AFL Round 17 Preview
Firstly apologies for no preview last round, as it was though we witnessed a typical Lions last qtr surge, a typical Kangaroos fade, a typical Geelong mauling at Kardinia Park, a heart-stopper up in Cairns, and another GWS thumping. Oh, and there was also more revelations about the ongoings at Essendon, without a verdict yet. Oh, and Roos denied wanting to return to coach the Dees, more rumors flying around about him linked to the West Coast. Not new rumors though, ones that have been around for months! So not much out of the ordinary! This week’s games are already looking a bit same same, 5 games lined up with favorites starting at less than $1.20, displaying the big gap between the top and bottom sides. Of the 4 games that look like a decent matchup, Richmond and Freo looms the tightest contest.
A couple of interesting developments during the week, firstly check out all the parts of Andrew Demetriou’s interview on AFL 360. Even though his tone of voice is nasally and enough to put an insomniac to sleep, it’s hard not to listen to what AD says. More news came out of the Essendon camp as they fired back at Caroline Wilson’s comments. Basically, Wilson has been saying since the whole doping scandal came out that those responsible need to be accountable, and she has been attacking the character of those people involved. I have nothing wrong with this, and find the response entirely predictable from Essendon. Like a politician under siege, deny then hit back at the opponent, always happens. What I don’t get though is supporters of the Bombers arguing along as if their side has done nothing wrong. My thoughts? Your club is in trouble, instead of focusing the rage on mugs like myself who simply voice the majority’s opinion, vent your anger at your own club. End of the day, the supporters and members are the ones paying for the drugs program that was undertaken, and should sever punishments be handed down, the supporters and members will lose the most. Wait and see people, some serious shit is gonna go down!
Something else that made much less attention down at the Cattery than it should’ve. No, it wasn’t Stevie J suspended again (a surprisingly reckless record building) but it was Harry Taylor signing a whopper 5year contract. Now these sorts of long deals are almost a thing of the past in modern AFL, but I feel Taylor is worth it. Infact, laugh all you like, while he may not be a superstar like some of his teammates, he would be the most valuable Cat, ability to play forward and back very well put’s him into a special category of which there are few in the comp.Another positive signing was O’Meara for the Suns, a player that could very easily play 200 games for the Suns, while Henderson for Carlton also resigned for another 2 years, 2 players vital in their club’s makeup.
The Tigers overcame their FNQ hoodoo which would have helped the group immensely, was obvious for anyone watching the game what it meant for Hardwick! Personally, the move to play games up at Cazaly’s should be remembered as a positive step to growing the great game into new territories that actually love the sport. The last game was a low-scoring dour match but generally speaking, AFL in FNQ is a good thing providing it’s only the one or 2 games a season. But……the only benefit to the Tiges will be the $$ and the 4points last week, every other possible advantage can be given to the Gold Coast, not only did they win twice there but have done huge amounts of community work to make Cairns it’s second home; expect the Suns to go host games there from next year onwards!
Looking ahead now to the makeup of the top 8 sides, its just about there, the only real tussle is for the final 8th position. Depending on the outcome of what happens with the Bombers, finishing 9th could have it’s benefits. But generally speaking there will be matchups that have zero consequences on how the top 8 takes shape, so there will be less of an emphasis from here on those games. Above is the ladder as it stands, Carlton and West Coast are sneaky chances to make finals but none of the teams below them deserve to make it on their form so far this season. So to make things easier this round, (and due to being slack and having time constraints) I’ll go in depth on the 4 big games of the round, and throw tips at the end.
Firstly, match of the round is Sunday at the MCG where Richmond host Fremantle in a battle both sides want to win if they can keep their top 4 chances alive. To say the Tiges have been the biggest improver of the year would be false, they have simply played to their hype which is something rare recently at Punt Road. Who knows how they will fare in September, time will tell, but as of now they have looked the goods. Same can be said for the Dockers, although with finals experience last year, and a very much finals hardened coach in Ross Lyon there’s every chance they could at least match their club’s best ever finish (preliminary final). Last time these sides met was in a cracking match, with Freo holding on by the slimmest of margins. Both sides have some decent form coming into this game, Richmond winning 5 of it’s last 6, Freo 6 of it’s last 7, but this can be misleading. Fremantle’s last 2 games that weren’t wins include a draw in Sydney (just about claim that as a win) and a heavy loss in Geelong whilst undermanned. Richmond meanwhile haven’t played against a top 8 side since Round 9, and their only win against a top 8 side was in Round 7 against a now 8th placed Port. The only big advantage I can see for Richmond is they are a confidence team, a good start early on and they can get on a roll, but defensively Fremantle are the best in the biz and could shut them down just as easily. The home advantage is lost too when you consider the barnstorming victory the Dockers had in the elimination final last season, their last game at the G. Hard to see why the Tiger’s are faves for this game, tipping Fremantle in a relatively close one, low-scoring wrestles is what Fremantle do best so within 4goals max.
