Blockbusters turned upsets – Round 8 had it all. The Blues are on the board, the Ben Ronke breakout is on, and the Power aren’t done just yet. 

Here’s how Round 8 in the AFL looked for punters: 

A Serious Case of Ronke-Itis

Mother nature tried her best, but even gale-force wins weren’t enough to clip the Swans’ wings on Friday night. They came to a cold and rainy Melbourne as heavy $2.40 outsiders, and with Buddy Franklin and Dan Hannebery still missing, punters steered clear of the Bloods. The Hawks looked on their way midway through the fourth quarter, jumping ahead by eight points, but you only had to look back at last year’s classic encounters to know the drama was far from over.

After a fortnight of debate, this was certainly how footy is “meant to be played”. There were more momentum swings than goals kicked, but don’t tell that to Ben Ronke. Sydney’s 20-year old small-forward kicked seven goals on star Hawthorn defender, James Sicily, including this pearl of a mark to seal it for the Swannies…

The nicknames are coming in hard and fast for Sydney’s new superstar, and after a gutsy win in Geelong and now a nail-biter over the Hawks, suddenly the Swans with a returning Buddy Franklin hold value at $6.50 to win the Premiership. Of course, not everyone loved Ronke’s breakout. The youngster once belonged to the Bombers, and after another horror week for the sash, he’s the kind of small-forward the down and out Dons could really use right now.

The Brownlow Bubble

There’s a newcomer atop the Brownlow market this week, and after pocketing 36 disposals and 13 clearances, it’s safe to say Nat Fyfe added another three votes to his name. Here’s how the market’s shaping up after eight rounds:

Dusty’s dud against North Melbourne has him falling all the way out to $4.40, slightly ahead of Tom Mitchell, who also had another quiet one against the Swans. For the second week in a row (and the fourth time this year) Dusty went goalless against the Roos, racking up a season low 16 disposals. Everything seems to be going wrong for the Tigers’ elite midfielder right now – even his patented don’t-argue looked a little off on Sunday.

If you’re a punter looking for some serious value in this market, though, look no further than the Bulldogs’ Jackson Macrae. The six-foot-four midfielder cracked 30 or more disposals for the seventh time this season, and although he’s not a huge goal-scorer, the hot/cold form of the favourites in this market makes him a serious roughie.

The Loveable Losers

The ‘Least Season Wins’ market has been a two-horse race all year, but we might finally have ourselves a favourite. The Lions suffered their eighth straight defeat in yet another close call against the Doggies, despite coming in as a popular $2.85 upset pick. Brisbane were in it the whole way, which makes each and every week more and more frustrating. The breakthrough is certainly coming for Chris Fagan’s side, it’s just a matter of picking who and when the upset will come.

But what about Carlton? The G was alight on Saturday afternoon as the Blues finally shook the monkey off their back. Essendon are in absolute tatters, but it was great to see the Curnow brothers combine for a five goal bag, including this gem from Ed in the fourth quarter.

That’s the kind of play the Blues have been missing all season. Pick up the crumb and slam it on the boot. If they play like that, they should be safe from the spoon, although some tough games against Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney now await.

The Power & The Passion 

Punters were wary of Port Adelaide coming into Showdown 44, and rightfully so – the Power have lost the past four derby’s against the Crows, by let’s just say, comfortable margins. The gap certainly closed in the market late with the Power firming into $2.14, but they weren’t the only odds Port Adelaide overcame on Saturday.

Down by less than a goal in the dying stages of the fourth quarter, Steven Motlop kicked the game-winner with just over a minute to spare, sending Port home with a five-point victory. The Power fought back hard after the majority of the first half looked Taylor-made for a Crows win, but big Tex managed just two goals and six disposals, far from his usual dominant derby form.

A loss in this game would have seriously discounted Port from the finals picture, but they now find themselves just inside the eight with plenty of life. The $9.00 Premiership odds seem a little skinny, especially ahead of teams like Hawthorn and GWS, but this win should go a long way to convincing punters Port are still the real deal.

West Coast Wave Goodbye to Wobblies

Early in the second-quarter against GWS it looked as though West Coast’s road woes would once again haunt them. For the past decade they’ve been labeled as a team that can’t travel, but here we are –  the Eagles are second on the ladder with three big road wins in hand. Saturday’s win over the Giants is a mere footnote lost amongst a big round of footy, but it’s an important win for a club that’s firmed $18.00 three weeks ago into $8.00 to win the flag.

The Eagles were far from a finals favourite entering the season, picked by many to miss the eight. Next week they face the reigning premiers with first place on the ladder up for grabs, and since both rank Top 5 in goals scored and inside 50’s so far, it promises to be a cracker in WA.

The Tigers took care of the Eagles last season at the G’, overcoming West Coast by 11-points. They haven’ traveled to Perth since 2016, though, a game they lost comfortably by 68-points. The market will be close all week, but you could make a case either side deserves to enter as favourites.