The AFL Lines – Round 15

Filed in AFL, AFL Lines by on July 6, 2012
The top six teams appear to have distanced themselves from the chasing pack and Geelong look secure in seventh position (at least for the time being), but thereafter it’s a veritable traffic jam of teams vying for a finals berth. The next nine weeks promise an array of ‘eight-point games’ to sort the wheat from the chaff. Greg Oberscheidt and Cliff Bingham return to assess the Round 15 matches and the potential finals picture.

Wow, wasn’t that a horrendous beat for anyone on Richmond at the plus last week? That may have been even worse than the Swans -7.5 beat the week prior. It’s fair to suggest that had I backed the Tigers last week after the dramas of the fortnight prior, you’d be finishing the season previews on your own Greg.
I’m ropeable I didn’t come back to the Eagles. That was always going to happen. Given the congestion at the top of the ladder, percentage is almost as important as the wins now so with limited opportunities against the minnows, we’ll see the strong clubs try and keep their momentum and punish the lesser lights rather than take the opportunity to rest a host of stars. Hopefully we can maintain a bit of momentum on the punt too!
Results for Round 14 selections
GO – 3 selections, 3 units bet, return of 5.75 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +92%
CB – 2 selections, 2 units bet, return of 1.92 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -4%
Total – 5 selections, 5 units bet, return of 7.67 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +53%
Results for 2012
GO – 49 selections, 59 units bet, return of 47.96 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -18%
CB – 31 selections, 31 units bet, return of 26.88 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -13%
Total – 80 selections, 90 units bet, return of 74.84 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -17%
(Please note – all times are EST)
Collingwood v Carlton, MCG, 7.40pm
Bookmakers’ line:  Collingwood -27.5 to -29.5
It’s been a long time since round three when Carlton dicked the Pies by 10 goals. Since then the Maggies haven’t dropped a game and the Blues have imploded royally.
Given the form lines, I’m not sure how much credence you can give to that performance. Carlton are 3-7 since that performance and have been shabby at best.
The Hawks trounced them last week and I expect the Pies to exact a bit of revenge on the old foe this week and put them to the sword – one unit on the Pies at the minus.
What price could you have gotten after the third round that Collingwood would be five wins clear of Carlton on the ladder? What an astounding turnaround in fortunes.
The Magpies continue on their merry way, surviving some early season injury dramas and marching to the top of the ladder with a lazy 10 consecutive wins. Admittedly, a couple of them were close run things (Essendon, Geelong and most recently West Coast), but they deserve premiership favouritism at this point.
The Blues present an amazing compare/contrast scenario: they averaged 134 points scored and 69 conceded in the first three weeks, but 78 scored and 90 conceded since then. If you remove the games against Melbourne and GWS, their last eight matches have led to one win, and averages of 71 points scored and 101 points conceded. Not good.
Carlton absolutely belted the Magpies in Round Three of the season, thus snapping a run of five straight head-to-head losses, four of which came by 28 points or more.
After last week I’m feeling a bit scared of buttering up on the Blues, especially as my recent Friday night record is horrendous – might take a week off such games to regroup.
North Melbourne v West Coast, Blundstone Arena, 1.45pm
Bookmakers’ line: North Melbourne +14.5 to +15.5
If we set the line for this game three weeks ago it would have seen North getting a 10-goal start. Their recent form has been great and they are approaching the contest with renewed vigour.
West Coast continue to dominate and are looking more and more like the real deal. You’ve got to like the way North have responded in recent times but they still struggle against the really good sides. Adelaide are nearly in that category but they had an off week and the Saints aren’t close so I think the Roos resurgence is not quick the paradigm shift that has been mooted.
West Coast will go for the throat and will win this one comfortably – one unit on the minus for me.
This is a huge game for the progress of the current North Melbourne squad as a playing group, not to mention their finals prospects – if they go south and get absolutely dusted, a lot of the previous fortnight’s good work is undone.
West Coast are having another terrific season but are only 3-3 overall away from Patersons this season, thus another win for the high-flying Eagles is far from a fait accompli.
These two sides have yet to face-off down in Tassie, with the Eagles winning five of the last six played in Perth, one of the last two played in Melbourne and one of the last two played at neutral venues (Carrara and Manuka Oval). West Coast defeated the Kangaroos by 25 points at Patersons back in Round Six of this season.
With a gun to my head I would have a very slight lean to the Eagles at the minus here, but certainly not enough of a lean to voluntarily get involved.
