Welcome to the Round 16 AFL preview. We have a new ladder leader in Hawthorn after Adelaide shocked cross town rival Port Adelaide to win Showdown XXXVII. It means that the top five is now only separated by four points, leaving the vital home double chances wide open. A comfortable 53 point win against the Suns in Tasmania was enough for the Hawks jump to ahead of Port Adelaide’s percentage and take top spot. It is only one loss, but the pressure is sure to intensify for the Power to hold its top two position and home qualifying final as Sydney snaps at its ankles.
Gold Coast to win head to head @ $2.00
NORTH MELBOURNE ($4.15) VS HAWTHORN ($1.25)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 04/07, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R22 2013 North Melbourne 15.13 (103) lost to Hawthorn 17.15 (117) at ES
Line: North +26.5, Hawthorn -26.5
It has got to the point with North Melbourne that you aren’t surprised when it has an upset loss, no matter who the opposition is. It won the clearances, contested possession and I50s against Brisbane, but was once again smashed on the outside. It allowed Pearce Hanley to have an 800 metre gain, which is enormous for those not familiar with the statistic. The Brad Scott message isn’t getting through to the current best 22, which generally points towards a change of personnel. Jack Ziebell is the first exclusion after suffering a knee injury on Saturday night, but he is joined by a number of other omissions.
There were a few experts who thought that Gold Coast could push Hawthorn after dealing with Geelong comfortably the week before, but the Hawks proved the Suns aren’t quite ready to match it with the big boys away from home. In extremely wet conditions, Hawthorn dominated the midfield despite Gary Ablett having 45 possessions, winning the contested ball 172-149. Considering the conditions, the Hawks managed a huge 73 I50s and out tackled Gold Coast despite having 48 more disposals. The biggest story to come out of the game was the injury to Cyril Rioli, who has gone down with his seventh career hamstring. He’ll be out for 8-10 weeks, making him an uncertain September starter. Sam Mitchell is a great replacement though.
As much as it isn’t surprising that North went down to lowly Brisbane, it wouldn’t shock me to see them knock off Hawthorn. Not that I’m going to tip them to do so, as I now completely consider the Roos a betting no go.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 35 POINTS
Quarter by Quarter Leader Hawthorn/Hawthorn/Hawthorn/Hawthorn @ $1.90
RICHMOND ($1.12) VS BRISBANE ($6.75)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 05/07, 13:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R5 2014 Brisbane Lions 9.9 (63) lost to Richmond 15.16 (106) at the Gabba
Line: Richmond -38.5, Brisbane +38.5
Richmond has a great opportunity to put together consecutive wins for the first time in 2014 as it takes on the inform Brisbane Lions. The Tigers were expected to deal with St Kilda comfortably and did so by the tune of 44 points. The major positive to come out of the game for Richmond was the return to form of Trent Cotchin. He became the first Tiger to gather 30+ possessions and kick 5 goals in a game since Chris Naish in 1991. It was a great individual effort, but the Tiger faithful will want to see it backed up to further silence the critics who are questioning his captaincy.
Brisbane produced an inspired effort to honour its outgoing champion and triple premiership player Jonathan Brown by defeating a disappointing North Melbourne. The win was highlighted by a seven goal second quarter that had the Roos playing catch up once again. Brisbane were held goalless in the last quarter, but did enough to hang on to a memorable victory. They will lose some midfield grunt with a leg injury to Jack Redden.
Richmond had a comfortable win against Brisbane away in Round 5, but the Lions are a different prospect this time around. Confidence has built for the young Lions side and if they can get on top early, expect the fragile mental state of Richmond to show.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 9 POINTS
Richmond 1-39 @ $2.40
GWS ($3.90) VS ADELAIDE ($1.27)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, SATURDAY 05/07, 14:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R5 2014 Adelaide 21.11 (137) dftd GWS Giants 10.12 (72) at AO
Line: GWS +24.5, Adelaide -24.5
Greater Western Sydney was brought back to earth by the Swans after failing to replicate its Round 1 heroics. After such promising contested and clearance numbers throughout the season, Sydney ultimately proved to be the masters and GWS the apprentices in those categories. Shane Mumford wasn’t anywhere near as influential as recent weeks, especially when the ball hit the ground as he could only manage 8 possessions and 3 tackles. Heath Shaw was concussed in a nasty incident with Kurt Tippett and will miss the Adelaide clash.
