AFL Betting: Who will roar at Aurora?
The Hawks have displayed patches of brilliance so far this season but have yet to put a genuine four quarter performance together.
Cliff Bingham wonders whether Fremantle, like the Swans, can crack Fortress Aurora when they meet Hawthorn in this weekend's round eight of the AFL.
Hawthorn (v FREMANTLE)
Two units with a 28.5-point start at odds of $1.90 or better
Hawthorn return to a traditionally favourable stomping ground in Aurora Stadium but will have their hands full against a Fremantle side vying for a spot in the top four.
The Hawks have displayed patches of brilliance so far this season, but have yet to put a genuine four-quarter performance together, resulting in their current position just outside the top eight.
The Dockers have looked disjointed in attack on a number of occasions this season but their defensive nous under new coach Ross Lyon cannot be questioned, conceding only 73 points per game thus far. As a consequence, their two losses to date this season have been by narrow margins - 13 points against Sydney, eight against Carlton.
Hawthorn have played 33 games at Aurora Stadium for 22 wins, while Fremantle have a solitary win from seven previous outings at the venue. The most recent clash between these teams at Aurora occurred in 2010 when Mark Harvey rested several key Dockers in the second-last round of the regular season and his side were trounced by 116 points, though recent history offers little insight in this instance.
While the Hawks are historically far better travellers than the Dockers, almost five goals is far too much start to be giving to a finals contender with a strong defensive mindset, and thus the start can be taken with confidence.
SYDNEY (v Melbourne)
One unit to win by over 41.5 points at odds of $1.90 or better
It has been a long opening seven weeks for Melbourne and the task doesn't get any easier this week, with a trip to the SCG to take on the Swans.
Sydney appeared to be the competition benchmark through the first five weeks, and despite stumbling in both of their last two matches, remain a strong contender for a top-four berth.
Melbourne meanwhile have it all to do - winless after seven games, with an average losing margin of 51 points, and five losses by over 40 points already. Mark Neeld may be under pressure to retain his job sooner rather than later, though in his defence there is also a lack of both leadership and quality among the senior playing group.
The Swans and Demons haven't met at the SCG since 2007 - following this, they have played three matches at Manuka Oval (Sydney winning all three, by an average margin of 35 points) and two at the MCG (resulting in a draw and a win to Melbourne).
I'm always a little reluctant to give up such a big start, but with the Demons in turmoil, and Sydney perhaps in need of a 'statement game' to get things back on track, the favourites appear to be the way to go.
Brisbane (v GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY)
0.5 units to win with 30.5 points start at odds of $1.90 or better
Brisbane have just come through a tough part of their draw but have a chance to notch a third win for the season against Greater Western Sydney, who themselves are fresh off the first regular season win in club history.
The Lions have been outclassed in their five matches to date against sides competing for finals spots, losing all five by an average of 57 points. However, they have been successful in their two 'winnable' games thus far by 41 points against Melbourne and 65 points against the Suns.
The Giants will be riding high after their win over the Suns last week. While they still struggle to kick competitive scores (last Saturday was the first time they've scored 70 points or more), their defensive unit has been relatively sound, conceding over 110 points only twice thus far. For a team that was expected to be no more than fodder in 2012, this has helped them to cover the spread in six of their seven games - equal with Richmond as the best handicap record in the competition.
This is a tough game to get a good handle on, but when in doubt it's never a bad idea to favour the side with a 6-1 handicap record, especially if they're receiving a significant start.
Carlton (v ADELAIDE)
Two units to win with 17.5 points start at odds of $1.90 or better
Carlton were well beaten on Monday night and now face a six-day turnaround to prepare for Adelaide, who are out of top spot on percentage alone.
The Blues have won only two of their last six matches at Etihad Stadium (with one win coming against GWS) and nine of 20 matches played there from 2010 onwards.
Compare this to a 13-7-1 record at the MCG over the same period and it is clear where Carlton plays their best footy.
The Crows have been fantastic in in the last two matches against Sydney and Geelong, with new head-coach Brenton Sanderson gaining success in bringing the Geelong style of play across the border. They have lost their last eight matches at Etihad Stadium, but those losses have come in two years where they missed the finals comfortably. From 2000 through to 2009, they won 20 of 35 matches at the ground - Etihad holds no fears for an in-form Adelaide.
Carlton have won the last two matches head-to-head, ending a run of seven consecutive losses to the Crows. While a number of those came in a period where Carlton were rebuilding, the two convincing victories in 2009 (when the Crows finished fifth and the Blues seventh) were full of merit. The corresponding game last went to Carlton, but by only six points after a spirited performance from the visitors.
Adelaide have won me over, and with two and a half extra days of rest than their opponents, taking the start in this match offers excellent value.