2014 Round 7 AFL Preview

Welcome to the Round 7 AFL preview. If it hadn’t already been throughout the early parts of the season, Port Adelaide once and for all announced itself as a premiership contender with a near flawless performance against Geelong on Sunday evening. The Power’s ability to consistently gut run to space and finish off the effort with precision skills was too much for the Cats. It was a performance that will truly earn the respect of the league heavyweights and has seen the team from Alberton shorten to $8.00 for the flag.

Round 6 was a continuation of a season highlighted by unpredictable results. Brisbane managed to capture its first points of the year, North Melbourne travelled to Perth and completely turned its Collingwood effort around, while Carlton won its second consecutive game after a horror start. The crowds are down and everyone appears to be whinging about the game as a spectacle, yet the quality games and even season completely gets forgotten in the discussion of where the code is at. Things just aren’t as bad as what the media are making it out to be.

BEST BET 

Sydney @ the -30.5 point line

CARLTON ($4.00) vs COLLINGWOOD ($1.25)

AT THE MCG, FRIDAY 02/05, 19:50

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R15   2013   Carlton   12.5   (77)   lost to   Collingwood   17.16   (118)   at the MCG

Line: Carlton +26.5, Collingwood -26.5

The Blues recent return to form has given this game a much needed publicity boost. After an opening month that was straight from a Mick Malthouse nightmare, the Blues have learnt how to win again. When the Eagles led by 23 points in the 15th minute of the last quarter, only the most optimistic Carlton supporters would have considered themselves a shot from that position. Goals from Garlett, Tuohy, Henderson, Buckley and Menzel saw the Blues back in front less than 10 minutes later. This side looks to have a new found confidence and both senior and developing players are contributing to the comeback.

Collingwood managed to pull off a spectacular come from behind victory of its own against Essendon on Anzac Day. The Pies conceded the first 6 goals of the game, before roaring into action in the second quarter to kick the next 6. It saw the scores level at half time, but the momentum was fully in Collingwood’s hands and they ran out to a 23 point victory. Their form continues to be standing up against quality opposition and are in the perfect position to chase a top four berth at 4-2. After some great early form off the half back flank, Alex Fasolo will miss with a foot injury.

Dale Thomas comes up against his old side for the first time, but don’t expect that to have any influence on the result. The Pies have won the last two encounters and look as sharp as any club at this point in time.

COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 30 POINTS

HAWTHORN ($1.05) vs ST KILDA ($10.00)

AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 03/05, 13:45

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R20   2013   St Kilda   7.14   (56)   lost to   Hawthorn   14.18   (102)   at ES

Line: Hawthorn -50.5, St Kilda +50.5

The Hawks bounced back perfectly against a hapless Richmond side and in the meantime managed to get a couple of stars back in form. Cyril Rioli and Luke Hodge were brilliant as they both had massive impacts in their own unique ways. Rioli kicked 4 goals, including 3 in the third quarter and while he only gathered 17 possessions, he operated at a perfect 100% efficiency. After a slow start to the season with injury, Hodge exploded against the Tigers with 30 possessions, 2 goals and 7 clearances with greater game time through the middle. These two firing are ominous signs for the rest of the competition.

It ended up being a horror trip to New Zealand for the Saints. Not only did it lose to the originally winless Brisbane Lions, but only 13,000 fans turned up to Westpac Stadium after 22,000 last year. It is a result that has the potential to derail a young side’s spirits and Alan Richardson must continue to present a positive message. Adam Schneider will return from suspension.

It will be difficult for the Saints to bounce back against Hawthorn. It could get really ugly.

HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 70 POINTS

GWS ($8.00) vs PORT ADELAIDE ($1.08)

AT STARTRACK OVAL, SATURDAY 03/05, 14:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R12   2013   GWS Giants   6.14   (50)   lost to   Port Adelaide   19.11   (125)   at Spotless

Line: GWS +44.5, Port -44.5

We are just starting to see a slight drop in intensity from the Giants after an extremely promising start to the season. GWS had high averages for contested ball, tackles and clearances in the first five rounds of the season, but those numbers dropped sharply on Saturday. What is even more concerning is that they were comfortably beaten in all three of those categories against Gold Coast. Shane Mumford is turning out to be a massive loss, even though he has only worn the orange, white and charcoal jumper a few times. His ferocity at the stoppages is sorely missed and he is still at least a week away.

