After a pulsating end to the home and away season, we’re set for a huge 2022 AFL Finals series. We assess each key market, and where value can be extracted.
In a sense, the season starts again on Thursday night. Despite Geelong’s dominance throughout 2022 in which they comfortably claimed the minor premiership, September footy — as they well know — is a different ball game. They start this year’s series as $3.00 flag favourites, and it’s not hard to see why. Each club still alive in 2022 has several stars, but it’s Geelong’s more unsung heroes around the ground that makes them such a well-rounded side. And while there’s few blemishes in their best 22, the pressure is undoubtedly on. The Cats have finished inside the Top 4 in seven of the last 10 seasons, and walked away as Premiers in none.
Reigning premiers Melbourne ($3.25) sit just behind the Cats while the AFL’s second-most in-form side (behind Geelong) in Sydney are a rung below at $6.00 (although that market will swing heavily if the Bloods can win a second time on the MCG this year against Melbourne on Friday night). So the value option is likely Collingwood ($10), who — if anyone needs reminding — have won 12 of their last 13 games. Doubt has continually been cast on the Pies’ ability to keep churning out results this AFL season, but that’s exactly what they’ve done. Those doubt have now transferred over into can-they-do-it-in-September questions. But if anyone can prove the masses wrong again, it’s Craig McRae’s exciting side.
Best bet: Geelong @ $3.00
Best value bet: Collingwood @ $10
"Not too bad, is it?" Cats coach rejects claims of sneaky Collingwood criticism.
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) August 30, 2022
To make the Grand Final
A market that is highly determined by the winners of this weekend’s qualifying finals. Whoever wins the Melbourne v Sydney and Geelong v Collingwood games lock in a week break (although the pre-finals bye has nullified this benefit) and, more crucially, a home preliminary final and are in the box seat to be there come Saturday September 24. There’s little value in AFL Premiership favourites Geelong and Melbourne ($1.50 and $1.62 respectively), or even the next-best Swans at $2.50. So, for a value option, look no further than Richmond ($7.00). They say Finals footy is all about momentum, and the Tigers have it in spades heading into September. Damien Hardwick’s have won their last four in a row — including their last two by over 10 goals — and are ranked the competition’s No.1 team for scores per inside 50 and ball movement.
Best bet: Geelong @ $1.50
Best value bet: Richmond @ $7.00
— AFL Nation (@AFLNation) August 22, 2022
North Smith Medal
Unsurprisingly, the man who has dominated throughout 2022 (and won a bevy of AFL media awards this week) starts as favourite in this market. Clayton Oliver ($10) averaged over 30 disposals in last year’s Finals Series, and could very well do so again. “I think he may well win the Brownlow this year,” Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd said this week. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins the Norm Smith as well.” However one player who has polled more three-vote games than most in 2022 — and who could explode on the biggest stage — is Jeremy Cameron ($14). The left-footer looms as nightmare material for opposition defenders in September and given Geelong’s strong hopes of making an AFL Grand Final is a solid Norm Smith option this far out. He goes into the Finals Series with a minor hamstring complaint, but if Geelong make it to the last Saturday in September he’s more likely than not to have overcome it by then.
Oh, and if you want a cheeky wager on three-time Norm Smith medalist Dustin Martin making it four, you can get on the Tigers star for $41.
Best bet: Jeremy Cameron (Geelong) @ $14
Best value bet: Isaac Heeney (Sydney) @ $36
— AFL (@AFL) August 13, 2022
Most Disposals (in Finals Series)
Most Goals (in Finals Series)
Gary Ayres Award (Best Finals Player)
"He's an extraordinary talent." 👏👏
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) August 28, 2022