The AFL Lines – Preliminary Finals

Filed in AFL, AFL Lines by on September 21, 2011

Sydney and Carlton have been vanquished for 2011 and we are now down to a race in four. Can the Magpies go back-to-back? Will Geelong extend upon an already extremely successful era? Is it time for Hawthorn to reprise the glory of 2008? Or can the Eagles stage one of more improbable rags to riches stories of the modern era? The answers lie in wait over the next two weekends, as Greg Oberscheidt and Cliff Bingham ponder the preliminary final matches.

CB – Well, any hopes of my tips clambering back to parity on the season went out the window on Saturday night when the West Coast, having stretched their lead to 21 points midway through the final quarter, failed to cover the -13.5 point line in the end. More than a touch irritating, if I’m honest. Although to be fair the seeds for a losing season were sown many weeks back with some very poor decision making earlier in the season simply leaving too much to be done in the latter stages. Nonetheless, there are three matches left in the season and potentially three opportunities to make some money, so let’s do this.

GO – Well that’s a first…The MTN boys getting belted by the bookies for no return. The joys of finals footy. In retrospect I probably read too much into Sydney’s form and neglected the fact that it was third versus seventh. You’ve been saying all year Cliffo that the gulf between the top four and the rest is verging on cataclysmic. West Coast were in a position to cover and if they had have stuck to their guns instead of trying to protect their lead would have got the job done. Some big lines this week for prelim finals where anything can happen – make or break big fella.

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Summary of Finals Week 2 results

GO – Two selections, three units bet, return of $0.00, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -100%

CB – Two selections, three units bet, return of $0.00, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -100%

Total – Four selections, six units bet, return of $0.00, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -100%

Summary of overall results

GO – 77 selections, 97 units bet, return of $110.20, Profit on Turnover (POT) = 14%

CB – 53 selections, 67 units bet, return of $60.80, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -9%

Total – 130 selections, 164 units bet, return of $171.00, Profit on Turnover (POT) = 4%


(Please note – all times are EST)


Collingwood v Hawthorn, MCG, 7.45 pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Collingwood –24.5

GO – Collingwood are deserved favourites this week and have been the bench mark all year. However, is four goals a bit too much for a Prelim final where sides will struggle to maintain the ascendency for prolonged periods? Is the gap between the top two and the rest more pronounced than we thought? We’ll have a look.

Collingwood beat the Hawks by eight goals last start but the Hawks were missing key playmakers, Sewell, Rioli and Lewis as well as Ben Stratton who has made his way back after a big knee and frees up Josh Gibson. Reid will take Franklin and will hope to do the job as well as last time. Whitecross will probably get the job on Davis and has had good form as a forward stopper. No obvious match-up for Cyril is a worry for the Pies. The midfield battle is amazing with Thomas, Pendles, Swan, Sidebottom and Wellingham up against Mitchell, Hodge, Sewell, Lewis and Bateman and the game will be won here in the clinches.

Whoever gets the best of the contested ball will be able to control the tempo and create more options. The smaller Hawks defence will be worried by the big bodies of Cloke and Dawes but the return of Stratton allows Gibson to go third man up and if the Hawks midfield pressure can make the Pies bomb long then I think the Hawks will have the advantage. Whatever the result it will be a cracking game and it will be won, either way, by less than two goals so I’ll play one unit on the Hawks +24.5. 

CB – Yes, the Hawks were disappointing against Geelong two weeks ago but when you take into consideration both the poor record of sides coming off the bye and the fact that half the Hawthorn side were given a bye by Alistair Clarkson in Round 24, doesn’t that poor performance seem easier to rationalise? Moreover, given the evidence against teams returning from a week off in 2011 (including Essendon’s elimination final loss, teams went a collective 11-23 when returning from the bye), doesn’t that leave the Magpies vulnerable this week? Head to head, the Magpies won in Round 15 against an injury-ravaged Hawks by 41 points but lost five of the six previous matches between the sides.

Here’s what makes me think the Hawks are under rated (yes, under rated) – when the game was there to be won against Sydney in the first half, they were clinical and far superior to a side in excellent form. You can mount the same argument when discussing their Round 22 win over Carlton. I think Hawthorn are only just off the pace set by Collingwood and Geelong, and thus will happily play one unit on the surprisingly generous plus.



Geelong v West Coast, MCG, 2.20pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Geelong –26.5

GO – West Coast will need to get everything right to get across the line here. Arguably the best forward structure in the competition goes up against one of the best defensive units the game has seen. Taylor to Kennedy, Scarlett to Darling, Lonergan to Q-Stick, Hunt to Lecras while Nicoski will try to shut down Enright who will jump third man at the resting ruck all day long.

The Cats midfield is seasoned and will be tagged hard by the young Eagles. Kerr will run head to head with Bartel while Scott Selwood will get the job on brother Joel. Cox and Nic Nat provide an opportunity for the Eagles but their work will need to be immaculate to get past the Cats inside ball winners. Eric McKenzie is under a cloud and that is a big concern for John Worsfold as he is a great foil for AA fullback Darren Glass. If he doesn’t get up then expect J-Pod and TommaHawk to pose a big threat.

I think the most important matchup for the Eagles will be Waters on Johnson with Beau doing his best to get under the Geelong Champ’s skin. If he can quell Johnson then the Eagles are a show. Once again I expect this one to be close and as such I’ll take the plus for one unit.

CB – Ever since that immense battle between West Coast and Carlton concluded (and in some instances whilst it was still in progress), pundits were talking about how this game would leave the victor poorly placed to recover and take on the rested Cats the next weekend. Again, this season has shown the week off to do more harm than good when evaluating performances immediately after the rest. Popular opinion is skewed one way and the statistics the other way – as a punter, which side of that ledger offers you the value?

Head to head, Geelong won six on end against the Eagles prior to an eight-point loss at Patersons Stadium in Round 16 of this season. However the eight-point margin does not reflect the manner in which the Eagles manhandled Geelong in the first half before the Cats fought back. It has been extremely rare to see Geelong treated in such a fashion by an opponent over recent years, as so few sides have had the skill set with which to achieve it. The Eagles are at least capable on their day of repeating the dose and whilst Geelong is a deserved favourite in this match, I think the 26.5-point line is overly dismissive of West Coast and thus I will have one unit on the plus.

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Recommended bet summary

GO – One unit on Hawthorn +24.5 and one unit on West Coast +26.5.

CB – One unit on Hawthorn +24.5 and one unit on West Coast +26.5.


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



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