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AFL Tips & Preview – Round 1

The 2023 AFL premiership gets underway this week with the traditional Tigers-Blues season opener – plus a host of compelling Round 1 encounters. 

AFL Tips – Richmond Tigers V Carlton Blues

19:20 (AEDT), Thu 16th Mar @ Melbourne Cricket Ground

History: Played 225: Blues 126, Tigers 97, draws 2

Last meeting: Round 14, 2022 – Tigers 11.15 (81) d Blues 9.12 (66) at MCG

Team News: Richmond has been boosted by confirmation Dion Prestia, Jayden Short, Marlion Pickett and Tom Lynch are all fit to play. Josh Gibcus, Ivan Soldo and Robbie Tarrant are all notable Tigers absentees. Similarly, Carlton have cleared Patrick Cripps, Mitch McGovern, Jack Martin and Jesse Motlop in the face of injury concerns, easing the pain of Sam Walsh’s absence.

What We Like: Three of the teams’ last four clashes produced 176 points or more, making the over 171.5 a viable play. Jack Riewoldt has kicked eight goals in his last three season openers against the Blues – the veteran is $2.03 to slot two or more on Thursday. The Blues’ Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay won the past two Coleman Medals; they are $2.35 and $2.45, respectively, to kick three or more goals.

Final Thoughts: The Tigers have dominated this rivalry for almost a decade, winning 12 of the last 13 clashes – but the Blues scored a hoodoo-busting 25-point win in the traditional season opener last season. Both are expected to feature in finals footy in 2022 – the Tigers are on the fourth line of title betting, the Blues seventh – and this shapes as a rip-roaring showdown to get the 2023 premiership underway. Richmond suffered elimination final heartbreak against Brisbane last season, while Carlton bottled an opportunity to return to the playoffs but were buoyed by Patrick Cripps’ Brownlow success. The Tigers have an improved list and are $1.72 favourites but this shapes as a tight one.

Best Bet: Tri Bet – Either Team by 19 or Less @ $2.15

AFL Tips – Geelong Cats V Collingwood Magpies

19:40 (AEDT), Fri 17th Mar @ Melbourne Cricket Ground

History: Played 239: Magpies 134, Cats 104, draws 1

Last meeting: Qualifying Final, 2022 – Cats 11.12 (78) d Magpies 10.12 (72) at MCG

Team News: Geelong’s superstar forwards Tom Hawkins (foot) and Jeremy Cameron, who is awaiting the birth of his first child, are both in doubt for Friday’s blockbuster. Jack Henry is set to be ruled out for the Cats, but brother Ollie and GWS recruit Tanner Bruhn are expected to line up. No major concerns for Collingwood, who are weighing up whether to pick both Billy Frampton and Nathan Murphy. Tom Mitchell, Dan McStay and Bobby Hill are all certainties for the Pies.

What We Like: The Magpies have won only two of their last nine against the Cats, but six of those nine clashes were decided by 13 points or less. Either Team by 19 or Less ($2.20) therefore looms as good value. Meanwhile, Jordan de Goey is set to hit the ground running for the Pies and is a handy $1.94 to rack up 25+ disposals.

Final Thoughts: The heavyweights meet for the first time since the Cats’ epic six-point qualifying final victory in September on their way to the flag. Geelong have farewelled champion skipper Joel Selwood but the emergence of a clutch of young guns should see the Cats remain at the pointy end of the ladder. Collingwood made immense progress in 2022, falling one point short of a grand final. Brodie Grundy is a huge loss in the ruck but Tom Mitchell is a big addition to the midfield. The tight nature of this rivalry and intensity of a Friday-nighter in Round 1 at the ’G makes the Magpies a clear option with the start.

Best Bet: Handicap – Magpies +11.5 @ $1.90

AFL Tips – North Melbourne Kangaroos V West Coast Eagles

13:45 (AEDT), Sat 18th Mar @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

History: Played 53: Eagles 29, Kangaroos 24

Last meeting: Round 2, 2022 – Kangaroos (10.14 (74) d Eagles 8.11 (59) Marvel Stadium

Team News: The Eagles have been dealt a blow with midfielder Elliot Yeo (calf) ruled out of their season opener, on top of Nic Naitanui already being sidelined. Free agent acquisition Jayden Hunt will play his first game for the club. The Kangaroos will field debutant and No.3 draft pick Harry Sheezel, while recruit Griffin Logue’s presence softens the absence of defender Ben McKay.

What We Like: Given the Kangaroos conceded over 100 points in 17 of 22 games last year, take a serious look at West Coast to score over 84.5 ($1.91). The Eagles’ Tim Kelly will be aiming to lead the way early and is $1.95 to chalk up 25+ disposals – a tally he has topped in seven of his last 15 games.

