2014 Round 15 AFL Preview

Welcome to the Round 15 AFL preview. Round 14 provided some results that could end up being ladder defining come Round 23. The Gold Coast win over Geelong was important for the top and bottom half of the eight. The loss to Geelong has seen it drop out of the top four and be replaced by Fremantle, creating a double chance combination that many have been predicting over the last few weeks. The Dockers and Geelong both have comfortable runs coming home, but the Cat’s poor percentage could end up being a deciding factor. The Suns win has held their game gap from ninth, while Essendon’s victory has made Adelaide’s top eight chances extremely difficult with two games plus percentage to make up.

Seven of the nine matches this week are encounters between teams that have already played each other earlier in the season. As there have been so many trend changes throughout the season, this round offers a great opportunity to assess recent head to head form. The Derby and Showdown highlight the weekend, while Paul Chapman’s first outing against Geelong is also of interest.

BEST BET

Melbourne to win head to head @ $2.25 (Sportsbet leading at any break, money back special)

GEELONG ($1.36) VS ESSENDON ($3.25)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 27/06, 19:50

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R7   2013   Geelong   17.11   (113)   dftd   Essendon   11.19   (85)   at ES 

Line: Geelong -20.5, Essendon +20.5

The Cat’s form is looking as shaky as it ever has over the past eight seasons or so. Geelong were in the game for a majority of the time against Gold Coast, but efficient inside 50s probably kept them in striking distance for longer than it should have been. It was absolutely smashed in some key performance indicators. It lost the clearances 29-41, inside 50s 43-60, contested possession 133-139 and most worrying the tackles 53-66. Geelong isn’t as feared as they once was as a majority of its stars approach or are on the wrong side of 30. While that may sound like writing the Cats off, it needs to be remembered that they have only lost four games and are yet to be defeated in Victoria. Mathew Stokes and Hamish McIntosh both miss with ankle injuries, but Harry Taylor and Dawson Simpson return.

It was a gutsy performance by the Bombers against Adelaide in what could be described as an eight point contest. Many have been wondering who is going to step up in the absence of Jobe Watson and Brendan Goddard put his hand up on Saturday night. He had 16 final quarter possessions and took control of Essendon’s movement during key moments. With so much focus on Nick Riewoldt, he was underrated as a leader at St Kilda. There were a few questions as to why the Bombers would rest Paul Chapman for such an important game last week, but no harm was caused and the former Geelong champion will be fresh for his old side. Jason Winderlich will miss through suspension, while there is doubt surrounding Hibberd.

This will be the first time that the Bombers will truly miss Jobe Watson, as he averages 29 possessions over the last 5 Geelong encounters and has had a large influence. The Cats have won 8 of the last 9 contests and will be looking to bounce back hard.

GEELONG TO WIN BY 16 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Shane Kersten to score 3 goals or more @ $4.50

HAWTHORN HAWKS ($1.18) VS GOLD COAST ($5.15)

AT AURORA STADIUM, SATURDAY 28/06, 13:45

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R4   2014   Gold Coast   7.7   (49)   lost to   Hawthorn   23.10   (148)   at MS 

Line: Hawthorn -33.5, Gold Coast +33.5

Hawthorn continued its recent domination of Collingwood with a comfortable 29 point victory. The media are heaping plenty of praise towards the likes of Sydney and Port Adelaide, but the Hawks are quietly slipping under the radar with little attention. They are extremely well placed with some key players to return. Ben McEvoy kicked 5 goals in the VFL but is being kept out by the good form of John Ceglar, while Ben Stratton returns after good form at Box Hill.

It was most likely the Suns most defining victory in its history against Geelong. To completely run over a side that has been as dominant as the Cats over the last decade is a real feather in Guy McKenna’s cap. As McKenna said during the week, even he is surprised by the physical development of his players, but also pointed out that that creates less excuses for his team to perform. Harley Bennell produced an enormous game to equal the Suns record of most goals in a game with 6, as well as gather 27 disposals. His form is peaking at the perfect time. The win has seen the Suns shorten to $1.60 to make the eight, with Essendon now their biggest threat only a game behind. Brandon Matera will miss 2-3 weeks with a groin.

It was a great performance by the Suns against a highly credentialed side, but it must back up the intensity against an even tougher opponent in Hawthorn. The Hawks should win, but their 33.5 point line is sure to be threatened.

HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 20 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Gold Coast @ +33.5 line

ST KILDA SAINTS ($5.25) VS RICHMOND TIGERS ($1.17)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 28/06, 14:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R14   2013   Richmond   17.17   (119)   dftd   St Kilda   8.7   (55)   at the MCG 

Line: St Kilda +35.5, Richmond -35.5

There were fears that the Saints could get blown away by a West Coast side that loves a soft kill, but Alan Richardson’s men were competitive for a majority of the match to only go down by 33 points. The Saints were significantly beaten at the stoppages, despite West Coast being far below its best in that area throughout the season. The forward options around Nick Riewoldt continue to be a probably, as the likes of Tom Lee and Terry Milera haven’t been able to bring their draftable state league form to the big league. One positive is Jack Billings, who earned a rising star nomination on the weekend with 3 goals and 25 possessions. Leigh Montagna is an important inclusion.

