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AFL Tips & Preview – Round 2

The 2023 AFL premiership rolls into Round 2 with an MCG showdown between Carlton and Geelong, plus a host of key clashes as teams look to consolidate and atone. 

AFL Tips – Carlton Blues V Geelong Cats

19:20 (AEDT), Fri 24th Mar @ Melbourne Cricket Ground

History: Played 223: Blues 118, Cats 103, draws 2

Last meeting: Round 18, 2022 – Cats 12.13 (85) d Blues 8.7 (55) at MCG

Team News: An emergency for last week’s dramatic draw against Richmond, Marc Pittonet is expected to come into Carlton’s line-up to bolster their ruck set-up. Small forward Corey Durdin (hamstring) is likely to be available. Geelong’s All-Australian defender Tom Stewart is out this week, which could see Mark Blicavs move back and Jon Ceglar come in as a second ruck as the champs aim to bounce back from a first-up loss Collingwood.

What We Like: The clubs’ last three encounters produced 156 points or less – the under 167.5 is on here. After a quiet Round 1, look at Cats midfielder Cameron Guthrie ($2.10) to get 25+ disposals, while Blues forward Charlie Curnow is $2.60 to kick three of more goals for the second straight week.

Final Thoughts: Geelong gave up a three-quarter time lead in their 22-point defeat to Collingwood, with injuries to defenders proving crucial as they conceded more than 107 points for the first time since the 2021 prelim. But the Cats need more production from their midfielders. Carlton drew with Richmond as an underdog, but their noted difficulty getting the ball to their Coleman Medal-winning forwards again came home to roost. The Blues have won just two of their last 14 against the Cats, losing the sole 2021 and ’22 clashes by more than four goals. But a depleted Cats defence enhances the Blues’ value as a two-goal outsider.

Best Bet: Handicap – Blues +11.5 @ $1.90

AFL Tips – Brisbane Lions V Melbourne Demons

19:55 (AEDT), Fri 24th Mar @ The Gabba, Brisbane

History: Played 35: Lions 18, Demons 17

Last meeting: Semi-final, 2022 – Lions 14.8 (92) d Demons 11.13 (79) at MCG

Team News: Brisbane is aiming to regroup from a big loss to Port and should be boosted by Dayne Zorko, likely as a replacement for Keidan Coleman (concussion). Callum Ah Chee and Darcy Gardiner are no certainties to return. Big Round 1 winners over the Bulldogs, the Demons will get Steven May, Jack Viney, Bayley Fritsch and Christian Salem back – helping make up for Kysaiah Pickett’s suspension.

What We Like: Eight of the teams’ last 10 encounters produced totals of 170-plus. Incidentally, the line is 170.5 points and the over looks a sound play. Christian Petracca had 30 disposals last week and is $2.30 to hit that mark again. Bailey Fritsch is $3.50 to mark his return with three or more goals and Ben Brown is a juicy $4.30 to kick three or more after slotting four in Round 1.

Final Thoughts: Very different Round 1 fortunes for the heavyweights. The Lions led the Power at halftime but crumbled to a 54-point loss, kicking just three goals to Port’s 13 from that point. Daniel Rich was the only Brisbane player with more than 20 disposals and Lachie Neale struggled. The Demons led at every change in a 50-point thrashing of the Bulldogs despite a host of absentees. Near faultless, with Jake Lever, the now-suspended Pickett and Christian Petracca the standouts. The Lions ended a four-game slide against the Demons with a gutsy 13-point semi-final win in September. It might take a bit of time to rediscover that sort of form and it’s a surprise to see the Dees as such a narrow favourite when they’ve won their last 12 interstate games.

Best Bet: Result – Demons @ $1.85

AFL Tips – Collingwood Magpies V Port Adelaide Power

13:45 (AEDT), Sat 25th Mar @ Melbourne Cricket Ground

History: Played 35: Power 18, Magpies 17

Last meeting: Round 20, 2022 – Magpies 13.10 (88) d Power 12.10 (82) at MCG

Team News: Collingwood’s Round 1 upset of Geelong was soured by a broken arm to Jeremy Howe. Billy Frampton looks set to fill the defensive void. Port Adelaide are fizzing from a dominant underdog win over Brisbane and have no casualties at this stage so are unlikely to make changes.

What We Like: After both teams topped 125 points in Round 1 against 2022 preliminary finalists, the over 170.5 is an obvious value play. Jordan de Goey kicked three goals last week and is a generous $2.40 to get two against the Power, while he’s $1.91 to again hit 25 disposals.

Final Thoughts: The Magpies have shaken up their premiership market with their 23-point statement win over the Cats. Offensively they were irresistible, with de Goey and Nick Daicos on fire. Inspired by Jason Horne-Francis, Ryan Burton and Charlie Dixon, Port stamped their finals credentials with a 54-point demolition of the Lions. The Power have won seven of the teams’ last 10 but the Pies won a six-point thriller in Round 20 last year. The MCG factor may play a part, but the Power have not lost their by more than 12 points since 2019 and could be a decent option with a double-digit start.

