Welcome to the Round 14 AFL preview. Round 13 ended up being a nightmare for tipsters with GWS, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne winning despite all being head to head long shots. The Dog’s result in particular holds great significance, not because it ruined the final leg of our multi, but by creating a game break for the top four. It is a game that could haunt Collingwood for the rest of the season and if it wants to gain a double chance from this position, it really needs to defeat Hawthorn once or twice on the way home. Based on recent results, that won’t be a simple task.
Unfortunately with 34 Essendon players being sent show cause notices from ASADA last week, the football coverage has been dominated by the drugs saga once again. Thankfully, the quality of the Round 13 matches drew some much needed attention. The top of the table clash between Sydney and Port was arguably the best of the season, while the frantic last moments of the West Coast, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne wins kept everyone interested on what was happening on the field.
Sydney to win at the -29.5 line (Sportsbet $2.00 line)
RICHMOND ($5.00) VS SYDNEY ($1.19)
AT THE MCG, FRIDAY 20/06, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R18 2013 Sydney 16.14 (110) dftd Richmond 9.9 (63) at the SCG
Line: Richmond +29.5, Sydney -29.5
Richmond produced a far more respectable performance against last year’s Grand Finalists. It dominated nearly every statistic of relevance excluding hit outs and most importantly the scoreboard. That is something becoming more common with Fremantle, but to win so much of the ball and get it inside 50 as often as it did needs to be seen as a step in the right direction. Those positives are difficult to take in when it has as many wins as the 18th placed side from 13 rounds, especially after having lofty expectations of pushing for a top four position. It doesn’t get any easier with fixtures against the top two sides in the next three rounds.
Sydney justified its premiership favouritism with a win against top of the ladder Port Adelaide in one of the games of the season. The win was influenced enormously by Lance Franklin who is just starting to hit form that some are describing as career best. The two goals he kicked in the last quarter couldn’t be timed or replicated by any other footballer in the competition. It showed exactly why the Swans hierarchy believe the coin sacrificed was so well spent. Daniel Hannebery hurt his ankle against Port and will be out for a month.
Richmond has won the last three MCG encounters against the Swans, but that streak looks likely to end. The Swans -29.5 line and the $2.35 +40 market look generous.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 52 POINTS
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.07) VS WESTERN BULLDOGS ($9.25)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 21/06, 13:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R10 2013 Western Bulldogs 10.7 (67) dftd Port Adelaide 8.10 (58) at TIO
Line: Port -46.5, Dogs +46.5
Port Adelaide didn’t come home with the points against Sydney, but it arguably took more out of the game than the Swans by pushing the premiership favourite to the brink. If there were any further doubts about this Power outfit, surely they were erased on Saturday afternoon? Port Adelaide actually beat Sydney at its own game, smashing the Swans for contested ball 165-139 and also having a clearance differential of +18. It also had the greater number inside 50s and 11 more marks in its forward arc, but poor kicking and a couple of freak moments from Buddy Franklin decided the game. Hamish Hartlett will miss with an ankle injury. Amazingly the Power is still fourth for premiership betting at $6.00 after that result.
Who expected the Western Bulldogs to defeat Collingwood after such disappointing form over the last month? I doubt even Brendan McCartney did, but somehow his club produced one of the upsets of the season. The stoppage work of the Dogs was back to 2013 standards, led by Tom Liberatore who monstered the Pies with 23 contested possessions and 13 clearances. His form and presence has risen dramatically over the past month. Ryan Griffen also broke the shackles to produce something much closer to his All Australian qualities. It was from about this point onward last season that we saw a lift from the Dogs, which has many supporters optimistic of similar results. Adam Cooney is out with a hamstring, but Matthew Boyd is back.
You can’t expect the Dogs to win this game, but it must provide proof that it can back up a high quality performance. A gallant defeat would earn mountains of respect.
PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 32 POINTS
HAWTHORN ($1.36) VS COLLINGWOOD ($3.25)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 21/06, 14:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R21 2013 Hawthorn 18.11 (119) dftd Collingwood 12.12 (84) at the MCG
Line: Hawthorn -20.5, Collingwood +20.5
Hawthorn was challenged multiple times by Carlton last Friday night, but the class rose to the top as Rioli and Roughead had defining influences on the match. Hawthorn could be described as vulnerable with so many key players missing and will look back to this part of the season as an important stretch should it continue to flow through unscathed. Jack Gunston was a late withdrawal against Carlton but will return after recovering from a corky, while there is no need to risk Ben McEvoy with the impressive form of Jonathan Ceglar. Brian Lake has been rushed back into the line-up.