Final Thoughts: North Melbourne won these clubs’ sole clashes in 2021 and ’22, albeit narrowly, accounting for one-third of the Roos’ total wins across the two seasons. Both clubs won just two games last season and will be desperate to grasp this early gilt-edged opportunity to get off the mark. North have won just two of the last 13 in Round 1 and failed to cover in their last 10 season openers – and they have finished bottom-two in the past three years. West Coast’s decline was more unexpected after finishing no lower than ninth in the previous eight seasons, ravaged by injuries in 2022. They are short a couple of superstars to start this campaign but still have ample experience and quality, while they’re a much more enticing pick in a tight head-to-head market despite being on the road.

Best Bet: Result – Eagles @ $2.01

AFL Tips – Port Adelaide Power V Brisbane Lions

16:35 (AEDT), Sat 18th Mar @ Adelaide Oval

History: Played 40: Lions 20, Power 18, draws 2

Last meeting: Round 1, 2022 – Lions 11.14 (80) d Power 10.9 (69) at The Gabba

Team News: Port are expected to have forward Jeremy Finlayson on deck and name recruits Junior Rioli and Jason Horne-Francis for club debuts. Brisbane trio Dayne Zorko, Darcy Gardiner and Callum Ah Chee have been ruled out, but there’s plenty of hype around father-son gun and Rising Star favourite Will Ashcroft’s impending debut.

What We Like: Brisbane forward Charlie Cameron picked up 11 bags of three-plus goals in 2022 and is a juicy $3.30 to kick off his season in that vein. Recent Brownlow Medallists Ollie Wines and Lachie Neale are both $1.85 to get 30 or more disposals. Nineteen of the Lions’ 25 games in 2022 produced 168-plus points, so the over is also an enticing play.

Final Thoughts: The Power are on a five-match losing streak against the Lions, though they have won five of the last six in Adelaide. And after back-to-back top-two finishes, Port fell off a cliff in 2022 to land 11th with an 0-5 start proving insurmountable. Brisbane came of age in the finals after a string of post-season failures, winning sudden-death thrillers against Richmond and Melbourne before being halted by Geelong. The Power – boasting an outstanding list – are expected to improve significantly, but the Lions are on the third line of premiership betting and have plentiful pre-season momentum.

Best Bet: Margin – Lions 1-39 @ $2.40

AFL Tips – Melbourne Demons V Western Bulldogs

19:25 (AEDT), Sat 18th Mar @ Melbourne Cricket Ground

History: Played 172: Demons 91, Bulldogs 80, draws 1

Last meeting: Round 19, 2022 – Bulldogs 17.8 (110) d Demons 15.10 (100) at Marvel Stadium

Team News: The Dees are under-strength with Jack Viney and Bayley Fritsch both confirmed as being out alongside Christian Salem, while Steven May is also in doubt. The Bulldogs have also suffered injury setbacks with small forwards Cody Weightman and Arthur Jones succumbing to groin complaints. Key defenders Tim O’Brien and Ryan Gardner are also out.

What We Like: With Fritsch absent, Ben Brown ($2.05) and Christian Petracca ($3.05) are strong options to step up and kick two or more goals for Melbourne, while Rory Lobb ($2.50) is an attractive price to do the same on club debut for the Bulldogs. The Dees led the AFL in the points conceded department in 2022 and can keep the Bulldogs to under 79.5 ($1.84).

Final Thoughts: The grand final rematch honours were shared last year, the Demons winning the Round 1 showdown by 26 points and the Bulldogs responding with a 10-point victory in Round 19. Both teams lost ground in 2022: Melbourne hit the skids after a 10-0 start and made a straight-sets finals exit, while the Bulldogs were inconsistent all year and lost their elimination final to the Dockers. Brodie Grundy’s arrived at the Demons to form a dual ruck combination with Max Gawn is arguably the biggest off-season move of the summer, while the Bulldogs have strengthened with the acquisition of Rory Lobb and Liam Jones. The Dees – second favourites for the flag – look a bit short in this one with Fritsch out, but Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver should get them home in an absorbing battle between two crack midfield contingents.

Best Bet: Margin – Demons 1-39 @ $2.20

AFL Tips – Gold Coast Suns V Sydney Swans

20:00 (AEDT), Sat 18th Mar @ Heritage Bank Stadium, Gold Coast

History: Played 14: Swans 10, Suns 4

Last meeting: Round 8, 2022 – Suns 10.15 (75) d Swans 8.13 (61) at SCG

Team News: Gold Coast forward Ben King is set to make his comeback from an ACL injury, with Levi Casboult potentially being bumped out of the 22. Sydney will be without ruckman Tom Hickey, with Peter Ladhams and Hayden McLean or Sam Reid to fill the ruck void.

What We Like: The Either Team by 24 of Less at $1.77 holds appeal, as does the over 165.5 points in balmy early-season Queensland conditions. Ben King ($2.70) and Buddy Franklin ($3.10) lead their teams in the to score three or more goals stakes.

