Welcome to the round 6 AFL preview. After five rounds of football, we still have three unbeaten teams in Essendon, Port Adelaide and Geelong. It is the first time in the AFL’s history that there has been three clubs at 5-0. In the last 40 years, there have been 40 teams that have started the season at 5-0 in total, only two of those have ended up missing the finals (Geelong 1999 and Collingwood 2000).
This week doesn’t present the value of previous weeks with one sided matches a plenty. Richmond is the shortest priced non favourite at $3.00. But as one of my Twitter followers stated, there aren’t many rounds of footy these days that don’t produce an upset or two.
Hawthorn @ -23.5 line.
COLLINGWOOD ($1.22) vs ST KILDA ($5.40)
AT ETIHAD, FRIDAY 03/05, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Collingwood 12.19 (91) defeated St Kilda 13.7(85) at the MCG, R19, 2012.
Line: Collingwood -28.5, St Kilda +28.5
Collingwood are the premiership contender with a question mark next to their name. Their leaky defence has many wondering where they are at and the concerns are justified. The Pies are conceding 106.4 points per game, the fourth worst in the competition behind Melbourne, GWS and Brisbane. They are also conceding the third most points from stoppages for the first five rounds. Alan Toovey is an underrated loss to their defence with a season ending knee injury, adding further pressure to the problem.
St Kilda was competitive in their New Zealand adventure against Sydney, but ultimately fell short again. Nick Riewoldt is in great form and was stiff not to win the medal in NZ despite being in a losing team. He has a below par record against Collingwood and will be required to replicate last week’s form for the Saints to be any chance.
The Saints haven’t beaten Collingwood for the last six occasions, including the dramatic 2010 Grand Final draw. Collingwood would be determined to bounce back and keep the Saints to a low score.
COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 37 POINTS
ESSENDON ($1.02) vs GWS ($42.00)
AT ETIHAD, SATURDAY 04/05, 13:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Essendon 18.11 (119) defeated GWS 7.11 (53) at Skoda, R9, 2012
Line: Essendon -87.5, GWS +87.5
This is a major mismatch on paper. First vs last, $1.005 vs $21 and in reality it isn’t much prettier.
The Bombers are flying. If anyone doubted Essendon’s premiership credentials before last week, they quickly changed any of those opinions with a barnstorming second half that saw Collingwood’s midfield and defence buckle under constant pressure. They are now equal third favourite for the premiership at $7.00 and appear far more prepared after falling in a heap last year.
The Giants have been disappointing, mainly due to their non competitive last quarters. Over the past two weeks, they have conceded a combined 20 goals 6 behinds in final terms, an extremely concerning statistic for Kevin Sheedy and Leon Cameron. The loss of co-captain full back Phil Davis won’t help, either will leading goal kicker Setanta O’hAilpin being unavailable.
There is next to no value for this game. Expect the result to get ugly.
ESSENDON TO WIN BY 82 POINTS
NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.43) vs PORT ADELAIDE ($3.25)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA HOBART, SATURDAY 04/05, 14:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Port 14.11 (95) defeated North 14.9 (93) at AAMI, R8, 2012
Line: North Melbourne -19.5, Port +19.5
This is arguably the most interesting game of the round. Who would have thought that at the start of the season? While Port Adelaide is 5-0 and North Melbourne 1-4, the Roos have been installed as surprisingly short favourites.
North Melbourne produced a respectful performance against flag favourites Hawthorn, going down by 3 points. A difficult draw has exaggerated the ugly looking 1-4 start, with competitive outings against Collingwood, Geelong and now Hawthorn showing that the Roos are actually in quite good form. They just haven’t been able to be on the right side of the scoreboard when the siren has blown.
Port Adelaide had potentially its greatest ever victory excluding the 2004 Grand Final last week. The Power trialled West Coast by 41 points after a Mark LeCras behind at the 19 minute mark of the third quarter. All hope looked lost at that point in time before Ken Hinkley’s men pulled off a miraculous win and put truth to their commitment of never giving up.
