Fri, Mar 23, 1:34pm by Staff Writer
Three matches feature on the opening Sunday of the 2018 AFL season, with Melbourne and Geelong clashing at the MCG set to be one of the highlights of the round.
GWS Giants versus Western Bulldogs
Sunday, 25 March 2018 at 1.10pm AEDST at UNSW Canberra Oval
The Giants will be hoping to take a giant leap forward in 2018 after making consecutive preliminary finals.
For the Bulldogs, 2018 will be about redemption, after they followed up their remarkable 2016 Premiership with a limp year, missing the finals in 2017.
The Giants have been backed in from $1.45 earlier this week to $1.41 at Sportsbet, while the Dogs are $3 outsiders.
The Giants have named a strong side for round one, with their veteran backline of Heath Shaw and Phil Davis complimented by their impressive forward line which boasts the likes of Toby Greene and Jeremy Cameron.
For the Dogs, they have a couple of new recruits in Hayden Crozier and Jackson Trengove, but little in the way of game breakers.
Looking across both team sheets, the Giants have the advantage in all of the key positions and in the all important midfield battle.
The likes of Dylan Shiel and Callan Ward may see more freedom in this game, with marksmen Liam Picken not in this week’s team.
The Giants are an unpredictable team, but do play very well in Canberra, where they have four of their first six matches to start the season.
The line for this match is set at 17.5 points, but we are favouring the Giants in the Big Win Little Win 1-39 market.
Both teams will be playing hard, determined football and while the Dogs are a level below the Giants, they shouldn’t get blown away in round one.
Best bet- GWS Giants Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2.10
Melbourne versus Geelong
Sunday, 25 March 2018 at 3.20pm AEDST at the MCG
One of the matches of the round takes place on Sunday afternoon with Melbourne hosting Geelong.
Plenty is expected of the Demons this season, with finals almost an expectation for this team, who have been building for some time.
The Demons start as $1.80 favourites, with team news on Thursday night confirming Cats star Patrick Dangerfield will miss with a hamstring injury.
Both sides were locked at $1.90 for much of the week, but the absence of Dangerfield has pushed the Cats odds out to $2.05 at Sportsbet.
The Demons will be looking at the likes of Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan to lead the way against the Cats.
The Dees also possess one of the most potent ruck-rover duos in the league with Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver.
The Cats are welcoming back fan favourite Gary Ablett after a stint with the Gold Coast Suns. How much Ablett has left at the peak of his powers remains to be seen, but his presence at the club is sure to give fans and players alike an enormous boost.
Where we fear the Cats may struggle is up forward. Dangerfield was a great target for the Cats when he rested up forward in 2017, with his absence sure to be felt.
It’s about time for Melbourne to make a statement that they are a legitimate finals contender, and we think they’ll get the job done against the Cats on Sunday, in a close one.
Best bet- Melbourne Demons Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2.40
West Coast versus Sydney
Sunday, 25 March 2018 at 7.20pm AEDST at Optus Stadium
The first AFL match at Optus Stadium in Perth sees the Eagles hosting the Swans. West Coast will welcome back star ruckman Nic Naitanui after more than 19 months on the sideline with a knee injury.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson has opted to name a number of talls for the clash, with Scott Lycett and Jack Darling also in the forward line.
West Coast are $3 outsiders and the biggest home underdog of the round at Sportsbet. The Swans are $1.41 favourites.
Forward Josh Kennedy is set to miss at least three matches after off-season knee surgery, while defender Jeremy McGovern will also be missing for the Eagles.
The Swans will be hoping to avoid an 0-6 start which threatened their finals chances in 2017. A furious late season rallied ensured the Swans were a Premiership contender, before they ran out of steam against Geelong in the semi-finals.
The usual suspects are set for a big season for the Swans, with Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy, Dane Rampe, Luke Parker and Kieran Jack all named for the Swans.
Dan Hannebery has been given an extra week off by coach John Longmire, despite reportedly training tremendously on Thursday.
Sydney should have far too much firepower for the Eagles and given that their main goal scoring weapon Josh Kennedy is out, the 17.5 point line on the Swans looks enticing.
Best bet- Sydney Swans to cover -17.5 point handicap at $1.92
AFL Sunday Odds – Sportsbet
GWS $1.41 v Western Bulldogs $3
Melbourne $1.80 v Geelong $2.05
West Coast $3 v Sydney $1.41
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