By Brian Randall and Gordon Hunter Meredith
There’s a lot of tripe that gets shared when it comes to footy tipping… but there’s some nuggets as well.
After five rounds of footy we still don’t really know who’s legit and who’s a pretender.
Adelaide after a week of scrutiny had a statement win against Sydney, while Melbourne and Essendon continue to defy form lines, team sheets and player ratings.
This weekend looks to be a mixed bag of potential blow out games and dour slogfests before three enticing match-ups on Sunday.
Here’s our take on the Round 6 action…
Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton @ Etihad Stadium
Carlton Take: Is Patrick Cripps underrated? Right now, he’s absolutely dominating the scene! Despite Carlton’s soft start to the season, he’s come out of the gates firing and his current season stat line is an impressive 28 disposals, (18 contested) 8 clearances and 6 tackles per game, proving he’s even better at finding the ball in the trenches then he was last year. What’s even more impressive however, is his ability to now impact the scoreboard, averaging 5 inside 50s and 4 score involvements per game. When Carlton have been able to go forward this season it’s usually been because of Cripps.
Western Bulldogs Take: Has Luke Beveridge already played his trump card this season? After being listless in the opening two rounds, the emotionally attuned coach rallied the war cry and peddled the “us-versus-them” storyline to his camp to get the young Dogs up for (at the time) an impressive win over Essendon. Since then however, they still haven’t given a yelp. They were in it until the end against an off colour Swans but then didn’t show up last week against the Dockers out west. Let’s not forget that this team is mostly young pups, and not the Premiership stars of 2016.
Hot Take: 🎶 Da, dada, dada… Da, dada, dada… 🎶 This could be the week that the Bluebaggers’ win drought is broken for 2018. Carlton’s Andrew Phillips swings the source ball battle into Carlton’s favour as he’ll be up against youngster Tim English. And while the Bulldogs still have ‘The Bont” (who’s been dull so far this year) Carlton’s ‘x-factor’ is upfront with Levi Casboult and Charlie Curnow. If the Blues can win the contested ball and clearance numbers they’ve got enough class going forward to rack up a score.
Real Take: This one is hard to pick, given Carlton are yet to win this season and the up-and-down Bulldogs are coming off a 54-point loss to Fremantle, but based on immediate form Carlton have the edge. Significantly, after bleeding more than 100 points a game in the first three rounds, the Blues’ defence kept the Eagles to 79 points last week.
TIP: Carlton Play Action: Under 174.5 Total Match Points @ $1.90
Geelong v Sydney at Kardinia Park
Geelong Take: The Cats are the best team in the competition… at one specific thing: converting opportunities. Despite starting the season with football’s Holy Trinity, ‘Gary Dangerwood’ they’ve barely had a match where all three have been fully fit, let alone firing on all cylinders. As such, the Cats have found themselves on the wrong side of the clearance counts and often the inside 50s stats but it hasn’t mattered. When the Cats go forward they score. They lead the AFL for points per inside 50 (1.89 points per entry) and are ranked 3rd in the AFL for goal assists (10.2 per game.) Which is handy as they will be missing Daniel Menzel this week and will need to look for other avenues to goal.
Sydney Take: There are some danger signs for the Swans after a disappointing fortnight and the media vultures are circling… Yes. Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery are all having their worst years (based on disposals numbers) in several seasons. Yes. An over reliance on Buddy has been compounded by the absence of Sam Reid. But! Do we remember last season? The 0-6 Swans made the finals comfortably. A Sydney season isn’t decided in April. If anything their three wins gives them a headstart on the rest of the field.
Hot Take: Down on form, with the media against them and no Buddy to save them… on paper it looks like a loss but this is where the Swans usually stand up and put the competition on notice. Kardinia Park is a graveyard for visiting teams and the Cats have won 18 of their past 20 games at “The Cattery” but those two losses have been to the Swans.
