominated the contested possession and stoppages to be down by 16 points at quarter time. Geelong then kicked into action in the second quarter kicking five goals, two of which came from brilliant individual efforts from Dangerfield. The Brownlow favourite finished with four goals and 31 disposals to bank another three votes. Geelong restricted Fremantle to just two second half goals and win by 17 points. Jimmy Bartel returns, but Lachie Henderson misses with concussion.
Adelaide have now shortened to $5.50 for the flag and are high on confidence leading into its second meeting with Patrick Dangerfield in 2016. In fact the Crows haven’t lost a game since that Round 8 encounter at Adelaide Oval. Adelaide’s eighth consecutive win was completed in relative comfort after the home side kicked the first five goals of the match against Collingwood. The Crows were threatened a few times, but were always able to reply before the margin got too dangerous. Rory Laird is a vital inclusion and will look to expose the Cats with his fast rebounds.
This is the match of the round. Geelong probably should have won by more than the final 26 point margin in Round 8 and Adelaide haven’t won at Simonds Stadium for 13 years. In saying that, the form lines of each club has changed and taken different paths since that Round 8 game. It is too tight to confidently call.

GEELONG TO WIN BY 2 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Away Team (Adelaide) Over 85.5 Points @ $1.85

WESTERN BULLDOGS ($1.32) VS ST KILDA ($3.50)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 23/07, 19:25
Dogs -22.5, Saints +22.5
The Western Bulldogs were solid against the Suns in Cairns, but certainly didn’t lift itself to any great standard. It was a bit of a bruise free encounter with barely 100 tackles laid between the two clubs, but that didn’t stop the Dogs getting a massive scare after a shoulder injury to Jake Stringer. The Dogs have been harshly hit by injury in 2016 and couldn’t have afforded a structurally vital player like Stringer going down. Thankfully the damage is minor and he’ll only miss the one game. He’ll return for the all-important game against Geelong in Round 19. Tom Liberatore is back.
St Kilda just love playing against Melbourne, especially at Etihad Stadium. The Saints won its 14th consecutive game against the Demons, a record that stretches nearly a decade now. St Kilda looked in trouble early as Melbourne had 137 disposals and kicked six goals in the first term, but five goals to zero in the second quarter changed the direction of the match quickly. Some poor set shot kicking from the Saints kept Melbourne in the match far too long, but the final six goal margin justified the gap between the two clubs. Amazingly, St Kilda now have an opportunity to fight for a top eight position, but need to keep winning.
St Kilda have struggled to score against the Western Bulldogs the last two encounters, averaging just 46 points for. You suspect the Dogs have too many weapons for the Saints to counter.

WESTERN BULLDOGS TO WIN BY 36 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Western Bulldogs -22.5 Line @ $1.92

ESSENDON ($1.53) VS BRISBANE ($2.50)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 24/07, 13:10
Line: Bombers -11.5, Lions +11.5
This is an encounter that is likely to determine who wins the wooden spoon. Despite the attractive reward for finishing last, it certainly isn’t a title any team would be thrilled with. Essendon are currently on a 14 game losing streak, but it is definitely playing a more consistent brand in recent times. Honourable losses to Richmond, St Kilda and GWS in the last month have created respect, but it will all be forgotten quickly if it can’t beat Brisbane. The Bombers current losing streak of 14 is the clubs equal worst on record, so there will be extra motivation for the players to ensure they don’t become the outright worst in the books.
Is Brisbane close to hitting rock bottom? The current Lions outfit broke club records against GWS, slumping to a 12th consecutive loss to overtake the 2015 effort of 11 losses from rounds 8 to 19. It was also a record low home crowd at the Gabba, as only 10,195 people bothered to turn up. The Lions are becoming a basket case on and off the field. The flood gates were defensively wide open again on Sunday evening, as GWS kicked 17 goals during the second and third quarters alone. Something is going to have to give at this club and it usually starts with the coach.
Essendon have won four of the last five encounters and despite missing most of its better players from those wins, the Bombers are far stronger defensively. Essendon haven’t scored over 100 points this year, but have scored 98 and 90 against St Kilda and GWS respectively in its last two games at Etihad. I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t score over 100 points against the leaky Lions.