The Tigers produced arguably their most impressive performance of the season on Friday night, pushing Sydney to the final siren. The game wasn’t the prettiest with rolling mauls and lots of stoppages, but at least Richmond showed some fight. While the Tiges were competitive against the Swans, it could well come out and get rolled by the St Kilda. This club currently has the most fragile state of mind in the competition.

It is hard to believe that these clubs are equal on 12 points after the season Richmond produced last year. Surely Richmond is a level above St Kilda? The Sydney form suggests so, but it just wouldn’t surprise me if the inevitable occurred here.

RICHMOND TO WIN BY 23 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

David Armitage most possessions (Group 2) @ $12.00

FREMANTLE DOCKERS $1.25) VS WEST COAST EAGLES ($4.15)

AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SATURDAY 28/06, 16:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R7   2014   West Coast   7.12   (54)   lost to   Fremantle   11.7   (73)   at PS 

Line: Fremantle -25.5, West Coast +25.5

There were stages on Saturday night where I feared that Fremantle would hold the Lions goalless. In horribly wet conditions, the Ross Lyon brains trust were completely restricting Brisbane of any free possession. The half time numbers told an ugly story, with the score 57 to 1 and the Lions only credited to 5 inside 50s. The Fremantle forward line still operate dangerously despite the bad weather, as Hayden Ballantyne and Matthew Pavlich still kicked 5 and 3 goals respectively. To enter the forward 50 72 times and take 15 marks as an amazing effort in the rain, but probably speaks more of how uncompetitive Brisbane were.

West Coast clocked up its sixth victory of the season to be only two games outside the top eight, but again the opponent quality was very low. At the end of the day wins are wins and the Eagles must continue to do so for any finals hopes. The forward line is in form with Darling, Kennedy, McGovern and LeCras all having good moments over the last month or so. Due to the Eagles averaging only the ninth most inside 50s, the forwards don’t get the opportunities they would like. Dean Cox returns after two weeks off.

Derby odds are rarely this wide, but it is a true indication of where the two WA sides are at. The Dockers should successfully restrict the efficiency of the West Coast forward movements, much like they do every other team.

FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 27 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Fremantle to win 1-39 points @ $2.05 

SYDNEY SWANS ($1.09) VS GWS GIANTS ($8.00)

AT THE SCG, SATURDAY 28/06, 19:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R1   2014   GWS Giants   15.9   (99)   dftd   Sydney   9.13   (67)   at Spotless

Line: Sydney -42.5, GWS +42.5

Sydney looked like it was caught slightly off guard on Friday night when it found itself needing to work harder against Richmond. Whether the Swans underestimated its opponent or not, it found itself well down in contested possession and clearances, categories Sydney pride themselves on. Due to so many players around the ball, the game was down for inside 50s. Thankfully for the Swans, Lance Franklin’s kicking is as effective as it has ever been and his 4 goals from 4 shots were defining at the end of the day. Kurt Tippett and Ben McGlynn strengthen the side.

GWS have managed to string together two wins and now finds itself out of the bottom four for the first time this late in a season. It isn’t just the last two weeks that have been impressive, the last month has shown that this young side is maturing by winning key contests at the stoppages and providing the required defensive pressure when they don’t have the ball. Shane Mumford has been a massive inclusion this season, not only winning the hitouts but throwing his body around when the ball hits the ground. His second efforts provide confidence for his young midfield in traffic, as well as protection. Jeremy Cameron comes back into the side.

The Giants go into the second Battle of the Bridge contest of the year with high confidence due to form and the Round 1 victory against the Swans. In saying that, this Sydney side is at a different level fifteen weeks on and will end the Giants mini streak.

SYDNEY TO WIN BY 47 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Sydney third quarter -11.5 line @ $1.93

BRISBANE LIONS ($5.20) VS NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.16)

AT THE GABBA, SATURDAY 28/06, 19:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R9   2014   North Melbourne   17.23   (125)   dftd   Brisbane Lions   6.2   (38)   at ES 

Line: Brisbane +36.5, North -36.5

It won’t get much tougher for the Lions as last Saturday night against Fremantle. As I stated earlier, there were serious concerns that Brisbane wouldn’t kick a goal at half time, after scoring just the one behind and 5 inside 50s in a weather affected first half. Brisbane only ended up kicking 3 goals and entered its forward arc 17 times, but it could easily have been worse. Justin Leppitsch will be looking to get the best effort possible out of his young side this week after the retirement of club legend Jonathan Brown.

North Melbourne did what was expected against Melbourne, running away to a 41 point victory. It was actually only the second time that a team had scored over 100 points against the Demons this year. The forward line is working a lot better in recent weeks, especially with Drew Petrie now gathering more of the football. He was inaccurate with 5 behinds, but presented well with 11 marks to be one of the better players on the day. Robin Nahas will miss a couple of months with a shoulder injury, while Andrew Swallow should be available after scans came up clear on a knee injury.

