Welcome to the Round 8 AFL preview. We now have the one undefeated side in Geelong after a round of footy that didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations. Geelong has been 7-0 three times since 2008 and has reached the Grand Final on each occasion. The signs are looking ominous for 2013.
Hawthorn was the other big winner, knocking off the reigning premier Sydney with relative ease in the Grand Final replay. Hawthorn and Geelong are looking like the teams to beat at this very early stage. The premiership market also suggests that it is a two horse race with Hawthorn at $3.25, Geelong $3.75 and daylight to third favourite Sydney at $9.00. Those odds will obviously tighten up as the season unfolds, but it is difficult to see another team challenge in terms of premiership favouritism with both clubs having soft runs home. Is it too early to be looking forward to Round 15 when these two meet again?
Gold Coast @ -11.5 Line.
WEST COAST ($1.36) vs NORTH MELBOURNE ($3.15)
AT PATERSONS, FRIDAY 17/05, 20:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: West Coast 24.18 (162) defeated North 9.12 (66) at Patersons, EF, 2012
Line: West Coast -20.5, North +20.5
This is an extremely early eight point game for these two clubs. The elimination finalists from last year are both at 3-4 and are playing catch up after disappointing starts. Both are on two game winning streaks and are looking far more imposing.
West Coast is a much more settled side than two or three weeks ago. The experienced players are beginning to have a significant impact on the game and could be boosted further with the potential return of Beau Waters. The Eagles are averaging the most tackles of any team in the competition with 71, 15 more than North who are languishing at 16th overall in the area.
The Roos will be sweating on the availability of skipper Andrew Swallow who jarred his knee against the Dogs. Majak Daw kicked an extremely impressive 6 goals last week, but will find it much harder against Glass and Mackenzie. The inclusion of Brent Harvey has been a massive bonus and he is sure to get better with each run. North have the best kicking efficiency in the league at 73.2% and will be looking to expose the Eagles in the open spaces of Patersons Stadium. West Coast operates at a poor 68.8%, second worst behind the Dogs.
West Coast have won 8 of the last 9 encounters at Patersons, they should be too strong.
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 26 POINTS
ESSENDON ($1.04) vs BRISBANE ($11.00)
AT ETIHAD, SATURDAY 18/05, 13:45
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Essendon 19.15 (129) defeated Brisbane 9.8 (62) at Etihad, R6, 2012
Line: Essendon -53.5, Brisbane +53.5
There were plenty of positives to take of the top of the table clash against Geelong for the Bombers, but at the end of the day, they didn’t quite have the same class. In saying that, a drop from $7.50 to $12.00 in the premiership market seemed a little over the top. Essendon regain the important services of Brent Stanton and Patrick Ryder. Ryder will be frothing at the mouth to get into the action after incomprehensively being overlooked for the Geelong clash. Courtenay Dempsey is fit but will miss due to disciplinary reasons.
The Lions were competitive against the improving West Coast side. But some critical late errors by seasoned players saw the Eagles run away with a comfortable 26 point win. While the pressure continues to build for Michael Voss it is encouraging to see their clearance rates improving, beating the Eagles in the centre 18-13.
The line of 53.5 points looks a little long, but who knows which Brisbane will turn up? Not worth the risk.
ESSENDON TO WIN BY 43 POINTS
HAWTHORN ($1.001) vs GWS ($41.00)
AT AURORA, SATURDAY 18/05, 14:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Hawthorn 28.25 (193) defeated GWS 4.7 (31) at the MCG, R15, 2012
Line: Hawthorn -95.5, GWS +95.5
I don’t think I’ve ever seen odds this lopsided and it is hard to justify them being any different. The Hawks are coming off an opening seven rounds that saw them drawn against every 2012 finalist. They are 6-1 after what some regarded the toughest start of all time and have now strung together a streak of 6 consecutive wins after a round one loss to Geelong. What more can you say?
The Giants were embarrassed against the Crows. The humiliating 135 point loss was made even worse by the fact that usual fringe forward Tom Lynch kicked 10 goals in a performance he is likely to never forget. GWS let the Crows have 115 more disposals, kick 22 more goals and conceded a ridiculous 32 marks in their defensive 50. That is not good enough, especially after such a positive performance against Essendon.