North have a strong 19-8 record against Port. North led by 21 points at three quarter time in the round 8 encounter last year before Port stormed home to steal a 2 point victory. North dominated the three prior games to last year’s encounter, with an average winning margin of 47 points.
I feel North should win this, but they are far too short. Port’s +19.5 line deserves consideration.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 11 POINTS
ADELAIDE ($4.40) vs HAWTHORN ($1.28)
AT AAMI, SATURDAY 04/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Hawthorn 13.19 (97) defeated Adelaide 14.8 (92) at the MCG, PF, 2012
Line: Adelaide +23.5, Hawthorn -23.5
Adelaide’s season was turned upside down on Saturday after Taylor Walker injured his ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season. It is an enormous blow for the struggling Crows as the loss of Kurt Tippett over the offseason propelled Walker to their most important player structurally. Replacements wise, the cupboard is fairly thin, although Lewis Johnston certainly deserves an opportunity. It could mean that the game breaking Patrick Dangerfield will be required to spend more time as a forward target, leaving further holes up the ground. It is a disastrous situation for last year’s preliminary finalists.
The Hawks have their own injury problems with the electrifying Cyril Rioli going down with a serious hamstring injury. While he is far more replaceable than Taylor Walker, Hawthorn’s forward 50 defensive pressure won’t be anywhere near as intense. Lance Franklin will be looking to have a serious impact on this match after being held goalless on the inform Scott Thompson. He as a solid record against the Crows averaging just under 6 scoring shots over the last four encounters.
The Crows look vulnerable and could take some weeks to get used to new formulas. Hawthorn leads the league in centre clearances with an average of 17.4 a game while the Crows are stone cold last at 11.4. It could well blow out. Keep an eye on Hawthorn’s -23.5 line.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 42 POINTS
RICHMOND ($3.05) vs GEELONG ($1.49)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 04/05, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Geelong 11.9 (75) defeated Richmond 9.11 (65) at Skilled, R4, 2012
Line: Richmond +18.5, Geelong -18.5
This probably deserves the title of “match of the round”. The up and coming Tigers take on the seasoned Cats at the MCG for only the second time since 2005. While encounters between the two at the MCG have been sparse for the last 15 years, the Tigers haven’t beaten Geelong on the hallowed turf since 1999.
Geelong has a ridiculously lopsided record against Richmond. Since 1980, Geelong lead Richmond 40 wins to 14. More recently, Geelong have won the last 8 encounters by an average winning margin of 65 points. It is extremely poor reading for any Richmond supporter. The Cats are set to see Paul Chapman and Tom Hawkins return to the line up, while Jared Rivers will be out for up to two months with a knee complaint. The Rivers loss is significant as it is likely to see the flexible Harry Taylor limited to filling the defensive hole.
After a 3-0 start, the Tigers weren’t necessarily brought back to earth, but they were given a greater indication of where they are at. The Fremantle game should have been a win. While most took to social media blaming the umpires, a poorly defended stoppage ultimately gave the Dockers a lead late.
The record is defining Geelong’s way, but the Tigers are steadily improving every time they meet. This match is likely to be won in the midfield. It’s too hard not to back the Cats.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 23 POINTS
GOLD COAST ($3.00) vs FREMANTLE ($1.50)
AT METRICON, SATURDAY 04/05, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Fremantle 14.10 (94) defeated Gold Coast 14.3 (87) at Metricon, R6, 2012
Line: Gold Coast +17.5, Fremantle -17.5
The Suns look to have taken a serious step from season two to three and from this point on, expect them to become harder and harder to beat at Metricon. Charlie Dixon’s form has followed a similar path to the team itself and he is beginning to put together some consistent performances. Against GWS, he produced a club record 6 goals and could have easily ended up with 7 or 8. The midfield is beginning to click and is becoming far more competitive at the stoppages, averaging 39.4 clearances a game, sixth for the comp.
Freo almost let another handy final quarter break go against Richmond, but Ballantyne snapped back the lead late. They probably aren’t finishing off games like they’d want too, but would be happy to be 3-2. Nathan Fyfe will miss the next two weeks due to suspension, while Kepler Bradley is another knee casualty and won’t be seen for the rest of the season. The Dockers depth is certainly getting tested.
