The AFL Lines – Preliminary Finals

Filed in AFL, AFL Lines by on September 19, 2012

Both Western Australian sides may have bid farewell to the finals series last week but the interstate warfare is far from over, with Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales still represented in the premiership race. With the clock on the 2012 season rapidly approaching midnight, Greg Oberscheidt and Cliff Bingham preview preliminary final weekend.


Last week I felt substantial conflict between statistics and observed form; this week it has morphed into a conflict between statistics and other statistics.

Since the AFL ditched the McIntyre system after the 1999 finals series, 21 out of 24 qualifying final winners have utilised their week off to full effect and reached the Grand Final.

Interestingly, all of the three exceptions to the rule (the 2003 Lions, 2005 Swans and 2006 Eagles) all went on to meet their Qualifying Final nemesis in the premiership decider and exacted revenge. When you think about how close the quartet of 2005-2006 Swans v Eagles games were, it wouldn’t have taken much by way of change for 11 of the last 12 premierships to go to Qualifying Final winners.

From 2000 onwards, of the 14 sides who lost their qualifying final by more than 15 points, one (Port Adelaide in 2001) exited the finals in straight sets and the other 13 lost in preliminary final week.

So it’s a Hawk-Swans double without any dramas this weekend, right?

Not so fast. The Magpies have beaten Sydney on 11 straight occasions extending back to 2006, a streak which includes seven matches at ANZ Stadium.

This makes for a statistical equivalent of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object; thus far, all it has done is make my head hurt.


And then there were four. How massive was Taylor Walker’s effort last week. The lad is an absolute jet and if he continues to develop at this rate he could be the most influential player in the game.

The Pies rode a wave of emotion and found the intensity that’s been lacking throughout the middle part of the season. Their defensive pressure around the contest was first rate and allowed them to generate plenty of turnovers. Jolly’s effort against both All Australian (cough) ruckmen was red hot too.

This weekend is going to be incredible. Can’t wait to get to the G on Saturday.


Results for Finals Week 2 selections

GO – 1 selections, 1 unit bet, return of 0.00 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -100%

CB – 1 selections, 0.5 units bet, return of 1.35 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +170%

Total – 2 selections, 1.5 units bet, return of 1.35 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -10%

Results for 2012

GO – 89 selections, 107 units bet, return of 107.15 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +0.1%

CB – 55 selections, 59.5 units bet, return of 57.77 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -3%

Total – 144 selections, 166.5 units bet, return of 164.92 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -1%


(Please note – all times are EST)



Sydney v Collingwood, ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Sydney -7.5 to -9.5


On paper the sides are pretty evenly matched. Two superstar midfields with quality ruckmen; whomever can gain the ascendency here will go a long way to winning the game. As well as the Swans are tracking you’d have to lean towards the Pies with Pendles, Swan and Thomas in this match up.

I don’t think either side has a clear advantage up forward. The Pies will be hoping that Dawes gets up and can have an impact this week. Ben Reid might get the job on his brother so that will add some interest as well.

There’s been plenty made about the recent record between these two with the Pies winning the last 11 matches between them including a great win in round 20 at this very venue. Add to that the fact the Pies won that game without premiership players, Swan, Krakouer, Johnson, Goldsack and Dale Thomas was injured in the first quarter and it leads me to think the streak might extend this week –one unit on the Pies at the plus.


I’ve already noted the conflicting statistics for this game in the preamble, but this is a really nice matchup for Collingwood – they don’t have a great deal of height down back, but that’s fine because Sydney don’t have a great deal of height up forward. Jolly can match with Mumford, and the backup (either Dawes or Wood) only has to chop put against Pyke or LRT. The composition of the Swans’ bets 22 doesn’t expose some of the Magpie weaknesses in ways that other sides can.

Nonetheless, you write off Sydney (and the value that a week of rest can bring at this time of year) at your own peril. They are 15-8 against the spread this season, compared to a meagre 8-16 record for Collingwood. They are 11-5 against the spread as favourite, and 7-4 as a home state favourite – mind you, Collingwood are 4-1 against the spread when playing interstate this year.

As noted earlier, the Magpies have won their last seven against Sydney at ANZ Stadium. If you include their most recent loss at the venue (in 2005), the margins for the eight games have been eight, six, 25, 23, 26, 19, 13 and one point. As an aside, neither team has reached 100 points in any of those eight games.

When you consider what is at stake here, I struggle to see how either side can get blown out. In light of this, I’m going to back ‘either side by under 24.5 points’ for two units.



Hawthorn v Adelaide, MCG, 5.15pm

Bookmakers’ line: Hawthorn -37.5 to -38.5


The Hawks are starting the shortest price Prelim Final favourites in recent memory and I’m struggling to find valid arguments to refute it. Hawthorn are humming at the moment. Their backline is in pretty good nick. Their midfield is exceptional and will welcome back Lewis who’s been one of their very best this year and Young who adds dash. Their forward set up is all class and given the defensive woes of the Crows at the moment with Talia and now Shaw out for the year it’s hard to see them stopping the Hawks from kicking 20 goals. They’ve had the week off and some sore bodies would have appreciated that so they could put a massive number up there this week.

The Crows have had a remarkable season and if everything goes right they could possibly sneak away with a win this week but that would mean that Walker would need to dominate and also get plenty of help from Tippett up forward. Dangerfield and Thompson would need to play blinders and Van Berlo would need to shut down Mitchell. Jacobs would need 50 plus hitouts and their fringe players would need to play the games of their lives. I just can’t see the stars aligning for the Crows this week but they could push the Hawks a long way.

Leaning towards the minus but it’s too many points for me – no play.


I can’t think of a single reason to top Adelaide outright here.

The ‘finals week off’ stats all point to Hawthorn. The Crows have scored 123 points in two finals combined, compared to 135 in a single game for their opponent. They are on the road (where they have a 3-4 record in 2012 if you exclude wins over the Suns, Giants and Demons) and they’ve lost Talia and Petrenko to injury.

So really, the question evolves into one about the likely margin of Hawthorn victory, who are 11-5 against the spread as a home state favourite in 2012. Since 2000:

(1) 11 out of 24 preliminary finals have been won by 40 points or more;

(2) Of the 13 qualifying finalists to win by more than 20 points, twelve have won the preliminary final – six by a margin of 40 points or more. Interestingly, there have also been six margins (including the one loss) of 10 points or less.

(3) Of the 12 qualifying finalists to lose by more than 20 points but rebound in week two and reach the prelim, all 12 have lost – five by a margin of 40 points or more;

(4) A ‘big qualifying winner’ (more than 20 points) has met a ‘big qualifying loser’ four times, with victory margins over 29, 54, nine and six points.

Head to head, the Hawks and Crows have only played three games in Melbourne in the past five years (and only one since 2009), so the form references are pretty weak. The question becomes how much stock you place in the Hawk’s 56-point win back in Round Three.

I think the line is about right, so will not be coerced into a bet here.


Recommended bet summary


1 unit on Collingwood +9.5 at $1.91 (Centrebet)


2 units on either side by less than 24.5 points (Sydney v Collingwood) at $1.70 (Centrebet)


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


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