There were plenty of warning signs for the Bombers in their 79-point demolition at the hands of Fremantle in round 11. Essendon coach John Worsfold said his players looked tired in that game and we think there could be some beltings waiting for the Dons in the second half of the season. The loss of Ryan Crowley (hamstring) and Mark Baguley (knee) for Friday night's clash at Docklands also hurts. Both teams are coming off the dreaded six-day break into this clash which will hurt the flagging Bombers more. Back the Hawks to win by at least 80 points ($2.65 with Luxbet) and one side to fall short of the 64-point benchmark, which is paying $2 with bet365. Essendon are averaging fewer than 60 points per game this season.
Port Adelaide Power v Western Bulldogs
Port have bounced back into top-eight contention with wins over Melbourne and Collingwood in the past two weeks, so now watch them get done by a top-four side. Punters have to be careful not to get carried away with the inconsistent Power, who lost to West Coast at home in round nine. The Bulldogs just beat the Eagles, so the form line suggests the boys from the west should get the job done this Saturday afternoon at the Portress. We are going for a Bullies/Bullies half-time/full-time double, which is paying about $2.30 with Hills and bet365, and Matthew Boyd to have at least 30 disposals ($2 with Sportsbet). He had 34 last week.
Brisbane Lions v Fremantle Dockers
This is a tough one. The Dockers made their first win of the season look easy against Essendon in round 11, but they were basically playing witches' hats. Brisbane have won only one game this season, too, but had something to cheer about when skipper Tom Rockliff found form to rack up 48 touches in their loss to Carlton. Now that Freo have remembered how to win, we think they should get the job done on Saturday arvo at the Gabba, despite losing big man Michael Apeness (fractured collarbone) for the clash. We are backing the purple team to win, which is paying $1.76 with Luxbet and Unibet, but Rockliff to have at least 35 touches ($2.80 with Sportsbet).
West Coast Eagles v Adelaide Crows
The Eagles are unbeaten at home this season but we'll see how good their comfortable wins against Brisbane, St Kilda, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Richmond and Fremantle at Subi stack up on Saturday night. That's because Adelaide, who like West Coast have a 7-4 win-loss record, will be in town. Strap yourselves in Eagles fans, this tussle is easily the biggest test your side have had at home this season. West Coast's reigning Coleman medallist, Josh Kennedy, had a stinker against the Bulldogs at the weekend when booting only one goal. He couldn't possibly have two shockers in a row. We're on an Eagles/Eagles half-time/full-time double, paying $1.80 with the corporates, and Kennedy to kick the first goal ($7 with Sportsbet).
Geelong Cats v North Melbourne Kangaroos
Big Cat Tom Hawkins is out of this one after accepting a one-match suspension from the Match Review Panel for striking, which is a huge blow for Geelong. His absence will be compounded by the return of dominant North ruckman Todd Goldstein, who is back from a one-match layoff with a knee injury for Saturday night's first-versus-third clash at Docklands. Luxbet are offering $2 for North to win, and for a side who have lost only one game this season, it's irresistible value. Most bookies are offering $3.40 for the first scoring play to be a Kangaroos goal and their potent forward line of Jarrad Waite, Drew Petrie, Lindsay Thomas, Daniel Wells and Ben Brown shouldn't let you down.
St Kilda Saints v Carlton Blues
They've won six of their past seven games and Carlton should continue their push for an unlikely finals berth when they meet St Kilda on Sunday arvo. The Saints had virtually no injury list before round 11, but Paddy McCartin (concussion), Sean Dempster (knee) and Hugh Goddard (Achilles) will all miss this one. The Blues have played their past four games at Docklands and won three of them, so we are backing them to win by at least three goals ($2.25 with Luxbet) on a ground they seem to be enjoying at the moment. Centrebet and Hills are offering $1.81 for Carlton to win the race to three goals, and we reckon that's easy money!
Richmond Tigers v Gold Coast Suns
You know that feeling when your mid-season resurgence gets cut down by a real premiership threat? Richmond do. The Tigers got put back in their place by North in Hobart in round 11, but the good news is they should bounce back against the hapless Suns this Sunday at the home of footy. Defender Steven Morris (knee) will be missing for the Tigers while swingman Sam Day will return for the Suns after missing the past fortnight with soreness. Go for the Tigers to win by at least 40 points ($2.04 with Luxbet) and Richmond to score at least 121 points ($2.70 with Sportsbet). Gold Coast have the second worst defence in the league.
Greater Western Sydney Giants v Sydney Swans
If the Giants are dinkum about their top-four credentials, they must beat the Swans at home on Sunday. Sydney won the previous meeting between the two sides at the SCG in round three, but the Giants have grown in confidence since then. Lance Franklin booted four goals in that game and if GWS can find a way to keep him quiet, we reckon they should have enough to get over the line. We are on the Giants to bounce back from consecutive defeats and win this one, which is paying $2 with most corporates. Both these teams average over 100 points this season and if they both score 90 or more on Sunday, Hills will give you $3.05.
Melbourne Demons v Collingwood Magpies
The Demons will start as favourites for their annual Queen’s Birthday blockbuster against the Magpies for the first time in 10 years, and that's not good news. The Dees have an appalling record under coach Paul Roos as favourites – having already lost to Essendon and St Kilda this year when punters had faith in the red and blue. But Collingwood have struggled in the past two weeks and we think Melbourne are primed to knock them off for a second time this season. Go for a Melbourne/Melbourne half-time/full-time double, paying $2.05 with Sportsbet and Demons ball magnet Bernie Vince to have 30 touches or more ($3.30 with Sportsbet). He had 36 in round 11.