Welcome to the Round 5 AFL preview. The Essendon vs Collingwood Anzac game at the MCG is annually the most anticipated home and away fixture of the season. This year, we have a little more to look forward to with the St Kilda vs Sydney New Zealand match immediately following the blockbuster. It will be an historic occasion, being the first ever AFL game played outside of Australia for premiership points.
Essendon, Port Adelaide and Geelong are the only undefeated teams and are perfectly placed to in their quests for September action. Unsurprisingly, GWS is the only winless club, but will get another chance against fellow expansion club Gold Coast.
It is sure to be another interesting four days of footy.
Port Adelaide to win @ $1.92
Gold Coast at the -12.5 line
ESSENDON ($2.25) vs COLLINGWOOD ($1.64
AT THE MCG, THURSDAY 25/04/2013, 14:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Collingwood 14.20 (104) defeated Essendon 10.12 (72) at the MCG, R23, 2012
Line: Essendon +8.5, Collingwood -8.5
12 months ago, these two teams produced another epic Anzac day contest with Collingwood getting up by a solitary point. This time around, we are set for another great spectacle with both clubs in top form and at the upper end of the ladder.
The Bombers are once again undefeated coming into Anzac day and are arguably playing better footy than this time last year. They are the highest scoring team in the league and have also conceded the least amount of points at the same time. They have gathered the most disposals and are top three in contested possessions, total marks, contested marks, total tackles and inside 50s. They have been a team of dominance and deserve to be considered as a premiership threat. Unfortunately, they will be without Michael Hurley, Dustin Fletcher and the suspended 2009 Anzac Medallist Patrick Ryder, all structurally relevant players. Crameri will return.
Collingwood bounced back from its humiliating Round 3 defeat perfectly with a comfortable victory against up and comers Richmond. Travis Cloke was gigantic, pulling down 14 marks and kicking a career best 7 goals. Quinten Lynch has been enormous since crossing from West Coast and has had the biggest impact of all new recruits in the competition. He also took 14 marks, meaning that he and Cloke were the first forward combination to take 14 marks or more in a game since Lockett and Loewe in 1991. Dane Swan has a ridiculous record against the Bombers, averaging 43 touches over the past three games. He needs to be nullified. Darren Jolly won’t be rushed back for the game and will play VFL on Friday instead.
Ryder, Hurley and Fletcher are difficult to replace, but the Pies are missing key personnel themselves. If Travis Cloke can be stopped, the Bombers are a real chance and the inform Jake Carlisle should be the man for the job.
ESSENDON TO WIN BY 6 POINTS
ANZAC DAY MEDAL
The Anzac Day Medal is awarded to the best afield player for the Essendon vs Collingwood clash. Some past winners include James Hird three times, Sav Rocco and Scott Pendlebury twice and Dane Swan last year. Here are some of the prospects to look out for…
JOBE WATSON $6.00
Watson has carried his 2012 Brownlow Medal winning form into 2013 and is averaging 32.3 disposals for the first four rounds. He has averaged 26 disposals over the last three games against Collingwood and is a justified favourite. Nathan Buckley has admitted he is untaggable and won’t be given attention.
DANE SWAN $6.50
He loves playing the Bombers averaging 43 touches over the last three games and won last year’s Anzac Day Medal. He is a serious chance to go back to back. Expect him to receive far more attention though.
SCOTT PENDLEBURY $6.50
A two time Anzac Day Medallist and just doesn’t play bad games. No matter the result, he’ll be high in the voting.
TRAVIS CLOKE $12.00
Back to his 2011 form and is no longer muddled in contract negotiations. Coming off the best game of his career and is a big game performer.
BRENDON GODDARD $12.00
His first ever Anzac Clash and will be looking to make an impact early. His performances in the 2010 Grand Finals prove he steps on the big stage.
JAKE CARLISLE $26.00
Carlisle is extremely likely to take the inform Travis Cloke. While a key defender has never won the medal, if Carlisle can keep Cloke’s highly publicised form to a minimum, he is certain to feature in the votes. Carlisle produced a best on ground performance against Fremantle two weeks ago and is high on confidence.
MICHAEL HIBBERD $34.00
Hibberd is arguably Essendon’s most improved player. His rebound from the half back flank has been significant to Essendon’s early season form. He is averaging 22.8 possessions a game and is great value.
QUINTEN LYNCH $51.00
Lynch has been brilliant in his first four games for Collingwood. He is averaging 17.8 possessions and 7.5 marks a game in his forward/ruck role. $51.00 looks generous.
Prediction: Jobe Watson
Roughie: Michael Hibberd
ST KILDA ($4.55) vs SYDNEY AT WESTPAC STADIUM
WELLINGTON NZ, THURSDAY 25/04/2013, 17:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 15.15 (105) defeated St Kilda 10.16 (76) at the SCG, R17, 2012
Line: St Kilda +28.5, Sydney -28.5
The Saints host the first ever game for premiership points on international soil in Wellington New Zealand. The ground for AFL standards is tiny and unfortunately for the Saints will suit the contested style of the Swans perfectly.
