After 23 rounds of the regular season it is now time to get down to the business end of the season, the road to the last Saturday in September kicks off on Thursday Night in Perth. With four mouth-watering clashes, it should be a fascinating weekend.
The defending champion West Coast Eagles ($1.21) kick us off when they face Essendon ($4.3) in a win or go home clash. The Eagles looked odds on for a top 4 spot but were outplayed by Hawthorn in round 23. Now instead of having the double chance, face a Bombers outfit with nothing to lose. With a percentage of only 95.4, good for 13th in the league, outsiders have been wondering do they deserve to be there. After securing a top 8 spot while in Perth beating Freo, can they hope for another successful trip across the Nullarbor. They do welcome back a quartet of injured players in Orrrraaaaaaazzzzziiiiiiioooooooo, Captain Heppell, Hooker and Stringer, while the eagles regain Nic-Nat. Last time, Essendon went down by 35 points to the Eagles at Optus and if not for some wayward kicking it would have been much worse as the Eagles shot 14.22. Much more of the same for me with Eagles winning this and still showing that they are not going to give up their crown without a fight.
West Coast 1-39 @ $2.04 is a nice bet, Essendon will be competitive but the Eagles ultimately too strong. The winner will head to Melbourne to take on the loser of our next matchup.
The biggest clash of the round is undoubtably the Friday night match-up at the MCG as minor-Premiers Geelong ($1.72) take on Collingwood ($2.1). A lot has been mentioned about this match-ups location due to Collingwood finishing 4th and getting a home final. The Cats have been average since the bye when they seemed to be cruising, going 5-5 in their last 10. They have a notoriously bad record after bye weeks, going 2-11 after a week off. Collingwood managed to sneak into the top 4 and obtain a double chance thanks to the Hawks. They look to welcome back De Goey from injury and are hoping Stephenson can be their finals spark after a 10-week suspension. A massive milestone game for Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury as he celebrates game 300, can the Pies make it a memorable one for him?
It’s a tough game to pick with many variables, with Geelong’s post-bye record and Collingwood’s returning stars. They last met back in round 1 with the Cats emerging victorious by 7 points. An expected crowd of over 95,000 should make the atmosphere fantastic. I might be a little biased toward the Cats, but this will be a tight fought contest and either team by 1-39 would be a good bet with the Cats $2.18 and Pies $2.56.
The 2nd Elimination Final takes place at Spotless Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Giants ($2.02) host the in-form Bulldogs ($1.77). The Bulldogs have been flying as of late and I think it is safe to say they are the team nobody wants to play, that burden falls on the Giants who were demolished by 61 points when the teams met at the same venue 3 weeks ago. The Giants were bitten by the injury bug for a lot of the season and are slowly starting to get their team together although still without newly resigned Coniglio and Ward. The Bulldogs had all the momentum coming into September, they benefited from the week off in 2016 when they were able to get their team fit and went on to win the premiership; has the week off this time come at a bad time? The Bulldogs have been firing offensively recently, averaging a massive 128 points in their last 3 games. If they put up a score that big this round they will surely be sending the Giants on their summer holidays.
The odds have the Bulldogs favourite, not surprising after the 61 points smashing last time they met, however I am leaning towards the Giants, but if it is half a good as the 2016 Prelim it will be a must watch.
The last game is a match-up we witnessed in round 23. The premiership favourite Richmond heads north to take on Brisbane at the Gabba. The Tigers ($1.65) are rightly favourites as they have looked the best team by far over the last 10 weeks including a 27 point victory over the Lions. The tandem of Lynch and Riewoldt has been giving teams headaches since Riewoldt returned from injury. The Lions are no mugs and have earned the right to a home final after a stellar and surprising season. The recruiting has been top notch the past few years both through draft and trades, the best pick-up might not have even been Lachie Neale, but the pickup of Jarryd Lyons for nothing. The Tigers have won the last 14 games against the Lions, while it will be a competitive hard fought game like in the round 23, the finals experience and big game players of the Tigers will get them over the line.
The Tigers have been the best team in the AFL, I will be taking the -5.5 points at $1.88, they should win by 3-4 goals.
My Multi for Week 1
WCE 1-39 @ 2.02
Geelong Collingwood Under 147.5 @ $1.80
GWS win $2.02
Richmond -5.5 $1.88
$20 usually returns 276.16, but with our 4 leg multi boost of 20% would return $327.39.