Tough weekend in Week 1 of the AFL finals for PuntingInDanger and fans as we hit on just 1 of our 4 best bets across the qualification/elimination finals. The three first games went nothing like how we predicted them to go but now we have a little bit of a scope for how the finals are playing out we’ll look to improve as we preview both semi finals in Week 2!
The semi finals kick off on Friday night with Hawthorn hosting Melbourne at the MCG. Odds are we could see another crowd of 90,000+ in this one and we have a full preview and betting tips for the game below.
Hawthorn will be disappointed with their performance against the Tigers last weekend. After trailing by 1 point at quarter time and just 14 point at half time, the Tigers ran rampant in the second half, piling on eight goals to four to claim an easy 31-point win. The wet weather played it’s part in the game, never allowing the Hawks medium sized skilled forwards in Luke Breust and Jack Gunston to really get into the game.
Hawthorn also played two ruckman, which I thought was a really odd choice given it was both wet and the fact that they were playing one of the smaller sides in the competition in Richmond. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not big man Jonathon Ceglar gets another game this weekend as the Hawks face the premier ruckman in the league in Max Gawn.
Melbourne were fantastic against Geelong on Friday night last week. They kicked out to a five-goal lead in the first quarter and never looked back. They should have iced the game in the first half but missed plenty of opportunities that just left the door ajar for the Cats, however, Melbourne were absolutely dominant for the majority of the night.
The run and carry and taking risks at all costs paid off for the Demons on Friday night as they sliced up Geelong through the middle of the ground at every opportunity. Max Gawn was great, giving the Demons first look with 42 hitouts as Melbourne smashed Geelong in the clearance count 37-27 and had 16 more inside 50s.
However, the telling stat for me in the Melbourne vs Geelong game was the tackles inside 50 count. Melbourne laid a massive 23 to Geelong’s 6 as their forward pressure rivalled that of Richmond’s on Thursday night. If Melbourne an bring that same intensity again it will feel like playing Richmond again for the Hawks, which won’t bode well for their possession and skill-based style.
The two sides met all the way back in Round 4 of this year and on that day, Hawthorn ran out massive 67-point winners. Interestingly, the Demons were one of the only teams to stem the influence of Tom Mitchell in 2018. In Round 4, they kept him to 24 touches and just five tackles and James Harmes will likely get the job on him again this Friday night.
Luke Breust, Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston kicked 9 goals between them in Round 4 and they’ll hope to replicate that on Friday night in much better conditions than they faced last weekend. No chance of rain means that Hawthorn should be more competitive than they were on against the Tigers, but it’s hard to look past Melbourne after the form they showed against Geelong.
Melbourne start as 13.5 point favourites here which is probably about right given their dominance last week. Regardless of who wins, I think it will be a fairly big margin. The Hawks like to grind out games by playing a possession style but the way that Melbourne plays doesn’t really promote close games. Not prepared to make a call on the game as I really think it could go either way but the total point line seems a little high at 165.5 none of the four games in the first week of finals reached that mark and while Melbourne have regularly scored over 100 this year, the finals intensity brought that mark down to just 75 last weekend.
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