THAT last Saturday in September has now become the first Saturday in October and while we’re excited for the massive AFL grand final clash between Hawthorn and West Coast the punters who love a little individual flutter will be focussed on the best player on the ground.
The Norm Smith Medal is awarded to the player deemed best on ground in the grand final.
And there’s a star-studded cast lining up for this year’s medal, led in the betting race by Hawthorn accumulator Sam Mitchell.
2014 Brownlow Medal winner Matt Priddis – who backed that effort up with a runner up gong in this year’s count – is the favourite West Coast Eagle, the midfield dynamo best value at $8 with WilliamHill.com.au.
Sportsbet’s Christian Jantzen said Priddis was the best backed to win the Norm Smith Medal with the bookie.
And it appears Christian and his mates at sportsbet.com.au are offering best value on the Norm Smith Medal markets, the bookie’s odds scooping the pool in comparison to others.
Hawks hard man Jordan Lewis is $12 with sportsbet – he’s only $7.50 at CrownBet.
And you’ll get $18 about Jarryd Roughead there, compared to $13 at WilliamHill.com.au.
That bookie and CrownBet covered Sportsbet with popular pick Cyril Rioli quoted at $7.
Any way, we’ve run the rule over the options and tried to come up with a few surefire bets, a couple of hopefuls and a rank outsider who is not without his claims.
Let us hope we can find you a good tip and make you a little cash.
2015 Norm Smith Medal predictions
The extractor. Only four men have more Brownlow votes than this bloke after his third place finish on Monday night. Has had a mammoth season, collecting 30 or more disposals 15 times. But did you know his record in grand finals hasn’t been great? Apart from a big 33 disposal effort against Sydney last year, Mitchell was shut down by Ryan Crowley in the 2013 win over Fremantle, with just 12 touches. He had a modest 24 in the loss to Sydney in 2012 and just 13 against the Cats in 2008. That’s a little bit of history for you, but it’s impossible to ignore the form he has going into this game. His three finals have been 35, 33 and 35 and, should he emulate those numbers, he will be right in the hunt for Norm.
Luke Hodge ($8 with sportsbet.com.au)
Mr September. This guy knows no fear. And he plays some pretty good footy. His 35 disposal 12 mark two goal four tackle effort against Sydney last year is about as good as it gets. That was his second Norm Smith Medal. His first came against the Cats in 2008 was packed with courage and ended with a 26 disposal nine mark performance. This guy bleeds brown and gold, is tough as nails and he simply knows how to win. Another thing this guy does know is how harsh the media can be. Copped an absolute bake for a poor first half against the West Coast Eagles in the Hawks’ qualifying loss in Perth – even though he rattled up 20 possessions after the half time break. The Hawks’ captain rolled out a four goal, 24 disposal effort in the shellacking of the Crows and then found himself in everything with 25 against the Dockers. The form is good. The voters love him. Get on board the Hodge train.
Matt Priddis ($8)
West Coast’s answer to Sam Mitchell. But he has one thing the Hawk gun doesn’t – a Brownlow Medal. He missed the win over the Hawks as a late withdrawal with injury, but came back with 26 touches and a goal against North Melbourne in the Eagles preliminary final win over North Melbourne. This guy has gone from being criticised for not being able to kick it over a witch’s hat to, in the blink of an eye, being one of the most heralded midfielders in the game. He’s hard to miss with that shock of curly hair and, if he finds plenty of the footy – as he did this season with 11 games over 30 and a stack of 28 and 29 possession games – and the Eagles win the match, he will be first cab off the rank for the best on ground medal.
Not without a chance
Luke Shuey ($21)
It felt like Shuey was well held by Liam Shiels early in the qualifying final, but the bullish midfielder with pace to burn still ended up with 25, with plenty of clearances and hard ball, kicking a key goal that helped the Eagles get over the line. Shuey gets plenty of the footy, but also has a bit of x-factor and looks very juicy odds at $21 with CrownBet.com.au. Shuey is in the club’s tip five players and, if he plays like that, he will set himself up for a red hot crack at the medal. His uncompromising effort, pace and attack on the ball catch the eye and make him hard not to like.
Josh Kennedy ($16 with sportsbet.com.au)
This man could shape the result of the final. When he kicks bags, the Eagles win. Has been criticised in the past for being a bit of a flat track bully, beating up on the weaker sides and not delivering against the top end teams. That’s all changed this year. He won the Coleman Medal by a mile, booting 75 goals for the season. But his returns have been modest on the goal front in the finals. Kicked 3.2 against the Hawks and 2.3 against North. But it’s been his impact away from the scoreboard that has been telling for the Eagles. Has ripped down 18 marks in two games and drew six free kicks against a North side that simply couldn’t handle him. The Hawks have more defensive size and talent to throw at him, but if the big fella gets going, it won’t matter who is on him
James Frawley ($126 with CrownBet.com.au)
We just spoke about Josh Kennedy and his chances of winning Norm. This is the guy who will stand in his way. Remember Brian Lake’s massive performance against the Dockers in 2013? We’re getting all nostalgic here, but if Frawley does a number on Kennedy, he is a massive chance to emulate his elder defender and take home Norm. Frawley played perhaps his worst game of AFL football against West Coast in the qualifier. Couldn’t mark anything, couldn’t hit a target, couldn’t stick a tackle. He backed that up with a pair of performances that could well be best on ground in both wins over Adelaide and Fremantle. He had 15 touches and shut down Crows’ captain Taylor Walker and then did a number of retiring Fremantle legend Matthew Pavlich, while collecting 18 touches with eight marks. Is a long shot, but that’s what can happen in these kind of games. Remember Lake, Brian.
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