Fri, Nov 2, 9:13am by Head Editor
After shocking the football world and making it all the way to the AFL Grand Final in 2018, the Collingwood Magpies have been handed the most prime time games in 2019 but with that comes a much harder fixture.
The AFL released the 2019 fixture on Thursday afternoon and the Magpies were handed the most Friday night games of any club, with a total of seven, to go along with two Thursday night timeslots and their traditional Anzac Day and Queen’s Birthday fixtures.
All of those blockbusters may be good for the bottom line but Nathan Buckley’s charges must overcome what Champion data has ranked as the hardest draw of all 18 teams.
The black and white meet five teams twice, Richmond, Melbourne, Essendon, Western Bulldogs and the team who beat them in the decider, West Coast.
All five of them are expected to be in the finals equation at the end of the season but that hasn’t stopped the bookmakers installing the Pies as a $7 second favourite to go one better than last season.
Somewhat surprisingly, it is not the West Coast Eagles who are on top of the betting market, but the team who Collingwood stunned in the Preliminary final, the Richmond Tigers, who head betting, at $5.
The yellow and black faithful would be more than happy with the draw they received on Thursday, which has been ranked as the 13th hardest by champion data, meeting two clubs who missed the eight – Carlton and Port Adelaide – twice.
West Coast are equal with the Magpies on the second line of betting at $7 but although they’ve been handed the fourth hardest draw according to the rankings, the boys from the west have the same amount of six day breaks – five- that they had on their way to this year’s flag.
The Melbourne Demons are an $8 chance but with Simon Goodwin’s charges facing the Eagles, Magpies and Tigers twice, we will find out a lot about this side before we reach the finals.
One of the major talking points of Thursday’s fixture release was the Essendon Bombers, who despite missing the finals this year, were gifted eight prime time games, with the league expecting them to make to September.
The Bombers are on the fifth line of betting, alongside Hawthorn, at $12, whose President Jeff Kennett was very outspoken about the fixture, saying in a letter to the club’s members that the fixture “does not entirely respect our great club”.
Hawthorn have been handed the second hardest draw, with six five day breaks and they travel interstate nine times, four of which are home games in Tasmania.
For the first time there’ll be an AFL double header on Good Friday with North Melbourne to host Essendon at Marvel Stadium before Port Adelaide travel west to take on the Premiers at Optus Stadium.
Speaking of North Melbourne, they’ll be happy with the increase in Friday night games, which has risen to four, but with the third-hardest draw, Brad Scott’s men will need to continue the upward trend we saw from them in 2018.
The Kangas are $26 to win their first flag since 1999 behind both the New South Wales sides, Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants who are at $12 and $14 respectively while the Adelaide Crows are at $16 ahead of the Geelong Cats who are at the $18 mark.
The fixture includes a football bonanza in the 11 days between the start of the Easter weekend and the Anzac Day Round, which will see a match played on 10 of the 11 days.
The opening match of the season will see the Tigers meet the Blues, the only prime time match of Carlton’s season, down from five in 2018.
AFL Premiership 2019 Odds
West Coast $7
Greater Western Sydney $14
Port Adelaide $18
North Melbourne $26
Western Bulldogs $34
St Kilda $67
Gold Coast $251
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