AFL Round 1: Sunday Match Previews & Betting Tips
Three Sunday games to close out round 1 where we'll see St Kilda v Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney v Essendon and Fremantle v North Melbourne.
St Kilda v Gold Coast – Marvel Stadium - 1:10 PM
It’s not one of the most anticipated games of the round, but it certainly shapes as one of the more intriguing as St Kilda host the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The teams combined for a total of eight wins last season and are again expected to be in and around the bottom four, but the Saints will have plenty to prove as look to recapture their 2017 form, which saw them fall just short of finals footy. The Saints backline stocks have taken a huge hit during the pre-season, so much so they’ve had to recruit former Blue Sam Rowe out of his suburban football team to fill the void.
The last time these two teams met, the Suns led by 31 points at the final break before the Saints stormed home to kick five goals and hold the Suns scoreless to snatch a famous victory. A similar script might be written in this one with a new look Suns team eager to silence the doubters while the Saints at their most vulnerable with a long injury list, but the experience and depth of the home team should be enough, just.
Key Stat: Gold Coast has covered the line in eight of their last 14 games at Marvel Stadium
Tip: St Kilda
Best bet: Gold Coast +24.5 @ $1.92*
Value bet: Gold Coast 1-24 @ $5*
Greater Western Sydney v Essendon – Sydney Showground Stadium - 3:20 PM
Dylan Shiel didn’t have to wait long to face his former club as the Bombers head north to face the Giants on Sunday afternoon. Last season Shiel was on the receiving end of a blistering last quarter by the Bombers, which condemned the Giants to their fourth straight loss and will have to find a similar avenue to goal this time around with Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker missing for the Dons. Daniher didn’t play and Hooker didn’t kick a goal in that match, which will give the Bombers the belief they can beat the Giants on their home deck for the fifth time in seven attempts.
While there are no easy games in the AFL, the Giants face the Eagles (away) Tigers (home) and Cats (away) in a brutal opening month of the season and will be eager to notch an early win in front of their home fans. There’s been plenty of focus on the departing Giants, but there’s still more than enough talent on their list to again be a premiership contender this season. A healthy Toby Greene, Zac Williams and Brett Deledio will see to that.
Key Stat: The Giants have a 35-10-1 (W-L-D) record at the Sydney Showground Stadium over the last four seasons.
Best bet: GWS 1 -39 @ $2.20*
Value bet: GWS 40+ @ $4.30*
Fremantle v North Melbourne – Optus Stadium - 6:20 PM
We head west for the final game of Round 1 as Fremantle host North Melbourne in the most even matchup of the opening week, at least from a betting point of view.
Much has been made this week of star recruit Jesse Hogan’s absence and there’s no clear timetable for his return - a real disappointment for Ross Lyon as Hogan would have been able to stretch a North Melbourne defence missing Robbie Tarrant (injured) and Scott Thompson (suspended). Fellow big man Rory Lobb will need to step and be the focal point up forward with Brennan Cox and Matt Taberner both injured.
The Roos were agonisingly close to finals footy last season after many predicted a bottom four finish. They have a host of new recruits, plus some promising talent through the draft and will no doubt be around the mark again. The travel factor usually plays a big role, especially early in the season, which has me leaning towards Freo in a genuine flip of the coin match.
Key Stat: North Melbourne have covered the line in their last two matches in WA.
Best bet: Fremantle 1-39 @ $2.40*
Value bet: Fremantle -3.5/Under 177.5 @ $3.60*