Nearly a year to the day, the Suns almost knocked Fremantle off at Metricon without Gary Ablett. This time around, the Suns will have Gaz, while Freo will be missing skipper Matthew Pavlich. In saying that, Ross Lyon’s game plan is far more familiar to the Docker’s players. At the very least, consider Gold Coast at the +17.5 line.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 4 POINTS
SYDNEY ($1.10) vs BRISBANE ($9.60)
AT THE SCG, SUNDAY 05/05, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 16.14 (110) defeated Brisbane 9.9 (63) at the SCG, R15, 2012
Line: Sydney -42.5, Brisbane +42.5
Both are coming off wins, but again it looks to be another one sided contest.
The Swans travelled to Wellington New Zealand and came home with the points at a ground that really should have suited their style. But that contested strength was really tested by St Kilda who ended up breaking even in total clearances with 43 each and actually won the centre clearances 13-9. The week before, they were beaten by Geelong 43-40 in the clearances, who are still ranked last now. It is certainly an area that John Longmire will look further into as their big bodied midfielders should be producing greater numbers than they are.
The Lions have been another team struggling to find the ball at the stoppages, but made huge strides against Melbourne, collecting a mammoth 21 centre clearances. Brent Moloney has helped massively gathering 6 centre clearances and 10 in total against his old club. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate those types of numbers against the premier.
Sydney has won the last five games against Brisbane at an average of 44 points. The odds and line look about right.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 42 POINTS
CARLTON ($1.04) vs MELBOURNE ($21.00)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 05/05, 15:15
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Carlton 15.17 (107) defeated Melbourne 6.13 (49) at the MCG, R9, 2012
Line: Carlton -61.5, Melbourne +61.5
The third game of the round with a favourite at $1.07 or less and unfortunately not the last.
The Blues did what they needed to do against Adelaide, but would have been very disappointed to come out of the game with a minor hamstring strain to midfield star Bryce Gibbs. Carlton continue to win with next to no contribution from its KPFs. Over the last two weeks, Carlton have had one goal kicked by a tall forward, while Chris Yarran and Jeff Gartlett have kicked 12 goals between them during the same time. It is a lot of responsibility for the crumbing forwards, but it seems to be working for the time being. The return of Jarrad Waite is imminent and will be a welcomed addition to a strained structure.
The Demons are still at the wrong end of most key performance indicators, but at least they are staying in games for longer periods of time. Shannon Byrnes is beginning to show how valuable his experience in a top side will be. He is putting the ball inside 50 and getting clearances at important times.
Carlton has won the last 6 games at an average of 52 points. Expect more of the same.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 67 POINTS
WEST COAST ($1.07) vs WESTERN BULLDOGS ($13.50)
AT PATERSONS, SUNDAY 05/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: West Coast 21.10(136) defeated Dogs 12.15 (87) at Etihad, R1, 2012
Line: West Coast -51.5, Dogs +51.5
Last but not least, we have another short priced favourite in West Coast.
The Eagles are coming off a tough loss to Port after leading by 41 points approaching three quarter time. A goal to Mark LeCras at the 19 minute mark to create a 46 point lead and they are probably home, but that didn’t eventuate. The only positive for the Eagles at the moment is that the injury list is shrinking. Sharrod Wellingham is expected to make his debut for the club while word is strengthening that Nic Naitanui is being considered to make his long awaited comeback with no WAFL match fitness. Josh Kennedy averages 4.6 goals per game against the Bulldogs, highlighted by his 10 goal haul in 2011.
The developing Bulldogs side continue to show signs of improvement. For such a young side, their clearance numbers are really impressive. They are the third best centre clearance side in the competition averaging 15 a game, while are fifth for total clearances. They certainly held their own against the Cats. Brett Goodes will be a loss off the back flank due suspension after a brilliant start to his AFL career.
West Coast has won 5 of the last 6 against the Dogs. They should win comfortably.
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 38 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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