The AFL Lines – Finals Week 1

Filed in AFL, AFL Lines by on September 6, 2012

The wheat and chaff have been separated for good in 2012, as 18 teams have become eight. For the Hawks, Crows, Swans and Magpies, an all-important week of rest looms as the carrot. For the Eagles, Cats, Dockers and Kangaroos, the equation is much simpler – win or go home. Greg Oberscheidt and Cliff Bingham can’t wait for the action to commence on Friday night.


Well after a couple of bad beats, it was nice to end up on the fortuitous side of the ledger last Friday night – good work Eagles. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming four weeks – the path to the premiership seems to run squarely through Hawthorn, but beyond that it becomes a far more open debate.


Another massive weekend. The Hawks got it done in a quarter, the Cats continue to build, we had our first draw for the year (I hate you Richmond) and the Blues couldn’t tough it out for Ratten. I’m on an emotional rollercoaster at the moment, the home and away season is done and I’m shattered. The finals are kicking off and I’m stoked. The Hawkies are a big chance so I’m a little bit cocky and my footy club are playing our grand final this weekend some I’m a nervous wreck. I’m sure we’ll still be able to get a couple over the line.


Results for Round 23 selections

GO – 4 selections, 4 units bet, return of 3.82 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -5%

CB – 2 selections, 2.5 units bet, return of 2.87 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +15%

Total – 6 selections, 6.5 units bet, return of 6.69 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +3%

Results for 2012

GO – 85 selections, 103 units bet, return of 103.38 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +0.4%

CB – 52 selections, 56.5 units bet, return of 53.65 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -5%

Total – 137 selections, 159.5 units bet, return of 157.03 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -2%


(Please note – all times are EST)



Hawthorn v Collingwood, MCG, 7.50pm

Bookmakers’ line:   Hawthorn -20.5 to -22.5


Redemption time for the Hawks one feels. After the heartbreaking loss in lasts year’s preliminary final, the flag favourites will be out to prove a point. Given their systematic demolition of the Pies six weeks ago you’d have to like them in this one.

The loss of Guerra hurts them as he generally takes, and beats the number one small forward as well as looking after the majority of the kick-ins. Xavier Ellis should come in and can play a role for the Hawks. Rioli will set the standard defensively in the forward line and Franklin, Roughead and Gunston will cause some headaches.

The Pies will be relying on their all-star midfield to get them across the line. Swan, Pendles and Beams have been outstanding all year but Wellingham, Sidebottom and Thomas have fallen away after big starts. They’ll need big output from the second tier if they are to be a chance. The Hawks midfield group is travelling well though with Mitchell, Sewell and Lewis leading the way and Hodge is making big strides.

Hale and Jolly will be a big match up and if the ex-Shinboner can maintain his outstanding form then I think the Hawks can put the Pies to the sword – one unit on the Hawks at the minus.


The Hawks have won 12 of their last 13, including wins over Sydney, Collingwood and West Coast. The wins over the Magpies and Eagles were particularly impressive – they never really look threatened on either occasion. Moreover, depending on the exact line you took, the Hawks have won at least 14 games out of 22 against the spread (and either nabbed or barely missed one or two more).

Collingwood took three and a bit quarters to put Essendon to the sword last week – that’s not a good sign. Even worse, they are 7-15 against the spread overall in 2012 and 3-11 against it at the MCG. For a top-four side, that is a horrendous record.

Head to head, the Hawks have won both games this season by 22 and 47 points respectively (covering both spreads easily), and also covered when narrow losers in last year’s preliminary final.

I’m pretty warm on the Hawks handing out a paddling here – 1.5 units on the minus.



Adelaide v Sydney, AAMI Stadium, 3.15pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Adelaide -6.5


Sydney have been great all year and their record on the road is enviable. That being said though, it’s a big job to go to AAMI in front of 40,000 rabid Croweaters and perform to the highest level.

The loss of Grundy to ill-discipline is a nightmare for the Swans as he, along with Richards, have been the main reason that the Swans have had the most miserly defence in the competition to date. It hurts even more when you come up against a side with two quality forward targets in Tippett and Walker.

The midfield battle is another cracker. The Swans have a hard edge and they love it in tight but the Crows have Thompson and Dangerfield who both rank in the top five in the competition for contested ball. Add Rory Sloane and it becomes elite.

Jacobs and Mumford are two of the best big men going around and their battle will be a cracker – Jacobs having the edge in the tap work and Mumford leading at ground level.

Daniel Talia, fresh from the rising star award will be full of confidence and ready to take on Reid who should return from a glute strain.

All in all a great match up but I think the Crows are travelling a bit better right now, home field advantage and no Grundy and that’s enough for me to take the minus for a unit.


The Crows did what they had to do over the final two weeks against inferior opposition, but their record against top-six sides is still solid if unspectacular: wins against Geelong (home), West Coast (home) and Sydney (away), offset by losses to Hawthorn (away), Collingwood (home) and Geelong (away).

