Fri, May 23, 2:28pm by Brad McGrath
A MONTH ago Sydney was gone, Buddy was shot, players were rumoured to be fighting and finals were off the agenda, in our eyes anyway.
The Swans had drifted to as far as $10 in some bookmakers premiership markets after an indifferent start to the year.
Today online bookmaker Sportsbet had trimmed the Swans into $5.50 second favourite for the premiership, behind shaky Hawthorn, which has been hit heavily by injury.
Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin is now flying, Kurt Tippett is back and kicking goals and the midfield has rediscovered its mojo.
The Swans now have a weekend off, but have put down the ideal platform for a big tilt at their second flag in three years.
Port Adelaide, which sits at the top of the table, is third favourite in premiership betting at $6.50 after beginning the season as a $26 chance.
A Power victory would put them two games clear at the top of the ladder and in a strong position to finish in the top four.
Richmond, now priced at $11 to make the final eight, will surely respond to a week under the blow torch and defeat Greater Western Sydney, another team in the news this week for the wrong reasons with youngster Toby Greene allegedly tangling with a Melbourne bouncer.
Collingwood will be hoping its loss to Adelaide was just a bump on what was looking a very promising road, and it can defeat West Coast, which is brimming with confidence after whipping GWS.
Gold Coast will enter its clash against Western Bulldogs full of confidence after winning its last four matches.
And of course, tonight’s clash between Geelong and North Melbourne promises to be a beauty with both teams desperately needing a win.
AustralianGambling takes a look at all the action, betting and news ahead of round 10 of the AFL season.
Where: Simonds Stadium
When: Friday, May 23, 7.50pm
North Melbourne faces the unenviable task of going to Geelong’s fortress on a freezing winter’s night, in front of a parochial crowd.
But the task doesn’t look as impossible as it once did, with the Cats showing signs of decay over the last month with losses to Port Adelaide and Fremantle, split by a narrow win over struggling Richmond and the bye.
The Cats will also be without Steve Johnson through suspension with Matthew Stokes and Jesse Stringer coming into their line-up.
It’s hard to know which version of North Melbourne will appear week-to-week: The one that embarrassed Brisbane on Saturday, or the one that was humbled by Gold Coast the game before.
The return of captain and midfield warrior Andrew Swallow was successful against the Lions and he will help the Roos narrow the gap between their best and worst as he gains match fitness.
The Roos have made just one change for the clash with veteran Michael Firrito replacing Scott McMahon.
Best Bets: The Cats have struggled in recent weeks and North Melbourne is due for a big win, back the Roos to win between 1-39 points at $3.10 with Sportsbet.
The Roos have struggled to contain the big forwards at times this year and Cat Tom Hawkins is in good form, Scott Thompson will have his work cut out stopping him. Back Hawkins to lead the Cats goal-scorers at $4.50 with Sportsbet.com.au (Hawkins is paying $4.25 with Sportingbet and Centrebet).
Prediction: North Melbourne by 14 points.
Where: Spotless Stadium
When: Saturday, May 24, 1.40pm
In some ways Richmond coach Damien Hardwick would be glad his team has an opportunity to play against Greater Western Sydney this weekend. A match they should win easily.
But the Tigers are sorely out of form, lacking confidence, leadership; and injuries aren’t helping either. So a clash against the league newcomer also has the potential to be disastrous for the Tigers.
If you think the pressure is on the Tigers after their loss to Melbourne last weekend, a loss to GWS would take the pressure to another level.
Hardwick has resisted the urge to drop forward Jack Riewoldt after the star forward questioned the Tigers game plan, but has recalled Matt Thomas and Dylan Grimes.
The Giants will field their strongest team in some weeks with Shane Mumford, Adam Treloar and Jeremy Cameron headlining their massive seven inclusions.
Josh Hunt, Nick Haynes (ankle) and Toby Green (club suspension) are among the outs for the Giants.
The inclusion of Mumford is huge for the Giants, with his physicality sorely missed during his time on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Best Bets: It’s hard to back the Tigers at the moment – they are really struggling, but we think they have a bit too much experience for the young Giants. Back Richmond to beat the 18.5 line at $1.92 with Sportsbet.
Jack Riewoldt owes Damien Hardwick one and is offering some value to top the Tigers goal-scorers at $4.50 with Sportsbet. The Tigers’ forward has a habit of beating up on weaker teams and looks a very sound bet.
Prediction: Richmond by 34 points.
When: Saturday, May 24, 4.40pm
The momentum Collingwood had built up before its bye was brought to a screeching halt by a rampaging Adelaide last Thursday night.
It would have been a tough week on the track for the Magpies as they searched for answers as to why their much vaunted midfield was soundly beaten by Patrick Dangerfield and friends.