The Crows produced its best performance of the season to defeat Port Adelaide and more importantly keep its finals chances alive. It now faces an even bigger challenge to change the every second week loss trend and poor away record. It probably doesn’t get a better opportunity to end the inconsistency than against GWS at Spotless Stadium. Last time Adelaide visited the Sydney Showgrounds it had a 135 point victory and Tom Lynch kicked 10 goals. It won’t be that easy this time around.
At first look, the Adelaide -24.5 line looks outstanding value, but I’m not yet confident enough to trust the Crows until it breaks the away hoodoo.
ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 30 POINTS
Josh Jenkins 4 or more goals @ $6.60
GOLD COAST ($2.00) VS COLLINGWOOD ($1.84)
AT METRICON STADIUM, SATURDAY 05/07, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R17 2013 Gold Coast 13.7 (85) dftd Collingwood 11.12 (78) at MS
Line: Gold Coast +2.5, Collingwood -2.5
The Suns would have gone into the Hawthorn game with hopes of pushing the now ladder leader at least to the fourth quarter. They were competitive for a quarter and a half in horrible conditions, but the next 30 minutes saw Hawthorn pile on 9 goals to none. Yes, the cold and wet conditions aren’t something the Suns would be used to, but Victoria has similar weather and that is where the key finals are played. Gary Ablett was massive with 45 possessions, but he didn’t get anywhere near as much help as usual from his young teammates. Gold Coast will be pleased to return to Metricon and need to keep winning to counter surging Adelaide and Essendon sides
It was another far from inspiring performance from Collingwood, with the gap between them and the top five seemingly stretching every week. The Pies led most statistical categories against Carlton, but was never fully in control of the game. A flighted switch from Ed Curnow led to the match sealing Steele Sidebottom goal, but had the kick hit its intended target in Kade Simpson, there was plenty of space wide to move the ball forward and potentially lower the margin to within a goal. Jamie Elliott has strained a hamstring and is a big loss for the trip north. Luke Ball has also succumbed to the old man’s calf injury.
The Suns beat Collingwood at Metricon last year and on form there is no reason to suggest they can’t this time. The midfield battle will be vital as Ablett averages an amazing 51 possessions over the last two games against Collingwood. Surely Macaffer goes to him this time, but as we know their young midfield runs deep now. Gold Coast is great odds head to head.
GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 17 POINTS
Gold Coast to win head to head @ $2.00
MELBOURNE ($7.50) VS FREMANTLE ($1.10)
AT TIO STADIUM, DARWIN, SATURDAY 05/07, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R21 2013 Melbourne 5.8 (38) lost to Fremantle 20.13 (133) at the MCG
Line: Melbourne +35.5, Fremantle -35.5
Melbourne were their own worst enemy on Sunday against the Western Bulldogs. Critical errors in the defensive half throughout the contest soured a great recovery from the Demons. Whenever they looked like taking control of the game, a turnover or defensive mistake resulted in a Bulldogs goal. James Frawley was dispossessed twice within seconds of the freak Bontempelli winner and while he was unlucky it went through, the senior players should be better in clutch moments.
Ross Lyon looked far from satisfied after Fremantle just scraped home by 7 points against West Coast in the Derby. He deliberately went to individuals in full public viewing and calmly pointed out his frustrations in a somewhat calculating manner. He’ll be happy to get the four points, but he strives for perfection in order to make his team as successful as possible. The Dockers won’t be risking any stars on a trip to Darwin, but defender Luke McPharlin returns and Michael Johnson is edging closer to selection. Anthony Morabito finally returns after multiple knee injuries.
Don’t expect this game to be free flowing with two defensive styles. Fremantle should win comfortably, but we could see something resemble a soccer score. The line looks slightly high.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 24 POINTS
Melbourne @ +35.5 line
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.25) VS ESSENDON ($4.15)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 05/07, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R15 2013 Essendon 18.10 (118) dftd Port Adelaide 12.16 (88) at ES
Line: Port -26.5, Essendon +26.5
Port Adelaide hasn’t made it unknown that if it is within striking distance at three quarter time, it believes it has the fitness to run any team down. The fact of the matter is that it has been in striking distance of both Sydney and Adelaide in recent weeks, but hasn’t run either side down to win. It is the Power’s first unexpected loss and it is next to impossible to win every game, but they looked exposed in some key areas late. The Crows entered its forward 50 with relative ease, creating huge problems for the defenders, while it was also smashed for contested possession. Injuries to Carlisle and Trengove down back is of massive concern, as every side would struggle to replace one, let alone two key position defenders. There is plenty for Ken Hinkley to ponder.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Bombers against Geelong and while many liked to point the finger at the umpires, Essendon were lucky they weren’t down by more at half time with some lopsided statistics. To their credit, they came and dominated the clearances which resulted in a 33 point turnaround on the scoreboard in the third quarter. Unfortunately it couldn’t finish the job (most don’t against Geelong in tight games), but the positives were there for all to see. Hibberd misses with a leg, while Dustin Fletcher has been dropped.
