Welcome to the week one Round 18 AFL preview. We enter the first week of the split round with five games to keep us occupied this weekend. Unfortunately the first lot of games are dominated by short price favourites which will force us to dig deep for value. On paper the second week of matches looks far more enticing.
Port Adelaide, Collingwood and Gold Coast were the big losers of Round 17 as all three continued their periods of vulnerability. Port Adelaide have fallen out of the top four for the first time since Round 3, while Collingwood and the Suns have both been over taken by Essendon who have jumped to seventh on the ladder. Had Adelaide defeated Hawthorn, it too would have found itself in the eight and now has another great opportunity against Collingwood next week. The final six rounds are set up to be one of the tightest home and away finishes for many years. There are many ladder shaping encounters to come over the next month and a half, which hopefully creates some fuller stadiums heading into September.
Western Bulldogs-Essendon Closest Match of the Week @ $2.75
CARLTON ($4.25) VS NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.24)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 18/07, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R17 2013 North Melbourne 16.12 (108) lost to Carlton 16.13 (109) at ES
Line: Carlton +28.5, North -28.5
You look at the final 71 point margin of the Sydney vs Carlton game and can make the assumption that the Blues were completely uncompetitive. Carlton were able to match it for three quarters, but a 10-0 goal third quarter orchestrated by a barnstorming Lance Franklin blew the game apart. Whether the Blues switched off, Sydney upped the ante or if it was a combination of both, it is unsatisfactory for any team to kick 10 goals in a quarter against a Carlton side with so much experience. Mick Malthouse and the Carlton board have misjudged this group. I doubt Malthouse is the man to head a long rebuild. Robinson and Menzel return to the side.
It was nice to see North Melbourne put two four quarter efforts together. We all know where St Kilda are at currently, but no one would have been surprised had North capitulated after such a brilliant win against Hawthorn. Carlton is a tougher challenge and a good test to see where the mental state of the Roos is at. My trust still hasn’t recovered from being burned earlier in the season and doubt you’d find many who don’t hold similar insecurities with the Kangaroos. Jack Ziebell is back.
North Melbourne is a far superior team to Carlton, but it isn’t a game I’m willing to touch betting wise.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 31 POINTS
First Goal Scorer Jack Ziebell @ $21.00
ST KILDA ($16.00) VS FREMANTLE ($1.02)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 19/07, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R23 2013 St Kilda 16.16 (112) dftd Fremantle 6.5 (41) at ES
Line: St Kilda +57.5, Fremantle -57.5
Some might look at the previous encounter and think St Kilda are a great chance here, but I can’t think of a more misleading result in my time watching footy. Yeah, the Saints were good that day, but Ross Lyon fielded a side that a mid-table state league club could defeat. Ross Lyon rested half his side with a focus toward the first week of finals and history will state he made the right decision. There isn’t much more for the Saints supporters to look forward to this season, but the remaining rounds are sure to be a week to week tribute to the retiring Lenny Hayes. It is hard to think of a more likable and respected player in the game and hopefully the Saints can lift to make his final games memorable.
Fremantle must keep winning to fight for that imperative home Qualifying Final, but this a perfect opportunity for Ross Lyon to give some of his sore stars a two week break. Aaron Sandilands has played every game and gets a nice two week break to freshen up. Hayden Ballantyne getting suspended isn’t ideal, but he too will benefit from the time off.
Check the final teams as there could be some value on offer at the line if Lyon decides on further restings. If full strength or close to, Fremantle will murder St Kilda.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 80 POINTS
Fyfe/Pavlich for Most Possessions/Most Goals @ $7.40
GWS ($8.50) VS GEELONG ($1.08)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, SATURDAY 19/07, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R11 2013 GWS Giants 15.8 (98) lost to Geelong 24.13 (157) at Spotless
Line: GWS +42.5, Geelong -42.5
The margin ended up blowing out to 76 points against Fremantle for GWS, but I think the effort was more than respectable. The Giants had some key outs for the trip west including Patton, Treloar and Coniglio and unfortunately the injury toll hasn’t improved. Coniglio will now miss the remainder of the season with that thumb injury, while Lachie Whitfield will also be unsighted until 2015 with a shoulder. The Giants were aiming for five to six wins this year and if they are stranded on its current total of four come seasons end, you feel they’d be slightly disappointed despite the obvious improvement.
