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Opinion

The bettor's guide to Round 3

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Roar Guru
31st March, 2021
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Another week, another couple of bucks to the good on our 18 hypothetical dollars.

With six winners and six correct bets (the scariest being Sydney by less than 40 – thank you, garbage time Tex Walker! – and the Bulldogs covering 6.5 points, which I didn’t realise they had until the next day!), we made $4.48 on our nine $2 bets this week.

We lost picking Carlton, St Kilda, and GWS to win straight up.

To date we’ve hit 13 of 18 winners through Round 2; our 12 correct bets have netted a current profit of $5.32 on $36 hypothetically bet (I never gamble real money – the thrill is the thing, and I can get that without putting anything but my reputation on the line).

Let’s see what’s in store for Round 3:

Thursday: Brisbane (0-2) vs Collingwood (1-1) at the Ga… no, at Marvel Stadium
The move to Melbourne makes Collingwood the betting favourite here, up by 2.5 points as of Tuesday morning.

We still have Brisbane as a two-point favourite even after the change of venue: the Lions franchise have demonstrated a resiliency to this type of move, most recently on the distaff side when this exact game was also moved from Brisbane to Melbourne with less than 24 hours of warning, whereupon Brisbane strolled into town and handed the Magpies their first loss of the season.

The men’s side was already in Melbourne and had much more warning than their compatriots did.

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We’ll take Brisbane for the win (at $4.00 on a $2 bet).

Good Friday doubleheader: North Melbourne (0-2) vs Western Bulldogs (2-0) at Marvel Stadium; Adelaide Crows (1-1) vs Gold Coast Suns (1-1) at Adelaide Oval
Schedulers probably figured they could make up for two dud games by combining them on a Friday holiday doubleheader. To their surprise, the second game could be a great matchup.

First, however, we have the biggest point spread of the weekend: North is already a 4.5-point underdog (up two points since release Monday morning) and will pay over $16 on a $2 punt if they do manage a miraculous win. Which they won’t, of course.

Oh, at some point this season they will, I’m sure. Just because the Suns went 0-9 in the AFLW doesn’t mean a men’s team will manage the impossible dream of 0-22. (Impossible nightmare, more accurately).

The real question is this – will the Doggies cover that huge spread? I’ll give you a hint: the Suns did last week, winning by 59. And Footscray’s better than Gold Coast. Give the points and take the Bulldogs ($3.80 on a $2 bet at 41.5.)

Stefan Martin

The Western Bulldogs get around new recruit Stefan Martin (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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As for Adelaide and Gold Coast, let the market tell the story. This opened at Gold Coast by 8.5; as of Tuesday morning, the points spread was down to 5.5 points. Most prognosticators have this as Adelaide’s to lose, although our ratings say Suns by 7.5 points.

Bet against GCS early in the season at your peril.

But Tex looks amazing, and I don’t see anyone on the Suns back line who can stop him; meanwhile, Adelaide’s back six are among the best in the comp. In this case, I’m siding with the masses: before the line shrinks any more, I’ll reluctantly hop on the Adelaide train at $4.30 to win on a $2 bet.

They seem to know something I don’t in this case, so for once I’ll yield to the collective zeitgeist and take the Crows to win.

Saturday afternoon: Richmond (2-0) vs Sydney (2-0) at the MCG
So now the Swans get a real test.

It’s one thing to surprise Brisbane and upend Adelaide; now they face the champs in the cathedral.

These new academy studs are extremely impressive – Errol Gulden, Chad Warner, Logan McDonald, Braeden Campbell, etcetera, alongside the slightly older studs in Callum Mills, Isaac Heeney, and friends – and the emotional lift from Lance Franklin being on the field was a great story for this young team.

Hoping that they won’t keep feeding him at the expense of the less fragile talent around him, because it would have cost them against a stronger opponent than Adelaide last week.

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Will it be enough to beat Dustin Martin and the yellow and black machine they’ve built around him? Probably not, but it will be enough to keep them close, and more than likely within the current 22.5-point spread that has grown under the Tiger Army’s supervision.

Richmond will pull this out, but Sydney should cover. That pays best by wagering on Richmond to win by 1-24 points, currently paying $6.10 on $2. Risky? Perhaps.

But Richmond to win only pays $2.56, and Sydney to cover would be the standard $3.80 return, so it seems like a worthwhile risk. Split your bet if you want to; I’m going in on the Tigers by 1-24 points.

Saturday twilight: Essendon (0-2) vs St Kilda (1-1) at Marvel Stadium
Which team should win? Right: the Saints.

