Welcome to the Round 7 AFL preview. After of a week of consolidation where every game had a winning short priced favourite, Round 7 has everyone licking their lips. Firstly, Friday night sees the two undefeated clubs, Geelong and Essendon, battle it out to become the outright ladder leader. The Grand Final replay on Saturday night is the perfect encore and will uncover whether Hawthorn have overcome the mental scars of losing to the almighty Sydney outfit last September.
While the weekend will be centered on the two blockbusters of Friday and Saturday nights, Port vs Richmond, Fremantle vs Collingwood and Melbourne vs Gold Coast are games of huge interest and significance. I suggest you cancel all weekend duties, plant yourself on the coach and enjoy a cracking weekend of footy.
Collingwood @ $1.77
Gold Coast @ $2.10
GEELONG ($1.75) vs ESSENDON ($2.38)
AT ETIHAD, FRIDAY 10/05/2013, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Geelong 20.14 (134) defeated Essendon 10.7 (67) at Etihad, R17, 2012.
Line: Geelong -8.5, Essendon +8.5
One vs two. If you have plans on Friday night that don’t involve watching this match, you aren’t a true football supporter. There is no real excuse to miss this match unless the reason involves health or death. This has a similar feel to the St Kilda vs Geelong Round 14, 2009 home and away game at Etihad. Let’s hope it can produce a similar standard of football as well.
As the Cats have admitted themselves, they have been patchy at times but have still found a way to step it up when it matters and get over the line. The Bombers had barely put a foot wrong all season until Saturday when GWS lead by a convincing 21 points at half time. They finally got into gear in the second half kicking 14 goals and running away with the game.
The stats are suggesting that this is going to be an open flowing game. Geelong and Essendon are 1st and 2nd in the competition for uncontested possession and both operate at around 72% for kicking efficiency. They are also number one and two for points scored and are the only clubs in the competition to average more 60 inside 50s a game. Over the last 10 games these clubs have produced game totals averaging 212.9 points, so keep a real close eye on the over/under totals when they are released. It also paints a pretty picture for yesterdays Centrebet special offer article.
The Bombers will regain all of Hurley, Fletcher, Carlisle, Heppell and Winderlich from injury/restings. Patrick Ryder has been named as an emergency after a 3 week suspension, look out for him to be a potential late inclusion. Brent Stanton will miss with a groin injury. The Cats will still be without Paul Chapman.
The Cats have put away all challengers so far and it is hard not to back them again. They have won 10 of the last 12 encounters against the Bombers. Expect a tight, high scoring contest.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 15 POINTS
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.63) vs RICHMOND ($2.58)
AT AAMI STADIUM, SATURDAY 11/05/2013, 13:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Richmond 16.10 (112) drew with Port 16.10 (112) at the MCG, R23, 2012
Line: Port -8.5, Richmond +8.5
This is probably the most underrated game of the round. These two teams played out a dramatic draw in Round 23 last year to finish off their seasons. While they are hardly traditional rivals, they consistently produce good contests and with Troy Chaplin defecting from Port to Richmond last year, there could be some added tension.
While the Powers undefeated streak was broken last week against North, they were hardly disgraced. Skipper Travis Boak continued his outstanding season with another 30 possession game. He and Hamish Hartlett have taken their games to the next level for 2013 and will need to stay at that elite standard to knock off the Tigers.
Richmond are coming off three consecutive losses, but have a very good record against Port at AAMI Stadium, winning 3 of the last 4 encounters at the venue. They would certainly be travelling with confidence based on those results. But captain Trent Cotchin is a massive out and will leave a large workload on Brett Deledio. Geelong managed to keep Deledio to 20 disposals and considering he has a great recent record against Port, the Tigers will be desperate to see him back to his best.
I’m really finding it difficult to split these two, but Cotchin being out has made my decision easier. Port’s form deserves respect though.
PORT TO WIN BY 11 POINTS
BRISBANE ($5.20) vs WEST COAST ($1.24)
AT THE GABBA, SATURDAY 11/05/2013, 14:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: West Coast 28.7 (175) defeated Brisbane 12.5 (77) at Patersons, R18, 2012
Line: Brisbane +27.5, West Coast -27.5
These two produced one of the games of the round last season when James Polkinghorne unleashed a torpedo from the centre square in the dying minutes to give Brisbane an unlikely victory. Unfortunately the return bout wasn’t as spectacular with the Eagles cruising to a 98 point win which included an incredible contribution of 15 different goal kickers.
