The opening weekend of the 2023 AFL season saw two contrasting clashes to open the year, while Collingwood and St Kilda proved Round One’s big winners.
Here’s how it looked for punters:
Famine then feast
As almost 90,000 fans packed into the MCG for the traditional Richmond v Carlton AFL season opener, a high-scoring clash looked a distinct possibility when both sides kicked majors inside the first minute. What ensued, however, was a high-pressure but ultimately fumble-heavy encounter in which both sides struggled to hit the scoreboard. And, as the siren went to confirm a 58-all result (with the draw paying $51 pre-match), the total points figure of 116 was a whopping 56 points below the pre-game line of 171.5.
But if Thursday night was a famine scoring-wise, Friday was a feast. In stark contrast to the skill errors the previous evening, reigning AFL premiers Geelong and Collingwood played out an early contender for game of the season. The 125 to 103 result in favour of the Pies was, conversely 63 points OVER the pre-game total points line of 165.5. The impact of that result, however, has already shaped how some are seeing the premiership race…
DARCY MOORE RUNS DOWN OLLIE HENRY IN THE GOAL SQUARE!
THIS GAME IS OFF ITS HEAD 😱#AFLCatsPies | @cryptocom pic.twitter.com/TtQc8UOFIg
— AFL (@AFL) March 17, 2023
Pies pick up where they left off
Aside from Collingwood fans, there were huge doubts whether the Pies could recreate their incredible run at the back-end of 2022 which saw them win 12 of their last 13 games of the home-and-away season. In finishing at an impressive 16-6 despite a percentage of just 104.3, a prevailing thought was that the Pies ‘got lucky’ in some tight ones, and still didn’t boast the depth to really challenge for the flag. But Round One showed that up as sheer folly. Not only did Craig McRae’s side ($2.43 pre-game) come from 22 points down, but they completely overrun the reigning premiers in a huge statement win to kick off AFL season 2023.
Unsurprisingly, the flag market shifted as a result. While the Swans ($10), for instance didn’t move on the back of a 49-point thumping of Suns over the weekend, the Pies have already shortened from $10 into $8 on the back of the monumental MCG result.
"It can't be luck."
The Sunday Footy Show panel couldn't be more impressed with an 'electric' Magpies performance over the Cats. #9AFLSFS | @Channel9 pic.twitter.com/talGN309Fm
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) March 18, 2023
Returning coaches salute
While Collingwood’s win was impressive, it wasn’t the AFL opening weekend’s biggest upset. That belonged to St Kilda, who saluted as $2.92 outsiders at home. It signalled the perfect return for homecoming coach Ross Lyon whose stamp on proceedings was obvious. Fans expected the Saints to have a harder edge around the footy, and hard-running off it — and that’s exactly what they got.
Lyon was one of three returning coaches to get four points in their first game back. Four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson got the job done with North Melbourne after starting as marginal $1.88 favourites against the Eagles. It could be one of the few times the Kangas get a chance to sing the song in AFL season 2023. North’s over/under wins this season was 5.5 with Palmerbet prior to Round One. And finally, former North coach Brad Scott rounded out the trifecta for the returning coaches with Essendon ($1.68) hammering Hawthorn to the tune of 59 points — huge overs on the pre-game line of -5.5.
Alastair Clarkson explains the immediate changes he made when he first arrived at North Melbourne.
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