Final Thoughts: The Suns have a handy recent record in this rivalry, upsetting the eventual grand finalists in Round 8 last year as $17 underdogs to make it four wins from their last six against the Swans. But Sydney will look to fly out of the blocks in 2023 to quash widespread predictions of a hangover from their heavy loss to the Cats in last year’s decider. They’ll be looking for a host of youngsters to step up this year. Meanwhile, the Suns are rated an outside Top 8 chance with an exciting young roster, the exit of Izak Rankine tempered by the ongoing development of Touk Miller and Matt Rowell, and Ben King’s return. The Suns are a tough nut to crack at Carrara and look a good option with more than a goal’s start.

Best Bet: Handicap – Suns +7.5 @ $1.90

AFL Tips – GWS Giants V Adelaide Crows

13:10 (AEDT), Sun 19th Mar @ GIANTS Stadium, Sydney

History: Played 15: Crows 10, Giants 5

Last meeting: Round 7, 2022 – Giants 17.11 (113) d Crows 8.6 (54) at Adelaide Oval

Team News: GWS are unlikely to have trade acquisition Toby Bedford on deck due to a hamstring injury, will No.1 draft pick Aaron Cadman is likely to be brought along cautiously. Adelaide recruit Izak Rankine is expected to play and Wayne Milera is available despite a recent break from club duties for personal reasons.

What We Like: Not a huge amount of betting appeal in this encounter between 2022 battlers, but a Tom Green/Toby Greene option at $4.00 in the 30 disposals/3 goals double market is worth a look.

Final Thoughts: The Giants dominated the Crows in the teams’ 2021-22 clashes, winning both by 59-plus margins. Adelaide have spent the five years since their 2017 minor premiership in the bottom eight, landing 14th last season. GWS, meanwhile, plummeted to 16th – their worst finish since 2014 – with coach Leon Cameron dumped midyear. Not much more is expected from either team in 2023 but I’ll back the Giants to get the job done at home in an ugly opener.

Best Bet: Margin – Giants 1-39 @ $2.25

AFL Tips – Hawthorn Hawks V Essendon Bombers

15:20 (AEDT), Sun 19th Mar @ Melbourne Cricket Ground

History: Played 167: Hawks 101, Bombers 66

Last meeting: Round 8, 2022 – Bombers 16.12 (108) d Hawks 11.15 (81) at Marvel Stadium

Team News: The Hawks’ 2022 draftee Cam Mackenzie is set to line up in Round 1 alongside recruits Karl Amon and Lloyd Meek, while injured forward star Mitchell Lewis will miss the early weeks of the season. The Bombers will be without Jake Stringer, but father-son pick-up Alwyn Davey Jnr is set to debut in the Essendon forward line.

What We Like: The over 170.5 total points line should be clear in a clash between two of the four worst defensive teams of 2022. Bombers sharpshooter Peter Wright is value at $2.18 to kick three or more goals, managing it nine times in a career-best campaign last year.

Final Thoughts: Hawthorn have won four of their last five against archrivals Essendon, including a 27-point victory last season. The Hawks are on the last line of 2023 title betting after three seasons in the bottom six, while the Bombers followed up their 2021 finals appearance by finishing 15th. The Hawks have lost an eye-watering amount of experience, while the Bombers have turned to Brad Scott to coach them out of a hole. Despite Stringer’s absence, $1.59 favourites Essendon look the best bet to start 2023 with a W.

Best Bet: Margin – Bombers 1-39 @ $2.25

AFL Tips – St Kilda Saints V Fremantle Dockers

16:40 (AEDT), Sun 19th Mar @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

History: Played 40: Saints 22, Dockers 18

Last meeting: Round 17, 2022 – Dockers 17.9 (111) d Saints 10.10 (70) at Marvel Stadium

Team News: St Kilda are expected to hand debuts to teenager Anthony Caminiti and top-10 draft pick Mattaes Phillipou. But key forwards Max King and Tim Membrey headline a 14-strong list of sidelined players. The Dockers are sweating on Michael Frederick, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Luke Jackson and Jaeger O’Meara to be fit, but all are tracking well. Michael Walters is in more doubt, though, and Travis Coyler will be missing from the Freo team sheet.

What We Like: The Dockers conceded the second-least points in 2022 and the Saints scored the least points of any of the top 15 finishers – backing the home side to score under 72.5 ($1.89) is a clear play here. Andrew Brayshaw to get 30+ disposals looks good, too, as the Dockers midfielder aims to pick up where he left off in stellar ’22.

Final Thoughts: After snatching a narrow early-season win in Perth, the Saints copped a 41-point beatdown from the Dockers at Marvel Stadium in Round 17 last year – reflecting the teams’ contrasting 2022 fortunes. St Kilda’s injury toll – particularly in the forward line – is a massive hurdle to overcome straight out of the gates in Ross Lyon’s return with the clipboard. Fremantle are navigating big changes with David Mundy and Rory Lobb gone, but top-five Brownlow finisher Andrew Brayshaw in a seasoned engine-room and a hopefully injury-free Nat Fyfe playing forward, the Dockers are underrated in the finals conversation.

Best Bet: Handicap – Dockers -10.5 @ $1.90

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