2016 Round 22 AFL Preview & Bets

Welcome to the Round 22 AFL preview. As we enter the penultimate round of the home and away season, we finally were given a greater indication of what the top four is likely to look like. The last grasp West Coast win has seen GWS fall a game outside the top four. At three quarter of the Richmond vs Geelong game, Leon Cameron would have been forgiven for thinking that his side had avoided a top four slip up, but the Cats came storming home to dent those hopes. It was a brilliant round of football, with five games decided by six points or less. It was a solid indication that any need for a fixture format change had been exaggerated, proving that bottom ten sides are certainly capable against the better clubs. We are set for another great round of footy, with the Friday night fixture an obvious highlight.

BEST BET:
Melbourne -21.5 Line @ $1.92

WEST COAST ($1.83) VS HAWTHORN ($2.00)

AT DOMAIN STADIUM, FRIDAY 19/08, 20:10
Line: Eagles -2.5, Hawks +2.5
Have we been underestimating the prospects of this West Coast side in the last month? Has there ever been a team so lowly thought of after winning 14 of 20 matches? The Eagles proved on Saturday that not only can it defeat a top eight team, it can do so away from home. The method of the final goal was ridiculous with just seconds on the clock, as Nic Naitanui followed up the ruck contest with a left foot snap. The Giants probably should have protected the front of the stoppage better structurally, but Naitanui is developing a reputation of completing match winning feats late in contests. West Coast have won six of its last seven and is developing good form.
If you thought that Hawthorn was finished, that opinion would have changed quickly after the reigning premier produced one of the most dynamic quarters of footy for the year. The Hawks kicked 8.4 (52) in the first quarter, creating statistical mismatches in every area. Despite having 32 more disposals, Hawthorn laid more tackles than North Melbourne in that first quarter to prove its determination in making an early statement. The less intense second and third quarters gave the Kangaroos a sniff, but a three to zero goal final term showed the Hawks could up the ante again when required.
I’m a bit surprised to see the Eagles favourites as I was hoping to get some value for them. West Coast would hold hope after defeating Hawthorn in the Qualifying Final last year at Domain, but how much of a mental toll did the Grand Final have? This is extremely difficult to confidently predict.

WEST COAST TO WIN BY 3 POINTS 
Bet to Consider:
West Coast Head to Head @ $1.83 (Sportsbet lead at any break special)

NORTH MELBOURNE ($3.50) VS SYDNEY ($1.32)

AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, HOBART, SATURDAY 20/08, 13:45
Line: North +19.5, Swans -19.5
North Melbourne has left its top eight situation a lot tighter than it would have hoped, finding itself only eight points and 3.76% ahead of a fast finishing Melbourne. The Kangaroos are still in prime position, but has left itself vulnerable in playing Sydney and GWS to finish the season. Melbourne should have an easy kill this week against Carlton, but would then have to defeat Geelong at Simonds Stadium for the second consecutive season. At the end of the day, North Melbourne’s fate is in its own hands as just one victory will end all doubt. Scott Thompson and Ben Brown are big inclusions for North Melbourne.
Sydney is the new premiership favourite after three weeks of very impressive performances. It has seen the Swans shorten to $3.75, just ahead of the Hawks at $4.25. It was another dominant midfield performance, as the usual suspects won enormous amounts of the football. But it was the third quarter performance of Buddy Franklin that sparked Sydney’s big win. It was arguably the greatest individual quarter of his career, gathering 15 disposals and kicking three goals. He ended the match with 28 disposals and six goals to get himself back in Coleman Medal contention. Kurt Tippett returns to the fold and has two weeks to gain match fitness before finals, while Jack misses with a foot complaint.
North Melbourne’s Blundstone Arena record is difficult to ignore, but the Swans are peaking and will be looking to build further into September.

SYDNEY TO WIN BY 24 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Swans 1-39 @ $2.10

RICHMOND ($2.05) VS ST KILDA ($1.80)

AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 20/08, 14:10
Line: Tigers +3.5, Saints -3.5
Richmond were on the verge of a top four shaping victory at three quarter time against Geelong, leading by 35 points and seemingly in control. The Tiger’s defensive structures were perfectly set for a Cats side lacking imagination entering its forward arc, as Damien Hardwick’s men firstly blocked and then exploded forward to constantly score with limited chances. Although a change of Geelong’s forward set up rattled Richmond, as Taylor and Henderson swapped ends. The Tigers couldn’t get the match ups right as the blocking stopped and the Cats scoring began to flourish. It was a familiarly disappointing result for Richmond fans, who once again had their hopes quashed.
St Kilda were up and about early against Sydney after knowing North Melbourne’s loss had opened a top eight position further. Its first quarter in particular was impressive as the Saints won more of the ball and were competitive at the stoppages. The second quarter showed signs that Sydney was starting to grasp control, before a Buddy Franklin inspired third term blew St Kilda out of the water. The Saints conceded 15 second half goals as heads dropped and the realisation that finals football was no longer a possibility sunk in. Hickey and Fisher are vital exclusions for the Saints.
Damien Hardwick has changed things around in recent weeks, creating more efficient forays forward. The Tigers haven’t lost to St Kilda over the past seven encounters and are a decent upset chance at the MCG. I’m still not willing to trust the Saints away from Etihad Stadium just yet.