The Lions continued their disappointing start to the season with a 10 goal loss to the reigning premier. The pressure will be mounting on Michael Voss and it isn’t going to get any easier over the coming weeks with a horror draw. They will need to be competitive at home especially. A positive for Voss is that the Lions have won 5 of the last 7 games against West Coast.
West Coast is beginning to get their best 22 players back together on the field. While they only defeated the developing Bulldogs last week, the signs of improvement were certainly telling. Nic Naitanui will be given more game time after starting as the sub last week while Collingwood recruit Sharrod Wellingham fitted nicely into the Eagles midfield rotations and off half back.
The Eagles should deal with the confidence drained Lions with ease. With an easy draw coming, the Eagles could easily be 7-4 at the bye, yet are still paying $1.70 to make the 8. Have a serious look at that!
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 38 POINTS
WESTERN BULLDOGS ($9.80) vs NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.12)
AT ETIHAD, SATURDAY 11/05/2013, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: North 18.7 (115) defeated Dogs 8.13 (61) at Etihad, R19, 2012
Line: Dogs +43.5, North -43.5
North Melbourne continues to play better football than their 2-4 record suggests. They would have been relieved to get the four points against the undefeated Power. But they still have certain areas that need to work on and while they won’t take the Dogs lightly, this game does provide an opportunity to act on certain deficiencies. Their tackling would be the highest priority, with their average of 53.5 a game the third worst in the competition. After serving his 6 week suspension, Brent Harvey will finally return.
The Dogs have now lost five in a row and are in danger of cementing a position in the bottom four. They are having no issues winning the footy at the stoppages but are turning the ball over more than any other team with the worst kicking efficiency of 68%. They need to start looking at introducing some outside class but are limited by their options. Griffen, Murphy and Giansiracusa are welcomed additions.
The Doggies confidence appears to be falling rapidly despite a positive performance against Geelong only two weeks ago. With only a 6 day break from the Perth trip, the youngsters could be vulnerable and the Roos should pounce.
NORTH TO WIN BY 51 POINTS
HAWTHORN ($1.64) vs SYDNEY ($2.56)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 11/05/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 14.7 (91) defeated Hawthorn 11.15 (81) at the MCG, GF, 2012
Line: Hawthorn -9.5, Sydney +9.5
The Grand Final replay is sure to live up to expectations. With the Hawks being outright premiership favourites for a majority of last season, having a flag as good as stolen from their grasp is sure to create emotions of revenge. Like Geelong in 2008 with Hawthorn, the Hawks won’t see the Swans the same for a very long time. It will be intriguing to see how they react.
Stats are always a great thing to look over and form an opinion from, but last year’s Grand Final numbers were off the planet in regards to conflictions. Hawthorn won the centre clearances 19-5, total clearances 58-35, I50s 61-43 and Marks I50 10-6. Judged on that, you would have expected the Hawks to win by 50 points plus. But where the Swans won the game was kicking efficiency 72.4% to 64.6% and tackles 110 to 84. The Swans constantly provided intense pressure which kept them in the game long enough to take advantage of their limited opportunities. It just proves that the Swans don’t need to be winning key performance indicators to be still in a game.
The Hawks have been good lately, but the form of Lance Franklin would be of some concern. It is the first time since his debut year that he has been held goalless for consecutive weeks. He has now drifted to $4.00 for the Coleman. Another poor game could see his odds becoming increasingly attractive, especially with the vulnerable expansion clubs and Melbourne to follow.
I think the Hawks will be out to prove a point. Their form has been more consistent than the Swans and should get over the line. Sydney won’t go down without a fight though.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 14 POINTS
FREMANTLE ($2.32) vs COLLINGWOOD ($1.77)
AT PATERSONS, SATURDAY 11/05/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Collingwood 15.17 (107) defeated Fremantle 12.6 (78) at the MCG, R14, 2012
Line: Fremantle +6.5, Collingwood -6.5
This is another really interesting contest. Both clubs are 4-2 and will be desperate not lose touch with the contenders. The loser of this game will be three wins away from the top team, which is quite a bit of daylight this early in the season for clubs considered top 4 by many.
Fremantle were very solid against the Suns, but they still have key players out for the Collingwood game. Matthew Pavlich, Kepler Bradley, Aaron Sandilands and Nathan Fyfe would be more than handy. The regret of appealing the Nathan Fyfe suspension will be strongly felt this week. It is amazing to think that such a misjudgement can occur from a professional set up led by Ross Lyon.
