PuntingInDanger and followers went 5-4 in Round 4 for a small profit and took our season tally to a respectable 19 wins and 15 losses. I’ll be looking to improve on that this weekend as we take a look at the Round 5 slate of games. As usual, we’ll be providing a standalone preview for the Friday night game but we’ll also provide a special preview later in the week for the two Anzac games next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively!
Give me a follow on Twitter at @AFLBYB if you're interested in some nonsensical live footy commentary or continuing to read the 20-1 of my totally biased Top 50 players in the AFL over the next few days.
Sydney vs Adelaide (Friday 7.50pm AEST)
See full standalone preview and tips for the Friday night game here!
St Kilda vs Greater Western Sydney (Saturday 1.45pm AEST)
St Kilda has had an atrocious start to the 2018 season. They just edged past Brisbane at home in Round 1 but have since been beaten by North Melbourne by 52 points, Adelaide by 49 points and Geelong by 47 points. There ball use is the worst in the league, by a stretch. They showed glimpses of the forward pressure against Geelong that made them a top eight contender last year, but as soon as they forced a turnover and got into dangerous positions they would either bomb long to an outnumbered contest or turn it over themselves.
Greater Western Sydney captured another good win over Fremantle on the weekend in gusting winds at UNSW Canberra Oval. Toby Greene returned to the line-up and was instrumental in the win, which takes them to 3-1 on the season so far. Josh Kelly and Rory Lobb both have potential to return to the line-up this weekend, but they are only facing St Kilda so they might opt to take the extra week.
GWS start as 24.5-point favourites here, which isn’t enough in my opinion. The Saints line was around the same mark for their games against Geelong and Adelaide and it proved to be no where near enough and I think this is their hardest test to date. GWS should win this easily.
TIP: Greater Western Sydney -24.5 - $1.92 at Sportsbet
Carlton vs West Coast (Saturday 4.35pm AEST)
Carlton remain one of just two teams still yet to register a win in the AFL season so far. Although Brisbane have looked competitive in games, Carlton haven’t got within 24 points of their opponents this season, and were comfortably handled by North Melbourne in Round 4 to the tune of 86 points. Their injury list is extensive at the moment, and captain Marc Murphy was added to it and could miss up to 4 weeks as he was a late withdrawal from the Round 4 clash after injuring his foot in the warmup.
After falling to Sydney in Round 1, West Coast have bounced back to win their last three in a row and make an early statement that they might not be the obvious choice of teams to fall out of the top eight this season. Josh Kennedy returned to the line-up in Round 4, booting 5 goals in the 80 point win over the Suns.
Easy match to call in my opinion. Perfect conditions in Melbourne on Saturday should aid the massive West Coast forward line. The likes of Kennedy, Darling, Waterman and Lycett should be way to big and strong for a Carlton defence that is already severely undermanned.
TIP: West Coast -27.5 - $1.92 at Sportsbet
Port Adelaide vs Geelong (Saturday 7.40pm AEST)
As good as the 47-point win over the Saints might look like, the cats were really just the better of two bad teams on the weekend, and if not for a Max Gawn missed set shot in Round 1, the win over the Saints would have been their first for the season. They turned the ball over constantly against St Kilda and were comfortably beaten in the clearances and contested possession stats.
Port Adelaide suffered their annual loss to the Bombers at Etihad on the weekend, going down by 22 points. Robbie Gray was a sole shining light in the loss, racking up 39 disposals and keeping the Power in the game at times. They’ll welcome the return to Adelaide Oval this weekend, where they have looked good so far this season.
Geelong is ravaged by injuries at the moment, particularly to their already fragile defence. I think their 2-2 record is very flattering at the moment and the 11.5 point line here in favour of the Power is a little too small, especially in Adelaide.
TIP: Port Adelaide -11.5 - $1.92 at Ladbrokes
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs (Saturday 8.10pm AEST)
The Bulldogs were gallant in a 7-point loss to the Swans on the weekend, but unfortunately fall to 1-3 on the season so far. Their forward line looks to have much more structure now with the additions of Jack Redpath and Tory Dickson but their defence is still a massive issue with no Marcus Adams, Dale Morris or Jackson Trengove in the line-up.
Fremantle were competitive for a large portion of the game but the Giants eventually ran over the top of them in Canberra to send the Dockers to 2-2 on the season. Nat Fyfe has looked ominous for the Dockers through the first four rounds and had another 25 disposals, one goal game on the weekend. Harley Bennell could return to the line-up this weekend, giving the Dockers even more pace.
Early forecast says there should be a touch of rain about Perth on Saturday which has brought the total point line all the way into 163.5. Both teams have been relatively low scoring to start the season but have had hard defensive matchups. I think both of their pace and pace game styles promote a high scoring game here.
TIP: Total score OVER 163.5 - $1.90 at Sportsbet
North Melbourne vs Hawthorn (Sunday 3.20pm AEST)
North Melbourne have surprised many with a 2-2 record to open the season, however, both of their wins have come against some pretty lacklustre opponents in the Saints and Carlton while they were comfortably handled by both Melbourne and the Gold Coast in their two losses. Ben Brown has been stellar in good conditions, kicking 15 goals in the Roos last three games and will get another game under the roof on Sunday.
The Hawks have been fantastic to start the 2018 season, defeating Collingwood, Geelong and Melbourne while only going down to the Tigers in a tough fight. Their road gets significantly easier from here as they face the Roos, Saints and Lions in the next five weeks and a win here would set them up perfectly for a good run over the next month. Tom Mitchell was held to just 24 disposals against Melbourne on the weekend, a quiet game by his standards but midfield companion Jaeger O’Meara picked up the slack, racking up 26 touches and booting 2 goals.
Ben Brown is a real threat under the roof, especially against a pretty undersized Hawthorn defence. Definitely like the Hawks to win here as I think they just have a superior midfield and more avenues to goal but expect the Roos to make a decent game of it.
TIP: Hawthorn to win by 1-39 - $2.25 at Sportsbet
Brisbane vs Gold Coast (Sunday 4.40pm AEST)
Battle for the North here as Brisbane host the Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon. After a really strong display against the Power in Round 3, Brisbane were manhandled by Richmond on the weekend, scoring just 2 goals as they went down by 93 points. Alex Witherden was a lone positive in the loss, racking up 27 disposals including 19 kicks at a ridiculous 81% efficiency.
After winning their first two games of the season, the Suns have lost two in a row and were comfortably beaten by West Coast on the weekend. It seems they really lack two things at the moment, experience and skilled ball users. They were dominated by West Coast in the uncontested possession department on the weekend.
Tough match to call here, Brisbane start as slight favourites at home and even though the Suns boast two wins I think Brisbane have actually looked a little more impressive with decent displays against the Saints, Demons and Power in the first three rounds. We like them to hold firm at home.
TIP: Brisbane -3.5 - $1.92 at Sportsbet
Note: See our preview and tips for both Melbourne vs Richmond and Collingwood vs Essendon early next week!