Fri, Mar 14, 3:41pm by Brad McGrath
Match: Collingwood vs. Fremantle – AFL Round 1 (split round)
Where: Etihad Stadium, 7.40pm
Watch: Channel 7, Fox Sports
COLLINGWOOD youngsters Brodie Grundy and Jarrod Witts face the monumental task of stopping Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands at Etihad Stadium tonight.
The Magpies have opted not to include veteran Ben Hudson as they try and curtail the most influential big man in the competition.
Sandilands has returned to form with a bang over the pre-season after suffering an injury-interrupted 2013 and looms as a match-winner for the Dockers.
The Dockers have been installed $1.60 favourite by www.Sportingbet.com.au while the Magpies are $2.40 outsiders.
Both teams have been ordinary over the preseason but the real stuff is sure to bring out the best in these two premiership contenders.
AustralianGambling takes a look at the big clash between Collingwood and Fremantle.
Swan, Beams, Pendlebury, Ball vs. Fyfe, Mundy, Barlow, Crowley
The battle of the midfield is going to go a long way to determining the result of this match. The Pies much-vaunted midfield was out-pointed by the Dockers last season and coach Nathan Buckley will be keen to make sure David Mundy doesn’t run rampant again.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is likely to send tagger Ryan Crowley to Magpies’ ace Scott Pendlebury in what should be a fantastic battle. If Pendlebury is struggling to have an impact he is likely to push forward and hope Crowley goes with him and try and exploit him in the air.
Dockers star Nat Fyfe, who is equal $10 Second favourite for the Brownlow, could find himself being shadowed by Pies stopper Brent Macaffer who proved himself an able-bodied midfielder last year, after beginning his career as a forward. Fyfe has plenty of tricks and if he gets 25 or more possessions the Pies could be in trouble.
Collingwood has been boosted by the return to full fitness of Dayne Beams, who missed most of last year with a groin injury. The 2012 best and fairest winner could also come under the attention of Crowley.
Travis Cloke vs. Zac Dawson
Collingwood fans have got fond memories of a young Zac Dawson playing for St Kilda and being rag-dolled by then star forward Anthony Rocca.
Rocca’s sidekick as he slotted eight majors was a young Travis Cloke.
The Collingwood favourite has now retired and Cloke has taken over the mantle as the Pies no.1 forward.
Cloke, the premier power forward in the game, will take on Dawson in what is looming as the most important contest of the night.
If Cloke kicks a bag the Pies will be hard to stop in front of what is expected to be a very pro-Collingwood crowd at Etihad Stadium.
If Dawson takes the points you can almost guarantee a Fremantle victory.
Fremantle 15.10 (100) def Collingwood 10.13 (73)
Fremantle withstood a spirited Colligwood to win by 27 points at Patersons Stadium in round 7 last year.
The Dockers came out blazing in the opening half to take a 44-point lead into half-time before the Magpies hit the front through Caolan Mooney four minutes into the last quarter.
The home team then kicked the last five goals of the match to put distance between themselves and Nathan Buckley’s team.
David Mundy and Michael Walters were outstanding for the Dockers, while Collingwood’s resurgence was sparked by 2011 Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan.
The Magpies struggled to contain the Dockers forwards and also struggled to find an avenue to goal at times.
Collingwood has drifted out to $2.50 with www.Sportingbet.com.au while there has been plenty of money for the Dockers, who have been backed into $1.56. This is surprising given the Dockers patchy pre-season form and their less-than-good record at Etihad Stadium. (IASbet has the Pies at $2.40 and the Dockers at $1.60)
Centrebet is offering a 50 per cent bonus on first goalscorer with Travis Cloke ($9) and Michael Walters ($9), the favourites for their respective teams.
Sportsbet is also offering an enticing promotion, if your team is leading at the end of any break and lose, you get your money back.
Unfortunately for Pies fans, the Dockers look better on paper and should win this match in the absence of Ben Reid and Jesse White.
Back Fremantle to defeat the Magpies by more than 13.5 points with Centrebet at $2.10.
But there is still room for Pies fans to win some money on their team, with Travis Cloke looking a good bet for most goals, with the big guy paying $2.75 with IASbet.
Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich has been ordinary over the pre-season, but is still favourite to top their goals at $4.75 with IASbet. I would steer clear of him and look at one of the Dockers’ smalls to lead their tally. Michael Walters loves playing against the Pies, while Hayden Ballantyne is paying $10 and looks a good value bet.
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