RICHMOND TO WIN BY 5 POINTS
Bet to Consider:
Richmond Head to Head @ $2.05 (Sportsbet lead at any break special)

GWS ($1.03) VS FREMANTLE ($14.00)

AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, SATURDAY 20/08, 16:35
Line: Giants -67.5, Dockers +67.5
Did GWS just ruin its potential premiership hopes on the weekend due to a poorly defended stoppage? The Giants had got out to a 23 point lead at three quarter time, before the Eagles fought back to be five points down with eight seconds remaining and the advantage of a forward 50 stoppage. As we know, Nic Naitanui provided the highlight of the weekend with the match winning goal, but it could have easily been avoided. GWS left space at the front of the stoppage and had there been coverage, there is no chance Naitanui would have got first hands on the ground ball. It proves that the Giants still possess immaturities, but it will be a great learning experience.
Pressure is building at Fremantle, as president Steve Harris has now resigned and the poor performances continue to taint the club. Fremantle never looked like threatening in Round 21, as the fluent Crows scored at will. Its seventh consecutive loss has made the media in the east take notice, as rumours of player dissatisfaction spread quickly. Ross Lyon has defended his position and he is safe for the immediate future, but a fast turnaround in 2017 will be expected once the likes of Fyfe, a fit Sandilands, Bennell and Johnson take the field again.
Fremantle just aren’t playing good enough football to be considered here. The Giants will bounce back with a large win.

GWS TO WIN BY 49 POINTS
Bets to Consider:
Most Goals Gr1 Steve Johnson @ $4.50

COLLINGWOOD ($1.32) VS GOLD COAST ($3.50)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 20/08, 19:25
Line: Pies -22.5, Suns +22.5
Collingwood again proved that its best football is competitive against top eight opposition, going down in a tight game against the Western Bulldogs. Travis Cloke wasn’t given a chance at the fast paced Etihad Stadium and that decision was justified as Darcy Moore again flourished as the No.1 target. The young star is showing signs that he is going to be the next marquee Collingwood player, as he kicked another three goals and took three contested marks. He is proof alone that the final rounds of the year can be beneficial for the bottom clubs who aren’t in finals contention. Taylor Adams misses with an ankle injury.
Rodney Eade will be gutted having not got the points against Essendon after dominating most KPIs. The Suns were +17 for contested possession, +7 clearances and +25 inside 50s, but allowed too much outside ball to the Bombers. Gold Coast’s pressure was questionable as it conceded 350 contested possessions and 304 uncontested possessions, while laying a low 55 effective tackles. After such a promising month of results, it is certainly a backward step losing to the bottom placed Bombers. The Suns must lift to the efforts of recent weeks and finish the season on a positive note.
As I’ve been saying for a few weeks now, you can never tip Collingwood with great confidence. It will be too strong for the Suns.

COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 31 POINTS
Bets to Consider:
Collingwood -22.5 Line @ $1.92

PORT ADELAIDE ($5.75) VS ADELAIDE ($1.14)

AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 20/08, 19:40
Line: Port +35.5, Crows -35.5
The season is beginning to slip badly for Port Adelaide, losing its last two games in poor fashion after being a small chance for a finals berth. Its contested ball in the past two weeks has dropped off dramatically, possessing a combined negative differential of -76 in that category during Rounds 20 and 21. Things only look like getting more difficult this week with Wingard and Hartlett out for the season, while Charlie Dixon misses with an ankle. The second Showdown of the year has come at a bad time with the club in a slump and Adelaide riding high.
The Crows continue to build a large percentage on the back of its outstanding offensive football. Adelaide are now averaging over 115 points per game, with GWS the only other club averaging over 100. Coming up against the three bottom clubs consecutively has seen the Crows percentage rise from 128.65% at the end of Round 18 to 143.85% today. Don Pyke would have been ecstatic with a 10% rise, but a 15% gain has put the Crows right in contention for a top two position. It still trails Sydney by over 3% and will be looking to close that gap further against a struggling Power outfit. Sam Jacobs is an important pre-finals inclusion for Adelaide.
Showdown encounters can throw up unexpected results, but I’d be very surprised to see the Crows give up the current position it has given itself. Potential rain about Saturday night, but Adelaide’s points line should be passed again.

ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 51 POINTS 
Bets to Consider:
Away Team (Adelaide) Over 109.5 Points @ $1.89

CARLTON ($3.85) VS MELBOURNE ($1.26)

AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 21/08, 13:10
Line: Blues +21.5, Dees -21.5
2016 is falling away for Brendon Bolton and his Carlton players, so much so that the poor form is threatening to undo all the good work from earlier in the season. The Blues have now lost nine consecutive matches to have fallen into the bottom four. That is a disastrous fall from grace after being 6-5 after 11 rounds and threatening for a top eight position. Obviously there will be internal factors Bolton has improved that he will define as more important at this stage of the clubs development, but two and a half months without a win is never a good look.
Melbourne has all of a sudden found itself in a position to threaten for a top eight position. It needs to win its final two games, hope the North Melbourne lose its last two encounters and make up just under 4%. It sounds achievable when considering the Kangaroos finish the home and away rounds against Sydney and GWS, but Melbourne’s biggest test win come in Round 23 against Geelong at Simonds Stadium. The Dees won’t fear the Cats after a break through victory at Geelong last year, but it also can’t be thinking one week ahead. Getting the job done against Carlton comes first.
Melbourne is arguably the form club in the competition in the past month with three consecutive wins on top of pushing West Coast at Domain. Form trends are at opposition ends of the scale for these two clubs and Melbourne must be strongly considered at the line despite a wet forecast.

MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 39 POINTS
BET TO CONSIDER:
Melbourne -21.5 Line @ $1.92

BRISBANE ($14.00) VS GEELONG ($1.02)

AT THE GABBA, SUNDAY 21/08, 15:20
Line: Lions +58.5, Cats -58.5
Brisbane may have even surprised itself with a win against Carlton, falling across the line after leading by 41 points early in the third term. The Lions first half was quite impressive as the score line suggested, but Justin Leppitsch’s men were lucky to hold on once the Blues took control. The second half differentials made for ugly reading if you were a Brisbane supporter, ending the half -69 for total disposals, -17 contested possessions and -24 inside 50s. Momentum was lost quickly and Carlton kicked the final four goals of the game, but poor kicking on goal ultimately decided the result. The Lions just can’t compete for long periods.
Geelong got away with a vital victory by the skin of its teeth, defeating Richmond by four points after being down by 35 points at three quarter time. It was a strange game as Geelong were winning the ball and getting it inside 50, but the entries were so predictable that Richmond could park loose men in dangerous areas and rebound with efficiency. Finally the change up forward was made at three quarter time which saw Taylor and Henderson move forward, leaving Richmond defensively vulnerable. The Cats then started taking advantage of the mismatched differentials, storming home to get four points that could be double chance defining. Andrew Mackie comes back into the 22.
There is a massive opportunity for Geelong to boost its percentage here. It is difficult to imagine Brisbane winning another match in 2016.

GEELONG TO WIN BY 70 POINTS
No Bets to Consider

ESSENDON ($11.00) VS WESTERN BULLDOGS ($1.04)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 21/08, 16:40
Line: Bombers +49.5, Dogs -49.5
Essendon produced one of its brightest moments of the season, overcoming a three quarter time deficit against Gold Coast to claim its second victory of 2016. It is a good result for Essendon, as many doubted the club could get off the mark at all. The Bombers are now in a position where it has an opportunity to get off the bottom of the ladder, with a clash against the struggling Blues in Round 23 creating hope. If John Worsfold can find a way to avoid a wooden spoon after all that has happened in his first season, 2016 will be deemed a success.
The Western Bulldogs kept its small four top hopes alive with a gutsy three point win on Friday night against Collingwood. The Dogs looked in trouble midway through the third term as Collingwood threatened to run away with an 18 point lead. After a quiet nine disposal first half, Marcus Bontempelli sprung to life with a match defining third term to help see the scores level at three quarter time. The Western Bulldogs appear to be surviving with courageous efforts on a weekly basis, so how much of a toll must these seemingly endless high intensity encounters be having? Matthew Suckling misses again due to injury.
A percentage boost doesn’t mean too much for the Dogs as it is 14% away from West Coast, a tough margin to make up in only two weeks. A win will certainly help those home elimination final hopes though.

WESTERN BULLDOGS TO WIN BY 56 POINTS
Bets to Consider:
Away Team (Western Bulldogs) Under 110.5 Points @ $1.88

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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