Welcome to the Round 9 AFL Preview. Being in the middle of the bye rounds gives the ladder a slightly misleading and lopsided look, but don’t let that create a false sense of what Port Adelaide has achieved to be one game clear on top. The Power knocked off another premiership contender in Round 8, this time running over the top of last year’s Grand Finalist Fremantle. It continues to shorten in Premiership betting (currently $6.50) and if these performances continue, outright second favouritism is only a few weeks away.
After the AFL scheduled contests of low interest last year during the byes, there certainly appears to be a greater effort to give the shortened rounds greater oomph this time around. The round is highlighted by an extremely tight looking encounter between Fremantle and Geelong on Saturday night, while Adelaide vs Collingwood and Essendon vs Sydney provide plenty of interest on Thursday and Fridaynights respectively. It isn’t the greatest looking round for value.
Collingwood to win at the -13.5 line
ADELAIDE ($2.75) vs COLLINGWOOD ($1.46)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, THURSDAY 15/05, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R16 2013 Collingwood 17.9 (111) dftd Adelaide 12.12 (84) at the MCG
Line: Adelaide +13.5, Collingwood -13.5
After a two week break to ponder the unforgivable loss against Melbourne in Round 7, the Crows will looking to come out fresh and firing to get the season but on track. Sanderson would have expected to enter the bye at 4-3, which means it is playing catch up and a win against an inform Collingwood side is sure to ease the pain inflicted by Melbourne. The big story of this game is the return of Taylor Walker. After two solid workouts in the Crow’s SANFL side, he was rested from state level to be primed for this Thursday fixture. He will give the Crows a much needed energy boost. In a team shake up, four players have been dropped, while Rutten and Douglas join Walker as inclusions.
The Pies are beginning to look like a genuine contender. Despite dropping the intensity in the final quarter, Collingwood produced a display of significance against Carlton two weeks ago. Most areas of their game are clicking, while key players like Travis Cloke are getting back into form. The kicking for goal continues to be an issue, but there is still around 4 months of footy for that to be rectified. Maxwell and Toovey are underrated inclusions.
Collingwood have an outstanding record against Adelaide. The Magpies have won the last 6 encounters and haven’t lost to Adelaide away since 2006. Adelaide Oval is obviously a different venue, but form lines are again in Collingwood’s favour. The -13.5 line looks good value.
COLLINGWOOD TO WIN BY 32 POINTS
ESSENDON ($3.15) vs SYDNEY ($1.38)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 16/05, 19:50
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R10 2013 Sydney 17.13 (115) dftd Essendon 10.11 (71) at the SCG
Line: Essendon +17.5, Sydney -17.5
Essendon have found ways to win over the last two weeks, but it certainly hasn’t been convincingly against poor opposition. Mark Thompson will be wondering where the endeavour that pushed Hawthorn to within a goal has disappeared to. Statistics showed that they weren’t wasteful against Brisbane, but were genuinely pushed and had to scrap for victory. The Bombers are particularly struggling to score, having not passed more than 73 points over the last 5 rounds. Many find it easy to blame the forward structure of Carlisle and Daniher, but inside 50s have dropped off and the entries certainly aren’t as dangerous. Paul Chapman misses through suspension, but Myers and Bellchambers finally return.
The Sydney Swans are often late starters and in typical fashion, this side is just beginning to hit its straps. The opposition was injury depleted, but it is still unlike any Hawthorn side to be trashed in possession, inside 50s and the tackling count. The Swans were just outstanding and the scoreboard didn’t justify their true dominance. Franklin and Tippett gelled beautifully together in the forward 50, despite Buddy’s wayward kicking. It might have cost a bit to get the two big men in the same arc, but now they are there, the partnership looks set to cause havoc.
Despite being 1-4 over the last 5 encounters, Essendon are generally competitive against the Swans. But the form lines of these sides are heading in different directions and we all know Lance Franklin loves playing against the Bombers.
SYDNEY TO WIN BY 28 POINTS
RICHMOND ($1.18) vs MELBOURNE ($4.75)
AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 17/05, 13:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R8 2013 Richmond 15.16 (106) dftd Melbourne 11.6 (72) at the MCG
Line: Richmond -30.5, Melbourne +30.5
Richmond lost its last game before the bye, but it certainly went into the break with some confidence after pushing the Cats to 5 points. The Tigers won 45 more total disposals, 12 more contested possessions and if it wasn’t for such a slow start, the result could have been quite different in wet conditions. Another positive was that leaders Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio weren’t dominant, as younger players like Ellis, Conca and Vlastuin filled the void and finally replicated levels of last season.
As I say most weeks, Melbourne continue to show signs of improvement, but it really let a great opportunity slip against the Western Bulldogs. The Dees won both clearance and contested possession categories, but couldn’t finish off the job in the last 10 minutes of the game. Once again, Tom Liberatore was far too dominant at the stoppages offensively and defensively, strengthening his already imposing record against Melbourne. At least the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fit for Paul Roos. James Frawley misses with a hamstring.