The Saints have the highest kicking efficiency in the league at 74% and have gathered the second most uncontested possessions. They also have the fourth most marks, yet are 11th overall for contested marks. It is obvious are trying to play an outside game that is based on keeping possession and kicking the ball around until the right option presents itself. Such a plan will be difficult to execute at the tight confines of Westpac Stadium. The loss of Stephen Milne and Beau Maister doesn’t help the situation.
The Swans average 165 contested possessions a game, the most in the league. They will be ecstatic with the opportunity to play at a small venue. Sydney would have been disappointed with the Geelong loss, but there were plenty of positives to take out of it.
Lewis Roberts-Thomson is an underrated loss, but it shouldn’t have an influence on the result. The line is tempting at -28.5.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 41 POINTS
FREMANTLE ($1.52) vs RICHMOND ($2.55)
AT PATERSONS, FRIDAY 26/04/2013, 20:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Fremantle 13.16 (94) defeated Richmond 11.6 (72) at Patersons, R21, 2012
Line: Fremantle -13.5, Richmond +13.5
The Tigers have another tough test with a trip west to take on Fremantle. They were blown away by Collingwood with a scintillating 8 goal third quarter after being neck and neck up until that point. While some say it was a reality check for Richmond, there was plenty to learn from the encounter. The biggest concern would be the total domination of Collingwood’s tall forwards, with Rance rag dolled by Travis Cloke all day. One positive for Richmond is the absence of Matthew Pavlich. He averages 22.7 disposals and 3.3 goals over the last three encounters between the two clubs.
Missing Matthew Pavlich, Luke McPharlin and Aaron Sandlilands, the Dockers would have gone to Launceston with low expectations. But they were competitive after Hawthorn burst out of the blocks to be still in the game midway through the final quarter. McPharlin is almost certain to return to the line up having finally recovered from his Patrick Ryder inflicted concussion.
The Tigers don’t have the worst record at Patersons against Freo, having won 5 of 13 games at the venue. It is hard imagine the Dockers losing consecutive home games.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 21 POINTS
GWS ($2.50) vs GOLD COAST ($1.48)
AT MANUKA OVAL, CANBERRA, SATURDAY 27/04/2013, 13:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Gold Coast 16.13 (109) defeated GWS 12.7 (79) at Metricon, R20, 2012
Line: GWS +12.5, Gold Coast -12.5
The battle of the expansion clubs. It isn’t a game that will hold too many consequences for the loser, but the players will be determined to get the bragging rights over its future rival.
GWS appear to be following a similar path to the Suns by potentially suffering from the second year blues. After putting up a competitive performance against the Swans in round 1, the Giants have dropped off dramatically since. They looked like running away from Melbourne at three quarter time last week before conceding a record 12 goals in the last quarter. The Giants are actually averaging the fourth most centre bounce clearances, but due to poor kicking efficiency, they don’t get the ball inside 50 nearly enough.
Gold Coast are showing signs of maturity. They are staying in games for longer and avoiding those massive blow outs we were becoming accustomed too. The bodies are getting bigger and they are starting to have an impact on the contest, averaging 156 contested possessions a game, 4th in the league. Gary Ablett is struggling with a wrist injury, but there is no way he’ll miss a winnable game.
Gold Coast are travelling well and should be too strong. They look ridiculously good value at the -12.5 line.
GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 27 POINTS
CARLTON ($1.50) vs ADELAIDE ($2.60)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 27/04/2013, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Adelaide 19.10 (124) defeated Carlton 8.7 (55) at Etihad, R8, 2012
Line: Carlton -12.5, Adelaide +12.5
Carlton had been competitive against Richmond, Collingwood and Geelong and finally put it all together against West Coast to register Mick Malthouse his first win in the navy blue. The nippy small forwards were able to expose the Eagles on the open spaces of Patersons Stadium with Chris Yarran particularly impressive kicking 4 goals.
Adelaide did what it needed to do against the Dogs in sloggy conditions at AAMI stadium with a 52 point victory. But it was a performance that was hard to read as the Dogs were seriously undermanned. The Crows have the worst kicking efficiency in the league, running at a concerning 66%. Their two wins have been set up by brilliant goal kicking cameos by Patrick Dangerfield, despite having an inconsistent start to the season. They certainly need more of their stars to step up and emulate the 2012 form.
I’m not at all convinced with the Crows. The Blues play better football at the MCG and have some momentum.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 19 POINTS
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.92) vs WEST COAST (1.92)
AT AAMI, SATURDAY 27/04/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: West Coast 14.14 (98) defeated Port at AAMI, R21, 2012
Line: Port Adelaide -, West Coast –
These clubs were at opposite ends of the expectation scale at the start of the season. After four rounds, they are at opposite ends of the ladder, but it is Port Adelaide who has surprised everyone to be undefeated.