It is hard to remember too many more disappointing Collingwood performances in recent times off the top of my head. The Pies were murdered at the stoppages by a Bulldogs side that has dropped off in the area immensely this season. Travis Cloke and Jamie Elliot singlehandedly kept Collingwood in the game with limited ball entering the forward arc, kicking 6 and 4 goals respectively. Dayne Beams was a late withdrawal against the Dogs and isn’t a certainty to match up against the Hawks. Nathan Buckley will be desperate for him to return as the midfield depth looked weak in his absence.
The Hawks have an outstanding record against Collingwood winning the last five encounters by an average margin of 41 points. The Pies are missing just as many if not more key players than Hawthorn and aren’t coping nearly as well.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 28 POINTS
GOLD COAST ($2.70) VS GEELONG ($1.49)
AT METRICON STADIUM, SATURDAY 21/06, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R10 2013 Geelong 18.15 (123) dftd Gold Coast 10.11 (71) at SS
Line: Gold Coast +13.5, Geelong -13.5
The Suns have reached an important moment of the season. It comes up against Geelong, Hawthorn and Collingwood over the next three weeks which creates the perfect indication of exactly how far advanced this team is. The performance in the west was highlighted by obvious positives and negatives. Firstly, to come back from being 35 points down at three quarter time and lead late in the game proves that the Suns have character and belief. Unfortunately the lead couldn’t be held, but that has more to do with what happened earlier in the game. Tall opposition forwards have been far too threatening over the last month. Josh Kennedy kicked 7 goals on the weekend, but that would have been far less had holes been filled and key defenders given support. Tom Hawkins looms large.
Geelong didn’t have to break into too much of a sweat on Sunday afternoon as it dealt with St Kilda by 16 goals. Hawkins, Walker, Selwood and Duncan shared the scoring load with 3 goals each, while Stokes and Bartel gathered the ball at will with 36 and 32 possessions respectively. Chris Scott has had to make some tough decisions at the selection table with Steve Johnson, Jared Rivers, Hamish McIntosh, Josh Caddy, Allen Christensen and Shane Kersten all inclusions.
It is an important clash for both sides. The Suns will be looking to keep its position in the eight, while the Cats hold the same value for its top four spot. The Cats inclusions are hard to ignore, but will have to scrap for the points.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 12 POINTS
ESSENDON ($2.25) VS ADELAIDE ($1.67)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 21/06, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R1 2013 Adelaide 11.16 (82) lost to Essendon 18.9 (117) at AAMI
Line: Essendon -6.5, Adelaide +6.5
It was such a heartbreaking result for the Bombers against Melbourne after a stressful week that saw players receive show cause notices from ASADA. A 33 point lead in a low scoring game and two spectacular late goals from David Zaharakis wasn’t enough for Essendon, as first year Demon Christian Salem calmly slotted the winning goal with 20 seconds to spare. Essendon also dominated the statistics, which just left a further sour taste in their mouths. It led to a record inside 50 differential of +33 for a losing side, as Tom Bellchambers, Brendan Goddard, Joe Daniher and Brent Stanton had unforgivable misses throughout the final quarter. It could be a confidence crushing defeat for the Bombers. Dustin Fletcher returns, but Carlisle and Chapman both miss.
It was a vital victory for the Crows against North Melbourne, leaving Brenton Sanderson’s side only four points outside of the top eight. The dangerous forward structure of Walker, Jenkins, Podsiadly and Betts is starting to put some impressive numbers on the board with 9 goals between them on the weekend. Sam Kerridge had another significant goal kicking influence against the Kangaroos with 4 on top. The Crows are paying $2.35 to make the eight and look a great chance after Saturday’s result.
This is a massive game for the final make-up of the finals. The loser will have a difficult task scratching up enough wins to take what looks to be the final position in the eight. Adelaide deservingly goes in as favourites despite playing away.
ADEALIDE TO WIN BY 16 POINTS
FREMANTLE ($1.03) VS BRISBANE ($14.00)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SATURDAY 21/06, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R12 2013 Fremantle 12.14 (86) dftd Brisbane Lions 6.10 (46) at PS
Line: Fremantle -55.5, Brisbane +55.5
It wasn’t the most comprehensive victory by the Dockers against Richmond, but four important points all the same. Fremantle’s numbers have been strange over the last month or so and Saturday afternoon was no exception. It registered nearly 100 less possessions than Richmond, lost the contested possession, clearance and tackle counts, on top of only entering its forward 50 37 times. 25 scoring shots from only 37 inside 50s is amazing efficiency and it makes you wonder what the Dockers do if the quality entries drop off. Rumours of Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands being rested have been knocked on the head with both named.
