The AFL Lines – Round 20

Filed in AFL, AFL Lines by on August 9, 2012

The Cats and Hawks played out yet another thriller last Friday night, and this week we see a couple of traditionally close matches slated (Swans-Magpies and Bombers-Kangaroos). With the finals rapidly approaching, who will advance their cause? Greg Oberscheidt and Cliff Bingham break down the Round 20 matchups.


A couple of big upsets (and a near miss by the Bombers) haven’t stopped punters from stepping in to the early favourites this week, with the line for the Hawks-Power game having already shifted out from 10 points from its Monday evening position. The Blues and Tigers have also come in for support as clear favourites.


If Adelaide are a legitimate top four side and not the beneficiaries of a sweet draw, they should have murdered Essendon who are so low on cattle as to be almost considering VFL reserves players for selection. Some big question marks about them are starting to appear. Port gave Primus the arsehole but I doubt ‘Buddha’ will get them over the line in his first game up. Another tough week ahead.


Results for Round 19 selections

GO – 4 selections, 6 units bet, return of 5.74 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -4%

CB – 3 selections, 3 units bet, return of 3.82 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +27%

Total -7 selections, 9 units bet, return of 9.56 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = +6%

Results for 2012

GO – 69 selections, 83.5 units bet, return of 77.52 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -7%

CB – 43 selections, 45 units bet, return of 44.09 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -2%

Total – 112 selections, 128.5 units bet, return of 121.61 units, Profit on Turnover (PoT) = -5%


(Please note – all times are EST)



West Coast v Geelong, Patersons Stadium, 7.40pm

Bookmakers’ line:   West Coast -0.0 to -1.5


Normally West Coast at home with any sort of start is a moral but given the performances of the last week and back further to their home pumping by the Swans it has to be considered harder.

These are two quality teams vying for a shot at the top four. The Cats are in great form but it will be interesting to see how mush petrol they used up last week. Hawkins will have to play another big role this week and will face Darren Glass, who would be very keen to make up for missing a week to suspension.

The Eagles need to rebound after a horror show in the Derby and they are every chance to do that but I can’t put money on it.


Has the significant injury list that the Eagles have endured this season finally started to wear them down? Were it not for a big second-half comeback against the Kangaroos, they’d have lost five of their last seven matches.

Meanwhile, the Cats appear to be rejuvenated – their last three weeks of play were much more like the Geelong we’ve come to expect over the last five years. To be any hope whatsoever of squeezing into the top-four, they need win all of their remaining games.

Geelong have won three of their last four matches against the Eagles at Patersons, albeit that their last trip brought about an eight-point loss in the corresponding game last year.



St Kilda v Melbourne, MCG, 1.45pm

Bookmakers’ line:  St Kilda -47.5 to -48.5


The Saints almost pull a rabbit out last week and if not for some ill-discipline they might still be a shot at the finals. The realisation that their season is over will have one of two effects. They’ll either switch it on to show their fans what could have been and rub some salt in, or they’ll shit the bed. I’m hoping for the latter.

The Dees had a rare win but so they should have against the Suns. A horrible year that can’t end quick enough for Mark Neeld and his charges. No need to tank this week, they’ll get belted but I’m not mad enough to ask the Saints to cover eight goals. No play.



St Kilda had their chances last Saturday night against the Magpies. Lost in the noise of all the close losses suffered by Richmond is this: the Saints are 0-4 in games decided by less than two goals this season, a record that may well cost them a spot in the finals. Their recent record at the MCG is also well below the level they’ve set at Etihad.

Melbourne almost certainly done enough to avoid the wooden spoon, but really, that and Jeremy Howe are about it in terms of positives from Junction Oval this season.

The Saints have won seven on end against the Demons, although only two of those wins have been by 40 points or more. In Round Five of this season, the Saints won by just 18 points (cue those of us who took the big minus on offer that night wincing).

The Saints are a far superior side to the Demons, but laying eight goals at their less preferred venue when their motivation may be on the wane doesn’t sound like a good idea – no play.


Adelaide v Fremantle, AAMI Stadium, 2.10pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Adelaide -17.5 to -18.5


Big stakes footy here. The Dockers could shore up a finals berth with a win and after their performance last week I can’t say it won’t happen. Pavlich is in great form and Mayne has been outstanding. Losing McPharlin to a farcical suspension will hurt though, especially if Tippett returns as expected.

The Crows got the points last week but they’d have learnt a lot more from a loss. They took the undermanned Bombers side for granted and were very nearly humbled at home. Sando won’t let them make that mistake again this week.

Three goals is stretching the friendship a bit but with McPharlin out I’m worried about the Dockers ability to stop the Crows kicking a score. I’ll venture a unit on the Crows at the minus at home if Tippett is selected, otherwise no play.


Here is Adelaide’s 2012 record against teams with 11 or more wins (i.e. ninth-placed Fremantle and above): five wins, four losses, average of 95 points scored and 96 conceded. Admittedly, the record is much rosier at home: three wins, one loss, averages of 100 points scored and 80 conceded. Nonetheless, they’ve been below their best in the last fortnight and are no sure things here.