Melbourne v Richmond, MCG, 2.10pm
Bookmakers’ line: Melbourne +32.5 to +33.5
A big week for the Tigers with Connors getting the sack and Martin getting suspended. I’ve been trying to think of a joke about that but the whole situation is a bit strange. I think there might be a bit more to it than the Tigers are letting on.
They’ll want to put in a strong performance this week to take the heat off the club and I see no reason why they can’t get it done.
Melbourne will sense an opportunity but unfortunately for them, with Clark out I can’t see them kicking a score – one unit on the Tigers at the minus.
Melbourne have made some genuine progress in the past month or so, but a convincing loss at the Gabba last Sunday simply serves to highlight that they have a long road ahead of them yet.
For Richmond the equation is much simpler – to be a legitimate finals contender, they have to win this game and win it well. How they rebound from last week’s disappointment against Adelaide will be telling, but they have spent the majority of the season taking it right up to far superior outfits to the Demons.
Richmond have won six of the last 10 head-to-head matches and perhaps more importantly, both of the last two (including an emphatic 59-point win in Round Three of this season).
At face value you might want the Tigers at the minus here, but their performances against Freo and GWS have me just a touch worried that they may being playing up (or down) to the level of their opposition in 2012. I’m steering clear.
Sydney v Brisbane, SCG, 4.40pm
Bookmakers’ line:  Sydney -32.5 to -34.5
The Swans have been great and their form is strong. The Lions are turning plenty of heads with their gritty performances.
There’s good signs for the future for the Lions who now appear to have mostly recovered from the Fevola debacle.
I’d lean towards the points here but I’m still not back on the Swans so no play for me.
The Swans keep going about their business in a workmanlike fashion, belting the sides that they should (Melbourne, the Bulldogs and GWS twice have copped 10-goal-plus hidings in Sydney) and winning their share of the games against better calibre teams. They’re a legitimate top four contender.
Along with Adelaide and Essendon, Brisbane are one of the three most improved teams in 2012, winning four out of six at home and netting a couple of road wins against Melbourne and the Bulldogs. However, their two road matches against elite sides to date have resulted in a 62-point loss to Essendon and 65-point loss to Hawthorn. They’re pointed in the right direction, but probably still two or three rungs short of the best sides.
Head to head, Sydney have won seven of the last 10 matches overall and four out of five played at the SCG (with all wins coming by 20 points or more).
Their win against West Coast aside, Brisbane have shown themselves to still be well short of the elite teams in 2012 and I don’t expect the trend to change here – one unit on Sydney at the minus.
St Kilda v Essendon, Etihad Stadium, 7.40pm
Bookmakers’ line: St Kilda +17.5 to +19.5
The Saints will be disappointed after last week’s performance and will be hungry to get back into the eight. Blake could miss with a leg injury which upsets their balance. Jones should come back in and will probably go to Stanton. You could try and tag Watson I suppose but his form is that good that you couldn’t stop him with a truck.
The Bombers comfortably here is the feel but not with enough certainty to open the wallet. No bet.
St Kilda have adopted a far more expansive style of play under Scott Watters, breaking 100 points eight times already this season. However, they can leak plenty of points at the other end – take out the five games against Gold Coast (twice), Melbourne, Port and the Bulldogs and their average points conceded per game sits at 111, while their win-loss record drops to 2-6. Even worse, they’ve started to cop injury pressures and may be fielding a handful of very inexperienced players come Saturday night.
Essendon have cracked 100 points scored in 10 of 13 games, with two of the exceptions coming against Collingwood and Sydney, two of the closest-checking sides in the competition. More impressive (at least to my mind) has been their defence – only two sides have reached 90 points against the Bombers this season. To wit, Essendon are a perfect 10 so far this season when scoring 100 or more points.
The Bombers have won four straight against St Kilda, including a 52-point win in the corresponding match last year.
I rarely jump on board my own boys financially (the emotional investment often being sufficient), but I think we can do so this week – one unit on the minus.
Port Adelaide v Adelaide, AAMI Stadium, 7.40pm
Bookmakers’ line:  Port Adelaide +26.5
The showdowns are traditionally pretty tight games of footy. Regardless of ladder position they seem to get themselves up and I can’t see why this week should be any different.
That would argue for tacking the points, particularly given that Tex Walker is having another IQ-related holiday.
That being said, player for player the Crows are a 10 goal better side than the Power so I can’t really justify taking the plus. No play.
Port have been showing more resolve than they did in 2011 (no more evident than in their defence, which is only conceding 92 points per game) but have really struggled to kick a score of late, failing to reach 10 goals in any of their last three matches.