But are you confident in them winning by 21.5 points? We have this at 16.5 points in our ELO-Following Football ratings. None of the competing services I’m looking at think 21 is a comfortable number, either.

Now, which fact are you more certain of? St Kilda winning, or Essendon covering?

Me too. I’m staying safe and simply betting St Kilda to win at $2.60 on $2. Not much of a return, but then it probably won’t be much of a game, either.

Saturday night: West Coast (1-1) vs Port Adelaide (2-0) at Optus Stadium
The game of the weekend, presumably. Port is officially favored by 1.5 points on the road, although a slight majority of rating systems we monitor favour the Eagles (we have Port by eight, BTW).

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Travis Boak of the Power celebrates after kicking a goal

Travis Boak (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

The home underdog is the classic betting trope; West Coast certainly lost no fans with their performance against the Bulldogs in the game of the short season so far last Sunday, and the Power haven’t had any comparable competition to test them yet in 2021. All the signs point towards betting on West Coast.

But that doesn’t feel quite right to me.

If you want to do it, go ahead – it’s still a healthy $3.92 payoff on $2. But here’s what I’m more certain of in this game: the over.

The line is at 169.5, so a total of 170 points. That’s just 85 points per team. Both clubs average more than that in 2021; in fact, Port averages 30 points more than that.

The new rules have opened the game up a little bit, and 169 is right about the entire league’s average for a game. Port and WCE will score more than that.

I’m taking the over-169.5 line at $3.76 per $2 bet (yeah, there’s more “viggorish” in this bet than taking one team or the other. I can’t explain that; I hardly ever bet the over/under). I feel more comfortable and certain about that result than I do about West Coast winning or covering.

Sunday afternoon: Carlton (0-2) vs Fremantle (1-1) at Marvel Stadium
I was prepared to explain why Carlton would win this until I saw the point spread: 16.5 points in Carlton’s favour! Melbourne bettors have lifted this number from its starting point and may push this past three goals before game time.

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I saw the Dockers dismantle the Giants with aplomb, and I saw Carlton struggle with quality competition the first two weeks – they’re just not that good at this point in the season.

I don’t know if Freo can duplicate the kind of speed and passing prowess they exhibited at Optus on Sunday, but I’m not willing to risk it at that number. I’m taking Fremantle plus 16.5 points (at $3.80 on $2).

Sunday evening: GWS Giants (0-2) vs Melbourne (2-0) in Canberra
Twice I (and most everyone else) bet against the Demons; twice we were resoundingly proven wrong as Melbourne won easily.

Twice I (and most everyone else) thought the Giants would at least have a strong chance of winning; twice they were beaten rather comfortably in the end. The current spread is only 7.5 points in Melbourne’s favour; neither team has played a game that close yet.

Christian Petracca of the Demons handballs

Christian Petracca of the Demons (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Easy decision: taking the Demons plus the 7.5 points (at $3.80 on $2).

Easter Monday: Geelong (1-1) vs Hawthorn (1-1) at the MCG
Say ‘Geelong Cats’ to me right now, and I picture a team that should be winless but for an officiating error, and one that spent more time bullying than footying in Round 2.

Beyond that, a point spread that started at 27.5 is now down to 23.5 in Geelong’s favour, and it’s unlikely that’s solely from the sentiments just expressed.

Like Sydney, the Hawks have excelled so far with young names like Changkuoth Jiath, Jon Ceglar, Tyler Brockman, Dylan Moore and Will Day – names reinventing the team that won three straight titles for Alastair Clarkson just a handful of years ago.

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Tom Hawkins has looked tremendous for Geelong, second up front to only Taylor Walker over these first two games, but is Geelong’s team really four goals better than Hawthorn’s? At the MCG on Monday night? I’m going to say “no”.

Now, I could take the Hawks minus 23.5 points at the usual $3.80 per $2; alternately, I could bet neither team wins by more than 24 points (which only differs that it eliminates a huge Hawks win) and get $4.20 for my $2 ticket. Since Geelong should probably win, there’s not much additional risk for the extra reward.

To review our bets: Brisbane to win; Bulldogs plus the 41.5 points; Adelaide to win (reluctantly); Richmond by less than 25; St Kilda wins; taking the over 169.5 in Port/WCE (plus I think the Eagles will win); Fremantle minus the 16.5 points (but I suspect Carlton wins the game); Melbourne plus the 7.5; and though Geelong will probably win, I’m taking the tri-bet that neither team wins by more than 24.5 points.

Good luck with your forecasts, and don’t take my purely amateur guesses as anything more than they are, please.

Make your own choices, like going to church on Easter Sunday, and enjoy the games on their own merits, not for monetary reasons.

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