THE pre-season has finally wrapped up, which can only mean one thing – the real stuff is about to begin.
With the season just a fortnight away, we caught a glimpse into what might unfold in the season proper, who the main contenders will be and the players to watch throughout the season.
The week opened with Hawthorn rolling out the big guns to dismantle St Kilda by 106 points at Eithad stadium, and in the process put the entire league on notice.
The Hawks again proved they will be hard to stop offensively with six separate players scoring multiple goals, compounded by the familiar names in the midfield of Lewis and Mitchell both amassing 33 possessions each.
Despite this, the market saw Lewis drift in the Brownlow medal betting market from $34 out to $41 with Sportsbet – which was interesting given he put in a best on ground performance against the Saints.
One player to make a lasting impression on punters was youngster Jed Anderson, who firmed a staggering $9 to come in to $12 and join Sydney Swan Isaac Henney as second favourites for the 2015 Rising Star award. behind Adelaide’s Matt Crouch.
Friday saw the Lions and the Suns battle out a draw at Metricon stadium. The Suns lead by four goals leading into the final term, but a late rally by the Lions saw them draw within a goal with five minutes remaining, before Tom Rockliff found Matthew Luenburger in the goal square to level the scores with just seconds left on the clock.
The Suns dominated the clearances 43-31 and the inside 50s 62-49 even without a host of stars including captain Gary Ablett, Tom Lynch and Charlie Dixon.
On the back of an impressive NAB challenge, the Suns have continued to firm as a top-8 candidate, with Sportsbet firming the boys from the Coast into $2.20.
Sunday saw two interesting match ups, with the Swans and Giants clashing in Canberra, while the Blues and Cats battled at Etihad.
The two teams battled back and forth for the majority of the game, with a five-goal haul to wonder-kid Jeremy Cameron keeping the Gaints in touch late into the final term.
However, it was the Swans who had the last laugh over their cross-town rivals, with a last second snap by Craig Bird securing the win for Sydney.
Young gun Isaac Henney again impressed, with two goals and the vital inside-50 that led to the winning goal. Punters are on board the platinum haired dynamo’s chances of taking out this year’s rising star award too, firming from $15 into $12 with CrownBet.
It was not all good news for the Swans though; with marque forward Lance Franklin stretchered off the ground early in the match after a nasty head clash with teammate Gary Rohan.
Still, the Swans preperations for round one have been flawless and look ready to start the season off the right away against a potentially depleted Essendon team at ANZ Stadium.
The Sunday afternoon game saw the Cats reign victorious over the Blues by 11 points at Etihad stadium.
After conceding three early goals, the Cats steadied the ship midway through the first quarter and never trailed again, leading by as many as seven goals in the second quarter.
The combination of Mitch Clarke and Tom Hawkins again looked fantastic, with the twin towers kicking eight goals between them. However, it was the run and carry of new recruit Nakia Cockatoo that had most Geelong fans excited, with one passage of play in particular getting the AFL world talking. Cockatoo sliced through the midfield after receiving the ball on the half back flank. After evading several Blues, he burst clear of congestion and delivered a magnificent pass to the leading forward Mitch Clarke.
Punters are liking what they are seeing so far from the exciting forward/midfielder, who is now the best backed player to take out the Rising Star, firming in 14 dollars to settle at $12. Another popular bet is Geelong to make the finals, with the Cats firming into $1.50 after an impressive pre-season.
With the pre-season now out of the way and the home and away season just around the corner, the markets should not fluctuate too much before the games begin – but it is important to place your futures bets early so you get your best value if you think you have identified a good thing.
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