The Crows are having a terrific first year under Brenton Sanderson, but a couple of cracks have recently appeared in their defensive structure, conceding an average of 106 points per game in their last three starts. The loss of Taylor Walker to suspension also hurts their attacking prowess.
The last 10 ‘Showdown’ matches have been split five apiece, but the Crows have picked up each of the last two, including a 19-point victory in Round Five.
I’m almost tempted to have a little on the plus here, but Port are still entrenched on my ‘sides not to be trusted’ list, so this one will pass safely through to the ‘keeper.
Hawthorn v GWS,MCG, 1.10pm
Bookmakers’ line:  Hawthorn -89.5 to -90.5
As mentioned previously the top sides will be looking to take the percentage boosts where available this year so the Hawks could really put up a monster score at the G on Sunday.
Franklin looks set to play after a hamstring scare and could sew up the Coleman this week. Hodge should also make his long awaited return from a knee injury against the Giants.
GWS try hard. You can’t fault their endeavour and intensity but as the season wears on you can see the younger bodies starting to really feel the heat of senior footy. I’m happy to take the Hawks at the minus for one unit.
Here’s a set of numbers for your consideration – 66, 56, 115, 46, 65 and 50 – those are the margins in each of the Hawks’ last six wins. And they haven’t played a side as lowly and inexperienced as the Giants in that period. With percentage looking likely to be pivotal in deciding the top four come the end of the season, expect Hawthorn to be on the warpath here. I shudder to think what the margin could get to.
The only way to add tension to what will undoubtedly be a one-sided game is to wager on it. I’ll be playing golf instead – no bet.
Gold Coast v Geelong, Metricon Stadium, 3.15pm
Bookmakers’ line:  Gold Coast +57.5 to +59.5
Like the majority, the Cats need a big win to aid their finals campaign. They’ve been pretty ordinary for the last couple months now though so it’s hard to get a gauge of where they are up to.
The Suns need to represent at home to give their fan base (do they have one?) some hope for the future. They need some return from their senior players.
Expect Gazza to have a big game but he’ll lack support. 10 goals feels about right to me here so I’ll leave this one alone.
Wowee (copyright: Brian Taylor), what a pair of blockbusters we’ve got slated for Sunday afternoon! Both these teams are 4-9 against the spread in 2012, with the Suns having lost by over 90 points in three of their last four starts and the Cats having beaten only one side so far this season by 50 or more points.
These teams played twice in 2011, with the Cats winning by 66 points at Metricon and 150 points at the Cattery.
If you can figure this game out and pluck a bet from it, good luck to you. I’ll be steering clear.
Fremantle v Western Bulldogs, Patersons Stadium, 4.40pm
Bookmakers’ line:  Fremantle -30.5 to -32.5
The Dogs are battling. They were woeful last week. Essendon made them look really poor. Their forward line in horrendous and Boyd aside their senior players are not producing.
Freo are always tough to beat at home but they don’t often put sides away. There is a good possibility they will this week though. They were ok against the Pies last week but if they are any hope of playing finals footy this year they need a big win.
I’m not all that keen to bet on ‘eight point games’, especially with biggish lines, so I’ll leave this one alone.
I’m sticking with last week’s theme that we stuck the boot into Freo too soon and too freely. They are 0-6 against the top six sides in the competition (who have a combined record of 60-18, by the way), but 6-1 against everyone else. Are we sure that these guys aren’t a genuine contender for those final two spots in the eight? It’s not like anyone else is running amok against the top sides.
The Bulldogs are averaging only 66 points scored per game in their last six outings, defeating only the Suns and Power in that stretch. They are 4-0 against other sides with five or less wins in 2012, but 1-8 against the remainder of the competition.
The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight against Fremantle (dating back to 2006), but their only trip to Patersons to take on the Dockers since 2009 came last year, where they went down by seven points.
I was really hoping that this line would be around the 20-point mark so that I could use the rationale above to have a decent swing at the minus, but a five goal minus for a Ross Lyon-coached mob is a bit rich for my blood – no play.
Recommended bet summary
1 unit on Collingwood -27.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)
1 unit on West Coast -14.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)
1 unit on Richmond -32.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)
1 unit on Hawthorn -89.5 at $1.91 (Centrebet)
1 unit on Sydney -32.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)
1 unit on Essendon -17.5 at $1.85 (TAB Sportsbet) 
Thanks to Mark Nolan/Getty Images AsiaPac for use of the photo

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