Welcome to the Round 8 AFL Preview. Round 7 looked like it was going to be relatively stock standard, but the week was flipped on its head by the results of Melbourne and Gold Coast. The Demons produced its first victory in South Australia since 2002, ending a dreaded period against both Adelaide and the Power. Unfortunately the win has been drowned out by the Jack Viney tribunal case, but internally high confidence levels will be spreading through the entire playing group as they prepare to secure the clubs first back to back points since 2011.
The Gold Coast win was far more predictable, but the way the Suns executed it has many taking notice. They are a genuine finals chance and could easily be 8-2 at the end of Round 11 with clashes against St Kilda, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide to come. They are still currently paying $2.50 to make the top 8 which looks outstanding value, but a tough 5 week midseason streak against Sydney, West Coast away, Geelong, Hawthorn and Collingwood will be the test to see how advanced they really are.
Melbourne @ the +15.5 line
SYDNEY ($2.80) vs HAWTHORN ($1.46)
AT ANZ STADIUM, FRIDAY 09/05, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: QF 2013 Hawthorn 15.15 (105) dftd Sydney 7.9 (51) at the MCG
Line: Sydney +14.5, Hawthorn -14.5
This is the game that the supporters of these two clubs have been looking forward to most, Buddy Franklins first encounter against the Hawks. Despite being selected Buddy has to pass a fitness test before the final 22 is named 90 minutes before the first bounce, but the Swans will ensure he plays to maximise the gate takings. It will also be the first time that the Swans multimillion dollar forward line play together, with Kurt Tippett recovered from his rib injury. The drama itself is sure to generate a large TV audience. Sydney are just beginning to hit some decent form and look in good shape to take on the reigning Premier. Mike Pyke is a big loss in the ruck.
The Hawks 145 point demolition of St Kilda was one of the more one sided results you will see. The Hawks had 151 more disposals, 43 more inside 50s, 19 more marks inside 50 and operated at 77.9% disposal efficiency in horrendous conditions. They also had an enormous 8 multiple goal kickers, with Gunston, Roughead, Schoenmakers and Breust all kicking four goals each. The opposition has been of low standard, but the Hawks couldn’t have bounced back better from the Geelong defeat. The St Kilda win came at a loss though, as Sam Mitchell and Brian Lake will be out for extended periods due to soft tissue injuries.
The Hawks have had Sydney’s measure since the 2012 Grand Final. Even with the key outs, it is hard to back against Hawthorn in its current form.
HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 23 POINTS
PORT ADELAIDE ($1.52) vs FREMANTLE ($2.60)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 10/05, 13:10
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R22 2013 Fremantle 21.8 (134) dftd Port Adelaide 9.6 (60) at PS
Line: Port -11.5, Fremantle +11.5
Port Adelaide keep doing what it needs to do. It wasn’t anywhere near as an intense performance as the week before, but it got the job done comfortably against GWS in Canberra. You could argue that the Giants ran harder on the spread with 24 more uncontested possessions, but whenever GWS challenged, the now accustomed Port Adelaide running ability came back to life. Hamish Hartlett and Atipate Carlisle were late withdrawals against the Giants, but both will come back into the side for the Freo clash. The Power are relishing a short injury list.
The Dockers were far more impressive in the Derby on the weekend. Fremantle had 111 more disposals than the struggling West Coast side and amazingly operated at an enormous 79.2% disposal efficiency at the same time. In saying that, it still doesn’t feel like this side is anywhere near the levels of 2013. It will be a real test to see how competitive the Dockers are against one of the form sides in the competition on a six day break. McPharlin and Dawson both out with quad and ankle injuries respectively could play havoc with defensive structures.
Fremantle have a great record against Port Adelaide, winning the last 6 encounters with ease. But as we know, this is a much different Power side. Port deservingly go in as favourites.
PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 20 POINTS
BRISBANE ($4.25) vs ESSENDON ($1.22)
AT THE GABBA, SATURDAY 10/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R8 2013 Essendon 12.14 (86) lost to Brisbane Lions 14.12 (96) at ES
Line: Brisbane +25.5, Essendon -25.5
It was back to what we have become accustomed to with the Brisbane Lions on Saturday night. You’d think that the high spirits from an international win would have a side craving more success, but Brisbane looked fairly flat before waking up halfway through the first quarter. From there the Swans basically did what they pleased and ran away to a comfortable win. The win in Wellington was slightly overrated and seeing what Hawthorn did to St Kilda proved that. The first year players will enjoy seeing Jonathan Brown and Pearce Hanley back in the side.
The Bombers got the points against an improved Western Bulldogs, but are still struggling to recapture its early season form. Essendon were beaten in nearly every statistic excluding total kicks and marks. It was a game that rarely lifted to great heights despite the small margin and Mark Thompson would just be happy going home with the points.