While Port Adelaide has only had wins against Melbourne, GWS, Gold Coast and the out of form Adelaide, they have done it with conviction and ease. Ken Hinkley has implemented a game plan that has seen the Power improve significantly on all its statistical deficiencies from recent past years. The stats could be exaggerated due to poor opposition, but the weaknesses were obvious against all opposition last year.
West Coast has been the most disappointing team of 2013 by far. In saying that, they have been absolutely destroyed by injuries. But it doesn’t matter how long their injury list is, losing three games at Patersons Stadium is just unacceptable. The positive is that the Eagles have won the last three games against the Power. They will also regain Beau Waters while captain Darren Glass is expected to recover in time from that well publicised should injury.
I think Port are great value here. They were $2.05 only two days ago. Jump on this price quickly as it will continue to shorten.
PORT TO WIN BY 16 POINTS
WESTERN BULLDOGS ($12.00) vs GEELONG ($1.03)
AT ETIHAD, SATURDAY 27/03/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Geelong 16.11 (107) defeated Dogs 11.9 (75) at Skilled, R22, 2012
Line: Dogs +57.5, Geelong -57.5
This is not the most attractive game on paper. The odds certainly don’t paint a pretty picture for the Dogs, while statistical indicators are just as harsh.
In wet conditions, the Bulldogs only managed to score 4.4 (28) against an out of form Adelaide outfit. Things were made even worse when the inform Ryan Griffin injured his shoulder and will be out for 1-2 weeks. The young group is showing positive signs in the clearances and contested situations, but it will need to improve significantly in most other areas to compete with Geelong.
The Cats are sitting pretty having won four games in 19 days and coming off a win against the reigning premier away. Geelong are set to regain the services of James Kelly which will help the clearance rates. After the tragic circumstances of Daniel Menzel reinjuring his knee and needing the fourth reconstruction, another injury prone youngster in Nathan Vardy will return to the VFL in a positive for the club.
The Cats have won 9 of the 10 against the Dogs, expect that trend to continue.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 63 POINTS
BRISBANE ($1.15) vs MELBOURNE ($5.50)
AT THE GABBA, SUNDAY 28/04/2013, 15:15
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Brisbane 18.14 (122) defeated Melbourne 8.13 (61) at the Gabba, R14, 2012
Line: Brisbane -36.5, Melbourne +36.5
After the highs of a preseason premiership, the Lions have crashed down to earth with a thud. Michael Voss is under a ton of pressure to turn the clubs fortunes around, especially with an extremely tough draw from rounds 6-14. Fortunately, they have an opportunity to get some confidence back against Melbourne. The Lions are the only team in the competition yet to register 300 or more total points for the season. They are struggling for forward targets with Jonathan Brown continuously double teamed. They continue to struggle in the centre clearances, averaging only 11 a game. It is no wonder that their scoring is so low. The inform Pearce Hanley will miss due to suspension.
The Dees are coming off their first win of the season and Mark Neeld would be enjoying not having the media scrutiny for the week. But he desperately needs the team to be competitive this week to keep the vultures away for his front door. Remarkably, Melbourne produced its highest scoring final term in its long history, kicking 12.2 (74). The task will be tougher this week, but they are sure to take some added confidence to the Gabba on Sunday afternoon.
The Lions had an averaging winning margin of 51 points in their two encounters against Melbourne last year. Expect a similar result.
BRISBANE TO WIN BY 44 POINTS
HAWTHORN ($1.20) vs NORTH MELBOURNE ($4.60)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 28/04/2013, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Hawthorn 27.12 (174) defeated North 9.5 (59) at Aurora, R10, 2012
Line: Hawthorn -29.5, North +29.5
Last year’s Hawthorn vs North Melbourne 115 point whitewash will always be remembered as being the day Buddy Franklin kicked 13 goals. Buddy’s amazing game took so much of the limelight that North Melbourne’s horrendous display was close to forgotten. This time around, you suspect that Brad Scott will be better prepared to counter any sniff of a Hawthorn onslaught.
Apart from the slender loss to Geelong, it is difficult to fault Hawthorn’s start to the season. They have dealt with West Coast, Collingwood and Fremantle convincingly. Considering they play last year’s finalists in the first 7 rounds of the season, they are brilliantly placed for a top 2 finish. Grant Birchall is in elite form. He is averaging 31.3 disposals a game at a high efficiency rate. Expect North Melbourne to target him with a tag. Ryan Schoenmakers will miss the rest of the season due to a knee and is an underrated loss structurally. It means that Brian Lake will have to step up to the plate and make his Hawthorn debut.
North gave the underwhelming Brisbane a nice little hiding to register its first points of the season. Majak Daw produced the highlight of the match only a few seconds into the game, taking a strong mark and kicking truly. Unfortunately he was knocked out only minutes later and subbed out due to the concussion rule. He looks like becoming a cult hero.
The flogging of last year won’t be repeated, but the Hawks will still win convincingly.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 39 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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