Fri, Mar 3, 3:46pm by Head Editor
The cricket season is drawing to a close, the leaves are starting to fall on the ground and weather is starting to cool, this can only mean one thing, the footy is almost here!
With just under three weeks to go until the opening round of the AFL season we’ve run our eye over all 18 clubs to give you the best chance of backing a winner come seasons end. Here’s our top five value bets of the season:
They might be Giants! – Giants to win the minor premiership/ be the top interstate club: $4.50/ $2.25
Be afraid, be very afraid. This is the most talented team ever assembled in AFL history and it’s extremely hard to find a hole in their best 22.
The skipper Phil Davis and Heath Shaw are rock solid down back, while the midfield with the likes of Dylan Shiel, Callan Ward and Stephen Coniglio have now played enough football together to fire.
That trio will give forwards Jeremy Cameron and Jon Patton great service and with Toby Greene and Devon Smith crumbing at their feet, it’s tough to see anyone stopping the AFL’s newest club.
It’s worth noting that the Giants have arguably the toughest draw of any team in the competition, playing the three other top-four teams from last year twice (Western Bulldogs, Sydney Swans and Geelong). They also face West Coast twice. Richmond is the only non-finals team GWS will double up against.
This shouldn’t worry Leon Cameron’s charges though, who fell agonisingly short against the Bulldogs in the preliminary final. The latter showed last season that anything is possible in the finals but sticking with the home and away season, the $4.50 for them to finish on top looks value to me.
Crowing for the double chance – Adelaide to make the top 4: $2.25
Despite having the toughest draw of all in 2016, the Crows missed out on the double chance by percentage only. The news is far better for the power South Australian club this time around, they’ve been given the sixth-easiest draw.
The Crows confront only three finalists in the opening 10 rounds, cop only two top-eight sides (Hawthorn and Geelong) twice and get five Friday night games — four at Adelaide Oval.
You still have to go and win the games, and the only area that they really need to improve on is the midfield. Their only two stars in this area of the field are ruckman Sam Jacobs and onballer Rory Sloane. They need Richard Douglas to lift and if young draftee Jordan Gallucci can slot in and make an immediate impact, then the sky is the limit.
Their defence was unsung last season – they ranked second in the league in least points allowed per game – which is a testament to how good they were. We all know the club has no problem scoring, they score more points than anyone last season.
Demons days at last – Melbourne to make the 8: $2.10
Paul Roos may have handed the reins over to Simon Goodwin for the start of the 2017 season, but it is his work that holds the Demons in good stead heading into the new campaign.
The long-suffering Melbourne faithful haven’t witnessed any September action since 2006, but that looks set to change with the trajectory on the way up. Roos took the club from 17th in 2014, to 13th in 2015 and then 10th last season.
Goodwin has inherited some A-grade players, including the All Australian ruckman, Max Gawn, as well as hard-nosed midfielder, Jack Viney. There have also been a pair of handy inclusions, the four-time Premiership-Hawk, Jordan Lewis and silky ex-Bomber, Michael Hibberd.
The red and the blue need to make the most of their opening two months, five of their first six are against sides who missed the eight last season, and, their first seven matches are in Melbourne.
There’ll be no trips to the snow this year Dees fans, your time has finally arrived.
Suns could shine – Gold Coast Suns to make the 8: $4
My fifth and final prediction may surprise some people and rightly so but the $4 on offer for the Suns to reach the finals, is without doubt, value.
Most of the press in the pre-season has focused on the negatives for Gold Coast, however, the facts are that both the midfielders they lost Jaeger O’Meara to Hawthorn) and Dion Prestia to Richmond were injury-riddled, and cannot be relied on.
Gold Coast list manager, Scott Clayton made his mark in the trade period, pinching ruckman Jarrod Witts from Collingwood already seems to be paying off, as the 24-year-old is having a stellar pre-season.
New recruit Michael Barlow has also had a great pre-season, reportedly bringing a new sense of leadership to the club. Speaking of leadership, arguably the best player in the competition, Gary Ablett Jnr, is also fit, firing, and ready for round one.
If the club can get through the torrid opening to 2017, when they meet Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, Adelaide, North Melbourne and Geelong – all 2016 finalists –in the first seven weeks, with even two wins, then the $4 will quickly shorten.
Greater Western Sydney $1.55
Western Bulldogs $1.90
West Coast $2.10
Port Adelaide $5.50
St Kilda $6.00
North Melbourne $8.00
Gold Coast $13.00
Greater Western Sydney $1.16
Western Bulldogs $1.20
West Coast $1.40
Port Adelaide $2.40
St Kilda $2.40
North Melbourne $3.00
Gold Coast $4.00
To Miss the 8
Gold Coast $1.16
North Melbourne $1.25
St Kilda $1.50
Port Adelaide $1.57
West Coast $2.45
Western Bulldogs $4.20
Greater Western Sydney $5.00
AFL Premiership 2017
Greater Western Sydney $4.50
Western Bulldogs $5.50
West Coast $9
St Kilda $26
Port Adelaide $34
Gold Coast $41
North Melbourne $67
*All odds were sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing.
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