Fri, May 9, 4:27pm by Brad McGrath
THE game that we all love was in grave danger during the week.
Young Melbourne midfielder Jack Viney was suspended for two weeks for nothing more than protecting himself in a contest.
There was no malice in Viney’s actions and the appeals board rightly overturned the guilty verdict and he is now free to take on the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
The entire incident had the football community in uproar and there was even some talk of boycotting matches this weekend.
But luckily, common sense prevailed and football lived to fight another day.
We can now turn our attention to the stuff that matters – the ripping round of football ahead.
Sydney will be out to cause an upset tonight when they take on Hawthorn, while the Port Adelaide-Fremantle clash is equal top billing in round 8.
AustralianGambling has been doing well in its football tips recently, so we again share our best bets and give you a few roughies to consider.
Where: ANZ Stadium
When: Friday, May 9, 7.50pm
Sydney is beginning to find some form with successive wins over Fremantle, Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions after a slow start to the season.
The Swans will have to lift another few cogs if they are to trouble the reigning premier, which has dropped just one game for the season.
Obviously all eyes will be on Lance Franklin as he takes on his old team Hawthorn for the first time with Josh Gibson the likely candidate to man up the champion forward.
It will be a day of firsts with the Swans rolling the dice with Kurt Tippet, who is set to form the most expensive forward line in the history of the AFL alongside Franklin.
The Hawks suffered a huge blow during the week with confirmation engine room ace Sam Mitchell would miss eight weeks with a hamstring injury.
They have also lost defender Brian Lake to a reoccurrence of his calf injury that delayed the start to his season.
Kyle Cheney, Ben Stratton and Will Langford have been called into the team that smashed St Kilda by 145 points.
Best bets: The Hawks have got a couple of injuries and the Swans will be keen to show the world their forward line boasting Kurt Tippet and Lance Franklin for the first time. The $2.80 the Swans are paying at www.Sportsbet.com.au is generous. But be aware the game is at ANZ Stadium where the Swans are traditionally poor. (Sportingbet and Centrebet have the Swans at $2.52).
Cyril Rioli is paying $16 to lead the Hawks goal-scoring, the dynamic forward has been in blistering form and could slip under the Swans guard.
Prediction: Sydney by nine points.
Where: Adelaide Oval
When: Friday, May 10, 1.10pm
It feels like these two teams have been around forever – but it wasn’t that long ago that there was resistance to them joining the AFL.
Now both are well entrenched into the competition and are serious challengers for the 2014 premiership.
Can the Power, under the guidance of the impressive Ken Hinkley, continue their barnstorming start to the season? Or will Ross Lyon’s Dockers show their patchy form of the last month was just temporary?
Either way, this clash is going to answer a lot of questions about both teams’ premiership credentials.
Port Adelaide welcomes back Hamish Hartlett, Alipate Carlile and rookie Kane Mitchell, but have lost Tom Jonas through injury.
The Dockers’ backline will be decimated with Luke McPharlin and Zac Dawson both out through injury, but excitement machine Stephen Hill returns.
Best bets: It’s hard seeing Fremantle being blown away despite its injuries, so back the Power to win between 1-39 points with Sportsbet at $2.15.
The Dockers are missing their two best key defenders and Port Adelaide star Jay Shulz is one of the form forwards in the comp – back Schulz at $5 with Sportsbet to lead the Power’s goal-scoring. (Shulz is paying $4.50 with Sportingbet and Centrebet)
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 14 points.
When: Saturday, May 10, 4.40pm
For Brisbane fans this means you are going to need to stick thick through some big losses and watch youngsters like James Aish, Claye Beams, Rohan Bewick and Zac O’Brien develop.
This week’s master is Essendon, which narrowly overcame the Western Bulldogs last weekend, continuing its patchy form from previous weeks.
The Bombers will be without Jason Winderlich because of an injured knee, while Ben Howlett and Jason Ashby have been dropped.
The Bombers have recalled Patrick Ambrose and Martin Gleeson, while former Greater Western Sydney player Kurt Aylett will play his first game.