Along similar lines, Sydney’s record against top-six sides is also a mixed bag: wins against Hawthorn (away), Geelong (home) and West Coast (away) offset by losses to Adelaide (home), Collingwood (home), Hawthorn (home) and Geelong (away). If there is a concern, it is entering the finals with three losses in the last four games.

Here is where the news gets bad for the Swans though – head to head, Adelaide have beaten them in eight of the last nine matches, including four out of five at AAMI and their meeting in Round Six of this season, where the Crows won by five points at the SCG.

These two teams seem to be of comparable ability to mine, but the home field advantage and head-to-head record have me favouring the Crows – one unit on the minus.


Geelong v Fremantle, MCG, 7.50pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Geelong -21.5 to -22.5


All the talk about point shaving to try and get a home final didn’t pan out and the Dockers will make their way to MCG where they’ve enjoyed little success. The Cats are flying and with their abundance of experience and talent it’s difficult to see the Dockers pinching a win in this one.

The Dockers form has been great but they’ve had some relatively weak competition in recent weeks. The Cats have taken all comers, at home and on the road.

McPharlin out is a massive loss for the Dockers – he’s their best defender and the cornerstone of their structure. He would have gotten the job on Hawkins, so Lyon will need to find someone who can handle the big fella. Grover put his hand up with a stellar performance in the WAFL last week and he’s the type that could pull it together for one last big game.

Sandilands has been outstanding since returning from injury and has been a massive part of the Fremantle tilt. Griffin could return as well to given them another tall target forward and give Chris Scott some headaches.

They’ve proven hard to score against all season and they’ve now also found a way to put points on the board so whilst I think the Cats will prove too strong I’m happy to take the plus for one unit in this game – I think it will be close.


The Cats may have started the season slowly, but the last 14 matches have resulted in 11 wins, as well as two losses by less than a kick (to Sydney away and West Coast away). That’s pretty impressive. This form has carried over against the spread too – they may be a paltry 8-14 against the spread on the season, but they’ve covered in five of their last seven matches (and missed a sixth cover against the Eagles by less than a kick).

Bless the Dockers’ cotton socks for making the eight and not leaving my preseason ‘best bet on the board’ with egg on its face. They’ve won eight of their last nine matches and interestingly, covered the spread in all five Victorian visits (two to the MCG, three to Etihad) this season. For a team with a long-standing reputation as terrible travellers, it is a remarkable turnaround.

Most of the recent head-to-head action has taken place at either Patersons or Simonds Stadium. These teams did meet during the 2010 final series, with the Cats romping away by 69 points.

The numbers don’t give me a strong lead here and I can’t tip Ross Lyon games to save myself anyway, so how about we skip this one and move on?



West Coast v North Melbourne, Patersons Stadium, 3.15pm

Bookmakers’ line:  West Coast -27.5 to -28.5


A massive task for the Roos to cross the Nullarbor. The Eagles form has been a bit up and down but it is tough to see North getting across the line.

Goldstein has been monstered in the ruck in recent weeks so the prospect of Cox and Natinui will have him shaking. The best one, two punch in the history of the AFL would be enough to have anyone in the horrors.

North like to maintain possession and run through the lines which could prove difficult at Patersons, where the boundary is narrow and the lines are deep. The Eagles press will have them under immense pressure and it will be interesting to see how the young heads of the Roos cope with the relentless pressure that is sure to be applied. If they turn the ball over in transition it is going to be hard to reign in the likes of Darling and Hill who can get behind the lines and burn off the defenders.

They’ve been valiant all year and if they can find a way to break even in the middle then their tall timber in Petrie, Hansen and Tarrant could cause some problems for the Eagles but that’s a big if.

North have shown too much this year to get belted on the weekend but the Eagles are an incredible side at home. This one feels about right so no play for me.


I’m still having difficulty in trying to place the Eagles – they beat Geelong and Collingwood (convincingly) at home in the last month, but they’ve won only four of their last eight games. They’re 10-2 at Patersons this season (covering the spread on eight occasions), but have won only six of 11 matches this season against other top-eight sides.

North were looking terrific until two weeks ago, but a big loss to Fremantle and an uninspiring win over GWS (when they had an opportunity to finish seventh and play their first finals match in Melbourne) have put them into an awkward predicament. In addition, they’ve won only three of eight matches this season against top-eight sides, and only covered in three of nine games away from Etihad.

Head to head, the Eagles have won five of the last six matches played at Patersons. However, the last three matches between the teams have been close , with winning margins for West Coast of four points at Patersons last year, 25 points at Patersons in Round Six and two points in Tasmania in Round 15.

The Eagles deserve clear favouritism at home, which is what they have been given. I can’t see a good bet here.


Recommended bet summary


1 unit on Hawthorn -20.5 at $1.85 (TAB Sportsbet)

1 unit on Adelaide -6.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)

1 unit on Fremantle +22.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)


1.5 units on Hawthorn -20.5 at $1.85 (TAB Sportsbet)

1 unit on Adelaide -6.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)


Thanks to Mark Nolan/Getty Images AsiaPac for use of the photo


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