It’s always dangerous to pay too much heed to a single result, but I was really impressed by the way that the Dockers dismantled the favoured Eagles line-up last week. It also warrants mentioning that with their average points per game conceded figure now dropping just below 77, only Sydney has been more frugal in defence in 2012. It makes a three-goal head start rather tempting.

Interestingly, the recent history between these teams at AAMI is fairly even, with the Crows winning three of the last five and four of the last seven. In the corresponding game last year, the Dockers won by 25 points in a low-scoring and scrappy affair. However, the Crows won by 29 points at Patersons in Round 10 of this season.

At the risk of once again doing my cash in a game affected by Ross Lyon, I think the Dockers are a red hot chance of snaring the upset here, and therefore will have 1.5 units on them at the plus.


Gold Coast v GWS, Metricon Stadium, 4.40pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Gold Coast -15.5 to -17.5


I’m not convinced they haven’t got this one arse about. GWS knocked off Port last week in convincing fashion and have been gearing towards these last three weeks for the best part of two months. No suggestion of tanking there strangely enough.

The Suns were soundly beaten by the Dees and we all know how poor they have been. Even another 40 from Gazza and 40 + four goals for Bennell couldn’t get them up.

I’m not saying that the Giants will win – the Suns will be desperate for their first victory at Metricon – but you won’t convince me they should be laying three goals. An astute gambler might have a nibble at either side under 15.5 at $2.65. One unit on GWS at the plus for mine.


Let’s be clear from the outset – I won’t be betting this game.

Nonetheless, I find this line curious when you consider that the Giants won their Round Seven encounter at Manuka Oval by 27 points (cue more wincing on my behalf, after backing the Suns at the minus that day).

Home field advantage is worth quite a bit (especially to poor sides), but the 1-17 Suns jumping as three-goal favourites against a convincing last start winner? That seems odd to me. Apologies to the 47 GWS fans out there – I’ve probably just consigned your team to a 10-goal loss.


Sydney v Collingwood, ANZ Stadium, 7.40pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Sydney -11.5 to -12.5


Massive game again. We seem to be saying that a lot.

Swan out to club suspension is a bother. It is just like the Collingwood footy club to scapegoat someone at this time of year to try and convince everyone they are on the same page when it is as clear as day there are elements at the club who feel there is an “I” in team. Did Eddie phone that one in?

Sydney should get the choccies here at home. No bet though.


Sydney have been in fantastic form for a couple of months now, winning their last nine games by an average of 46 points. However, of the three games they’ve played in that period against sides with a record of 11-7 or better, two of the three wins have been by a goal or less, so the unbeaten streak hasn’t been without a scare or two.

Collingwood’s form has been sporadic of late, mixing a convincing win over Geelong with losses to Carlton and Hawthorn and a narrow victory over the Saints on Saturday night. Nonetheless, you write off teams who have won 12 of their last 14 matches at your peril.

Here’s where things get tricky for Swans fans – the Magpies have won the last 10 matches between these teams at all venues, including six straight wins at ANZ Stadium. Five of those six wins came by between 13 and 26 points, before a thriller last year that saw Collingwood squeeze home by one goal. Moreover, you know how Hawthorn are a combined 0-4 this season against the Swans, Cats and Eagles? Well, the Magpies are 3-0 against that same group – styles of play matter.

The Swans may have their best team in a number of years this season and the Magpies may not quite be at their 2010-2011 peak, but I can’t go past that recent head-to-head record. I’ll have one unit on Collingwood at the plus.


Carlton v Brisbane, Etihad Stadium, 7.40pm

Bookmakers’ line:   Carlton -29.5 to -31.5


Brisbane were shithouse last week. Even Browny came out this week and said they were as weak as piss. Just when it looks like they have a bit to offer, they serve up some utter rubbish.

The Blues will likely get a few more back this week and will want a big win to back up the midweek claims that whilst September action is beyond them this year, they’ll be a top four side next year. I’ll believe that when I see it. #tohellinahandbag

I get the feeling that this game could go in half a dozen different directions which doesn’t inspire confidence. No bet.


The Blues need to win their last four matches and then have a few other results fall their way to see any finals action – for a team who looked a legitimate premiership contender pre-season (and indeed through the first three rounds of the season proper), it’s a massive fall from grace. I’m rarely a conspiracy theorist, but if the playing group has lost confidence in Brett Ratten, it’ll come through in their motivation and intensity over the next four weeks.

I pondered before last week’s match against Richmond whether the Lions have run out of steam in 2012 and the result against the Tigers did nothing to change my view. There may be a case for Michael Voss trying to freshen up his best players before the final two games (at Port, hosting the Bulldogs) give them a great chance to reach nine wins on the season.

The Blues have won each of their last three matches against Brisbane at Etihad, including wins by 61 points last year and 55 points in 2010. Throw in the 91-point win at the Gabba in the second round of this season and the recent head-to-head record all favours Carlton.

At this point in time I don’t trust either side and will be sitting this match out.



Hawthorn v Port Adelaide, Aurora Stadium, 1.10pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Hawthorn -79.5 to -80.5


Caretaker Coach versus Club Captain’s 200th. Who will have more motivation? I’d be leaning towards the Hawks in that one.