Real Take: There’s too many things in Geelong’s favour to go against them here.
TIP: Geelong Play Action: Nil
North Melbourne v Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium
North Melbourne Take: So, there’s egg on our faces… turns out North are going to be pretty good this year. Which is a little embarrassing after the pasting we gave them in the off-season. Ben ‘Krusty the Clown’ Brown is having an absolute stellar year and will be taking it right up to Josh Kennedy and Lance Franklin in the Coleman Medal race this season. Furthermore the Roos’ forward line structure in general is working really well with Brown and Jarrad Waite complimenting each other nicely. While all of the talk has been about the North’s attack, it’s their defence that is winning them games. They concede only 64 points per game in 2018, ranked №1 in the AFL.
Port Adelaide Take: Did we buy to much Power stock during the pre-season? Have we overrated the much hyped recruits?The likes of Tom Rockliff, Steven Motlop and Jack Watts was meant to be the icing on top of Port’s cake that saw the Power topple the teams above them on the ladder and climb triumphantly into the Top 4. Instead they’ve lost their last two games against a flip-flopping Essendon and a subdued Geelong side. Mix in Hamish Hartlett’s ACL injury, Lindsay Thomas’ suspension and the ongoing fallout from the Sam Powell-Pepper investigation and it looks like the wheels could be about to fall off at Alberton.
Hot Take: Staring down the barrel of a third straight loss for the first time since 2016, does Ken Hinkley burn his “us-versus-them” emotional plea card for the season? It would be easy for the coaching staff to lean into the media narrative and psych the Power boys up for an “F-U!” win against the grain. Port are also playing North, who while being good this year… have only been good for five weeks.
Real Take: Things are against Port in this one despite coming into this away game as favourites. They are still without Paddy Ryder and will have to play a part time ruck combo against the All-Australian Todd Goldstein. Charlie Dixon looks horribly out of form and will have to try and find something against the AFL’s stingiest defence. Port have tended to struggle under the dome with the most recent example being against Essendon in Round 4. North are becoming everyone’s “Second Team”, so look for them to ride that wave to another victory.
TIP: North Melbourne Play Action: North Melbourne @ $2.75
GWS v Brisbane at Spotless Stadium
GWS Take: It seems that every club has a bogey club and for GWS that’s St Kilda. The Saints pulled off the upset of the season in 2017 when they beat the Giants and it would have happened again last round if Jake Carlisle had been able to hold that mark. Would Leon Cameron be worried? Probably not, given the missing Giants players and they fact that they kicked 9.19… it happens. The Giants had an off week. But what is going on at Etihad Stadium this year? After five rounds, the Dome hosts 48.37% goal kicking accuracy… is it too ‘still’ with the roof closed?
Brisbane Take: We’re getting what we expected from the Lions: a young team in the middle of a rebuild. Brisbane have plenty of young talent but as Touk Miller proved last week, they are more than capable of being quelled. At their best, they can push most teams for four quarters, but if they’re off their game… well just have a look at the Round 4 score.
Hot Take: Given the Giants patchy form, their absences and their perceived inability to turn up in the right mindset week in, week out — there are angles to suggest that Brisbane can keep this closer than the 39.5 point line suggests.
Real Take: It’s the Giants’ first Spotless Stadium game for the season and they will be too good for the Lions at home. Leon Cameron will want a harder edge from his team this week and Brisbane could be the unfortunate whipping boys. The Giants forward trio of Jeremy Cameron, Jon Patton and Toby Greene will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing this young Lions defence — and if the midfield can keep pounding the ball inside 50, things could get ugly.
TIP: GWS Play Action: Over 158.5 Total Match Points
Hawthorn v St Kilda at UoT Stadium
Hawthorn Take: Coaches love talking about the “next solider up” mentality but you can’t cover everyone, and it seems that Hawthorn can’t cover Paul Puopolo and Cyril Rioli. Not so much the goals and amazing moments but both of these small forward jets produce but the defensive pressure they provide, which was severely lacking against North Melbourne last week. It will be a quick learning curve for a couple of young Hawk small forwards in the coming weeks.
