Welcome to the Round 5 AFL Preview. I hope you weren’t looking forward to hearing or reading about your side if you aren’t a Carlton supporter, as the Blues’ loss against Melbourne has completely dominated the media this week. The reaction to Carlton’s fourth consecutive loss has been intense and has seen many of the positives from the round either forgotten or only quickly skipped over. Melbourne deserve greater recognition than they have received, while performances from North Melbourne, Geelong, Hawthorn and on the other side of the coin Brisbane were just as defining results. It would be great to see the coverage more evenly spread, despite the shock of a loss like Carlton’s.
Round 5 looks like brilliant entertainment on paper. Excluding Essendon vs St Kilda, the Saturday fixtures look the pick of the bunch until you scroll down the page to the final game on Easter Monday. Geelong and Hawthorn meet for the first time since the classic Preliminary Final last year where the Hawks finally broke the Kennett Curse. They go into this encounter as the only two undefeated sides, adding further drama to a rivalry that has already produced so much.
Fremantle @ the -7.5 line
BRISBANE ($4.35) vs RICHMOND ($1.23)
AT THE GABBA, THURSDAY 17/04, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R20 2013 Richmond 14.13.97 defeated Brisbane 11.8.74 at the MCG
Line: Brisbane +26.5, Richmond -26.5
It is a great round of footy coming up, but this contest isn’t quite living up to the expectations of the encounters that will follow throughout the Easter weekend. They are two sides out of form and luck, but a victory to either could see a shift of momentum.
The Lions are close to rock bottom after a 113 point loss to Port. They amazingly are yet to win a single quarter of footy this season and seem to have experienced players going down with injury every week. Matthew Leuenberger has gone down with a knee injury and will miss 3 months of footy, while creative half back Pearce Hanley has suffered a medium hamstring tear after being one of the few Lions players to start the year in great form. Their replacements aren’t obvious, especially with the reserves team going down by over 100 points in the NEAFL. Kids will have to be played whether they are ready or not.
It was another disappointing display by the Tigers against Collingwood. Trent Cotchin let Brent Macaffer get in his head and was kept to only 13 disposals, the forward line again struggled to function excluding the inclusion of Sam Lloyd and the Collingwood midfield were able to kick goals at will. Positively, they come up against a side that they have a great record against. It has won the last five encounters and is also unbeaten at the Gabba since 2006. Brett Deledio will miss again.
Brisbane are horribly undermanned and would need a miracle to get up. The Richmond -25.5 line is of interest.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 45 POINTS
COLLINGWOOD ($1.84) vs NORTH MELBOURNE ($2.00)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 19/04, 13:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R23 2013 Collingwood 17.12.114 lost to North 19.11.125 at the MCG
Line: Collingwood -1.5, North +1.5
Collingwood are in a good position despite being 2-2. Losses against Fremantle and Geelong have been countered by impressive wins against Sydney and Richmond. This will be a real test though as North Melbourne have created problems in recent times. Since the Pies 117 point smashing of North in 2011, the blue and white have bounced back and won 2 of the last 3 encounters. The Collingwood midfield are in great goal kicking form, with Beams, Pendlebury and Swan kicking 8 between them against the Tigers and are creating unpredictability in the forward half.
North Melbourne were super in the wet against Sydney. While it had 18 less inside 50s, it beat the Swans for contested possession, clearances and efficiency. Ben Cunnington was impressive once again with 30 touches and 11 clearances while Nick Dal Santo is looking more comfortable in his new colours with every appearance. Unfortunately the Roos won’t be given an extra midfield boost with Jack Ziebell still not ready from his shoulder injury.
I like the Roos chances here. They are creating an imposing mix of contested ball and disposal efficiency which is creating opposition questions as to whether to cover the inside or outside. The recent record against Collingwood reads well.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 13 POINTS
SYDNEY ($2.30) vs FREMANTLE ($1.65)
AT THE SCG, SATURDAY 19/04, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: PF 2013 Fremantle 14.15.99 defeated Sydney 11.8.74 at PS
Line: Sydney +7.5, Fremantle -7.5
It is getting towards do or die with the Sydney Swans, especially if they still carry any top four hopes. On a wet old day at the SCG on Sunday, the Swans had no trouble getting the ball inside 50 with 66 entrances, but it just couldn’t get the score on the board. It kicked a goal only every 11th inside 50 compared to North Melbourne 3.69, while it needed 58.33 disposals for every goal. A putrid disposal efficiency rate of 59.4% didn’t help matters, while it could only operate at a conversion rate of 33% when there was a shot at goal. Kurt Tippett is close to returning, but that is likely to create even more problems with the Swans already seen to be too tall. Tom Mitchell misses with an ankle injury while Ryan O’Keefe has been dropped.