Essendon have won the last four encounters against Port Adelaide, but as we know the Power have numerous poor head to head records that don’t give a true reading to where they are at. I can’t see them getting beaten in consecutive weeks at the Portress.
PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 33 POINTS
Robbie Gray first goal @ $19.00
CARLTON ($1.15) VS ST KILDA ($5.75)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 06/07, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R8 2014 St Kilda 9.15 (69) lost to Carlton 15.11 (101) at ES
Line: Carlton -35.5, St Kilda +35.5
The Blues have lost five games in a row, but their results suggest that the form is better than that awful looking record. Losses to GWS and Brisbane were unforgivable, but both sides have proven difficult to beat at home recently. The matches against Geelong, Hawthorn and Collingwood last week were far more encouraging, but honourable losses aren’t looked at kindly by supporters when the core of the side is aging. The season is shot and it is time to reward the good form of some youngsters in the VFL including Nick Graham and Nick Holman. Mitch Robinson will miss through suspension.
There is a familiar story building with the Saints. The losing streak has now risen to nine matches. The most concerning statistic though is that since Round 7 it has an average losing margin of 68 points. It is now four points and percentage clear at the bottom of the ladder in a year where there is no clear No.1 draft pick like recent years. Things are likely to get even worse for the Saints in the coming season or two with the likely retirements of Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna. It could be a lengthy bottom out for the Saints.
Carlton had a comfortable 32 point win in Round 8 earlier this year and I expect the margin to be slightly higher this time around.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 43 POINTS
St Kilda score first and lose match @ $2.70
WEST COAST ($3.75) VS SYDNEY ($1.29)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SUNDAY 06/07, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R17 2013 West Coast 11.13 (79) lost to Sydney 17.11 (113) at PS
Line: West Coast +21.5, Sydney -21.5
It was the most competitive West Coast had been against a top four side, but yet another loss when it desperately needed points. The Eagles finals hopes are sinking, needing to make up two wins. As most sides seem to do recently, the Eagles had more I50s than Fremantle but couldn’t convert some great opportunities. West Coast has suffered another KPD set back, with Mitch Brown out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. With Darren Glass now retired, the stocks are extremely depleted.
Sydney finally got its chance to reverse the humiliation inflicted by little brother GWS in Round 1 this year. It ensured not to be beaten at the stoppages again, winning both contested possession and clearance categories. Buddy Franklin continued his outstanding form with another 5 goals, while Kurt Tippett made solid return kicking 2.3. Kieren Jack spent a majority of the last quarter on the bench nursing a sore shoulder, but he is expected to make the trip west.
The Swans have an outstanding record at Patersons Stadium against West Coast, winning the four encounters there since 2008. Expect the record to become five on the trot.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 40 POINTS
Sydney -35.5 line @ $2.75
GEELONG ($1.10) VS WESTERN BULLDOGS ($7.50)
AT SIMONDS STADIUM, SUNDAY 06/07, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R5 2013 Western Bulldogs 13.8 (86) lost to Geelong 15.17 (107) at ES
Line: Geelong -39.5, Dogs +39.5
Geelong had yet another second half fade out, this time against Essendon which saw it give up a dominant first half lead of 29 points. After leading the clearances 23-13 at half time, Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis took full advantage of the space Geelong left goal side of the stoppages with dangerous entries inside 50. The Cats were kept goalless in that third quarter and looked like being run over. Luckily for the Cats Mitch Duncan, Jimmy Bartel and Steven Motlop came into the game late which saw the Cats win yet another single figure result.
The Dogs won their second encounter of the season against Melbourne, highlighted by a match winning goal from Marcus Bontempelli that is unlikely to be beaten as the best this season. The Dogs had less inside 50s, but consistently took advantage of opposition errors in its forward half. The Dogs were missing captain Ryan Griffen, Adam Cooney, Jordan Roughead and Daniel Giansiracusa, making the win all the more impressive. Griffen and Roughead have both been named to return.
The Western Bulldogs haven’t won in Geelong for nearly 11 years and have an averaging losing margin of 60.66 points away from Etihad Stadium this year. That isn’t a pretty looking picture for the Dogs.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 49 POINTS
Geelong 40+ @ $1.86
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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