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

AFL Tips – Adelaide Crows V Richmond Tigers

16:35 (AEDT), Sat 25th Mar @ Adelaide Oval

History: Played 42: Crows 26, Tigers 16

Last meeting: Round 5, 2022 – Crows 15.11 (101) d Tigers 12.10 (82) at Adelaide Oval

Team News: Adelaide’s 16-point loss to GWS has been compounded by Shane McAdam’s charge for an ugly bump. Tyler Brown is the front-runner to come in if McAdam is unsuccessful at the tribunal. Nick Murray will be available despite coming off against the Giants. Richmond drew the season opener with Carlton and have injury concerns over Robbie Tarrant and Ivan Soldo. A surprise omission in Round 1, Noah Cumberland may get the nod this week.

What We Like: Tim Taranto racked up 32 disposals against the Blues and should find just as much ball at Adelaide Oval – look for him to top 30 again ($2.10). Tom Lynch kicked three goals in the season opener and is $1.98 to repeat that haul.

Final Thoughts: Richmond can take a few positives from last week’s low-scoring draw with Carlton, with a revamped midfield stymieing the Blues. But with 21 more inside 50s, eight goals was a poor return for the Tigers. Adelaide, meanwhile, are regrouping from going down to one of the AFL’s battlers, throwing away a five-goal lead against GWS. The Tigers have only come away with the points against the Crows once in their last six clashes in Adelaide, but they should improve enough to get a vital road win here.

Best Bet: Handicap – Tigers -8.5 @ $1.90

AFL Tips – Western Bulldogs V St Kilda Saints

19:25 (AEDT), Sat 25th Mar @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

History: Played 165: Saints 84, Bulldogs 78, draws 3

Last meeting: Round 18, 2022 – Bulldogs 13.6 (84) d Saints 7.14 (56) at Marvel Stadium

Team News: The Bulldogs’ bid to bounce back from a heavy defeat to the Dees has not been aided by knee surgery required by Rory Lobb. Liam Jones is also in doubt with a neck complaint. Toby McLean should come in for Lobb, while Hayden Crozier and Buku Khamis are the contenders to replace Jones. The Saints overcame a packed casualty ward to beat the Dockers at home in Round 1, but Jimmy Webster and Jack Bytel have been added to a long injury list. Marcus Windhager will return in a timely boost, with Seb Ross a chance.

What We Like: Depleted St Kilda will surely look to replicate what worked against Fremantle and dominate with their defence. The under 162.5 looks pretty safe with the Bulldogs only kicking nine goals last weekend.

Final Thoughts: A Round 1 of contrasts for the Bulldogs and Saints. Luke Beveridge’s charges were humbled by the Demons by 50 points, dominated through the midfield, error-prone in defence, wasteful in front of goal. Adam Treolar was a standout in a well-beaten team. Meanwhile, Ross Lyon return to the helm at St Kilda in style, his team’s defensive display belying a shocking injury toll in a 15-point win over the Dockers, keeping the visitors to the lowest score of the weekend. The Bulldogs are $1.47 to bounce back with a win, but a blowout would seem unlikely on the strength of last week’s performances and the Bulldogs’ additional injuries.

Best Bet: Margin – Bulldogs 1-39 @ $2.12

AFL Tips – Fremantle Dockers V North Melbourne Kangaroos

19:30 (AEDT), Sat 25th Mar @ Optus Stadium, Perth

History: Played 34: Kangaroos 18, Dockers 16

Last meeting: Round 8, 2022 – Dockers 15.12 (102) d Kangaroos 3.6 (24) at Optus Stadium

Team News: Rolled by St Kilda last weekend, Fremantle may be tempted to pick Nathan O’Driscoll and Michael Walters after they returned from injuries in WAFL practice match. Sam Sturt is another Docker pressing for selection. North Melbourne grabbed a narrow win over West Coast but have lost Tristan Xerri (ankle), with Todd Goldstein set to come in.

What We Like: North have failed to score more than 59 points in their last four matches against Fremantle. Under 157.5 points total and under 9.5 goals for the Kangaroos are worth considering. Caleb Serong finished with 29 disposals last week and is $2.07 to get one more against the Kangaroos.

Final Thoughts: Fremantle were one of the more disappointing teams of the opening round, held to just seven goals by an injury-ravaged Saints side. It was flat and listless – one John Longmuir will be desperate to throw in the bin and for his team to respond emphatically. Regular cellar dwellers North Melbourne carved out a heartening five-point win over West Coast, with Harry Sheezel’s stellar debut and strong displays from Luke Davies-Uniacke and six-goal star Nick Larkey among the highlights. The Dockers have won six of their last seven against the Kangaroos – including the last four straight by margins of 51-plus points. The Kangaroos have lost 12 straight games interstate, while the Dockers went 9-4 at Optus Stadium in 2022. Expect a turnaround from Freo…maybe not enough to cover a 29.5-point line against an upbeat North side.