Geelong is the beneficiary of the Port Adelaide loss of form and now finds itself a game clear in fourth position. The Cats were dominant against Melbourne on Saturday in the first half, showing form of the recent premiership years to lead by 59 points at the main break. The second half fade was evident once again, but mainly due to a change in the weather and player conditioning. Mathew Stokes is an important and underrated inclusion to the Cats midfield.
The injuries are beginning to build for the Giants. Geelong will be too strong.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 48 POINTS
Highest scoring match of the week @ $2.25
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.08) VS MELBOURNE ($8.50)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SUNDAY 20/07, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R11 2014 Melbourne 11.9 (75) lost to Port Adelaide 14.11 (95) at Alice Springs
Line: Port -41.5, Melbourne +41.5
You wouldn’t have thought a month ago people would be describing this game as important for Port Adelaide, but it has become exactly that. I don’t doubt Port can’t win this game, but it is also an opportunity to build the confidence levels back to that of a month ago. The biggest concern for Ken Hinkley is the large drop off in contested possession. It lost the contested ball statistic 126-159 against a Richmond side that has struggled in that area all season. Some are blaming a recent bump in the training load, while others feel the Power are carrying a few passengers. Whatever it is needs to be fixed as four losses over the last five weeks against mostly average opposition stinks of the young side that has gone from premiership contender to falling off a cliff. There are question marks on Jay Schulz and Robbie Gray going into this game which doesn’t help the situation.
Melbourne was atrocious against Geelong, particularly early. Paul Roos would hate the fact that Geelong collected 79 more disposals, yet had nine more tackles than Melbourne. He is used to coaching teams that are defensively superior, yet the Cats were left to kick goals at will in the last ten minutes of the second quarter. One positive is that James Frawley certainly didn’t build his reputation against one of his potential suitors.
Port Adelaide must bounce back with conviction here. Expect to see plenty of Melbourne numbers behind the ball.
PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 29 POINTS
-9.5 First Quarter Line @ $1.90
WESTERN BULLDOGS ($3.20) VS ESSENDON ($1.37)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 20/07, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R7 2014 Essendon 10.13 (73) dftd Western Bulldogs 9.11 (65) at ES
Line: Dogs +18.5, Essendon -18.5
The Dogs met a Gold Coast side minus one G.Ablett, but it was still a very credible effort a long way from home. The contested and clearance characteristics that became so familiar with the Dogs last year have returned in waves, highlighted against a Gold Coast side that has led the competition in those areas all year. Jackson Macrae couldn’t have responded any better to the Brendan McCartney comments, gathering 43 possessions and kicking two crucial final quarter goals. Talk about knowing how to get the best out of your players. Ryan Griffen will return after being a late withdrawal last week and Adam Cooney has recovered from his hamstring.
The Bombers produced its most clinical performance of the season, destroying a confidence drained Collingwood by 64 points. The win has catapulted Essendon to seventh on the ladder and raised further questions as to whether Mark Thompson should be coaching this side next year. Jake Carlisle played one of the great individual games of the season, kicking four goals, taking 19 marks (8 of which were contested) and gathering 26 possessions. If you had any doubts as to whether he can play forward, that performance is enough to swing the most stubborn of critics. The Bombers are alive late in the season for the first time in years and will be a threat to anyone it meets. They are strengthened further by the inclusions of Brendan Goddard and Michael Hibberd.
Essendon have a great record against the Dogs, winning the last five encounters. Their form is difficult to ignore, but the Dogs will be competitive. I expect this to be the tightest game of the week.
ESSENDON TO WIN BY 16 POINTS
Closest Match of the Week @ $2.75
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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