Welcome to the round 3 AFL preview. Round 2 produced a brilliant group of matches with the Sunday games in particular having even neutral supporters on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately the great football took a back seat to the ugly, with Melbourne’s humiliating 148 point defeat thieving all positive headlines from the back and front pages.
We have 7 undefeated teams and another 7 still looking to get their first points. Highly hyped teams like West Coast and Carlton have been particularly disappointing and need to gain wins soon before the head pack leave a gap too wide to chase down. There are plenty of ladder shaping matches for round 3.
St Kilda Line -28.5
North Melbourne to win $2.30
Adelaide Line -13.5
FREMANTLE ($1.48) vs ESSENDON ($2.65)
PATERSONS STADIUM, FRIDAY 12/04/2013, 20:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Essendon 17.11 (113) defeated Fremantle 14.5 (89) at Patersons, R13, 23/06/2012
Line: Fremantle -13.5, Essendon +13.5
This game is seriously rivaling Collingwood vs Hawthorn as match of the round. Unfortunately, the potential of the game is going to be overshadowed by the James Hird drug allegations. The Bombers have managed to deal with all the controversy until now, so there is no real reason to suggest that the latest installment won’t be dealt with the same professionalism. To the game, both teams are undefeated and look to be at top end form. The Dockers had a testing but comprehensive win against the Dogs while Essendon are as good as coming off the bye after its 148 point flogging of Melbourne.
The stats are difficult to compare as Essendon’s are exaggerated by a Melbourne team that produced the least amount of pressure acts by any club for over two years. The Bombers won the corresponding game last year in round 13 at Patersons and have won a healthy 5 of 12 overall matches at the venue between the two clubs. They certainly wouldn’t be daunted by the road trip based on these previous results.
The Bombers kicking efficiency was 80.3% last week and Ross Lyon will be looking to see that drop by at least 15%. Expect outside runners like Stanton, Goddard and Dempsey to have far less flexibility, despite playing on the larger ground. Matthew Pavlich has a great recent record against the Bombers, averaging 21.5 disposals and nearly 3 goals a game over the last three encounters. They generally struggle for an effective match up.
This is a tighter game than the odds suggest. Expect the home ground advantage to just be enough for Freo to get the points.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 9 POINTS
NORTH MELBOURNE ($2.30) vs SYDNEY ($1.62)
BLUNDSTONE ARENA HOBART, SATURDAY 13/04/2013, 13:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 17.11 (113) defeated North 10.17 (77) at the SCG, R4, 22/04/2012
Line: North +9.5, Sydney -9.5
This is another great looking game and holds significant ramifications, especially for North Melbourne. This is the second year of North Melbourne’s association with Hobart and is attempting to build a similar second home base to that of Hawthorn at Launceston.
North are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Geelong having led by 41 points just before half time. That coupled with the round 1 Collingwood effort and it is hard to argue that the Roos aren’t one of the best performed 0-2 teams for many years.
The Swans have had a comfortable start to the season with consecutive wins against the two expansion clubs. They will now be looking at stepping up their intensity against a club that made the finals last year. Adam Goodes has had a slow start to the season, but has a good record against North and will be hell bent to continue that.
Despite the two losses, North look hungry. They are an extra month ahead of Sydney in terms of workload. Their outside game has been damaging, with a percentage of 72.9 in disposal efficiency against two premiership contenders and is averaging 35 more uncontested possessions than the Swans in the first two rounds. At this point of the season, I think North can run over the top of Sydney and are fantastic odds at $2.30.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 17 POINTS
MELBOURNE ($12.00) vs WEST COAST ($1.03)
MCG, SATURDAY 13/04/2013, 14:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: West Coast 25.16 (166) defeated Melbourne 9.4 (58) at Patersons, R2, 07/04/2012
Line: Melbourne +59.5, West Coast -59.5
While this game looks lopsided on paper, everyone will be interested to see how Melbourne responds from last week’s disaster. At the very least, they need to show their supporters that they possess some fight. The statistical differentials against Essendon were horrendous and completely unacceptable. The most defining stat was that despite Essendon having 190 more disposals, Melbourne laid 26 less tackles than the Bombers. That is as close to giving up as you’ll get.
