Welcome to the Round 2 AFL preview. After a split opening round consisting a number of soft encounters, Round 2 provides mouth-watering contests on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as the first ever Showdown at the newly revamped Adelaide Oval. The MCG will host its first fixtures of the season now all cricket commitments are completed, bringing normality to a draw that missed the showcase venue in Round 1.
Round 1 wasn’t the most entertaining looking group of matches on paper, but it did offer plenty of surprises with only four favourites getting up. GWS were the biggest surprise, getting up against its crosstown rival at head to head odds of $12.00. There have been exaggerated Round 2 odds created by some of the surprising results and there is smart money to be made. It certainly is an interesting round of games
Hawthorn @ the -17.5 line
Collingwood @ the +16.5 line
RICHMOND ($1.68) vs CARLTON ($2.18)
AT THE MCG, THURSDAY 27/03/2014, 19:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Richmond 14.12 (96) lost to Carlton 18.8 (116) at the MCG, EF 2013.
Line: Richmond -7.5, Carlton +7.5
The first MCG blockbuster of the year is becoming a familiar favourite of the early rounds, with Richmond again taking on Carlton on a Thursday night. Both sides are coming off disappointing Round 1 losses and will be looking to give their large supporter bases hope that last year’s September action was more than a flash in the pan.
The clash against Gold Coast was always going to be a mental fight for the Tigers as Guy McKenna’s men have consistently had the wood over them. The Richmond supporters had doubted the Suns encounter throughout the entire summer and their worst fears became reality once again. The Tigers had 10 more inside 50s and 17 more clearances, yet couldn’t put the score on the board. Those numbers suggest that Richmond weren’t so bad, but the forward line must start functioning better with the likes of Tyrone Vickery and Jack Riewoldt requiring more consistent performances. Alex Rance has been unexpectedly dropped for the game.
Carlton were completely outclassed by an impressive Port Adelaide outfit in Round 1. There was plenty for Mick Malthouse to be concerned about as his side was blown out of the water after quarter time. A disposal efficiency of 66.5% in the pristine conditions of Etihad Stadium is unacceptable and must be looked at. In further negative news, Chris Judd has had a minor setback with his achilles injury and will spend extra time on the sidelines. Andrew Walker will also miss due to suspension.
Carlton have won 11 of the last 12 encounters against Richmond, but the Tigers appear to be in better shape at this early stage of the season.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 17 POINTS
ESSENDON ($2.90) vs HAWTHORN ($1.41)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 28/03/2014, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Essendon 13.9 (87) lost to Hawthorn 22.11 (143) at ES, R18 2013
Line: Essendon +17.5, Hawthorn -17.5
Essendon produced arguably the most impressive performance of Round 1 with a 39 point victory against the highly rated North Melbourne. It was a dominant display that wasn’t quite justified by the final margin, with the Bombers having 159 more disposals, 20 more inside 50s and 22 more clearances. This display now has some believing the Bombers are in a position to knock off the reigning premier, especially without Lance Franklin who has kicked an enormous 50 goals in his 10 games against the red and black. The Tania Hird noise doesn’t appear to have had an impact on the playing group, as Bomber Thompson continues to run a tight ship internally and create a controversy free culture.
The Hawks did what it needed to against the Brisbane Lions before running away to a comfortable 48 point win to open its season. It wasn’t an eye opening performance, but perhaps an indication that Clarkson feels his side has bigger fish to fry over the coming weeks. The Hawks have beaten Essendon the last three occasions by an average margin of 71.66 points, suggesting there is plenty of ground to make up. Cyril Rioli returns from his grand Final suspension.
The Bombers were good last week, but Hawthorn is a different kettle of fish. It is a perfect opportunity for the Hawks to make a statement against an early challenger. The -17.5 line is of interest.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 36 POINTS
ST KILDA ($1.95) vs GWS ($1.85)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 29/03/2014, 13:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: GWS 10.8 (68) lost to St Kilda 21.14 (140) at Manuka, R3 2013.
Line: St Kilda +1.5, GWS -1.5
Alan Richardson would be ecstatic to have four points on the board already. Despite only defeating Melbourne, the Saints were under immense pressure to get a win with a host of key midfielders out and a tough draw to come. Leigh Montagna and Lenny Hayes will return against GWS, adding experience to an extremely young side. Even though the victory was relatively comfortable against Melbourne, the Saints will have to enter its forward 50 more than 38 times against the Giants who boast far more scoring options.