As I mentioned earlier, Port Adelaide were fantastic on Sunday evening against the Cats. The run on the spread was manic and showed the outside runner’s high confidence of the inside stoppage players ability to win the ball. There were occasions when they could have been caught running one way, but the Cats couldn’t take advantage of those situations. The pressure acts were also a highlight and while Port only laid 52 effective tackles, the Cats were continuously rushed to move the ball forward or hold waiting for options due to the numbers pushing back. They are signs of the side very familiar of its game plan. Angus Monfries is an important inclusion.

The Power have proven they are capable of blowing sides away if they aren’t switched on, so the Giants must limit the damage if Port have a momentum surge.

PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 56 POINTS. 

ADELAIDE ($1.08) vs MELBOURNE ($8.25)

AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 03/05, 16:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R22   2013   Adelaide   18.12   (120)   dftd   Melbourne   7.10   (52)   at AAMI

Line: Adelaide -42.5, Melbourne +42.5

The Crows won its third consecutive game on Sunday afternoon with a gutsy 9 point victory. It lost many of the key performance indicators, but got the points after being down early in the game. The good victory against the Western Bulldogs was nearly overshadowed by the return of Taylor Walker in the SANFL who kicked 3 goals against Glenelg. Despite making it clear to the club and media that he is ready to take on the Dees, the Crows have taken a conservative approach with their star full forward and will give him another run at state league level.

The 31 point losing margin against Sydney certainly flattered Melbourne. It appeared that when the Swans got off to a decent start, Paul Roos was more interested in restricting the damage than having a crack at winning the game. The Dees could only manage 37 inside 50s and took just the 6 marks when it entered the arc, so it is no surprise that they were restricted to 38 points.

The Crows have the perfect opportunity to be 4-3 after a poor start. The Demons will offer them no problems.

ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 38 POINTS 

BRISBANE ($5.00) vs SYDNEY ($1.18)

AT THE GABBA, SATURDAY 03/05, 19:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R6   2013   Sydney   17.13   (115)   dftd   Brisbane Lions   8.7   (55)   at the SCG 

Line: Brisbane +30.5, Sydney -30.5

Justin Leppitsch has his first win as an AFL senior coach on the board after it looked like that moment was a long way off occurring. He took his side to New Zealand with a positive attitude and while they almost gave up a 32 point lead, the Lions did just enough to get the points. James Aish produced his best AFL performance to date and while he came into the system with question marks as to whether he can win a hard ball, the dual Norwood premiership player gathered 12 contested possession, 4 clearances and still operated at a respectable 76% efficiency. Unfortunately Pearce Hanley again misses, this time with a back complaint.

You wouldn’t say the Swans were dominant against Melbourne, but it did what it needed to do without lifting the bar to any great heights. It won the inside 50 count 57-37, but could only manage 11 marks in the arc against a defence known to leak inside 50 marks. Whether that was just a lack of intensity or not, things aren’t going to get any easier in the forward arc with Buddy Franklin missing with that sore knee. On top of that, there is still no Kurt Tippett, but Sam Reid finally gets an opportunity.

The Lions are on a high, but will find it tough against the Swans despite missing forward targets. The Swans have won the last 5 encounters between these two by an average margin of 52.8 points. The Sydney line of -30.5 looks great value.

SYDNEY TO WIN BY 55 POINTS 

ESSENDON ($1.33) vs WESTERN BULLDOGS ($3.35)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 03/05, 19:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R16   2013   Western Bulldogs   14.6   (90)   lost to   Essendon   18.13   (121)   at ES 

Line: Essendon -22.5, Dogs +22.5

The Bombers let a fantastic start go against Collingwood on Anzac Day. It had all the momentum and just conceded too many easy goals in the second quarter to see the Pies ultimately kick 9 goals without answer. The disappointing thing for the Bombers was that it led most of the statistics, despite being held goalless for nearly two quarters. They were +11 for inside 50s, +26 for disposals, +10 for clearances and laid an impressive 81 tackles to show its pressure levels were still high. The tall forward targets are becoming a genuine problem now, with Daniher and Carlisle only kicking one goal between them on Friday afternoon. Interestingly Tom Bellchambers hasn’t been named, despite two games back in the VFL from injury. Goddard and Hocking are great inclusions though.

