AFL ROUND 18
ESSENDON v NORTH MELBOURNE
Etihad co tenants Essendon and North Melbourne do battle on Saturday and it's clear to see one team has plenty to play for and the other has just about thrown in the towel for the year.
Essendon had a stirring win last Friday night against St Kilda destroying them all over the ground and Joe Daniher putting on a super display forward. North got battered as we expected by Port and have got more issues this week with Jack Ziebell out. They should get Jarrad Waite back which helps them but their midfield looks devoid of class outside of Cunnington and Higgins. Brad Scott's team have been brave for most of the year but they look tired and busted up now. The coach is doing the smart thing and playing the kids who are the future and seeing who can play and who can't. That's not going to help them in the present. The Bombers will be high on confidence after last week and will be on high alert not to drop the intensity after losing to the the Lions a few weeks back.
The obvious bet here has to be Essendon to win and win well.
SYDNEY v ST KILDA
Sydney Swans are at home Saturday night and the in form side of the competition. This week they take on St Kilda who desperately need a win if they are to remain a finals chance. The Saints were bitterly disappointing last Friday night at Etihad where Essendon took them apart.
These sides have played once this year at Etihad where Sydney won comfortably.
The form the class the experience the home ground advantage all favour Sydney here but I am not sold on backing them at a line of minus 27 - 28.5. The Swans are always hard to break down and are good at wearing teams down but they themselves are not a high scoring side. The Swans have won six straight but it's worth noting in those wins they have only scored over 100 once. That was two weeks ago when they scored 118 against the Gold Coast Suns. They will also be without Sam Reid this week who normally takes the second best defender.
The Saints will rely heavily on their quick young mids and they have plenty of pace which could hurt the Swans who are a more contested side. If the Saints can get the ball on the outside the will be right in this game.
The Swans have been up for a long period now after is a terrible start to the season and coming off a tough game against cross town rival GWS they could be vulnerable here if the Saints are switched on.
Take the Saints at the plus in what should be a top contest.
BRISBANE v CARLTON
The final game of Round 18 will be played at the Gabba where the Brisbane Lions host Carlton. While it's hardly a mouth watering affair with the Lions last and the Blues 16th. However,there is plenty to like about both teams going forward in the years to come. Both clubs have finally gone about rebuilding in a proper fashion building though draft picks and the young talent for both clubs has been on display this year with the Blues gaining five rising star nominations and the Lions three. You would expect these two sides to have some great contests in the years to come.
As for this weekend it might be a case of two young sides and the one at home is the outsider and therefore probably the better value bet.
Carlton have been honest all year and even in the last two weeks when they have lost to Melbourne and Western Bulldogs they have had there chances to win, the Melbourne game more so. Last week the Blues flew out the gates before the Dogs slowly overran them. The Blues showed a few signs of tiredness creeping into there players and a trip to Brissy won't be as easy as it once was. The Lions were beaten by five goals last week against Richmond but showed signs they are improving. The Tigers destroyed Brisbane early in the season but they took four quarters to get over them second time around.
The Blues also looked like a side last week that badly missed young guns Patrick Cripps and Caleb Marchbank and they will be absent this week as well with Cripps out for the season.
The Lions have almost a full list to pick from and will feel confident back at home they can have a win against the side they beat at home last year when they were a shadow of the side they are this year. The Lions have won 3 of the last 4 clashes between these two sides.
Take the Lions with a small start at the line in case of a close finish and we will take them to win as well.
COLLINGWOOD v WEST COAST
Collingwood host West Coast at Etihad today.The Pies had a win last week against the Suns without looking that impressive but will gain some confidence from that win.
The Eagles had a dour win over Fremantle in the local derby in a game that never reached great heights. Josh Kennedy returned and got through unscathed and should be much better this week as he celebrates his 200th game. Elliott Yeo returns from injury for his 100th game and is a key inclusion for the Eagles. Sam Mitchell is being rested for the Eagles. Luke Shuey plays his 150th game. The Eagles have personal milestones and a chance to consolidate a spot in the top 8 today. They have no reason to not be switched on.
The Pies are missing there best player and captain Scott Pendlebury.
The prices have swung dramatically in this game with the Eagles starting faves at 1.70ish and now out to 2.15 - 2.10. The move to make the Pies fave came on the back of Sam Mitchell not playing but that seems an over reaction for me and Pendlebury is a bigger out for the Pies. The Eagles have a much better forward line and a solid defence, while the Pies struggle to kick goals. If the Eagles can break even through the middle and get over there Melbourne hoodoo - they did win there last game in Melbourne at Etihad against the Dogs then I see the Eagles being too strong here with too much to play for and certainly the value at the odds.
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI Round Twenty-One +8.55 13 66% Round Twenty -8 17 -47% Round Nineteen -9.2 13 -71% Round Eighteen +3.01 15 20% Round Seventeen +9.88 16 62% Round Sixteen -4.05 15 -27% Round Fifteen +0.12 13 1% Round Fourteen -2.48 15 -17% Round Thirteen +1.93 5 39% Round Twelve -6.3 14 -45% Round Eleven -2.1 9 -23% Round Ten -5.26 10 -53% Round Nine +4 11 36% Round Eight +10.01 9 111% Round Seven -10.26 17 -60% Round Six -2.4 14 -17% Round Five -12.3 18 -68% Round Four -5.21 11 -47% Round Three -1.16 10 -12% Round Two -11 11 -100% Round One -0.27 6 -5% Total -42.49 262 -16%