Best Bet: Margin – Dockers 1-39 @ $2.12

AFL Tips – Sydney Swans V Hawthorn Hawks

13:10 (AEDT), Sun 26th Mar @ Sydney Cricket Ground

History: Played 170: Hawks 94, Swans 74, draws 2

Last meeting: Round 6, 2022 – Swans 16.13 (109) d Hawks 10.8 (68) at UTAS Stadium

Team News: Sydney thumped Gold Coast in Round 1 but will be without the suspended Lance Franklin for this one. Joel Amartey is the logical replacement in the forward line. Dismal in a 59-point loss to Essendon, Hawthorn may look to make changes and Harry Morrison is set to return from a hamstring injury. Chad Wingard will miss the road trip with a calf injury.

What We Like: Back the Swans to go over 101.5 points after they kicked 16 goals against the Suns. Chad Warner notched 30 disposals in Round 1 – he looks good value to have 25+ at $1.77.

Final Thoughts: Warner and Dane Rampe were at the forefront of a 49-point victory on the Gold Coast as only a narrow favourite – a great first-up statement after last year’s harrowing grand final loss. The initial signs are the youthful Sydney line-up will grow from last year’s experience rather than be scarred. Hawthorn’s lack of experience and quality was laid bare in a thrashing at the hands of Essendon; it’s looking like a long rebuild as their batch of youngsters get thrown in the deep end. After the clubs’ previous eight matches were decided by an average margin of 9.5 points (and no more than 19), the Hawks won by 38 points in 2021 and the Swans by 41 last year. The Hawks have won four of their last six at the SCG but look destined for another heavy defeat here.

Best Bet: Handicap – Swans -39.5 @ $1.90

AFL Tips – Essendon Bombers V Gold Coast Suns

15:20 (AEDT), Sun 26th Mar @ Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

History: Played 13: Bombers 10, Suns 2, draws 1

Last meeting: Round 18, 2022 – Bombers 14.19 (103) d Suns 8.7 (55) at Marvel Stadium

Team News: Essendon cruised to a 10-goal win over Hawthorn and are unlikely to make changes, though Dylan Shiel’s shoulder is a slight concern. Peter Wright remains sidelined and Jake Stringer is at least another week away. Gold Coast suffered a convincing loss to Sydney as only a narrow underdog and will sweat on having Connor Budarick, Branon Ellis, Lachie Weller and Bailey Humphrey available to return.

What We Like: Darcy Parish tallied 37 disposal against the Hawks – he’s $2.30 to rack up 35+ this week. Ben King kicked one goal in his return for the Suns; look at him for three or more at $2.75, which the tyro has achieved 16 times in 54 AFL games.

Final Thoughts: The Bombers racked up the biggest win of Round 1, pumping the Hawks by 59 points and kicking 19 goals. Archie Perkins, Darcy Parish, Mason Redman and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher were all excellent. The Suns had no answer for the Swans, going down by 49 points when many rated them a chance of an upset. Turnovers, ill-discipline and a lack of class up front were worry takeaways – but it was against one of the AFL’s best units. A draw in 2020 is the best the Suns have managed in their last seven matches against the Bombers, while they’re 0-6 in the clubs’ matches in Victoria. But it’s last week’s performances that see Essendon installed as warm $1.53 favourites. I think the Suns can bounce back to at least keep this close – the Bombers were playing the Hawks, after all.

Best Bet: Tri Bet – Either Team by 24 or Less @ $1.82

AFL Tips – West Coast Eagles V GWS Giants

18:20 (AEDT), Sun 26th Mar @ Optus Stadium, Perth

History: Played 14: Eagles 9, Giants 5

Last meeting: Round 10, 2022 – Gianst 21.12 (138) d Eagles 13.8 (86)

Team News: A first-up loss to North Melbourne has put the heat on West Coast coach Adam Simpson from the outset. He’s confident Elliot Yeo will be available but Nic Naitanui is unlikely still. GWS got the home win over Adelaide but there was a considerable cost, with Harry Perryman, Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly all likely to miss time. Late Round 1 withdrawal Leek Aleer should be available and Adam Kennedy is a front-runner to start.

What We Like: Stephen Cognolio (32 disposals) and Toby Greene (4 goals) starred for GWS last week. Cognolio is $2.30 to top 30 disposals and Greene is the same price to back up with another bag of three or more in Perth. The over 165.5 total points also looms as a solid option.

Final Thoughts: The Eagles went down to the Kangaroos by five but clawed back admirably in the last two quarters, while the Giants recorded a 16-point home win over the Crows after reeling in a five-goal halftime deficit. It was gutsy from GWS given their injury setbacks, but will it catch up on them this week? The Giants have their last two against the Eagles, including a 52-point rout in Sydney last season. But they are 1-5 in the clubs’ matches in Perth. The Eagles have won only two of their last 27 games overall, though…it makes them hard to get behind and they’re slight outsiders here.

Best Bet: Margin – Giants 1-24 @ $3.30

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