Two sides under enormous pressure face off as the Western Bulldogs take on Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon from 3:20pm. Can the Bulldogs keep their finals hopes alive? Or will the Bombers pick up their second win of the season?
Jack Tobin is here with his preview for a crucial Sunday afternoon clash, and you can head over to our AFL Tips page for coverage on every game of the 2022 AFL season.
Western Bulldogs vs Essendon Preview & Betting Tips
Marvel Stadium, Sunday 1st May, 3:20pm AEST
Injuries: Dominic Bedendo, Josh Bruce, Sam Darcy, Tim English, Riley Garcia, Mitch Hannan, Lachie Hunter, Alex Keath, Toby McLean,
The Bulldogs key tall stocks have been smashed by injury with Alex Keath, Tim English, Josh Bruce and Sam Darcy out with injury. Luke Beverage has surprisingly dropped Josh Schache and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, meaning the Dogs will run with a very small lineup on Sunday afternoon. Anthony Scott will miss through health and safety protocols, while Roarke Smith, Mitch Wallis and Laitham Vandermeer return to the side.
The Dogs’ finals hopes are hanging by a thread after a one point loss to the Crows last week saw them drop to 2-4. The Bulldogs midfield continues to be strong, ranking 2nd in the AFL for disposals and 4th in the AFL for clearances. However their ability to convert when going inside 50 has been awful, with their inside 50 to goal percentage in their last four games being 20%, 31%, 12% and 15%.
The Bulldogs have struggled to convert inside 50’s to goals this season and will be loving the prospect of being able to handball chain from their back half through an Essendon side that hasn’t been able to keep the ball in their forward half. The Bombers are the second worst defence in the competition, and have conceded more goals from transition than any other side in the AFL.
Injuries: Michael Hurley, Harrison Jones, Kyle Langford, Andrew Phillips, Will Snelling, James Stewart, Patrick Voss (Out)
Like the Bulldogs the Bombers have plenty of injury issues with key players Harrison Jones, Kyle Langford, Will Snelling, Andrew Phillips and James Stewart out of the side. Ben Rutten has made a shock call at selection dropping Dylan Shiel despite having 26 disposals at 80 % efficiency and five clearances last week. Zach Reid, pick 10 from the 2020 will play his second game, while Tom Cutler has earned a recall.
Essendon brought an improved effort, but lacked execution in their eleven point loss to Collingwood on Anzac Day. Essendon won the disposals +49, clearances +12, contested possessions +9, inside 50’s +4 and had four more scoring shots than the Pies, but failed to take their opportunities. For the sixth week in a row the Bombers were horrendous at defending transition as Collingwood, continuously scored from their defensive half.
If the Bombers are to have any chance of winning in this clash, Peter Wright is going to need to have a big day. Wright famously kicked seven goals in an upset victory against the Bulldogs in Round 21 last season to snap Essendon’s six game losing streak against the Dogs. With Alex Keath and Josh Schache out, Wright will fancy his matchup against either Ryan Gardiner or Tim O’Brien.
Since Luke Beveridge arrived at the Western Bulldogs in 2015, they have been utterly dominant against Essendon. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight games against Essendon, by an average margin of 53 points with the latest victory a 49 point win in last year’s Elimination Final.
Both sides are out of form, however the Bombers defence has been so poor that it’s hard to see them keeping the Dogs at bay. Essendon are ranked dead last for tackles, and their inability to apply pressure around the ground spells trouble against a stacked Bulldogs midfield. Essendon has conceded an average of 106 points per game in their last eight games against the Bulldogs and with how poorly they’ve defended this season, it could get ugly on Sunday afternoon.
$2.00 (1.5 Units)
The last five home and away matches between these two sides has produced an average total points of 181 - that includes a game in shortened quarters too. This game screams high scoring under the roof on a fast deck at Marvel Stadium, especially given the Bombers inability to defend this season. Essendon’s five games in 2022 have had an average total points of 218 per game.
Total Points Over 172.5, $1.88 with Ladbrokes
Josh Dunkley has continued his trend of hot starts to the season, averaging 29 disposals per game across the first six rounds of the 2022 season. Dunkley has had healthy opportunities in a stacked Bulldogs midfield, averaging 15 CBA’s per game and he’s yet to have a game without double digit CBA’s. Dunkley has a major physical advantage over the Essendon midfielders and should be able to have a big influence at the coalface.
Josh Dunkley 30+ Disposals, $1.92 with Ladbrokes
Andrew McGrath has had a split role across half back and in the midfield, which has been a very friendly role for his disposal tallies. McGrath has averaged 26 disposals per game across his last three games, including a 31 disposal performance against Collingwood last week. With Zach Merrett back in the side, McGrath has more support in the midfield, and with Parish featuring in that midfield too - it’s a handball heavy midfield that can rack up the footy.
Andrew McGrath 25+ Disposals, $1.73 with Ladbrokes