Brisbane have been competitive against Essendon recently, but they just don’t have the senior bodies to match these sides at the moment. The line again looks short against Brisbane at -25.5.
ESSENDON TO WIN BY 42 POINTS
MELBOURNE ($2.95) Vs WESTERN BULLDOGS ($1.42)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 10/05, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R23 2013 Western Bulldogs 16.11 (107) dftd Melbourne 13.9 (87) at ES
Line: Melbourne +15.5, Dogs -15.5
It will be classed as Melbourne’s greatest victory for a very long time. 2002 was the last time Melbourne crossed the South Australian border and came home with the chocolates. That is a long time to wait in any circumstance and it is great reward for a side that has stuck and learned a new game plan. Chris Dawes has been an enormous presence since coming back into the side and is straightening Melbourne up as an aggressive target. He worked tirelessly in gathering 20 disposals and kicking 3 goals, changing an unfair reputation he had unfortunately taken from his Collingwood days. The Jack Viney case has stolen the attention from a famous victory, but Paul Roos will ensure the positive attitude is taken into the Dogs clash.
It was a much better contested and stoppage performance by the Dogs against Essendon, but it still wasn’t enough to get a victory. The Dogs started last season slowly as well and as Brendan McCartney pointed out this week, his side is in a much more competitive state than this time last year. They are still very young and while I had higher expectations of what they could produce, development is still the key objective of this club.
Melbourne won the Round 14 encounter last year and were again competitive in Round 23 when the Dogs were in good form, despite getting smashed for contested ball and clearances on both occasions. Paul Roos has improved the Demons contested ball dramatically and their clearance numbers are improving every week. I really like Melbourne’s chances here and at the very least think their +15.5 line is great value.
MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 12 POINTS
WEST COAST ($1.07) vs GWS ($8.50)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SUNDAY 11/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R9 2013 GWS Giants 8.7 (55) lost to West Coast 23.17 (155) at Spotless
Line: West Coast -52.5, GWS +52.5
The Eagles are in the midst of a major form slump. Their midfielders are struggling to find the footy, the once unbeatable ruck combination of Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui have seemingly become mortal and key forward Josh Kennedy just isn’t having the impact of last season. There are genuine worries all over the ground for Adam Simpson and if they want to be a finals contender, the big name players need to step up. The biggest improvement must come from its kicking at goal. They have kicked 31 goals, 50 behinds from the last four games which is just unacceptable. Mark LeCras has been named on the extended bench and is sure to help that statistic.
The 35 point margin flattered GWS against Port Adelaide. It was again smashed for inside 50s (39-71) and mauled in centre clearances (11-25), proving the massive impact Shane Mumford was having early in the season. Mumford will unfortunately miss again, while Jeremy Cameron has been ruled out due to an inner ear injury. On top of that, Adam Treloar and Curtly Hampton both miss with ankle injuries.
This is the perfect opportunity for West Coast to get some form back. The Giants are vulnerable to a large margin and the Eagles must take advantage.
WEST COAST TO WIN BY 63 POINTS
ST KILDA ($3.40) vs CARLTON ($1.33)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, MONDAY 12/05, 19:20
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R16 2013 Carlton 16.14 (110) dftd St Kilda 10.14 (74) at ES
Line: St Kilda +20.5, Carlton -20.5
The AFL continues to persist with this Monday night fixture, despite the poor scheduling for families. It also isn’t the most attractive game on offer which is likely to equate to another disappointing 2014 crowd figure.
If the Saints weren’t completely drained of confidence after losing to lowly Brisbane, the Hawks ensured the last twinkle of it was exhausted on Saturday afternoon. It was a mauling of epic proportions in wet conditions and may have been worse if the weather was friendlier. The only relevant statistic St Kilda won was tackles, which is expected considering Hawthorn had the footy over 150 times more. The most frightening statistic was that it could only manage 25 inside 50s, giving Nick Riewoldt next to no chance. Alan Richardson certainly knows now he has a tough job ahead of him.
Carlton were brought back to earth by Collingwood. They were absolutely dominated in the first three quarters, kicking only two goals in that period of time. To the Blues credit, they didn’t completely fall in a heap and kicked 8 final quarter goals to keep the margin respectable. After two great defensive efforts in a row against West Coast and the Dogs, the deplorable early season tackling numbers returned with only 49 on Friday night. It is where the improvement must come from. Jarrad Waite and Andrew Carrazzo haven’t got up despite the longer break.
If Carlton can replicate the form of Round 5, 6 and last week’s final quarter, the -20.5 line will be easily dealt with. The “if” is the key word in that statement though.
CARLTON TO WIN BY 45 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.
All of our information is provided free. If you want to show your support, if you are wanting to join a new bookmaker, please use our banners. Thanks.