Brisbane just couldn’t come close to matching the intensity of GWS. The Lions could only manage an embarrassing 47 tackles compared to the Giant’s 73, despite having the footy 80 less times. In fact Brisbane was beaten in most areas as GWS went on to kick 10 goals to 3 in the second half. The positive aspects of the previous two wins were non-existent, which would leave Justin Leppitsch frustrated. There is talk that Jonathan Brown has played his last AFL game after another sickening concussion, but it just doesn’t seem his style to retire halfway through a season.
Fremantle will win in a canter here.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 63 POINTS
GWS ($2.95) VS CARLTON ($1.42)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, SUNDAY 22/06, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R10 2013 Carlton 22.16 (148) dftd GWS Giants 8.6 (54) at ES
Line: GWS +16.5, Carlton -16.5
It has been an extremely promising three weeks for GWS. Gallant losses to Hawthorn and Essendon have been followed up with one of the most compelling victories in its history. The Giants were +80 for total disposals, +10 for contested possessions, +20 for inside 50s, +22 for clearances and most importantly finished 45 points up on the scoreboard when the siren blew. Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton potentially worked the best they ever have together with 7 goals between them, while Whitfield, Ward, Scully, Shaw, Shiel, Palmer and Treloar all had 26 or more disposals. The Giants are building and would feel more than optimistic playing Carlton. There is talk of Jeremy Cameron being a late withdrawal.
Carlton were in the game for a long time against Hawthorn before a 6 goal to 2 final quarter saw the margin out to 28 points, which didn’t really justify how close the contest was. That is two credible Friday night performances against quality opposition consecutively for the Blues after pushing Geelong the week before. Chris Judd was superb in his first AFL outing since injuring the hamstring and made the Blues far stronger in the middle. Levi Casboult had another good outing with 4 goals and clunked some more impressive contested marks. He is starting to look far more comfortable at the top level. Jamison and Henderson are big inclusions for the Blues.
Carlton has been good over the last two weeks. In saying that, don’t forget that it wasn’t so long ago that the Blues lost to Brisbane, the side GWS didn’t look troubled against last week.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 8 POINTS
ST KILDA ($6.25) VS WEST COAST ($1.13)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 22/06, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R3 2014 West Coast 12.11 (83) dftd St Kilda 8.10 (58) at PS
Line: St Kilda +41.5, West Coast -41.5
The 96 point loss to Geelong was a performance that Alan Richardson described as the worst this season. That is a damning statement considering this side was beaten by 145 points earlier in the year. The Saints could only manage 34 inside 50s for the day and 2 marks in the arc, giving Nick Riewoldt very few opportunities. It was the fifth 70 or more point loss for St Kilda this year, so it is little wonder that they are now bottom of the table with a percentage of 58.64.
West Coast nearly let the unlosable slip, but a late Jeremy McGovern soccer goal got the Eagles home by three points. Had it not been for the dominance of Josh Kennedy forward with 7 goals and the late heroics of McGovern, the result could have been very different. Unfortunately Josh Kennedy is developing a reputation of being a downhill skier with bags against underdeveloped defences, but he just hasn’t had the opportunities against the top sides. Scott Selwood will miss the rest of the season after ankle surgery and Dean Cox hasn’t been named.
We have seen what West Coast can do to the lower sides. The West Coast forwards should have a picnic in the perfect conditions of Etihad Stadium.
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 58 POINTS
MELBOURNE ($3.40) VS NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.34)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 22/06, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R18 2013 Melbourne 4.4 (28) lost to North Melbourne 22.18 (150) at ES
Line: Melbourne +20.5, North -20.5
You would have thought it’d be difficult for Melbourne to better its win against the Crows at Adelaide Oval earlier in the season, but it may have done so on Sunday night. 33 points down in the third quarter in a dour, low scoring contest, Melbourne looked set for 50+ point loss. Unlike previous weeks, Paul Roos encouraged his troops to take the game on and they did so. The running goal of Dean Kent to take the lead late in the last quarter will be one of the more memorable moments of the season, but the match took yet another step with two Zaharakis goals and ultimately the Salem sealer. It is just amazing to think that a side could win with the statistics so lopsided, especially with -33 inside 50s. It is great to see Melbourne supporters enjoying the performance of their team again.
North Melbourne is looking nothing more than a team that will make up the numbers come September. Another poor start saw the Kangaroos playing catch up once again in Round 13, but this time they never looked in the match. Adelaide was far too potent forward both in the air and on the ground. Brad Scott looks a frustrated man as he struggles to get the best out of his side from week to week.
North Melbourne seems to come good the next week after a poor showing. Whether they turn up or not, North should be far too good.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 21 POINTS
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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