Welcome to the Round 13 AFL Preview. After a week of predictable results, Round 13 brings us another group of matches with short priced favourites. The AFL need to do something about the quality of these bye rounds. The Friday night games have been of interest, but the Saturday and Sunday encounters have been met with constant lopsided results. It is certainly a topic the commission will discuss when the draw is scheduled in October.
With few games demanding attention, it isn’t difficult to realise why the off field topics have dominated the media discussion this week. In saying that, some very serious stories have gone down. The originally dull appearing contest between St Kilda vs Melbourne has suddenly grown legs after the sacking of Mark Neeld and the charging of Stephen Milne. The result may become a sideshow to the conduction of the players and staff. While that isn’t necessarily a good thing, it is sure to gather a higher attendance and television audience.
Round 13 certainly isn’t filled with obvious value. Adelaide, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Gold Coast and GWS have the bye.
St Kilda @ the -40.5 line
HAWTHORN ($1.16) vs WEST COAST ($5.40)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 21/06, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Hawthorn 23.10 (148) defeated West Coast 15.8 (98) at Patersons, R2, 2013
Line: Hawthorn -31.5, West Coast +31.5
The AFL has obviously been attempting to provide high profile games on the Friday nights of the bye rounds. Unfortunately, as the season has unfolded, this game has lost its status due to the poor form of West Coast. It has only won two games at the usual fortress of Patersons Stadium this year and nearly got overrun by lowly St Kilda in Round 11. 6 wins and 5 losses isn’t horrible reading, but the Eagles have already played the easier block of its draw. It is only going to get harder from here. On a positive note, Beau Waters, Darren Glass, Mark LeCras and Josh Kennedy will return to the side.
The Hawks had a minor scare against Carlton, but did all it needed to get over the line. Like Geelong, they just know how to be in front when the final siren blows. The Hawks would be pleased to see Luke Hodge be cleared for his forceful collisions against Carlton. It is definitely a scenario where the Match Review Panel and the Tribunal deserve credit as it would have been a travesty had Hodge been sanctioned for either incident.
My faith in West Coast is waning by the week. Despite the inclusions, there are still underdone senior players. The Hawks will win convincingly.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 40 POINTS
PORT ADELAIDE ($6.50) vs SYDNEY ($1.10)
AT AAMI STADIUM, SATURDAY 22/06, 13:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 16.9 (105) defeated Port 12.11 (83) at AAMI, R3, 2012
Line: Port +36.5, Sydney -36.5
Port Adelaide was convincingly against GWS, but the other Harbour city side will be at the complete opposite end of the pressure scale. The task has already been made more difficult due to a Travis Boak finger injury, with the Power skipper set to be out for up to three weeks. It is a large hole to fill for Ken Hinkley with Boak leading the club for clearances (6.4 per game), especially considering Sydney average 2.5 a game more than any other team in the competition. It is a massive task for the likes of Cornes, Ebert and Hartlett to fill the void.
Sydney are the inform team of the competition. This week they finally get the chance to play their hidden ace card, Kurt Tippett. How much of an impact can he have on arguably the best team in the land? That question could be giving some of the current top 4 clubs sleepless nights. Don’t be surprised to see some restless Crows supporters attend this game to give Tippett a more than warm welcome on his return to Adelaide. Shane Mumford will miss a month with a fractured cheekbone.
Sydney will be far too good here. The line deserves consideration pending the weather.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 49 POINTS
ST KILDA ($1.11) vs MELBOURNE ($6.50)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 22/06, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: St Kilda 16.11 (107) defeated Melbourne 12.10 (82) at the MCG, R20, 2012
Line: St Kilda -40.5, Melbourne +40.5
Who would have thought this encounter would be seen as a “must watch” game a week ago? Stephen Milne being charged with rape and the sacking of Mark Neeld has given this match an unwanted focus. Ironically, neither individual will be anywhere near the MCG on Saturday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean their presence won’t be felt.
St Kilda has decided to stand Milne down indefinitely while the legal process takes its due course. His immediate spot in the team is expected to be taken by Terry Milera who kicked 5 goals in the VFL. The state of mind of Leigh Montagna is also sure to be questioned after the alleged incident is said to have occurred at his home. Captain Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo will play their 250th games while Sam Fisher will return from injury.
