AFL Betting: Go easy Tiger
...with Jamison, Laidler, Ellard, White and Duigan all out of the Blues backline, plus Walker and Warnock missing, this looks like a different ball game.
After Sydney did the job against GWS last Saturday, and with Round One moving into full swing this weekend, Mark Ricciuto urges punters to tread cautiously in the early stages of the season.
Why the caution?
Early on in any season there is a history of upsets and it's often hard to get a reading on pre-season form when you take into account injuries and the return of senior players, with the need to learn new game plans and strategies also playing a factor.
And given this week we begin the round on a Thursday, teams have not been published, so before pulling the trigger make sure you check the teams this evening!
Taking a look at Thursday night, we have the annual blockbuster between Richmond and Carlton.
I'll admit that in the past, I've had a rule: don't back Richmond.
Simple -- they've burnt me so many times!
Previously I would have jumped at Carlton giving the Tigers a 15.5 point head start, which given that they have won their last seven games against the Tigers by an average of 57 points seems reasonable!
However, with Jamison, Laidler, Ellard, White and Duigan all out of the Blues backline, plus Walker and Warnock missing, this looks like a different ball game. The Tigers have had a great pre-season, and look strong on paper, with only Jake King missing through suspension.
On Friday night Hawthorn takes on Collingwood in a replay of the epic 2011 Preliminary Final, which was probably the game of the year.
I took early odds on the Hawks a week ago, and while they've firmed since, they still represent great value. Collingwood is likely to miss names like Didak, Johnson, Tarrant, Krakouer, Beams, Brown, Macaffer, Wood and Wellingham (suspension), while the Hawks will be without Roughead and Bailey.
Weighing up the injuries, Collingwood's average pre-season form and adapting to Nathan Buckley's game plan, I think the Hawks will get the job done.
Saturday afternoon sees the Crows travel to the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast have had an average pre-season and have been a little disappointing so far. Injuries to Rory Thompson and Trent McKenzie will hurt the Suns, and Nathan Bock's suspension will make containing Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker tough.
I bet with my head not my heart, and once again this is not a biased former player talking, but the Crows should cover the line [-25.5] provided the predicted rain stays away!
The final game of the round is Port Adelaide and St. Kilda.
Like Hawthorn, I backed the Power at the line [+16.5] a couple of weeks ago after their terrific pre-season, and despite missing key big men Matthew Lobbe and Jackson Trengove, I really like their chances.
St. Kilda has had an ordinary pre-season and I haven't liked what I've seen so far, despite plenty of talk coming out of the club that Scott Watters is doing a good job.
I wouldn't be surprised if Port could cause an upset here.