$2.70 at Sportsbet
Ladder position: 9th
AFL form: W W L L W
$1.50 at CrownBet.com
Ladder position: 1st
AFL form: W W W W W
PORT Adelaide are looking to prove the pundits wrong.
With seven weeks of regular fixtures remaining, the footy media have declared the final eight all but locked in.
The Power, sitting two wins out in ninth place, will hope those predictions fall flat.
Online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has them listed at $6 to make the 2016 AFL finals, making them the only team outside the eight in single-figure odds.
Ken Hinkley’s men are certainly the pick of the challengers, especially after killing off Richmond’s finals hopes last week.
Plenty of credit must go to Kane Mitchell, who buried Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin in his first senior appearance of the season.
The West Australian also picked up 24 touches and a goal, and he’s a $31 roughy at Sportsbet to bag the first major on Thursday night.
But there are others in the ranks who will have to step up if Port are to topple the table toppers.
One who could make or break the Power’s chances is Chad Wingard, whose four goals and 20 touches steered them to a 22-point win over Hawthorn in round 21 last season.
Paying $11 in the early betting, he will be a popular pick for the first goalscorer market.
Another solid option is Aaron Young ($15), who has enjoyed a number of fast starts this season and knows where the sticks are.
Jack Gunston and Luke Breust are Hawthorn’s joint $11 favourites to open the scoring, but we like the value on Paul Puopolo ($14) and Tim O’Brien ($21).
The Hawks strung together five straight wins before the bye to soar to the summit of the AFL ladder.
With the exception of North Melbourne, however, there was little in the way of serious opposition in those games.
That’s not to dismiss the reigning premiers, who have improved notably with the return of Luke Hodge.
Also back in touch is Sam Mitchell, who had 35 disposals and ran the show in typical accumulating fashion against Gold Coast last time out.
He is paying $1.53 to gather 30 touches or more this week, although it is expected he will be subjected to a hard tag from his aforementioned namesake.
The better money is on Jordan Lewis ($2.10), who has averaged a tick under 33 disposals in his last five games.
Robbie Gray is the obvious favourite for Port, but captain Travis Boak was excellent last week and offers great value at $5 to notch 30.
First goalscorer betting tips
Port Adelaide – Chad Wingard ($11)
Hawthorn – Paul Puopolo ($14)
Odds by Sportsbet
Top picks for 30 or more disposals
Port Adelaide – Travis Boak ($5)
Hawthorn – Jordan Lewis ($2.10)
Odds by Sportsbet
This is tough test for Hawthorn, who will be eager to stay a game ahead of the top-eight logjam.
Adelaide Oval isn’t an easy venue for visiting teams, and the Hawks are fresh off the bye.
Will they be rested or rusty?
They haven’t had a really good hitout for a few weeks now, so it’s possible they could lack sharpness against a fired-up Power outfit.
Port still have a few consistency issues, and their back line isn’t exactly rick solid, but they’re very capable on their day – especially at home.
They also have a knack for troubling the Hawks, having beaten them when last they met.
Hawthorn haven’t hit anything like their premiership best this season, so a flutter on Port isn’t a bad way to go.
Port Adelaide to win – $2.70 at Sportsbet
Winning margin 1-39 points – $3 at Sportsbet
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