AFL Round 1: Saturday Match Previews & Betting Tips

Ryan Lepore
 | 
Wed, 20 Mar, 12:00 AM

Melbourne v Port Adelaide – MCG - 1:45 PM

Looking to build upon their first Preliminary Final appearance since 2000, Melbourne will begin their season by hosting the new look Port Adelaide outfit at the MCG.

Four players are in line to make their debut for the visitors, which includes their three top 20 draft picks and could have as many as 11 new faces from the team who lost in Round 23 to the Bombers.

The Demons’ brilliant season came to a devastating end as they were smashed by the eventual premiers in the preliminary final and expectations are now sky high for Simon Goodwin’s men to end a 55-year premiership drought. Key off-season signing Steven May will have to wait another week for his Melbourne debut after being suspended, but former Gold Coast teammate Kade Kolodjashnij will run out in the red and blue. New co-captain Ollie Wines and Charlie Dixon will be missing for the Power but Paddy Ryder has been cleared to play despite undergoing surgery on his cheekbone under a fortnight ago.

 

Key Stat: Port Adelaide have failed to cover the line in their last seven Saturday matches

 

Tip: Melbourne

Best bet: Melbourne 1-39 @ $2.10*

Value bet: Port Adelaide/Melbourne HT/FT @ $6.50*

Adelaide v Hawthorn – Adelaide Oval - 4:35 PM

With the disaster of 2018 now firmly behind them, the Crows are out to prove they are still one of the benchmarks in the competition when they host the Hawks at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon.

Nothing went right for the 2017 minor premiers from the pre-season camp to season-ending injuries but still managed to win 12 games last season, with hope they can return to September action in 2019.

Hawthorn was dealt a huge blow in the off-season, losing Tom Mitchell to a likely season-ending injury in their very first training session of the year. After a surprising top-four finish after the home and away season, Alastair Clarkson's men were bundled out in straight sets to leave many questioning their status for this season. Hawthorn’s recent record against the Crows is very much in their favour having won 10 of their past 12 encounters, including the last four in Adelaide. A record the Crows will be confident they can reverse in their season opener.

 

Key Stat: The underdog has covered the line in the last nine matches at the Adelaide Oval

 

Tip: Adelaide

Best bet: Adelaide -20.5 @ $1.92*

Value bet: Eddie Betts First Goal scorer @ $9*

Western Bulldogs v Sydney – Marvel Stadium - 7:25 PM

The replay of the 2016 Grand Final opens the newly-named Marvel Stadium on Saturday night with the Western Bulldogs hosting the Swans.

Regardless of the stadium’s name, Docklands has been a happy hunting ground for the Swans of recent times, winning 15 of their last 18 matches at the venue, including a thrilling 86-79 win against the Dogs last season. Despite undergoing groin surgery in the off-season, Lance Franklin looks set to take his place in the Swans’ forward line, which could stretch the young Bulldogs defence, which conceded 92.6 ppg last season. Despite making finals for a month consecutive season in 2018, the Swans have been tipped by many to slide this season but still possess star players across the field and a host of young talent who have important games under their belt. You can never write them off and believe John Longmire’s men will be there once again when the whips are cracking and will start their season with a win.

 

Key Stat: Sydney has won its last eight matches away from home played on a Saturday

 

Tip: Sydney

Best bet: Sydney -7.5 @ $1.92*

Value bet: Sydney 40+ @ $4.80*

Brisbane v West – Coast Gabba - 8:20 PM

The West Coast Eagles begin their premiership defence where their home and season finished last season at the Gabba against the Lions. On that occasion, it was a 98-72 win which sealed them second spot and two home finals.

Six months on from the intimate success after one of the most extraordinary Grand Final’s in history, the Eagles begin from square one with some key personnel missing. Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff remain on the sidelines for different reasons while Jamie Cripps, Will Schofield, Mark LeCras, Scott Lycett and potentially Josh Kennedy are missing from the team who lifted the trophy on the last Saturday in September.

After giving consecutive bottom four finishes, it’s time the Lions’ improvement translates into wins and a rise up the ladder. Lachie Neale who has been a like for like replacement for Dayne Beams will debut as will fellow recruits Lincoln McCarthy and Jarryd Lyons who have bolstered an already strong midfield.

 

Key Stat: West Coast has won eight consecutive matches against Brisbane by an average of 49.5 points.

 

Tip: West Coast

Best bet: West Coast -13.5 @ $1.92*

Value bet: West Coast 1-39 @ $2.20*

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