It was only six weeks ago that these two last played, but it is hard to take much out of that game as most of the Brisbane side were struck down with illness. North should be too strong again.

NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 47 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Quarter by quarter leader Brisbane/North/North/North @ $8.00 

WESTERN BULLDOGS ($1.67) VS MELBOURNE DEMONS ($2.25)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 29/06, 13:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R8   2014   Melbourne   12.11   (83)   lost to   Western Bulldogs   15.9   (99)   at the MCG 

Line: Dogs -6.5, Melbourne +6.5

It was an extremely disappointing outing for the Western Bulldogs against ladder leader Port Adelaide. After such a brilliant performance against Collingwood the week before, there were minimal positives from that taken into the Power game. It was basically beaten in all statistical categories, with only a small 16-14 advantage for free kicks, which can’t be turned into a positive at all. To make matters worse, skipper Ryan Griffen was subbed out with back spasms and Daniel Giansiracusa suspended for a reckless hit on Jared Polec. It was the Dogs worst day of the season.

Melbourne was brought back to earth with a 41 point loss to North Melbourne in Round 14. It could have been a larger margin if not for a spectacular performance from Bernie Vince. He gathered a career high 41 possessions and kept Melbourne in touch with 3 first half goals. Chris Dawes and Cameron Pederson again looked dangerous forward, but just couldn’t get enough supply. Unfortunately the ever consistent Daniel Cross will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken fibula.

I rate the chances of Melbourne in this game. The Dogs were too strong in Round 8, but will be missing key play makers in Cooney and Griffen. It must restrict the influence of Liberatore at the stoppages though. Sportsbet have a special this week where if your backed head to head side leads at any break and loses, you get your money back. Melbourne have led for at least one break in six encounters against bottom ten sides this year, including the Round 8 contest. At $2.25, that offer looks great value.

MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 18 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Melbourne to win head to head @ $2.25 (Sportsbet leading at any break, money back special)

ADELAIDE ($3.25) VS PORT ADELAIDE ($1.36)

AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SUNDAY 29/06, 16:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R2   2014   Port Adelaide   19.13   (127)   dftd   Adelaide   11.7   (73)   at AO 

Line: Adelaide +19.5, Port -19.5

The Crows gave up a great opportunity to close in on the eight against Essendon, with a 7 goal to 2 first quarter costing them dearly. They finished the match strongly to get within 9 points, but the earlier carnage was too much to come back from. It was a game that the Crows would have expected to win and it could haunt the club come the business end of the season. Brenton Sanderson now finds his side eight points and percentage from the top eight and desperately needs to defeat cross-town and ladder leading rival Port Adelaide. The Crows win/loss ratio currently reads WLWLWLWL, so if you read anything into that they are due.

Port Adelaide is starting to produce habits of a great side. The Power barely looked to get out of third or fourth gear, yet ran away to a convincing 12 goal win against the Dogs. Jay Schulz did his Coleman Medal chances no harm by slotting 8 goals, while Chad Wingard had a run through the midfield and gathered 30 possessions. They are a great team to watch. Hamish Hartlett will return after recovering from an ankle injury.

Port Adelaide won convincingly in Round 2 and has only improved since. It is hard to pick the Crows in this one.

PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 37 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Port Adelaide @ the -19.5 line

COLLINGWOOD ($1.26) VS CARLTON ($4.00)

AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 29/06, 19:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R7   2014   Carlton   10.10   (70)   lost to   Collingwood   14.20   (104)   at the MCG

Line: Collingwood -24.5, Carlton +24.5

Collingwood were being talked up as a top four side less than two weeks ago, but is now scrambling to keep its position in the top eight. It isn’t at all panic stations for Nathan Buckley and his men, but a poor performance against Carlton will surely to have a few in the black and white on edge. While the wins haven’t been ticking over, the form of Travis Cloke is sure to ease the pain. He has kicked 18 goals over the last four weeks, nearly doubling the 10 goals he kicked prior to that. Steele Sidebottom and Tyson Goldsack are key inclusions this week.

Mick Malthouse and his side hit rock bottom on Sunday afternoon, losing to the inform Giants at Spotless Stadium. While the results on the field have been terrible, there appears to be a positive vibe coming out of Visy Park over the last month or so. After speculation that Bryce Gibbs could return to South Australia, he has signed a five year deal to stay at the Blues. Recent form certainly justifies the big money and lengthy contract. Skipper Marc Murphy is back after being an extremely late withdrawal last week.

Collingwood were dominant against the Blues in Round 8, before a Carlton eight goal final quarter gave respect to the final margin. The Pies should bounce back after consecutive losses.

COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 31 POINTS

Suggested Match Bet

Under 177.5 total game points

Please Note:
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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Author

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Rover

Covering all things Australian Rules Football for The Profits. 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.

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