Buddy should come back and he’ll want a bag to win back top spot in the Coleman race. He’s every chance as well given last time he went to Launnie he kicked 13. Competition for spots is hot at the Hawks, so I wouldn’t expect them to take it easy this week.

Port will try and show a bit of fight but it’s a sad indictment on the footy club that it would take the loss of Primus to conjure up some ticker.

Ticker won’t be enough though and I’m predicting a pretty torrid first day at the office for Buddah Hocking. Hawks by a squillion with a unit on the minus.


Hawthorn may have dropped another game to their arch nemesis Geelong (making four losses for the season against teams who can play excellent man-on-man defence in the Cats, Eagles and Swans), but that will matter little against a rabble who, if the cards fell the right way, they could beat by 25 goals.

Port Adelaide are a mess. The circumstances in which Matthew Primius were axed are unsavoury – both in terms of how long ago decisions on his 2013 tenure were made and the absence of the very same players he defended until the bitter end at his final presser. The ongoing Travis Boak saga is a distraction (and seeming more and more like a blow to their playing ranks), and more frankly, their list isn’t much good. I feel for Garry Hocking and the tasks that lay before him.

The Hawks and Power haven’t played at Aurora since 2008, with Hawthorn winning by 15 points. Nonetheless, with a 24-11 record at the ground overall, the Hawks have certainly made a second home in Tasmania. Moreover, their 46-point win at AAMI in Round 11 and their 165-point win at the MCG last year point to another big win this time around.

Traditionally across a number of sporting arenas, clubs tend to perform well in the first week under a new head coach, which would imply taking the huge start here. I just can’t bring myself to do it – no play.


Richmond v Western Bulldogs, MCG, 3.15pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Richmond -34.5 to -35.5


Not liking this one at all. Richmond easily I’d have thought.

I’m not sure suspending Tommy Libba was a great move for the Dogs either. Given their recent form I think a gutful of pingers half an hour before the game might be just the tonic. They should have made him coach! Or at the very least let him off on compassionate grounds. I mean, the poor kid has to tell his mates he plays for that rabble. I’d want to get good and fucked up too!

No bet for me here – too many imponderables.


At first blush, I was pretty keen on the Tigers at the minus here. But their record against bottom-six teams this season acts as cautionary tale; a 5-1 head to head record is countered by an average points differential of only 29 (105 points per game scored, 76 conceded) and a 3-3 record against the spread in those games.

As for the Bulldogs, they look completely shot for 2012. Their last seven losses have come by an average margin of 57 points, and depending on the exact line you got for the match against Carlton, they may not have covered a spread since Round 12 against the Power. Moreover, they’ve only played three games at the MCG over the past two years though – losing to Collingwood and Hawthorn last year and beating Melbourne by 21 points in Round Four of this season.

Contrary to the current form of both teams, the Bulldogs have recorded eight wins and a draw in their last nine matches against the Tigers, including three comfortable wins at the MCG.

Nothing points to the Bulldogs right now, but the trends favouring the Tigers are also far from compelling – no play.


Essendon v North Melbourne, Etihad Stadium, 4.40pm

Bookmakers’ line:  Essendon +7.5 to +8.5


The Bombers were really gutsy last week and deserved a win. It went begging though and it could be the defining moment of their season. They also picked up a couple more soft tissue injuries, so they’d be loving life right now.

North have been getting it done. Remember when they got belted by the Hawks in Tassie by 22 goals? I do. That’s when we were all saying they were gone and Brad Scott should be locked up. They’ve been as good as anyone since then. I’d love to know what Scotty said to them before sending them away for the bye week. It must have been gold.

I’m surprised this line is so small to be honest. I’d have thought Essendon would be 4-5 goals dogs at least. Two units on North Melbourne at the minus for mine.


The Bombers were courageous last Sunday at AAMI Stadium, but narrow losses don’t get you to September – they’ll once again need to find a way to extract the full potential of some pretty young kids currently getting a game in the seniors.

North continue on their merry way, winning seven of their last eight games while scoring an average of 115 points per game. However, their recent history is littered with cases where a finals position beckoned, only for the club to stumble at the critical moment – as a Bombers fan, I hope it happens again.

The recent history between these teams could not be more evenly divided: one win apiece in the last two matches, two apiece in the last four and three apiece in the last six. With three of those games decided by 12 points or less (including the thriller to open this season) and four of them exceeding 200 total points scored for the game, a close, high-powered shootout is on the cards yet again.

The recent form points strongly to the Kangaroos, but the head-to-head record and the propensity of North to get the jitters at this time of year have me leaning ever so slightly to the plus here, albeit insufficient for a bet.


Recommended bet summary


1 unit* on Adelaide -17.5 (*if Tippett plays) at $1.91 (Centrebet, Flemington Sportsbet)

1 unit on GWS +17.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)

1 unit on Hawthorn -79.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)

2 units on North Melbourne -7.5 at $1.91 (Flemington Sportsbet)


1.5 units on Fremantle +18.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)

1 unit on Collingwood +12.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet)


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


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