It was a timely return to form for the Fremantle Dockers against a rated side, made even more impressive in the absence of Nathan Fyfe and Michael Barlow, while David Mundy wasn’t seen after half time. Fyfe will come back from suspension this week, while Mundy will be given most of the week to get over concussion. The Dockers also receive a forward boost with Chris Mayne returning. The Dockers have been solid against the Swans recently, producing 2 wins and a draw, while three of those encounters have been at the SCG.
Expect another low scoring contest between these two. Fremantle look value here. Sydney are nowhere near its best and are struggling find a structure that works. The -7.5 Fremantle line looks the goods.
FREMANTLE TO WIN BY 29 POINTS
ESSENDON ($1.10) vs ST KILDA ($7.50)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 19/04, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R4 2013 St Kilda 13.13.91 lost to Essendon 19.14.128 at ES
Line: Essendon -41.5, St Kilda +41.5
Hard to know what to make of the Bombers performance in Perth. Dustin Fletcher and Paul Chapman were late withdrawals as expected, but the club was struck down by a bug before the match which saw David Myers added to the list of outs. Things didn’t get any better when Brendan Goddard was subbed out of the game early with a groin injury, while the 30+ degree temperatures were never going to suit the Bombers. It looks like a lengthy list of excuses for Essendon, but justified reasons as to why an undermanned Fremantle side were so dominant. Goddard will miss with that groin, but Chapman, Fletcher, Myers and Ryder will all play.
The 86 point loss to the Crows was a serious reality check for St Kilda. After coming up against some low quality opposition early in the season, the Saints were beaten in nearly all key performance indicators. Alan Richardson will have a tough week getting his side back in the right frame of mind come Saturday, as we all know young sides are prone to a fast confidence switch. David Armitage is a key exclusion with a knee injury.
If the Bombers want to be a Premiership contender, they need to be winning these types of contests with ease. I believe they will do so.
ESSENDON TO WIN BY 49 POINTS
WEST COAST ($1.87) vs PORT ADELAIDE ($1.95)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SATURDAY 19/04, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R5 2013 Port 12.12.84 defeated West Coast 10.19.79 at AAMI
Line: West Coast -1.5, Port +1.5
The West Coast Eagles were genuinely flogged in Round 5 against Geelong. It had -119 possessions, -99 uncontested possessions, -79 marks, -26 tackles, -30 inside 50s, -17 marks inside 50, -10 contested marks and -4 clearance differentials. Not to mention the fact that it could only score 32 points. The Eagles came into the game seriously undermanned and met a side that was hungry and at its defensive best. The positive is that the Eagles are still 3-1, but look a long way off the best sides at this stage. Positively, Luke Shuey will return from suspension, Matt Rosa has overcome an illness, while Chris Masten and Darren Glass have also been named.
Port Adelaide completely dined out on a Brisbane side lacking serious senior depth and confidence. Jay Schulz feasted on a bag of 7 goals, with 3 each from White, Westhoff and Sam Gray capping off a purely dominant performance. The Power were so destructive that it nearly kicked more goals than Brisbane had inside 50s (24 goals to 28 I50s). Travis Boak collected 41 disposals, while Cornes, Ebert, Robbie Gray, Broadbent, Wines, White and Polec all had 25 or more. West Coast will offer far greater resistance. Chad Wingard is a handy inclusion.
As the odds suggest, this is an extremely tight game on paper. Both round 4 matches are difficult to gauge due to variables, but Port will go into this game high on confidence.
PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 4 POINTS
ADELAIDE ($1.13) vs GWS ($6.25)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SUNDAY 20/04, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R7 2013 GWS 7.10.52 lost to Adelaide 29.13.187 at Spotless
Line: Adelaide -39.5, GWS +39.5
What a return to form by the Crows. Brenton Sanderson would have been concerned at the prospect of taking on an inform St Kilda side, but his side produced a result that we all know it is capable of. The most pleasing aspect of the game would be the dominance of the forward line where Jenkins and Podsiadly kicked 4 and 3 goals respectively. Adelaide had 17 marks inside 50 and when the talls didn’t mark the ball, they got it to the ground for the likes of Betts, Wright and Petrenko to swoop. Now it has the opportunity to replicate the performance against a similarly young side in the Giants.
It was another gallant performance for the Giants as the improvement continues to show. They again won the contested possession and clearance count against a side renowned for such skills and got in the Dogs faces whenever possible. This side is showing signs of fearing no one, which will be a characteristic that holds in great stead when they are tearing sides up in years to come. Heath Shaw will miss with a minor hamstring, but No.1 draft pick Tom Boyd will make his debut.
Another important game for the Crows that they can’t afford to drop. It should be win number two. The 193.5 over/under score looks high with the Giants only averaging 79 points against this season.
ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 15 POINTS
MELBOURNE ($3.30) vs GOLD COAST ($1.32)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 20/04, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R20 2013 Gold Coast 13.12.90 defeated Melbourne 10.17.77 at MS
Line: Melbourne +21.5, Gold Coast -21.5
April 12th 2014 will be a date Melbourne supporters will remember for a while after defeating Carlton for its first victory under Paul Roos. While the margin was comfortable enough in the end, the Dees were beaten in many areas including total possessions, contested ball and clearances. But the pressure rates were at levels not seen by a Melbourne side for a lot of years, producing a mammoth 84 tackles. It also managed to take 11 inside 50 marks to 3 with Chris Dawes coming back into the side and James Frawley moving forward creating unfamiliar problems. Expect to see a similar set up.
It was a night that Guy McKenna would prefer to forget after Hawthorn got away from his young side in the second half. It was the first time Gold Coast had been blown away for a while, as the Hawks kicked 12 goals to one after the half time break. The statistics were ugly enough to raise some eyebrows, but you’d expect the result will be close to ignored and the positives of earlier games reiterated.
The midfield strength of the Suns will be far too much for Melbourne to handle.
GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 39 POINTS
WESTERN BULLDOGS ($1.65) vs CARLTON ($2.28)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 20/04, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R20 2013 Carlton 13.11.89 lost to Dogs 16.21.117 at ES
Line: Dogs -7.5, Carlton +7.5
The Western Bulldogs are sitting in a nice position after Round 4 with 2 wins, but you just get the feeling they are just off their best. The Dogs dominated contested possession and clearances last year, but currently sit 17th and 11th respectively in those categories. Tom Liberatore and Ryan Griffen are the key players to see those rankings lift, as neither have reached the heights of their outstanding 2013 seasons. In saying that, the Dogs have a great recent record against Carlton having won 3 of the last 4 encounters. Dale Morris will miss through suspension.
As we all know and been repeatedly reminded by the media, Carlton lost to Melbourne last week. Like many, I’m not exactly sure what Mick Malthouse is trying to achieve with this group. He certainly hasn’t got a side that is capable of winning a premiership, yet we continuously see underperforming senior players getting opportunities over and over again. This week’s selection is the perfect example of this with Waite, McLean, Garlett, White and Bell all returning to the side. One senior name we do like seeing back is Chris Judd.
The Dogs have proven to match up well against Carlton. If they get their ball winning capabilities together, they should get over the line.
WESTERN BULLDOGS TO WIN BY 20 POINTS
GEELONG ($2.50) vs HAWTHORN ($1.53)
AT THE MCG, MONDAY 21/04, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: PF 2013 Hawthorn 14.18.102 defeated Geelong 15.7.97 at the MCG
Line: Geelong +10.5, Hawthorn -10.5
This is the game that all neutral supporters are looking forward to. Geelong and Hawthorn have created a classic modern rivalry and they rarely let the spectators down with anything less than epic. As we all know, Geelong had won 11 straight encounters since the 2008 Grand Final before Hawthorn finally broke the “Kennett Curse” with a five point victory to advance to the Grand Final last year. During those 12 clashes since the 2008 Grand Final, only an average margin of 8.42 points have split the sides. The two clubs go into the Easter Monday fixture as the only undefeated teams and it is hard not to expect anything but a tight finish.
The Cats produced a clinical display against the undermanned West Coast side. The most important numbers for Chris Scott would have been that despite having well over 100 more disposals than the Eagles, his side also laid 26 more tackles. The defensive pressure of Geelong in season 2014 has been manic, averaging 77 tackles per game. It is also averaging two more inside 50s than any other side this year, giving its forward line every opportunity to score. Andrew Mackie will be given until the last minute to recover from a tight hammy, while Josh Caddy has cruelly down with a broken foot.
Hawthorn have been the clear standout of the season despite Geelong also being undefeated. It is averaging 128.5 points per game with the likes of Gunston and Roughead just as dangerous without Franklin. Apart from points scored, the other major statistical advantage the Hawks have over Geelong is in the clearances. Hawthorn are averaging 7 more per game than the Cats, but the partnership of McIntosh and Dawson in the ruck for Geelong has reduced the abundance of dangerous clearances we saw going the other way last year. Liam Shiels and Matt Spangher have been ruled out for Hawthorn, but they are set to be boosted by the returns of Ben McEvoy, Brian Lake and Ben Stratton.
The Hawks will be hell bent on stopping Geelong skipper Joel Selwood who is in Brownlow Medal leading form. Restrict Selwood and Johnson at the stoppages and the Geelong first ball winning options dry up. That would be enough to get Hawthorn across the line.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 7 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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