This is going to get ugly. The Hawks demolished the Giants by 162 points last year. Expect Buddy to have a picnic and get back in cherry ripe form.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 105 POINTS
GOLD COAST ($1.59) vs WESTERN BULLDOGS ($2.35)
AT METRICON, SATURDAY 18/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: WB 9.18 (72) defeated Gold Coast 4.10 (34) at TIO Stadium Darwin, R8, 2012
Line: Gold Coast -11.5, Dogs +11.5
The Suns produced the biggest victory of its short existence, storming to an even 10 goal win against the battling Demons. It was also its first win in Melbourne which would be a huge relief. Their contested style is gaining admiration from commentators, opposition and supporters alike. This week they meet the Western Bulldogs who would also claim their contested work to be a major strength. But while the Dogs should break even in tight, the Suns would be confident they’d have their measure on the outside averaging nearly 15 more uncontested possessions a game and a better kicking efficiency. The Suns were desperate for Charlie Dixon to return in order to test the Dogs defence much like Majak Daw did, but he hasn’t been named.
The Bulldogs are beginning to become a bit leaky in second halves, a common trait of young developing sides. They have conceded 25 second half goals over the last two weeks, something McCartney will be looking to ease. They will be pleased to see Brett Goodes return from injury.
On form, the Gold Coast should be much shorter. I feel the Suns are great value at home. I’d be more than happy to take the -11.5 line.
GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 29 POINTS
SYDNEY ($1.40) vs FREMANTLE ($2.95)
AT THE SCG, SATURDAY 18/05, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Sydney 14.10 (94) defeated Fremantle 12.9 (81) at the SCG, R2, 2012
Line: Sydney -17.5, Fremantle +17.5
The Swans will be keen to put last week’s Grand Final replay behind them after the Hawks jumped out of the blocks and weren’t able to be reeled in. While most of the stats were relatively level, the Swans would have been disappointed losing the contested possessions 138-149, a stat they lead the competition (averaging 158.3 per game).
Fremantle are on a sneaky streak of three victories, having had wins against solid opposition in Richmond, Gold Coast and Collingwood. What is more impressive is that they have been without key personnel in Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Nathan Fyfe and Stephen Hill. Nathan Fyfe will return from suspension but unfortunately inform ruckman Jon Griffin will miss the rest of the season with an ACL, pushing Fremantle’s ruck stocks to the brink. Jack Hannath and Zac Clarke will need to step up.
The Dockers have been quite impressive at the SCG recently, winning two of the last three and being very competitive in the third. But the Swans rarely lose two in a row these days and should get the points.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 15 POINTS
COLLINGWOOD ($2.95) VS GEELONG ($1.33)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 18/05, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Collingwood 17.8 (110) defeated Geelong 10.19 (79) at the MCG, R16, 2012
Line: Collingwood +20.5, Geelong -20.5
Collingwood vs Geelong has been a clash of recent times with a constant buzz surrounded by it. But with the Pies struggling to hold their spot in the eight and Geelong a game clear on top of the ladder, there just doesn’t quite seem to be as much interest. On face value, it is a massive game, especially for Collingwood.
The Pies have been leaving far too much to the big name players and it’s beginning to take a toll. The midfield is suffering the most, especially with the extended absences of Dayne Beams and Luke Ball. For example, they are only averaging 12.7 centre clearances a game, ranked 15th for the year. Of the 89 centre clearances that have been won, 47.2% have come from either Dane Swan or Scott Pendlebury. Up forward, the Pies are third for marks inside 50, but 35.1% of those have been taken by Travis Cloke. The load needs to be spread. Collingwood will be without Heath Shaw due to suspension while Dale Thomas has reinjured his ankle. Luke Ball will return.
There isn’t much more to add about the Cats that hasn’t already been said throughout the week. A 7-0 record tells a fairly telling story. James Kelly is a critical loss after being suspended for two weeks due to the highly publicised Brendon Goddard bump.