St Kilda Take: Despite the public furore around mid-season draws, every draw still has a winner and a loser. GWS got away with two points and the Saints will be disappointed that they didn’t pick up the full four. It’s what happens next however, that matters more. Was last week’s version of St Kilda, one that had ‘turned the corner’ or will the disappointment and thoughts of “what if” send them backwards?
Hot Take: North Melbourne proved that the Hawks are gettable by EVERY club in the AFL and St Kilda have toppled the Tasmanian titans as recently as last year, in a massive 130 to 55 victory. The best version of the Saints can win this fixture.
Real Take: St Kilda have turned up once this year and managed a draw. They were rusty against the Lions in Round 1 and then woeful for the next three weeks. Hawthorn very rarely lose back-to-back matches and very rarely lose in Tasmania. Clarkson will demand more frontal pressure from his replacement small forwards and Tom Mitchell is due for another massive week after being held by Ben Jacobs in Round 5.
TIP: Hawthorn Play Action: Hawthorn to win and cover (-21.5)
Adelaide v Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval
Adelaide Take: We said after their Round 4 loss to Collingwood that Adelaide are a “Plan A Only” side but their impressive win against Sydney showed that perhaps they have added another strong to their bow. The Crows matched the Swans in all of Sydney’s keystone KPIs: contested ball, clearances and tackles, which is impressive for a side known more for their outside play and ball transition. Doing all of the above with a significant injury list makes the achievement all the more remarkable.
Gold Coast Take: Extended periods of travel due to the Commonwealth Games would have dulled the young Suns but credit to new coach Stuart Dew, the Suns have been competitive in all but their Round 4 match against West Coast. Their obvious comparison team in the competition is Carlton and the Suns look to be ahead as they are able to play all three phases of play, (particularly defence) more consistently and for longer.
Hot Take: Do the Crows suffer from bouts of bathwater drinking? Adelaide can be excused for a rusty start to the season in Round 1 but since then their best performances have come against the best sides (Richmond and Sydney) while they seem susceptible to lower their colours to the level of their opponents. Collingwood are more advanced than Gold Coast but the Suns have proven that they’ll take it up to you if you’re off your game.
Real Take: Adelaide at Adelaide Oval is arguably the hardest challenge in the AFL. Gold Coast will compete for a couple of quarters but Adelaide has too much depth and will run away with this one.
TIP: Adelaide Play Action: N/A
Essendon v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium
Essendon Take: Let’s not get it twisted… these are the same Bombers that we saw in 2017. There’s no consistency week-to-week and no real ability to change tact in the middle of a contest to attempt to get back into a fixture. At their best Essendon are a high scoring juggernaut who boast the second highest points per inside 50 rate (1.83pts per entry) in the AFL. At their worst the Bombers’ ball movement is stifled, unimaginative and clumsy. For example, Essendon have scored from 19% of their attacking midfield chains this season, ranked last in the AFL.
But the foremost concern for Essendon should be their forward half pressure. To be blunt it’s been insipid for a club that boosts so much talent on their list. Essendon has won only 21 forward half intercepts per game this season, ranked 16th and have scored from only 28% of these intercepts, ranked 15th.
Melbourne Take: Likewise these are the “same, old Demons.” Melbourne’s inconsistency isn’t week-to-week but quarter-to-quarter. Their losses to Geelong, Hawthorn and Richmond all featured one quarter where the Demons caved in and conceded a flood of goals. Compounding that issue is the fact that Melbourne can not make it count on the scoreboard. The Demons have won the inside 50 count by seven per game this season, ranked equal-second in the competition but are ranked 13th in the AFL for points per inside 50 with only 1.47 pts per entry.