The death of Tom Hafey during the week will have the Tigers hell bent on winning this game, but it is hard to know exactly how much emotion it stirs. I doubt Melbourne can win, but I also don’t expect it to blow out. As most teams know, if you keep in touch with Richmond, anything can happen.
RICHMOND TO WIN BY 21 POINTS
NORTH MELBOURNE ($1.06) vs BRISBANE ($10.00)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 17/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R16 2013 Brisbane Lions 18.9 (117) dftd North Melbourne 17.3 (105) at the Gabba
Line: North -47.5, Brisbane +47.5
It was just classic North Melbourne two weeks ago against the Suns. They had a fantastic opportunity to be 5-2 coming into the break, but once again left it’s best footy in the shed. What ever happened to the Shinboner spirit? It just no longer exists. It doesn’t matter how much more talented this side is or isn’t against any opposition, you just can’t predict which North Melbourne will turn up. Until the Kangaroos begin providing some consistency, I’d avoid placing money on their matches like the plague. Everyone will be pleased to see skipper Andrew Swallow return after that nasty achilles injury, while Daniel Wells is still out with that foot.
It was a much more promising performance for the Lions against Essendon. They were genuinely competitive in most statistics categories and pushed the Bombers until the final siren. Where Justin Leppitsch would like to see further improvement is defensively, as 53 tackles isn’t enough against a side that has had over 400 possessions. You can’t expect a young side to be switched on 100% of the time, but the steady development is showing.
North Melbourne should be far too good against Brisbane. If they don’t come out to play this week, serious questions must be asked.
NORTH MELBOURNE TO WIN BY 42 POINTS
FREMANTLE ($2.00) vs GEELONG ($1.85)
AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SATURDAY 17/05, 19:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: QF 2013 Geelong 9.18 (72) lost to Fremantle 12.15 (87) at SS
Line: Fremantle +1.5, Geelong -1.5
When are we going to see a resemblance of the 2013 Fremantle outfit? We got an early glance in Round 1 when the Dockers destroyed a hapless Collingwood, but there hasn’t been anything close to that since. Fremantle were very good against one of the form sides of the competition in Port Adelaide for three quarters, but couldn’t keep up in the last. The margin more than likely flattered Fremantle as the Power had +16 inside 50s and squandered some great opportunities in front of goal. Luke McPharlin will miss ago, while usual Geelong antagonist Hayden Ballantyne is in doubt after jaw surgery during the week. Zac Dawson will have to pass a fitness test, but has been named.
It is easy to look at a 5 point margin and believe that a side only scrapped in to receive the points, but there was evidence that the Cats took the foot off the pedal against Richmond. Geelong was in control for a majority of the game and while a late Sam Lloyd goal on the siren got the margin within a goal, there was no serious danger to the result. Many forget just how impressive the Cats were early. Dropping the intensity mustn’t become a habit for the Cats though, as last year’s result at the Gabba wouldn’t want to be replicated. Mathew Stokes misses through suspension, but All Australian Andrew Mackie is a welcomed inclusion.
Four of the last five encounters between these two sides have ended in results of 16 points or less. . Can Matthew Pavlich’s 300th game lift his side? Geelong’s form has obviously been more impressive and it holds the advantage of a 13 day break.
GEELONG TO WIN BY 9 POINTS
ST KILDA ($4.15) vs GOLD COAST ($1.24)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 18/05, 16:40
PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R22 2013 St Kilda 17.14 (116) dftd Gold Coast 10.10 (70) at ES
Line: St Kilda +26.5, Gold Coast -26.5
It wasn’t a bad showing from St Kilda on Monday night. The Blues comfortably dealt with the Saints by 32 points and won most statistical areas, but there were at least some positives to take out of the game. It won the clearance count and broke even for clearances, while they were also defensively sound with 67 tackles. Its disposal efficiency of 65.4% was well below par and one of the main reasons Carlton were never threatened. Nick Riewoldt continues to be the only dangerous tall forward and is running himself into submission for the side. He desperately requires someone to stand up to not only create more scoring options, but make the forward structure far less predictable.
The final quarter against North Melbourne two weeks has many believing the Suns are ready for a tilt at September action. At 5-2, it is a more than realistic expectation and it is now time for this side to take advantage of the promising start. With St Kilda, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide to come over the next three rounds, there is a serious opportunity to be 8-2 after 11 rounds and potentially entrench itself in the top 4. The midfield has taken the next step and now fears no opponent. The Suns average 156.9 contested possessions per game, a whopping 9.3 more than any other side in the league. You can no longer take Gold Coast for granted. Tom Nicholls is out with a knee injury, but Zac Smith returns after a long stint on the sidelines with a torn ACL.
Gold Coast is far more advanced than St Kilda. These are the games they should win comfortably from now on.
GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 40 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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