If you predicted the Giants to beat Sydney in Round 1 you are either a genius or know nothing about football. The most impressive aspect of Greater Western Sydney’s first win against its big brother was that the Swans were smashed in its strengths of contested possession and clearances. The Giants were +10 for contested possession and +18 for clearances proving that they were getting the ball first. No.2 draft pick Josh Kelly will make his debut for the Giants. Phil Davis continues to battle with a kidney injury and will miss.
I see this game as a changing in the pecking order. GWS have already beaten St Kilda once during the preseason and the numbers against Sydney are suggestions of a much more competitive unit, especially with the inclusions Mumford, Shaw, Hunt and Addison.
GWS TO WIN BY 15 POINT
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.67) vs ADELAIDE ($2.20)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 29/03/2014, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Adelaide 15.13 (103) lost to Port 17.5 (107) at AAMI, R19 2013.
Line: Port -6.5, Adelaide +6.5
Showdown 36 will become remembered as one of the most historic South Australian football matches on Saturday afternoon as Port Adelaide and Adelaide play each other at the Adelaide Oval for the very first time. The newly revamped stadium has been a superb cricket venue for many years and finally gets its chance to be the home of South Australian footy again.
Many have predicted Port Adelaide to drop out of the eight this season, but Ken Hinkley’s side gave everyone a memory check against Carlton as to why it made the 2013 finals. Port started the game slow but ended up giving an indication that they could be one of the fittest sides running around this season. Port have won the last two Showdowns in tight contests and importantly enter this game with an extra week up their sleeve.
The Crows were more than competitive against Geelong at Simonds Stadium, despite the margin blowing out slightly to 38 points. It matched Geelong in most areas excluding inside 50s and tackles. Patrick Dangerfield was good against Geelong, but was constantly harassed by Cam Guthrie and given no protection from his fellow midfielders. Richard Douglas returns and will create much needed midfield depth.
There is rarely a bad Showdown. Expect the contest to be tight for a majority of its duration, but you get the feeling this Power side have the better running capabilities which could be the difference late once again.
PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 21 POINTS
FREMANTLE ($1.09) vs GOLD COAST ($7.50)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SATURDAY 29/03/2014, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Gold Coast 7.12 (54) lost to Fremantle 15.9 (99) at MS, R6 2013.
Line: Fremantle -39.5, Gold Coast +39.5
It now feels an eternity ago, but Fremantle’s performance against Collingwood was that of a premiership contender. It wasn’t as if we didn’t know that the Dockers are going to finish high on the ladder, but it did help us understand how serious this side is to go one step further in 2014. The Dockers went inside 50 an enormous 65 times, despite being matched in most key statistical areas except one, disposal efficiency. Fremantle were 8.4% more efficient at using the ball, which is more of an indication of its suffocating defensive pressure than Collingwood’s poor ball use. This side looks in a good space early in the season.
The Gold Coast Suns were just as impressive in their own way. Its midfield was outstanding with Ablett, Prestia, Swallow and the rejuvenated Michael Rischitelli all gathering big numbers, while the run and carry of O’Meara, Harbrow and co was vital. The Suns will get a reality check if it plays a similar style against the Dockers though, as the likes of Cotchin, Deledio and Grigg ran around with minimal defensive pressure applied to them. Jack Martin will miss an indefinite amount of time with a shoulder injury, while Rory Thompson and high draft pick Kade Kolodjashnij come into the side.
Impossible to back against the Dockers here. They look ready to go.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 37 POINTS
SYDNEY ($1.43) vs COLLINGWOOD ($2.85)
AT ANZ STADIUM, SATURDAY 29/03/2014, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 10.11 (71) lost to Collingwood 14.16 (100) at ANZ, R20 2013.
Line: Sydney -16.5, Collingwood +16.5
The Swans have had two weeks to lick its wounds of embarrassment after going down to GWS. It created the perfect ammunition for cheap pot shots toward the recruitment of Lance Franklin who certainly didn’t set Spotless Stadium alight in his first game for the Swans. It was beaten convincingly in the clearances and contested possession, while individually the most disposals a Sydney player could muster was only 23 by Luke Parker. Positively, Kieren Jack will return to the line-up after being a late withdrawal with a sore back in Round 1.
