TYPICALLY this time of the year in the AFL world is for ironing out the creases in a coach’s game plan and getting those fresh-faced draftees a taste of the action.
However, that does not mean the potential to make cash off the pre-season fixtures does not exist – quite the contrary.
The more astute punters would have seen value in Brisbane against Sydney, with bookmaker WilliamHill offering $3.50 before the bounce. The arduous conditions, compounded by the fact that the Swans had a host of stars missing meant the game was always up for grabs.
One thing that stood out in that match up was the form of Lions superstar Tom Rockliff. The Brisbane dynamo gathered possessions at will, amassing 25 in total. If his form carries on from his stellar 2014, the $5 on offer at WilliamHill.com.au for the most AFL possessions over the course of 2015 will be a popular choice.
Unlike their Sydney counterparts, the GWS Giants played an almost full-strength side against a Gary Ablett-less Gold Coast, and easily dispatched them, downing the Suns by six goals.
Whilst it is easy to read too much into pre-season games, Giants coach Leon Cameron will no doubt be buoyed by the effort and endeavour of star recruits Ryan Griffin and Joel Patfull.
Proving that they are not just in Sydney’s west for the considerable pay cheque, both players added cool heads and a wealth of experience that was sorely lacking from the young Giants team last year.
Sportsbet.com.au are offering $1.80 for the Giants to win over seven games this year, and given their off-season acquisitions, and the emergence of their immensely talented squad they already possess, breaking into double figure wins for the first time in the young club’s history is not out of the realms of possibility.
Another team that were impressive in their second hit-out for the pre-season was North Melbourne.
The Kangaroos faced reigning premiers Hawthorn in a sometimes spiteful contest, with the boys from Arden Street rallying late to defeat the Hawks by 13 points.
After a stellar back end to their 2014 campaign, North Melbourne’s chances of repeating their preliminary final finish look likely, and with the acquisition of key free agents in the form of Shaun Higgins and Jarryd Waite, the Roos’ push to secure a top four berth by the end of the season may just come to fruition.
Sportsbet are offering $3.20 for the Roos to make the top four.
Last game of the weekend saw a depleted Essendon battle manfully for three quarters before being overrun by a much stronger St.Kilda side in Morwell.
The Saints always seemed to have the game in hand, and despite the best efforts by a brave Bombers team they were able to touch up the Dons to the tune of 50 plus points.
Irrespective of the result, the Saints look to be in for another rough season, with a lack of depth across the park. The defensive deficiencies were glaringly obvious, even against an undermanned Essendon forward line.
Sportsbet have the Saints currently installed as $1.91 favourites to have the least amount of wins for season 2015.
Even though St.Kilda have managed to pick up a few recruits from other clubs, as well as acquiring gun youngster Paddy McCartin with the number one draft pick last year, it is hard to see anything but another wooden spoon being added to the Saints’ collection.
Things are starting to heat up as the real stuff gets closer by the day, and you will see coaches rolling out their strongest sides in preparation for round 1, which is under a month away.
Just remember: premierships are not won or lost in late March and early April, so if you do place a bet on a future market, do not panic if your team or player struggles early!