The Lions will receive some respite with experienced trio Jonathon Brown, Matt Maguire and Pearce Hanley returning from injury, replacing Luke McGuane, James Polkinghorne and Mitch Golby.
Best bets: An ideal leg in a multi is the Bombers to beat the Lions by more than 25.5 points at $1.92 with Sportsbet.
Sportsbet has split players into groups and punters can choose which will have the most possessions, back Jobe Watson to lead the possessions in group one at $4.50. His main challenger will be Brisbane gun Tom Rockliff.
Prediction: Essendon by 52 points.
When: Saturday, May 10, 7.40pm
A few weeks ago we would have considered this match a snooze, but suddenly the Demons are competitive and playing decent football under new coach Paul Roos.
While the Bulldogs will still begin this match as heavy favourites there is suddenly a slight glimmer of optimism for Paul Roos’s outfit.
The good news for Demons fans is that Jack Viney will be playing after having his suspension overturned at the appeals tribunal.
The even better news is that Colin Garland, who finished second in the Demons best and fairest last year will play his first game of the season after a serious ankle injury.
But forward James Frawley faces a fitness test and is no certainty to play against the Western Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have reacted to their loss to Essendon by naming Daniel Giansiracusa, Jason Tutt and Fletcher Roberts to replace Koby Stevens, Michael Talia and Marcus Bontempelli.
While the Bulldogs’ midfield is developing nicely, they still need a few key position players to make their mark and contain the big forwards. Chris Dawes and Frawley, if he is deemed fit, are this week’s challenge.
Best bets: The Western Bulldogs are paying a juicy $4 to defeat Melbourne by over 40 points with Sportsbet. Keep an eye on selection if Frawley doesn’t play it robs the Demons of a key position player and they may struggle without him.
Chris Dawes is beginning to run into some form for the Demons and looks a good bet at $7 to top their goals while at the other end Stewart Crameri is at $6.
Prediction: Western Bulldogs by 45 points.
Where: Patersons Stadium
When: Sunday, May 11, 2.40pm
The honeymoon period is definitely over for West Coast coach Adam Simpson, whose struggling Eagles have dropped their last four matches.
There have been reasons for their losses such as Nic Natanui’s ailing body or Shannon Hurn’s knee or Darren Glass’s suspension but the simple fact is that the Eagles may not be as good as we thought they were.
However they should be far too strong for the young Giants who have begun to look a little tired in the last fortnight.
The Eagles will regain important forward Mark LeCras, Sharrod Wellingham and Xavier Ellis for this crucial clash.
The Giants will lose Jeremy Cameron, Adam Treloar and Curtly Hampton through injury for the trip west, while Shane Mumford is still at least another week away from returning from his knee injury.
But on a more positive note Lachie Whitfield and Josh Hunt have recovered from their problems and will line-up against the Eagles.
Best bets: A safe leg for a multi is the Eagles by 40 plus over GWS which is paying $1.42 with Sportsbet.
Mark Lecras has come back well from injury in the past and some decent odds will be available for him to lead the Eagles goal-scoring when they released closer to the match.
Prediction: West Coast by 65 points.
Where: Etihad Stadium
When: Monday, May 12, 7.20pm
St Kilda will be stinging after its embarrassing 145-point loss to Hawthorn last weekend but will face an equally as desperate Carlton, which was bitterly disappointing against old foe Collingwood on Friday night.
The Saints have been better than expected but it looked like reality finally caught up with the rebuilding club against the rampaging Hawks.
They have also suffered a glut of injuries to their experienced players with the latest to succumb Jarryn Geary, while Tom Simpkin and Shane Savage have been dropped.
Terry Milera, Josh Bruce, Arryn Siposs, Luke Dunstan and Brodie Murdoch have all been named on an extended bench.
The Blues will again be without Jarrad Waite because of a leg injury while Dennis Armfield, David Ellard, Chris Yarran, Jarryd Cachia and Matthew Watson are in the selection mix.
Best bets: The Blues finished their clash against Collingwood full of running and should be far too strong for the struggling Saints. Back the Blues to win by over 40 points with www.sportingbet.com.au at $3.60. (This is better than the $3.10 on offer at Sportsbet)
Prediction: Carlton by 23 points.
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