Hot Take: Essendon are the best “bounce-back” side in the AFL. A disappointing 21-point loss to the Bulldogs in Round 3 was followed by an inspired 22-point win against Port Adelaide. So, surely a 49-point thumping at the hands of the old foe would stimulate a bounce-back.
Real Take: This is a tipster’s nightmare. There’s nothing between these two clubs and neither form line can be trusted. To clutch at straws… Melbourne has the slightly longer break and were competitive for longer parts of their last match than Essendon. So… we’ll tip Melbourne but it’s a proper coin toss.
TIP: Melbourne Play Action: N/A
Collingwood v Richmond at MCG
Collingwood Take: People are rapidly buying up Magpies stock! Backing up their impressive win over the Crows in Adelaide, Collingwood dominated the ANZAC Day match. Mason Cox has added structure to their forward line. Brodie Grundy is arguably the best all-round ruckman in the competition. Steele Sidebottom is having an All-Australian calibre start to the season. Scott Pendlebury is embracing a change of role as the team’s “defensive midfielder” and Adam Treloar found his best on Wednesday. Things are looking up for the Pies.
Richmond Take: Is it too soon to whisper… “back-to-back”?It’s a tough task to argue against Richmond for the team who holds the mantle of “Best in the League.” And it’s all continued to be built on the back of their trademark pressure . The Tigers have won the tackle count, on average, by 11 per game (№1 in AFL) and rank №1 for post-clearance pressure in the forward 50 (and 4th in the midfield.) Richmond’s attacking proficiency however, is still underrated. Richmond have won the inside 50 count by 8 per game this season (№1 in AFL) and average 24 disposals per goal this season, the second-best rate of any side.
Hot Take: People are already sick of the Tiger Army… after all, who have they beaten? Carlton and Brisbane are probable Bottom 4 sides this year. Hawthorn and Melbourne are probable to finish in the 6th-12th bracket. This week is a real test for the Tigers.
Real Take: The reigning premiers have continued their Premiership form into 2018 and no one plays the MCG better than Richmond. They have won their past 11 games at the ‘G and no team defends the large dimensions of Footy’s Colosseum better.
TIP: Richmond Play Action: Richmond to win and cover (-14.5) and Total Match Points — Under 170.5
Fremantle v West Coast at Optus Stadium
Fremantle Take: Fremantle looked good pounding the Bulldogs last week but overall their form has been inconsistent. The Dockers have found some spark this year but they are heavily reliant on Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters to light it… not that it’s mattered because both have stood up this season. Fyfe is ranked second in the AFL for clearances and contested possessions while Michael Walters has already kicked 9 goals this season while averaging 21 disposals per game.
West Coast Take: The Eagles are sitting pretty in second on the ladder, although they lowered their colours against Carlton last week. These rejuvenated Eagles have been defined by their speed. The departures of Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis have been blessings in disguise as West Coast have changed their game plan from careful possession accumulation and slow ball movement to fast and carefree footy. And it’s been great to watch!
Hot Take: “Anything can happen in a Derby.”
Real Take: The Western Derby hasn’t provided much of a genuine rivalry of late, but a strange feud over the Ross Glendinning Medal might add some much-needed spice… but it will probably just fire up the Eagles for a comfortable win.
TIP: West Coast Play Action: West Coast win (H2H), Total Match Points (Under 174.5) and Elliot Yeo (30+ Disposals)
ROUND 8 TIPS: Carlton / Geelong / North Melbourne / GWS / Hawthorn / Adelaide / Melbourne / Richmond / West Coast
BEST BET: Richmond to cover (-14.5) @ $1.92 VALUE BET: North Melbourne to win (H2H) @ $2.75 ROUGHIE: Elliot Yeo (30+ Disposals) @ $5.00
MULTI: GWS vs. Bris (Over 158.5 points) + Hawthorn cover (-21.5) + Richmond cover (-14.5) + West Coast win (H2H) @ $11.97