ESSENDON TO WIN BY 23 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Home Team (Essendon) Over 102.5 Points @ $1.88

HAWTHORN ($1.14) VS RICHMOND ($5.75)

AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 24/07, 15:20
Line: Hawks -36.5, Tigers +36.5
Hawthorn are plain and simply the master of winning the tight contests. It had no right to get the ball cleanly forward from that match winning passage that ended with Cyril Rioli. It all happened from a blind third man up tap behind from Lewis, a mid-air hack forward from Mitchell, followed by an Isaac Smith floater into the arms of Rioli. It was a lucky piece of football, but the Hawks still had do the basics right. Mitchell had to be in the correct position at the stoppage, Gunston needed to win the one on one and Rioli played in front. For Cyril to then go on and kick that goal from outside 50, well its happened too often for this to be a fluke. This club is clutch when it matters.
Richmond weren’t at all impressive against Essendon, but Dustin Martin shone brightly again to stay in Brownlow contention. His 43 disposals included two goals, 22 contested possessions, 35 kicks and a monster 14 clearances. Some criticised his performance and he does burn teammates on occasions to kick long, but without him the Tigers were in danger of losing a game against the bottom side. He is now on the second line of Brownlow betting and with Sloane is keeping Dangerfield honest as the medal favourite. Brett Deledio will miss with a calf injury.
Richmond have defeated Hawthorn three of the last five occasions to possess one of the best current records against the reigning premier. Although when without Brett Deledio, Richmond aren’t anywhere near as competition.

HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 26 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Hawthorn 1-39 @ $2.37

PORT ADELAIDE ($2.60) VS GWS ($1.50)

AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SUNDAY 24/07, 16:40
Line: Port +12.5, Giants -12.5
Port Adelaide are back in the finals race after a vital victory against eighth placed North Melbourne. It sees the Power close in to within eight points of the Kangaroos and just as importantly lift its percentage higher. Port Adelaide look such a fast outfit at Etihad Stadium as the ball moved around frenetically in the first quarter. A six goal to one first term ensured the Power possessed the required gap to hold North Melbourne off, but it was helped by poor kicking. Port Adelaide have little room to move and must continue to win or potentially kiss its finals hopes goodbye again within days. Charlie Dixon is a big omission with an ankle injury.
GWS produced some enormous numbers against a struggling Brisbane outfit to gain some confidence back. It won a record 200 contested possessions and 52 clearances, which lead to 17 goals being kicked in the second and third quarters combined. Its second term in particular was record breaking, becoming the first time the club had kicked 10 goals in a quarter and obviously its highest scoring term. The opposition defensive pressure was minimal, but the job still had to be completed. It was an effort the club deserve to be proud of.
There is a good chance of an upset here. GWS are yet to win a game at Adelaide Oval and Port are lifting at the right time of the year. The Giants trashed Port by 86 points in Canberra early in the year, but trends have changed since then. I was happy to tip Port here, but the loss of Charlie Dixon has me second guessing. Another tough game!

GWS TO WIN BY 2 POINTS
No Bet to Consider

Author

mm

Rover

Covering all things Australian Rules Football for The Profits. I’ve been a passionate supporter and follower of AFL for as long as I can remember. Having been born into a family with deep football history and tradition on both sides, you can say it runs through my blood. I’ve got a keen interest in the stats and analysis of the game, which helped me finish in the top 100 of fantasy competitions DreamTeam and Supercoach last year. While my own local football career was cut short due to injury at 22, it has created an opportunity for me to frequently watch and build a deep knowledge of the sport at its highest level. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and views throughout the season.

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