Former Adelaide coach Neil Craig will take the reins from Mark Neeld as caretaker for the remainder of the season. He has pledged to continue with the same game plan and only wants to see improvement between now and Round 23. It will be interesting to see the line up he prefers and more importantly where the players are positioned. Mark Jamar will miss with an toe injury.
Two teams rocked by controversy. Expect the Saints to be up and about for the Riewoldt and Dal Santo milestones. St Kilda’s senior players are a class above Melbourne’s and line has to be considered.
ST KILDA TO WIN BY 53 POINTS
WESTERN BULLDOGS ($5.50) vs RICHMOND ($1.15)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 22/06, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Richmond 20.15 (135) defeated Western Bulldogs 10.8 (68) at Etihad, R3, 2013
Line: Dogs +34.5, Richmond -34.5
These two meet for the second time in 2013. That encounter was dominated by a rampaging Richmond side that ran away with a 67 point victory. Since then and especially recently, the Bulldogs have gained greater respect from the competition with wins against St Kilda and Port Adelaide, on top of a solid second half effort against Collingwood. Daniel Cross continues to be wasted in the VFL despite outstanding form. I’m not sure if McCartney was trying to make a statement by originally dropping Cross, but he couldn’t have responded any better and deserves a position in the best 22.
The Tigers continue to beat the teams they should, a task they have struggled to complete on a regular basis for the last 30 years. It is a clear sign of a team on the rise. There isn’t too much that is going wrong for Richmond and a lot of the negatives would be classed as nitpicking. They are unchanged and this stability and consolidation would be a welcomed change for all Tigers supporters.
I doubt it will blowout out as much as Round 3, but Richmond should win comfortably.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 37 POINTS
FREMANTLE ($1.30) vs NORTH MELBOURNE ($3.75)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SUNDAY 23/06, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Fremantle 20.12 (132) defeated North 12.7 (79) at Etihad, R22, 2012
Line: Fremantle -23.5, North +23.5
This is the tightest betting game of the week. What will be interesting is the fact that Fremantle is the lowest scoring team against, while North Melbourne is the fourth highest scoring for. The Dockers have conceded just the one score above 80 points for the season and average only 70 points per game. The players are well accustomed and trained to the game plan and the results are damning. Michael Walters is a certainty to return after being given an extra week to get his body right.
North Melbourne was horrible against the Gold Coast in wet conditions before its bye. The Roos got an early break in the first quarter and looked close to home. From there they got worked out quickly and rarely got first hands to the footy. The most concerning thing was that they couldn’t adapt when it was obvious they were getting beaten at the stoppages and couldn’t move the ball out of the Sun’s forward 50. They were non competitive for three quarters against an improving expansion side. These might be seen as overly strong words, but it was an insipid performance and Brad Scott would have been embarrassed.
Can the high scoring North Melbourne game plan breakdown the highly disciplined Ross Lyon rock? It is impossible to justify on recent performances. Let’s hope some defensive aspects have been worked on over the break.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 34 POINTS
BRISBANE ($5.75) vs GEELONG ($1.14)
AT THE GABBA, SUNDAY 23/06, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Geelong 12.7 (79) defeated Brisbane 4.17 (41) at the Gabba, R5, 2012
Line: Brisbane +32.5, Geelong -32.5
The Lions have been relatively lucky against Geelong, having only played once at Simonds Stadium since 2009. This will be fifth encounter played at the Gabba out of the last 6 between the two teams. The results still haven’t been pretty though, with Geelong winning 9 of the last 10.
The Lions were relatively competitive against Fremantle without ever looking in the game. Like most clubs against the Dockers, Brisbane were restricted to a low score, but without key personnel. This week will see the return of Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrett, filling key position holes both forward and back. Brent Moloney also returns to the side while the likes of Daniel Rich and Brent Staker will continue to improve with every game they play.
The Cats has put its player management plan well and truly into action. We have already seen Harry Taylor, Steven Motlop and Mark Blicavs been rested. There is growing speculation that Jimmy Bartel is next in line after flying to America for a quick break over the bye. You need to be slightly cautious with Geelong during these periods as they are happy to get the job done and that’s generally enough. Beware their line when they are managing senior players.
Geelong’s record speaks for itself against Brisbane. The Lions are coming off the biggest trip in footy while the Cats had the bye. Expect a solid Geelong win.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 23 POINTS