The Dogs were better against Adelaide, but still couldn’t get the points after an extremely promising start. It won the contested possessions and clearances, but certainly weren’t dominant in those areas. Griffen was again tagged out of the contest, but the good form of Boyd and Macrae continued. The season is slowly slipping away for the Dogs at 2-4 and it is getting to the point where the performances must improve or their finals chances are shot.

They are great ins for the Bombers and the recent dominance against the Dogs should continue.

ESSENDON TO WIN BY 19 POINTS

NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.24) vs GOLD COAST ($4.10)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 04/05, 13:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R11   2013   Gold Coast   9.12   (66)   dftd   North Melbourne   8.3   (51)   at MS 

Line: North -26.5, Gold Coast +26.5

North Melbourne is by far the most difficult club to read in the competition. After producing such a poor performance against Collingwood the week before, it was a completely different Roos outfit that took on Fremantle in Perth. Despite missing Daniel Wells and Scott Thompson, the Roos fought back from an early Fremantle onslaught and somehow come home with the points. We know that North are good enough to match it with some of the best sides in the league, but you just don’t know if they are going to turn up. It is the main issue that Brad Scott has to address with his team. Scott Thompson returns from suspension, but there is still no Daniel Wells.

The Gold Coast Suns are superbly placed at 4-2 and are in a position to push for its first ever finals berth. It leads the competition for contested possessions and clearances with the likes of Dion Prestia, Jeager O’Meara and David Swallow becoming closer to elite status with every disposal that they gather. Even without mentioning Gary Ablett, this midfield is developing into something that will be feared for many years.

North Melbourne are coming back from the dreaded Perth trip, which has taken many victims this season. Gold Coast beat North last start and were more than competitive the encounter before. The Suns have never won at Etihad, but I think they’ll give the Roos a good run.

NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 6 POINTS

GEELONG ($1.19) vs RICHMOND ($4.75)

AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 04/05, 15:20

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R6   2013   Richmond   13.9   (87)   lost to   Geelong   20.11   (131)   at MCG 

Line: Geelong -30.5, Richmond +30.5

I’m not sure whether the loss to Port Adelaide was a reality check for the Cats, but it is sure to hurt being made to look slow by the young up and comer. The Cats just plain and simply couldn’t keep up, being beaten in the uncontested possessions 208-244. The Cats could also only manage 1 running bounce to the Powers 9, proving the space just wasn’t available for the Geelong to run into. We also saw a problem from last year creep back into the Cats game in the absence of Dawson Simpson, with Geelong smashed in hitouts and clearances. The big man returns this week, while Steven Motlop is almost certain to return despite being named on the extended bench.

It was another ugly performance for Richmond on the weekend and they have to face another premiership contender on the rebound this week. The margin blew out to 66 points against Hawthorn, but it lost nearly every statistic available from the match which is extremely rare. The positive is that Brett Deledio and Alex Rance are back in the 22, filling a couple of gaping holes in the midfield and defence.

Geelong have won 16 of the last 17 encounters and haven’t been beaten at the MCG by Richmond since 1999. The Cats will win comfortably.

GEELONG TO WIN BY 37 POINTS

WEST COAST ($2.50) vs FREMANTLE ($1.55)

AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SUNDAY 04/05, 16:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R16   2013   West Coast   14.9   (93)   lost to   Fremantle   19.7   (121)   at PS

Line: West Coast +11.5, Fremantle -11.5

There was a common trend of teams giving up considerable leads throughout Round 6, but the most unforgiveable would have to be West Coast’s capitulation. It led by 23 points 15 minutes into the fourth quarter, but gave up that lead before the 25th minute had ticked over. To make matters worse, the Eagles had three opportunities (including two posters) to snatch the lead back, but efforts from Selwood, Kennedy and Shuey weren’t good enough. The season was looking so promising for the Eagles, but it now sits 3-3 after three consecutive losses and is losing touch with the top four. Darren Glass and Shannon Hurn are great inclusions.

The Dockers are on the nose at the moment. The mix isn’t quite working and the losses of Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne have hurt the forward structure more than most expected. Ross Lyon will be pleased to see Ballantyne return to the fold, while Michael Barlow has been named on the extended bench and would be fantastic inclusion to the midfield should he make the final 22.

The Dockers have had the wood over West Coast, winning the last three derbies. Neither side is in great form, but Fremantle justifiably go in as favourites.

FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 16 POINTS

Please Note:
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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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