The Magpies have opted to boost their defensive unit with Alex Fasalo and Nathan Brown recalled at the expense of Lachie Keefe and Sam Dwyer.
West Coast is on a high after snaring one of the most prized signatures in football during the week, with Nic Naitanui penning a long-term deal to stay at the Eagles.
But they were unable to consider Mark Lecras for the clash with the gun small forward given a week’s suspension.
His replacement Josh Hill has shown signs of becoming an AFL standard player, but is yet to cement his position in the Eagles line-up.
Best Bets: Collingwood looks to run too deep through the midfield and will win this clash, but one thing the Magpies have struggled to do is put teams away. Collingwood to win between 1-39 points offers some value for your multi legs at $2.05 with Sportsbet.
The Eagles look like they man up on the Pies talls pretty well, Jamie Elliott looks good value at $7 for most goals, while if you want something a bit juicier Steele Sidebottom is paying $34. (Sidebottom is paying $21 at Sportingbet).
Prediction: Collingwood by 32 points.
Where: Adelaide Oval
When: Saturday, May 24, 7.40pm
The young challenger versus the old champ, the apprentice takes on the master… whatever you want to call it, this match promises to be a beauty.
The Power will enter the match as heavy favourite courtesy of their home ground advantage and Hawthorn’s injury list.
But the Hawks cannot be written off despite the absence of Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli, Sam Mitchell and Josh Gibson, with plenty of class still the in the line-up and an imposing record against the Power.
They have also recalled three premiership players with Brad Sewell, Luke Hodge and Liam Shiels coming into the team that was beaten by Sydney.
The Hawks have not lost to Port Adelaide since Round 18 2010 and have won six of the last seven clashes between the two clubs.
The Power have stuck with their in-form line-up making just the one change with no.1 ruckman Matthew Lobbe replacing Brent Renouf.
Best Bets: The Hawks just have too many injuries. Back the Power to beat the 15.5 line with Sportsbet at $1.92.
In the absence of Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston is going to get the Power’s no.1 defender, we think this might mean David Hale becomes a target for the Hawks. Back Hale to lead the Hawks goal-scoring with Sportsbet at $34. (Better than the $21 on offer at Sportingbet).
Prediction: Port Adelaide by 17 points.
Where: Metricon Stadium
When: Sunday, May 25, 3.20pm
The Gold Coast could be in the top four by the end of this weekend and are not showing any signs of slowing down.
The Suns have won their last four matches to storm into fifth position on the ladder, surprising North Melbourne along the way.
The irrepressible Gary Ablett has lead from the front and the young flock of Jaegar O’Meara, David Swallow, Harley Bennell and friends have followed, maturing into the footballers we all suspected they would become.
Kade Kolodjashnij has recovered from a knee injury and will come into the line-up, while Jack Hutchins and Jeremy Taylor have been named on an extended bench.
However, the Suns cannot underestimate the plucky Dogs, who will make at least four changes to the team that beat Melbourne by 16 points a fortnight ago.
The Dogs were unable to consider Tom Williams (calf), Liam Jones (suspension), Tory Dickson (pectoral) and Jason Johannisen, with Brett Goodes, Jordan Roughead, Mitch Wallis, Clay Smith, Nathan Hrovat and Marcus Bontempelli in the mix to come into the line-up.
Best Bets: The Dogs match-up well against the Gold Coast with neither team blessed with huge amounts of key position players. But Gary Ablett plays for the Suns so they should be too good. The Dogs rarely get blown away so back the Suns to win between 1-39 points at $2.25 with Sportsbet.
Prediction: Gold Coast by 18 points.
When: Sunday, May 25, 4.40pm
Lose this one and Carlton can nearly book September holidays, with Mick Malthouse’s men languishing in 13th position.
To keep their finals dream alive they must beat an Adelaide team which is coming off a fantastic victory over Collingwood.
Experienced pair Andrew Carrazzo and Jarrad Waite will boost the Blues’ line-up with rookie Blaine Johnson also in the running to take on the Crows.
Johnson was able to be promoted to the Blues line-up because of the retirement of Heath Scotland, who will go back to his position as the Blues mature-aged rookie until the end of the year.
Mitch Robinson goes out through suspension.
Adelaide has named Andy Otten, Mitch Grigg and Jarryd Lyons in a 25-man extended squad, with it to be cut down on Friday.
The Crows have won four out of their last five matches to stay in touch with the top eight.
Best Bets: Adelaide was impressive against Collingwood and should have too much firepower for the Blues. Back the Crows to defeat the 7.5 point line at $1.92 with Sportsbet.
Crow Eddie Betts will face his old team for the first time, the gun small forward has always had a bit of ‘theatre’ about him and could be set for a big day. Back Betts for most goals when the market is released closer to the match.
Prediction: Adelaide by 27 points.
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