Tonight’s Etihad fixture should also be a tight one between North Melbourne and Carlton. Hard to say either side is in form, the Kangas doing what they have done all season and fade out when the going gets tough, and the same could be said for Carlton who would kill for a key forward that could bag 2/3 a week and setup 1/2 goals aswell. The Blues defense can be very leaky and could be their number one problem, but they lack what the big teams have, a reliable strong forward option that can create opportunities. Expect them to get involved come trade week. North well…hard to be overly positive about them but you can bank on the side being fired up and blasting away early, having one of the better first qtr records in the comp. Is it a fitness thing, mental issues, or lacking the ability to change gameplans when things aren’t going their way, who knows, but the Kangas have been their own worst enemy this season. Interesting to note North’s success at Etihad, with a 10-3 record against Carlton at the venue, although the Blues did win last week under the roof in a game where they showed glimpses of a top8 side in the making. If Carlton want to seriously push for a spot in the 8 it’s in their own hands now, and a win here is a cliché 8point win knocking out the Kangas in the process. It will be tight but leaning to Carlton.
Saturday night it’s back to Etihad in another tight tussle between the Saints and the Power, hopefully in a replay of the brilliant Round 1 matchup in 2012 which saw Port just get over the line for a 4point win. Both sides are coming off decent losses last round, so confidence wouldn’t be great but there will still be enough talent on show. For St Kilda to win, I feel they need to beat their man one on one, whether it’s tagging them out of the game or simply being harder at the ball. Port play too quickly when on song to get a flooding defence going or zone or whatever! But more worryingly is their forward setup, take out Riewoldt and Milne and where are the goals going to come from? Port meanwhile were given a footballing lesson at the hands of Hawthorn last week and hopefully the youngsters have picked up a thing or 2 on how the best go about their footy. There’s a lot of promise with Port, again another side where destiny is upto themselves so the nest 3 games could decide if this young bunch play in September. Tipping Ken Hinkley’s men get the job done here, too much class across the ground, but not by a massive margin.
The final game of the round could be the most interesting, as old foes West Coast host the Swans Sunday afternoon. The Eagles are a club in some turmoil this week, losing to crosstown rivals and uncertainty over club legend and coach John Worsfold. The pressure is mounting too, on a season that promised so much yet has delivered under par, but now with players returning from injury there can be some slight optimism. Everyone knows from last season, when at their best West Coast are a great side and can challenge the best, they’ll need to bring some of that this week as they haven’t defeated the Swans since 2007! Sydney though are only getting better and better, the addition of Tippet has caused nightmares for opposition coaches with his versatility and athleticism. Hannerbery has been the stand out for the Swans but not enough is said about the way Jared McVeigh plays, solid yet strong week in week out, underrated. Last week was a training run against GWS but there was enough to suggest they have more firepower than before, and compared to their opponent, much more accurate. Even with the travel involved, and against the best ruck combo in the comp, I feel this week Sydney will be too strong for the Eagles.
Below are the rest of the round’s matchups, tips in Green, bets in Red, appears one of those weeks where in tipping contests you’d be crazy to get under 5 total tips! Using Bookmaker.com.au for this week’s multi:
Hawks v Bulldogs: Hawks by as many as they want, the 40+ at $1.25 looks the good here but no value no bet.
Giants v Bombers: Bombers again by as many as they want, the way GWS played recently suggests the 66.5 line won’t be nearly enough, get on that line for Essendon -66.5 at $1.90
Suns v Magpies: Should be easy enough for Collingwood but at home, feel the chances of Gold Coast to keep it tight are high. No blowout’s here, Pies 1-39 at $2.15 the bet
Demons v Lions: Feel uncomfortable about Brisbane being $1.20 faves, regardless the opposition. They’re on the improve and should win, but not betting on this game.
Crows v Cats: The Crows have given up on season 2013, and with their best player out the Cats should romp home for the victory, Cats by 15.5+ looks the goods.
Follow on Twitter @mugpuntaus and @AfterTheClock best of luck this weekend and may your team win!