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Sunday AFL Specials: Eagles to prosper, Roos to challenge Dees

Sat, May 20, 1:34pm by Senior Writer

Sunday’s three AFL games are expected to be clear cut, with all three matches seeing the underdogs given an 11.5 point start or better. But in a season where upsets seem to be the norm, can we be so certain that all three will go the way of the market?

Essendon v West Coast, Etihad Stadium, Sunday May 21, 1:10pm AEDT

So which West Coast turns up on Sunday? The one which has strung together three consecutive tough wins to sit equal top of the ladder, or the one which in their last two trips to Melbourne have looked anything but a premiership contender.

The Eagles have managed to fly under the radar this year, because those two underwhelming performances against Hawthorn and Richmond have stuck in the mind. They certainly seem to struggle at the MCG, where they have lost four of their past five.

But thankfully for them, this match is at Etihad Stadium where they have won three of their past four, including a 43-point win over North Melbourne in Round 1. The fast-paced football played at the Docklands venue is very much to the Eagles’ liking and they are $1.53 favourites here.

Etihad may be Essendon’s home ground, but their recent record here is nothing short of horrendous, having won just one of their past 16. Their lone appearance so far in 2017 was a heavy loss to Melbourne in Round 6.

But the Bombers ($2.50) are coming off an excellent win against Geelong last week. Their future was very much on display that nine with Zach Merrett dominant, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti terrific and Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia combining for eight goals.

The recent past is troubled for the Bombers, but the near future looks very bright. They may not be premiership material this year, but as they showed last week, any top side who are off their game will find themselves in a real fight against them.

But the Eagles seem to have righted the ship after a couple of wobbles earlier on. They should have too much midfield experience for the Bombers, and Josh Kennedy, who averages well over two goals a game at this ground, should get good service, and plenty of chance to right his goalkicking woes from last week.

Suggested Bet: Take Josh Kennedy to kick the most goals at $2.75  

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Sunday May 21, 3:20pm AEDT

Melbourne’s win over Adelaide last week was arguably the club’s best win in over a decade. Facing a 28-point deficit early in the second quarter, the Demons rallied back to kick 15 of the last 18 goals of the game. As a result, they go into this match as $1.50 favourites.

The reversal of form seemed to come out of nowhere, with the Demons losing four of their previous five before that, including three at this venue, the MCG. There seems to be a substantial gap between their best and worst, but that’s because their best has got a whole better.

The Kangaroos also stunned the Crows recently, blitzing them with a 10-goal first quarter before winning by 59 points. But they simply failed to back that up against Sydney last week and were completely outplayed in a 42-point defeat. The Roos have gone from an old side to a young side in the space of 12 months and that transition often yields inconsistency.

So what do we expect from them here? Well, they don’t play at the MCG very often. In the last three seasons, they’ve have played just five regular season games and three finals there for a 5-3 overall record.

I feel the market, which has the Kangaroos at $2.65 outsiders and with a 12.5 start at the line, should be closer. Melbourne deserve to be favourites, but not 2-1 on. They are not yet a good enough team to go around those odds against a team which finished above them last year.

With that in mind, happy to take North Melbourne with the 12.5 start.

Suggested Bet: Take North Melbourne at the +12.5 line @ $1.92

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