Collingwood have a great record against Fremantle. They have won the last four encounters by an average of 57 points, which includes two matches at Patersons Stadium. Travis Cloke has had a brilliant start to the season and has a great record against Fremantle averaging 3.5 goals over the past four matches. He has kicked 22 goals in the opening six rounds and has taken 6 more marks inside 50 than any other player in the competition. He will be difficult to stop. Nick Maxwell is a surprise inclusion.
The Pies record is difficult to argue with and should beat a Dockers side missing key personnel. They are great value at $1.70.
COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 23 POINTS
GWS ($13.50) vs ADELAIDE ($1.09)
AT SKODA STADIUM, SUNDAY 12/05/2013, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Adelaide 27.16 (178) defeated GWS 8.11 (59) at Skoda, R16, 2012
Line: GWS +49.5, Adelaide -49.5
If you are have to skip a match this round, I probably suggest this one. In saying that, GWS were fantastic against the Bombers last week and would be keen to prove they can put consecutive impressive performances together. Jeremy Cameron produced the best game of his very short career, kicking six goals and being the main reason the Giants led by 21 points at half time. Unfortunately, GWS lived up to its reputation of being the worst second half team of the competition, conceding 14 goals and letting Essendon run away with the game.
Most thought the Crows would have been structural inept without the presence of Taylor Walker, but if anything it made them more unpredictable going forward with Jenkins and McKernan both providing. Unfortunately their forward options have a struck blow with promising tall Lewis Johnston out for a couple of months.
The Crows gave GWS a 119 point thumping at Skoda last year. It really shouldn’t get that ugly again, but the line of -49.5 certainly looks vulnerable.
ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 64 POINTS
MELBOURNE ($1.93) vs GOLD COAST ($2.10)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 12/05/2013, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Melbourne 16.12 (108) defeated Gold Coast 9.12 (66) at the MCG, R19, 2012
Line: Melbourne -2.5, Gold Coast +2.5
This is an extremely important game for both clubs. Melbourne in particular will be desperate for another win as the GWS triumph can only keep the sharks away for a short period of time.
The Demons appear to be in the middle of an injury epidemic with co-captains Jack Grimes (out for 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone) and Jack Trengove (out for 2-3 weeks with a calf injury) joining the casualties. They are added to an injury list that also includes Mark Jamar, Jack Watts and Mitch Clark. The positive for Melbourne is the likely debut of Chris Dawes after crossing from Collingwood. Nathan Jones will take the wheel as stand in captain.
The Suns succumbed to the defensive press of the Dockers last week and were easily beaten. But young sides are always vulnerable to a good defensive game plan. The signs are still good with the Suns fourth in the competition for contested possessions and fifth for clearances. Those numbers are proof of a maturing side.
Excluding last week, they have been quite impressive and are great value against Melbourne. Gary Ablett’s numbers at the MCG last year were enormous and it is hard to think of anyone at Melbourne that can stop him. With key senior players out for Melbourne, the Suns are fantastic value.
GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 19 POINTS
ST KILDA ($4.30) vs CARLTON ($1.31)
AT ETIHAD, MONDAY 13/05/2013, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: St Kilda 16.10 (106) defeated Carlton 12.19 (91) at Etihad, R23, 2012.
Line: St Kilda +23.5, Carlton -23.5
I’m not exactly sure why the AFL continues scheduling this game annually on a Monday night as they now have a fixture that works. In saying that, the match does average an attendance of 41,088 over the three games. But it does appear to be more of an inconvenience, especially for our all important fantasy teams!
St Kilda has recently owned Carlton having won the last three encounters, all relatively convincingly too. Nick Riewoldt is in arguably career best form, which you would think sounds like an outlandish thing to say considering his remarkable career, but the numbers add up. He is the first player since Wayne Carey in 1994 to average 18 possessions, 10 marks and 3 goals in the opening six rounds of a season. He has just about been the Saints only shining light thus far.
These small Carlton forwards just continue to get the job done. This time it was Betts and Garlett to kick 8 goals between them. Jarrad Waite was welcomed back and produced 10 marks and 2 goals, but will again miss due to another moronic suspension. His behaviour on the field (when he gets on) is sure to be wearing thin with the Carlton hierarchy. With a list lacking so many tall forward options, it is imperative that he plays when fit.
The Blues are starting to hit some encouraging form. At 1-5, the Saints are only just hanging in. I’m expecting a comfortable Carlton victory.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 28 POINTS
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.
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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