Saints marching in: Round 15 AFL Preview

St Kilda beat Geelong last week but has not been established as the best team, writes Nick Tedeschi of Betfair.

St Kilda Saints Training SessionSo the visit to face West Coast Eagles should present few problems to a team that won’t need to play at its best to record a 15th straight win this season.

To add to the Eagles’ woes, stars Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr are likely to still be missing for this game, unless they are lucky in their fitness tests.

West Coast go into this game on the back of a dismal defeat against Melbourne, which further dented their confidence.

The only danger to St Kilda is if they relax too much, but it is doubtful they will be allowed to do so by Ross Lyon, and a repeat of the 97-point thrashing at Easter could be on the cards. The wise money is on the Saints in match odds betting.

Another team hoping to repeat the feat from a previous meeting is Geelong, who beat Brisbane by 93 points in round 5 at Skilled Stadium.

This time they go to the Gabba with their pride wounded from last week’s first loss of the season, and their task is made more difficult by the possible absence of Steve Johnson who was a late withdrawal against the Saints.

A week ago, this might have looked a real potential boilover, but having won six of its previous eight games, Brisbane lost badly last week, by 48 points against Port Adelaide.

The Lions are sixth on the ladder, and look a good bet to make their first finals since 2004, but of course the prospect of beating the Cats, who have won 55 of their previous 59 matches, is a tough one.

Brisbane will quite fancy its chances at the Gabba, but the Cats have too many good players to allow last week’s slip to become the start of a losing sequence. They should be taken in match odds betting.

Hawthorn may have several key players available for their game against the Kangaroos at Aurora Stadium.

Cyril Rioli, Brendan Whitecross, Stuart Dew and Brent Renouf all have a chance of making it, while in opposition North Melbourne has now lost playmaker Daniel Wells with a cut leg.

Hawthorn go into this one on the back of three successive defeats – the first time they have suffered such a sequence in three years. And the defeats have not even been close, with last week’s 88-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs sadly not untypical.

The question is, will they be the first reigning premier to miss the finals since Adelaide did so 10 years ago?

The good news is, they come up against a team, in North Melbourne, who are struggling badly, albeit their recent defeats to the Western Bulldogs and Sydney have been closer than their previous sequence.

This could be the Hawks’ chance to turn their season around, and it is wise to back them in match odds betting.

Melbourne picked up only their second win of the current season last time out, so can they make it two in a row at the MCG against Port Adelaide?

The Demons have several players in good form, including Mark Jamar who was excellent last time against West Coast, and Aaron Davey who had 24 possessions in that game.

However, Colin Sylvia is suspended for this one, and that could make a big difference. Mark Williams’ team will believe this one is for the taking, especially since they have won six times in the last seven against the Demons. The Power should be taken in match odds betting.

Adelaide have been one of the teams in the competition of late, with six wins in a row. On the other hand, their opponents this week, Fremantle, know their season is already in the toilet.

To make matters harder for the Dockers, Adelaide’s captain Simon Goodwin is set to return to the side at AAMI Stadium, which is bound to lift the Crows’ confidence.

If Matthew Pavlich‘s calf injury rules him out this week, you can make this match one of the certainties of the round. Even with Pavlich in their side this will be hard for the Dockers, as Adelaide are powerful all round the ground.

The Crows should easily be good enough to win this one, and can be backed in match odds betting.

Sydney ended a run of four matches without a win by seeing off the Kangaroos last week at the SCG, though that is nothing to write home about.

This time they come up against Essendon, who are inside the top eight and high on confidence sitting on a 7-7 record.

Sydney’s cause has hardly been helped by Barry Hall’s decision to quit – say what you like about him, but he has been one of the Swans’ outstanding players.

The Swans will be put under real pressure here by the Bombers, and it remains to be seen whether they can respond, given that a defeat will probably end their hopes of making the top eight. Essendon are the obvious choice, though this should be close and they would be a tentative selection in match odds betting.

Carlton beat Richmond by 83 points in round 1 at the MCG, and many people will be expecting a similar outcome this time.

The Blues know that every win is vital now, as they have about an even chance of making the finals. In contrast, Richmond have only won three times this season.

It should be a one-sided affair, nothing in Richmond’s recent games has suggested they will be capable of causing an upset here, so Carlton are a confident selection in match odds betting.

Probably the hardest match of the round to call pits the Western Bulldogs against the Pies at the MCG.

Both are in the top four, both are in good form, and neither have major injury worries. The clearest indicator to how things might go is the previous meetings between the two teams, with the Dogs having beaten Collingwood in five of their last six games.

That sequence is likely to be tested severely, but the Bulldogs can move two games clear of Collingwood with a win here, and that is the perfect incentive for a victory, so they can be backed in match odds betting.

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