GWS vs Western Bulldogs
The headline match for the weekend with a repeat of last years thrilling preliminary final. The Dogs were able to get the win last time and both teams come into this match 4-1, but there is no doubt that GWS are playing the better footy of the 2 teams. The Dogs were lucky to escape with the points last week against Brisbane after going in as $1.05 favourites. They were outplayed for most of the match but were just able to get on top late against the young lowly ranked Lions team. Their past 2 wins before that were narrow wins against teams who are both now 0-5 in the Swans and Roos too so that form doesn’t look all that strong on paper.
The Dogs are 1-4 at the line so far this year and still with injuries to several key players look hard pressed to get any sort of result out of this match.
GWS on the other hand have bounced back brilliantly after their poor start to the year against the Crows, with 4 big wins in a row clearing the line on each occasion. They lose defender Phil Davis for this match, but with the Dogs lacking key forwards that should be a fairly comfortable gap for their defense to cover. If they get on top early this is a match they could win pretty big and the line doesn’t look nearly big enough.
Hawthorn vs St Kilda
The Hawks got their season somewhat back on track last week with a win over the Eagles at home but it is hard to ignore their previous poor performances and presume they are just going to carry on with the form they showed last week. They get O’Meara back in the side but lose Cyril Rioli which will really hurt. Based on form over the entire season it’s hard to imagine they could be starting favourites for a match like this despite it being played in Launceston where they have a terrific record.
Ignoring their Round 1 debacle the Saints have actually been in pretty good form since. They were competitive with the Eagles in Perth before beating both Brisbane and Collingwood. Then last week against an undefeated Geelong team the match was really in the balance until part way through the last quarter when the Cats got a run on. The scoreboard really didn’t reflect their performance in that match where they looked very much on top late in the third quarter.
St Kilda have definitely looked the better performed side over the season so far and going in as underdogs represent very good value even away from home.
Carlton vs Sydney
This looks to be the match where Sydney start to get their season back on track. With a somewhat easy draw coming up for the Swans they will know this match is make or break for their entire season and a loss would kill off any hopes of a surge at the top 8. A lot of their stars just look to be lacking confidence at the moment, but against a team like Carlton who are seriously struggling with a percentage of just 67.13% and coming off a 90 point thrashing by the Power in Adelaide this should be a match where they can get a run on and start building some form.
The Blues are really struggling to be able to kick a score at the moment, with just 3 goal kickers in their last match and will be relying heavily on their midfielders to fill the burden there. But the Swans showed glimpses last weekend against the Giants to suggest they are almost there and if they do get on top like they did last week don’t expect the Blues to be able to pull them back like GWS did.
Brisbane vs Port Adelaide
Despite putting in a solid performance last week against the Dogs, the young Lions really look up against it here against an up and running Power side.
Even though they controlled the majority of the match the fact that the Lions still lost by 32 points last week is pretty damning. Sides are able to score against them far too easily averaging 111 points in matches this year and even in the corresponding match between these 2 teams last year the Power scored a massive 173 points when winning by 94 points.
The Power have also been a very high scoring team this year with scores of 110+ in all three of their wins with their only losses coming against the top 2 premiership favourites this year in the Crows and Giants. In a match that is expected to be very high scoring the 35.5 point line doesn’t seem that large and should be quite easily covered.
West Coast vs Fremantle
The WA Derby looks like being a much better match than it did a few weeks ago, with the Dockers putting together 3 wins in a row including a win over the reigning premiers at home. Losing Stephen Hill is going to be a huge loss though as he has been one of their better players this year and provides a lot of run and speed through the middle.
The Eagles poor MCG form continued last week with a loss against the extremely disappointing Hawks, so they will be looking to bounce back at home now. They get Sam Mitchell back which will obviously be a huge in and Giles coming back should help out in the ruck.
The bookies look to have this match pretty much spot on so no real value in the market but Matt Priddis has a great recent record in Derbies so could be worth having something on for the Ross Glendinning Medal @ $12
Tip: Matt Priddis to win Medal @ $12
North Melbourne vs Gold Coast
They are 0-5 but North are actually playing some very good footy at the moment losing 3 matches by less than a goal after holding significant leads in all 3. Those matches were against the reigning premiers, Geelong who are now 5-0 and the Dockers in Perth. They have dropped both Swallow and Thomas for this match which looks a very good decision based on recent output and get back Jed Anderson and Shaun Higgins who should both add a lot more to the team.
The Suns have been up and down so far this year. They have had some awful losses but also some very big wins so it’s hard to know which Suns side you are going to get. The loss of David Swallow through the middle will hurt as he has been in good form lately.
The 14.5 point line looks rather small in a match where a lot of goals are expected to be kicked and if North can get on top early like they have done recently then the Suns probably don’t have the ability to pull the margin back like other teams have done to North recently and the margin could blow out.
Essendon vs Melbourne
With Spencer going down through injury Melbourne essentially have no rucks for this match and will have to rely on Pedersen and Watts to do the ruck work which is going to leave them very much undermanned through the middle. They get Jordan Lewis back from suspension but unfortunately also lose Jesse Hogan due to personal circumstances so it is hard to see them working coherently with so many issues.
The Bombers come into this off a fantastic win on Anzac Day, with the only real downside being the 5 day break but with the Demons playing the night before they did there shouldn’t really be much difference there. At $1.75 the Bombers should probably be a bit shorter given their recent form and the current issues at the Demons.
Geelong vs Collingwood
Collingwood’s ineffectiveness inside 50 continues to be their main problem in 2017. They had 65 inside 50s to 43 on Anzac Day but struggled to find a pathway to goal and let themselves down with their set shots yet again. In general play they have been performing quite well though so just need to start finding an avenue to goal.
Geelong are 5-0 but have been pushed in a few of their games still. North controlled them for most of the match before the Cats got up by a point in the final minute and the Demons and Saints both looked to be playing better than them at stages. The 25.5 point line does look rather large and Collingwood are a team who could easily cause an upset if they could start taking their chances in front of goal.
At $4.10 the Magpies could be worth a punt if you are looking for an outsider to back this weekend.
Adelaide vs Richmond
Not many would have predicted this would be a top of the table clash at the start of the year with both sides coming in 5-0. There is no doubt the Crows come into this with the stronger form though with dominant wins against the Giants and Power, while the Eagles are the only top 8 team the Tigers have beaten so far this year.
This is going to be a big test for Richmond as they have played 4 of their 5 matches at the MCG so far this year, with their only away match being against the lowly ranked Lions at the Gabba. Last year they lost 5 of their 6 matches away from Melbourne by an average of 75 points, so recent Away form definitely isn’t on their side coming up against the form team of the competition.
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