Collingwood are in danger of losing touch with the top four and need to win, but the Cats have been flawless. They will be too good again despite Collingwood winning both matches last year.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 28 POINTS
CARLTON ($1.39) vs PORT ADELAIDE ($3.20)
AT ETIHAD, SUNDAY 19/05, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Port 14.15 (99) defeated Carlton 6.9 (45) at AAMI, R10, 2012
Line: Carlton -17.5, Port Adelaide +17.5
This is one of the more interesting games of the round. Carlton had a disappointing loss against the Saints on Monday night, but was horribly disadvantaged throughout the match with constant injuries. It all started with Michael Jamison popping a shoulder in the opening minute before Chris Yarran pulled a hamstring and David Ellard went down with a calf. Andrew Carrazzo was a late withdrawal while Bryce Gibbs was still missing with his hamstring. This week, Ellard and Yarran are certain outs, while Jamison is in serious doubt but has been named. Eddie Betts will miss 3 weeks after breaking Nathan Wright’s jaw with a misdirected bump. Gibbs and Carrazzo have not been passed fit although Jarrad Waite will again return from suspension.
There was always a small expectation that Port Adelaide could come crashing back down to earth. Richmond was convincing but I’m not quite ready to write the Power off just yet. Hamish Hartlett has been a major contributor to most of Port’s wins, but he needs to learn how to break a tag or at the very least get some protection from his teammates.
Interestingly, 6 of the last 7 encounters have been played at AAMI stadium, with Carlton winning 5 of the 7. Wait for Carlton’s final team before committing to a bet. Port’s +17.5 line at the very minimum will be tempting if the Blues lose any more key players between now and Sunday.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 9 POINTS
RICHMOND ($1.01) vs MELBOURNE ($15.00)
AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 19/05, 15:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Richmond 13.23 (101) defeated Melbourne 11.8 (74) at the MCG, R15, 2012
Line: Richmond -70.5, Melbourne +70.5
Here we have another one sided contest involving Melbourne. There seems to be a consensus that it is only a matter of time before Mark Neeld gets his marching orders. With interim CEO Peter Jackson needing to make a quick impact, a streak is the only thing that can save Neeld.
The Tigers went to Adelaide as outsiders against the inform Port Adelaide and came home with the points. Brett Deledio was able to find form in the absence of skipper Trent Cotchin while Dustin Martin continued his outstanding season. It was an important win after losing three on the trot. Unfortunately, the win had its consequences with Shane Tuck and Chris Knights going down with serious injuries. Trent Cotchin and Tyrone Vickery will return to the line up.
Melbourne was smashed by the Gold Coast in most areas. But again the most concerning stat was the tackle count, beaten 39-71, despite having 101 less disposals. It is horrible reading.
It is almost impossible to take anything out of Melbourne’s performance against the Suns. Richmond will win convincingly.
RICHMOND TO WIN 76 POINTS
ADELAIDE ($1.30) vs ST KILDA ($3.50)
AT AAMI, SUNDAY 19/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: Adelaide 17.13 (115) defeated St Kilda 16.15 (111) at AAMI, R12, 2012.
Line: Adelaide -22.5, St Kilda +22.5
The Crows had a confidence boosting win against the hapless Giants in Sydney, highlighted by Tom Lynch’s breakout game of 10 goals. It is difficult to know what to take out of this game statistically with GWS again running out of steam in the second half and Adelaide taking full advantage kicking 18 goals. Patrick Dangerfield is back to his 2012 best, kicking four goals and gathering 28 possessions.
The Saints were fortunate against Carlton, but still produced a performance that deserved recognition. Nick Riewoldt (3 goals, 25 possessions, 13 marks), Jack Steven (39 possessions) and Ben McEvoy (5 contested marks) were outstanding. The Saints are really struggling in the clearances, averaging only 33.9 a game, second last in the competition. Despite the win, they only managed 5 centre clearances against the Blues, a clear indication that they are desperately missing Lenny Hayes. Unfortunately for the Saints, he is still 2-3 weeks away.
St Kilda haven’t beaten Adelaide at AAMI Stadium since 2009, but almost stole the victory in round 12 last year. Adelaide should still get the job done at home.
ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 19 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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