With a depleted injury list and a 0-2 start, West Coast is playing Melbourne at the perfect time to get their season rolling. While the Eagles were competitive for three quarters last week, the Hawks kicking 8.3 (51) in the final quarter and running away with the game would be of huge concern. Fortunately, they are expected to regain Daniel Kerr and Mark LeCras, who has made a remarkable recovery from a broken arm three weeks ago.
Don’t expect a similar blowout to last week, but West Coast will be far too strong.
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 68 POINTS
GWS ($4.00) vs ST KILDA ($1.25)
MANUKA OVAL CANBERRA, SATURDAY 13/04/2013, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: St Kilda 25.13 (163) defeated GWS 5.5 (35) at Etihad, R22, 25/08/2012
Line: GWS +28.5, St Kilda -28.5
St Kilda faces a second expansion club in two weeks and will be determined to ensure the round 1 result against the Gold Coast isn’t repeated. Although St Kilda gave the much fancied Richmond a run for their money, Scott Watters has admitted that his team is now in a rebuilding process, pointing out the “gulf” between the clubs experienced and developing players. But don’t see this as an opportunity to compare the Saints with GWS.
The Giants couldn’t quite back up the competitive Sydney effort, despite a great start against Port Adelaide. Expect to see more inconsistent GWS performances throughout the year as the youngsters continue to develop.
Only 8 months ago, St Kilda gave GWS a 128 point thumping. Has that much changed? The likes of Riewoldt, Dal Santo, Montagna, Fisher, Hayes and McEvoy show that the St Kilda still has the top end talent and should be too strong for GWS. The Saints will also be thankful that GWS don’t possess a Gary Ablett type who can take a game away single handedly. The line looks far too short at -28.5.
ST KILDA TO WIN BY 46 POINTS
GOLD COAST ($2.70) vs BRISBANE ($1.46)
METRICON STADIUM, SATURDAY 13/04/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Brisbane 8.11 (59) defeated Gold Coast 5.18 (48) at Metricon, R17, 21/07/2012
Line: Gold Coast +16.5, Brisbane -16.5
While the Q-Clash doesn’t generate the excitement of a Showdown or a Derby, there have been a couple of very competitive matches. The fifth edition sees a maturing Gold Coast host Brisbane once again at Metricon Stadium.
Brisbane showed significant improvement against Adelaide but are still struggling with clearances. They average only 8.5 centre clearances from the opening two rounds, that’s 2.5 less per game than Melbourne. The likes of Redden, Rockliff, Rich and Moloney will be benefited by Matthew Leuenberger getting further game time after returning from injury once again on the weekend.
The Suns were a different team against Sydney at the tighter and heavy SCG. They were smashed in the centre clearances (20-9) and the conditions saw Gary Ablett drop back to the rest of the pack with the help of an inform Kieren Jack. Gold Coast desperately need Harley Bennell to find some form after barely being sighted so far this season.
I’m still willing to give Brisbane a chance. No reason why they shouldn’t win this game.
BRISBANE TO WIN BY 21 POINTS
GEELONG ($1.57) vs CARLTON ($2.40)
ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 13/04/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Geelong 14.13 (97) defeated Carlton 11.19 (85) at Etihad, R11, 08/06/2012
Line: Geelong -11.5, Carlton +11.5
Both teams are coming off high intensity, epic contests. Geelong managed to come back from a 41 point deficit to beat North Melbourne in the last 30 seconds with another match winning Jimmy Bartel goal. Carlton led for a large period of its encounter before the Collingwood stars stepped up and ran away with the game late.
Similar to 2012, Geelong continues to be hampered by slow starts and poor clearance differentials. While most applaud the Cats for their drive and confidence to be able to come back from any position, the fact of the matter is that they shouldn’t get so far behind in the first place. Steve Johnson is a sneaky chance to return from his knee injury and would certainly help the clearance rates (in which Geelong rank last with an average of 28.5 per game).
The Blues have been very competitive against Geelong despite losing the last three encounters. They have always matched up well and produced some brilliant results in 2009 and 2010 at the MCG. Although at Etihad Stadium, Geelong leads 10-0. The Cats definitely know how to get the job done under the roof at Etihad.