Collingwood’s performance wasn’t much better, but the opposition standard can’t be compared. The Pies were restricted to only 5 goals in Round 1 due to a disciplined Fremantle outfit that only let its opposition shoot at goal from difficult positions. In saying that, Nathan Buckley would be feeling far more comfortable facing a Sydney side with less depth. The Pies have won 9 of the 12 encounters at ANZ Stadium, including last year’s Round 20 match. Jesse White will make his Collingwood debut against his old side, while Ben Reid has suffered a setback and will be out for a further 2-3 weeks.
I’m liking Collingwood’s chances here. Collingwood’s loss of depth has been well documented, while Sydney’s depth issues have nearly been ignored. The Pies have a great record against the Swans and should be considered at either the +16.5 line or head to head if you are really confident.
COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 9 POINTS
BRISBANE ($3.60) vs GEELONG ($1.26)
AT THE GABBA, SUNDAY 30/03/2014, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Geelong 15.22 (112) defeated Brisbane 17.9 (111) at SS, R23 2013.
Line: Brisbane +24.5, Geelong -24.5
Justin Leppitsch would have been happy with the effort against the reigning premier and were competitive for longer than most expected. It certainly was a much better showing than the embarrassing 131 point loss during the NAB Challenge. Brisbane host a Geelong side that it has had some recent success against, having come back from the death in Round 13 last year, while pushing the Cats to a point at its Simonds Stadium fortress again in Round 23. Tom Rockliff is a key omission to suspension after an incident with Sam Mitchell.
It was a good night for Geelong last Thursday night against Adelaide. It ran away to a 38 point victory, Jimmy Bartel had a night out in his 250th game with four goals and there were no new injuries added to an already lengthy list. The Cats will be looking to ensure they don’t have the same brain fades that led to a miraculous Brisbane victory at the Gabba last year.
Don’t expect too many surprises here. The Cats looked sharp in its Round 1 outing and will ensure it comes home with points from the Gabba this time around.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 35 POINTS
MELBOURNE ($7.00) vs WEST COAST ($1.10)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 30/03/2014, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Melbourne 13.5 (77) lost to West Coast 27.15 (177) at the MCG, R3 2013
Line: Melbourne +41.5, West Coast -41.5
Paul Roos would be utterly disappointed with an early season loss to St Kilda. The Saints are seen as a major wooden spoon contender and were without a majority of its midfield, yet Melbourne couldn’t get the job done despite having more inside 50s and shots on goal. The lack of options going forward were obvious for all to see and Roos will be desperate for the likes of Dawes and Hogan to return soon. Tom McDonald and Jack Fitzpatrick both suffered injuries in the Round 1 loss, but are expected to be available.
How potent did the Eagles look on Sunday night? West Coast amassed 21 goals against a slightly disappointing Western Bulldogs, with Mark LeCras (5 goals and 27 possessions) and Jack Darling (4 goals and 16 possessions) the main destroyers. Finally with a short injury list and a host of stars coming off a strong preseason, West Coast are looking threatening.
The Dees are playing a far more possession friendly style under the guide of Paul Roos, but the recent record against West Coast is poor. The Eagles have won the last two encounters by an average of 101 points, which suggests the -41.5 line is generous, especially considering the sunny 28 degree forecast.
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 64 POINTS
WESTERN BULLDOGS ($2.90) vs NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.38)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 30/03/2014, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Dogs 15.7 (97) lost to North 22.19 (151) at ES, R7 2013.
Line: Dogs +18.5, North -18.5
The Western Bulldogs flew to Perth with the confidence of a good recent record against West Coast, but were blown away by 65 points. It was smashed 160-125 for contested possession, which is a statistic Brendan McCartney loves to judge his players on. The inclusion of Ryan Griffen is sure to help those numbers, but it was still a disappointing occurrence. Will Minson was beaten convincingly by a combination of Cox, Naitanui and Sinclair, while Tom Campbell had next to no impact as his relief. Minson will be looking to get back to his All Australian form.
North Melbourne were even more disappointing, especially considering they were favourites and are seen as a top eight contender. The Kangaroos had 159 less disposals and only 110 contested possessions, which would have had Brad Scott furious. Todd Goldstein was in obvious discomfort on Friday night with left shoulder injury, but is expected to play pending a test. The preseason expectation could start haunting North Melbourne if it produces another poor effort on Sunday.
Both of these teams were outplayed by much sharper opponents in Round 1, so there is plenty to play for here. They will go in hard and if this game becomes a contested scrap, I feel the Dogs are a great chance.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 2 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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