AFL ROUND 19
HAWTHORN v SYDNEY
Friday night Footy this week pits two sides who have had some outstanding clashes in the last six years in Hawthorn and Sydney.
The Hawks have managed to resurrect there year in the second half of the season and the return to form started when the Hawks beat the Swans in Sydney. That night was set up by a brilliant coaching display by the little master Alastair Clarkson and the Hawks starved the Swans of the ball that night. That turned out to be the last loss for Sydney who haven't loss since that game in Round 10.
The Swans are the form team of the competition right now but they will still need to be at there best against the Hawks and i expect a tight contest here. Buddy Franklin again looms as the difference and the Hawks will have trouble finding a decent match up for him with there new young defence. Callum Sinclair was a revelation for Sydney last week kicking five goals and that performance has helped take the pressure of Buddy with Sam Reid missing through injury and Kurt Tippett appears to be out of favour.
The Swans are back to playing there brand of footy and right now it's hard to go against them. I expect them to have just a bit to much class through the middle with Kennedy (playing game 200), Hannebery and Parker. The Hawks rely heavily on Tom Mitchell.
Take the Swans here at the margin of 1-39 in a game they should and need to win but expect the Hawks to be right in it for a big chunk of the night.
NORTH MELBOURNE v MELBOURNE
North Melbourne takes a home game to Hobart this Saturday when they host the impressive Melbourne. These two sides are tracking in vasty different directions. The Dees after many years down the bottom of the ladder have finally rebuilt and put together a very well rounded list with an abundance of potential. They took care of fellow top 8 side Port Adelaide with relative ease last week.
North Melbourne had an extremely young inexperienced side in last week against Essendon and they surprisingly played well and were much the better side for three quarters before losing by four goals. There solid performance last week was heavily reliant on key forwards Ben Brown who kicked 6 goals and Jarrad Waite 4 goals. Brown has been a revelation this season and is now one of the best young forwards in the game. The worry for North is despite getting ten goals from there two key forwards they still lost by four goals.
The Kangas down on experience thankfully regain Jack Ziebell and Robbie Tarrant this week. They have continued to leave ruck Todd Goldstein out and selected young promising ruck Braydon Pruess to take on Max Gawn.
The Demons have not beat the Kangas in there last 16 meetings which is a staggering stat. You get the feeling this will be there best opportunity as North continue to blood kids as part of the rebuild and the Dees fighting desperately for a spot in the finals.
Have to go with the Demons here against a side who is well short of there best side and have fallen away dramatically in the last month.
GWS v FREMANTLE
GWS are at home this week to the struggling Fremantle and the Giants badly need a win and big win at that to start feeling good about themselves. The boys from Sydney have won just one of the last six games and the Premiership favourites at the start of the season have looked like a side in the past month that has played all season with a long injury list and it has taken its toll.
They finally get some good news on the injury front this week with key players Jeremy Cameron and Stephen Coniglio returning. They have lost hot head Toby Green for another two week suspension and Stevie J is out injured. Stevie J has been one of the liabilities for them this season so they won't feel his loss as much.
The news doesn't get any better for the Dockers with arguably there best player this season Michael Walters out for the season. That's a bad out for a side who lacks flair and goal scoring ability. The Dockers scores in the last month have been 72, 80,84, 44 and 48. The last two weeks scores are a major worry for Ross Lyon.
I expect the Giants to be stung into action here and with the weather set to be fine and Freo looking ripe for the picking and having that look about them that they can't wait for the season to finish.
Take the Giants to cover the line of 37.5.
GWS -37.53 at 1.92-3
GOLD COAST v RICHMOND
Saturday nights game between Gold Coast and Richmond might offer up a betting opportunity at the Total Game Points.
Games on the Coast at night are often low scoring affairs as the ground gets some dew and the extra heat up North provides a slippery ball. Throw into the mix a Richmond side that engages in tight low scoring games more often than not and now without its one main target up forward in Jack Riewoldt and I expect a low scoring contest.
Alex Rance makes it so hard for teams to score against the Tigers and I can see Damien Hardwick looking to lock down the Suns and minimising there score so the Tigers small forward line doesn't have to kick a huge score to win.
Total Points Under 172.52 at 1.90+1.8
WESTERN BULLDOGS v ESSENDON
One of the games of the round takes place Sunday at Etihad when Essendon and Western Bulldogs do battle. Both sides are battling for a spot in the top 8 so plenty is at stake here.
The Dogs have been much improved in the past fortnight with wins over the Gold Coast Suns and Carlton but they are teams who are down the bottom of the ladder and the Bombers will provide a much sterner opponent. The Bombers themselves have won three straight since losing to bottom side Brisbane. It has to be said the Bombers did the bare minimum in beating a very young North Melbourne side last week. Two of Essendon best players this year in Joe Daniher and Michael Hurley had there colours lowered last week so you would expect a return to form this week.
The Dogs have lost a couple key players this week with reliable and experienced defender Dale Morris gone for the season while full forward Jack Redpath joins Jake Stringer on the sidelines. It's little surprise that Travis Cloke and Tory Dickson have been named in the squad as the Dogs need some firepower up forward although both have barely had an impact this season. It will be up to Liam Picken to kick important goals again for a team that struggles to kick big scores.
The Bombers were hardly out of second gear last week and will need to go up a few gears this week and if they can lift there intensity they have the firepower up forward in Daniher and Cale Hooker to trouble a Doggies back line that looks a bit vulnerable down back without Morris and Marcus Adams.
The Bombers have scored an extra 276 points than the Dogs this year and I feel they might have enough goals in them to get over the Premiers who despite winning the last two, still have major question marks over them. We will take the Bombers at the 1.80 to win and something small at the margin 1-39.
Essendon 1-391 at 2.40-1
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI Grand Final +9 11 82% Finals Week Three -4.2 12 -35% Finals Week Two +0.42 11 4% Finals Week One +7.18 11 65% Round Twenty-Three -9.09 21 -43% Round Twenty-Two +9.47 16 59% 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 -29.71 345 -9%