Although the Cats again look slightly short, their record at Etihad is defining. With Geelong’s slow starts, the halftime/fulltime double of Carlton/Geelong at $7.20 is tempting.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 10 POINTS
RICHMOND ($1.28) vs WESTERN BULLDOGS ($3.65)
ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 14/04/2013, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Richmond 22.18 (150) defeated Bulldogs 12.8 (80) at the MCG, R20, 12/08/2012
Line: Richmond -24.5, Bulldogs +24.5
The Tigers are looking at being 3-0 for the first time since 1995. They certainly appear to be going under the radar for a club that has been so starved of success in recent times. The Tigers had their first win against the Dogs since 2004 last year after 9 losses and a draw in between. Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin have fantastic records against the Dogs over the last three games, averaging 27.7, 26.3 and 25.7 disposals respectively. While Cotchin has been great for the first two games, he is only running at 52% disposal efficiency. There is clear improvement to come, a scary prospect for opposing teams.
The Dogs were solid against Freo, but couldn’t replicate their high efficiency stats of the previous round, dropping 8%. In saying that, the Dockers have a discipline press that sees even the best clubs lower their efficiency stats. Matthew Boyd is still at least a week away, but the likes of Mitch Wallis, Tom Liberatore and Clay Smith are filling the void admirably.
While the Tiges are a tad short, they should win comfortably.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 21 POINTS
COLLINGWOOD ($2.15) vs HAWTHORN ($1.70)
MCG, SUNDAY 14/04/2013, 15:15
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Hawthorn 20.15 (135) defeated Collingwood 15.7 (97) at the MCG, QF, 07/09/2012
Line: Collingwood +6.5, Hawthorn -6.5
You would have to say that this is the match of the round. Another Sunday blockbuster, another epic contest in the making.
Collingwood had to fight hard to overcome a defiant Carlton outfit that refused to let go of the game. With Darren Jolly down with a rib injury, new recruit Quinten Lynch had to ruck for a majority of the day and fought at every contest he could. Jolly is likely to miss this week, but Lynch will be able to play his traditional forward role with Ben Hudson ready to come in. Nick Maxwell will miss the next 2 months with a wrist injury, while Dayne Beams isn’t quite ready. On a positive note, Dale Thomas again played in the VFL and is regarded almost certain to return this week.
The Hawks were the most impressive team from Round 2. A trip to Perth in any circumstances is difficult, but when you’ve had 9 less days to prepare than your opponent as well as coming off a 6 day break from a gruelling contest, it was a mammoth result. Kicking eight goals in the final quarter was the perfect icing and answered any doubts as to whether they were an underdone side.
Since the amazing 2011 Preliminary Final, Hawthorn has dealt with Collingwood comfortably while kicking 20 or more goals in each of the 3 occasions. The Hawks have look to have their measure of late.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 15 POINTS
PORT ADELAIDE ($2.65) vs ADELAIDE ($1.48)
AAMI STADIUM, SUNDAY 14/04/2013, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Adelaide 17.14 (116) defeated Port 8.10 (58) at AAMI, R15, 07/07/2013
Line: Port Adelaide +13.5, Adelaide -13.5
Showdown number 34 has some added expectation to it due to Port Adelaide’s 2-0 start. Ken Hinkley has the Power playing a direct style of football that is seeing their forwards flourish. They are averaging 19.5 marks I50 for the first two rounds, 5 more than any other team. In saying that, those stats are somewhat exaggerated by poor opposition in Melbourne and GWS.
It has taken Adelaide a while to get in any groove. They could have easily been defeated in Brisbane, but for some individual brilliance from Patrick Dangerfield. But the signs were positive compared to round 1. They were significantly up in disposal efficiency, marks I50, clearances, tackles and I50 entries. Are the Crows just beginning to find some of their 2012 form? I think they are and they still have further scope for improvement.
Port Adelaide leads all encounters 17-16, but Adelaide has won the last three relatively convincingly. Port has been great, but they will need to take another step to beat the Crows. KPIs indicate that the Crows are on the rise. Adelaide is catching my attention at the line.
ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 28 POINTS
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.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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