IT is a battle of the up-and-comer and reigning AFL champs on the fast deck of Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Dogs have started the season like a team possessed.
Luke Beveridge’s men tore Fremantle apart in the opening round of football and last week showcased why that was no fluke with a professional 10 goal win over the Saints at Etihad Stadium.
The Western Bulldogs could be the real deal.
The Hawks were able to allay fears that their dynasty is coming to an end after their first round loss to the Cats by eviscerating the West Coast Eagles in the Grand Final rematch last week.
Despite missing a host of important players, Hawthorn lead by four goals to zero at quarter time; effectively ending the contest as quickly as they did in the big dance last year.
Enough talk about the game – let’s take a closer look at some of the combatants that will take to the field on Sunday afternoon.
We have selected a disposal market and a first goal scorer bet for each team and detailed exactly why it will be worth your hard earned.
Let’s get to it.
Another year, another prolific start to the season from the wily Hawk veteran Sam Mitchell.
Teams continue to let 33-year-old run free and the 2008 premiership captain has taken full advantage, amassing a league-high 73 touches across the opening fortnight of football.
With Mitchell playing against a Western Bulldogs team with no obvious lock down candidate and a propensity to fully invest in their own attacking style we expect the three-time All-Australian to surpass 35 disposals for the third week in a row.
Suggested bet: Pick your disposal market – Sam Mitchell to get 35 or more disposals $2.55 @ Sportsbet.com.au
With Jarryd Roughead out of the side the weight of the forward line has fallen on Jack Gunston’s shoulders, and the former Crow has not let his coach Alistair Clarkson down.
The 24-year-old seems to have found his kicking range again too, which spells danger for opposition sides given Gunston can nail goals from just about every angle from inside 50.
The Gunston burden will potentially fall on the shoulders of Dale Morris, who can be exploited in the air given his lack of height (Morris is an inch shorter than Gunston).
Gunston is the obvious first goal scorer candidate for the Hawks.
Suggested bet: Jack Gunston to kick the first goal of the match $8.00
What a return it has been for the Bulldogs’ son-of-a-gun.
Tom Liberatore has not missed a beat since returning from an ACL injury, gathering 51 disposals across the first two rounds of football.
The man they call ‘Libba’ is one of the most prolific midfielders in the Bulldogs team and now he has a full two weeks of playing time under his belt.
The sky is the limit for the 2014 best and fairest winner.
Not only has he been gathering touches at will; Liberatore has nailed the first goal in both matches this season and is at a huge price to do so again.
Sportsbet has Liberatore at $29.00 to kick the first goal against the Hawks on Sunday
The Hawks will back their midfielders to go head-to-head against the Dogs’ ball winners, so expect Libba to hit the 30 disposal mark for the first time in 2016.
Suggested bet: Pick your disposal market – Tom Liberatore to get 30 or more disposals $3.70
The much-maligned Boyd has been a bit of a whipping boy since arriving at the Bulldogs, but the former Giant showed exactly why the Dogs paid a heavy price to secure his services last week against the Saints.
The 2013 number one draft pick took six marks and booted three goals against the Saints on Saturday night, and for the first time in his infantile career in the west Melbourne Boyd looked assured and confident in the red, white and blue.
We are banking on Boyd bringing that confidence into the third week of football.
Boyd is by far the best candidate for first goal scorer for the Dogs, and at double figure odds he is too hard to ignore.
Suggested bet: Tom Boyd to kick the first goal of the match $11.00
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