The 2022 AFL season will finally begin on Wednesday night as the Melbourne Demons square off against the Western Bulldogs in a massive Grand Final replay from the MCG! Andy Rosos is on deck to take you through the season opener and give his best bets for the clash below.
Remember, Before You Bet will be previewing every game of the 2022 AFL season, so be sure to check out our AFL Tips page for regular updates.
Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs Betting Tips
MCG, Wednesday 16th March, 7.10pm (AEDT)
Injuries: Trent Rivers, Michael Hibberd (Test), Daniel Turner (TBC), Harrison Petty (Out)
The Dees are looking extremely good on the injury front heading into Round 1. Only Trent Rivers, Michael Hibberd and Harrison Petty could potentially be on the sidelines from their Grand Final team a few months ago.
For the first time in years, we will see someone other than Carlton or Richmond play in the opening game of the season, and what a game it is set to be. The Dees will kick off their premiership defence with a clash against the Bulldogs, who they obliterated in the Grand Final last season, winning by a whopping 74 points in a brilliant display.
On paper, the Dees look to have only gotten better in the off-season as well. They avoided losing any key pieces to their premiership success while gaining the services of St Kilda midfielder Luke Dunstan as well as a handy top 20 draft pick in Jacod Van Rooyen.
After playing just 20 games over two seasons with Melbourne so far, a healthy Adam Tomlinson heading into 2022 will also be a big boost to the Dees depth.
Injuries: Josh Bruce, Louis Butler, Sam Darcy, Riley Garcia, Toby McLean (Out), Tim O’Brien, Alex Keath (Test)
The Bulldogs are definitely more affected on the injury front heading into Round 1. They will be missing proven best 22 players in Josh Bruce and Toby McLean while key defenders Alex Keath and Tim O’Brien are in a race against the clock to prove fitness.
The Doggies will no doubt still be reeling from that performance in the Grand Final. After being the better side in the first half, they seemed to give up after half time, allowing the Dees to pile on 16 goals to just three.
On the bright side for the Bulldogs, they have plenty of room for growth in 2022, with a bunch of talented youngsters likely to improve with another off-season under their belt, not to mention the addition of No.2 overall draft pick Sam Darcy (who won’t play until later in the season).
Patrick Lipinski was the only notable departure from the list in the off-season, while the Dogs also added Hawthorn defender Tim O’Brien, who should address their main concern of a lack of key defenders.
We can’t remember the last time we had such difficulty in picking the opening game of the season. We have been lucky over the last few years that the Tigers to cover the line against the Blues has been such an easy start to the year. It’s different this time around.
The Dees start as slight favourites at the MCG, which is understandable given the demolition job they performed on the Western Bulldogs in the last AFL game we saw. Both sides lost their AAMI Community Series games as Melbourne went down to the Blues while the Bulldogs lost to the Lions.
Despite the big win to the Demons in the Grand Final, I think these two teams are very evenly matched. I’m siding with the Demons because there are just a few factors in their favour for the Round 1 clash. The Dogs will be without important players and they’ll be away from Marvel Stadium, which is no doubt their preferred stomping ground. Back the Dees to cover here.
Demons -8.5 (1.5 Units)
Interestingly, Tom Liberatore scored the first goal in a game 3 times last year, the most of any Western Bulldogs player.
First Goal Scorer - Tom Liberatore ($31 at Sportsbet)
In his last four games against the Bulldogs, Bailey Fritsch has kicked 14 goals. He has been the top goalscorer of the match in three of those four games.
Bailey Fritcsh 3+ Goals ($2.50 at Sportsbet)
Christian Salem ended the 2021 season with a massive flurry. In his last five games of the year, he picked up disposal numbers of 29, 27, 23, 29 and 27 for an average of 27.0.
Christian Salem 25+ Disposals ($2.10 at Sportsbet)