A huge ANAZAC weekend of footy has thrown up some unlikely finals contenders, ruled out some of the preseason fancies and further underlined the credentials of the predicted premiership players.
Both Queensland teams are win-less after a month of footy, Geelong only have one win to its name and the Bulldogs, widely tipped for the bottom four in 2015, have managed to win three games from the first four rounds.
If there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze in football, it’s how much three days of football can effect the betting markets.
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Let’s take a look at what changed after round four.
AFL market movers and value bets
Saturday night saw two contenders for the match of the season, with last year’s grand finalists both going down after conceding huge leads early in the piece.
The match at the Adelaide Oval saw the Power surge back into premiership calculations with a stirring eight-point victory over Hawthorn.
Port Adelaide jumped out to a 48-point first quarter lead on the back of hard, contested footy – a hallmark of their 2014 meteoric rise. The Hawks fought back like true champions do, but ultimately fell short at the final hurdle.
The Hawks were down to just two rotations on the bench after losing live-wire forward Paul Puopolo to a hamstring strain and defender Brian Lake to a medial ligament injury in his right knee. Both are expected to miss at least a month of football.
The win pushed the Power back into the premiership market, with the Power into $6 with both William Hill and Sportsbet to win the 2015 flag – the shortest the South Australians have been since the beginning of the season.
The other game that rounded out ANZAC day was Fremantle facing off against Sydney, in a game that almost mirrored the Port Adelaide game entirely.
The Dockers started the game with a withering blast that left their fellow undefeated counterparts in the dust, jumping out to a 48-point lead, kicking nine goals in the opening half whilst restricting the Swans to just one goal.
However, like their Grand Final opponents in 2014, the Swans thundered back into the contest on the back of their twin-tower forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett, and a spirited performance from the 2010 NAB Rising Star Daniel Hannenbury. The blonde-haired ball magnet collected a game-high 31 disposals, including an incredible 16 contested possessions.
The brilliant Hannenbury has again shaved his Brownlow medal odds, coming in from almost 20 dollars with Sportsbet to settle at $16 as the best-placed Swan to take home Charlie.
Despite the best efforts of Hannenbury and co it was not enough, with the Dockers prevailing after a tightly-fought final quarter. Nat Fyfe again was the catalyst, amassing a team-high 27 disposals, whilst Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich’s influence was telling, booting three goals including the sealer when the Swans looked to be overrunning the home side.
Fyfe’s stellar performance has given punters plenty to think about, with the bookmakers crunching in the wavy-haired wonder-kid even further in Brownlow medal betting – coming in to $3, the only player in the AFL in single figures.
Sunday’s season-defining match-up between the Cats and North Melbourne played out exactly as promised, with the two teams battling it out right until the final whistle, with the Kangaroos getting the job done to the tune of 16 points.
North Melbourne’s defense stood stall on the back of a game-high 31 disposals from dashing defender Sam Wright, as well as a 23 possession, nine mark game from injury-riddled defender Robbie Tarrant. Tarrant’s performance is a big plus for North coach Brad Scott, whose sometimes fragile back-six could use the versatility that Tarrant provides.
Geelong conversely had a myriad of injury concerns going into the contest, including four of their absolute premium premiership players, and did well to match North Melbourne for the majority of the game. But with full forward Tom Hawkins only managing one goal for the game, finding avenues to goal became incredibly difficult for the Cats, who were simply beaten by a lack of goal-scoring ability.
The Cats slumped to 1-3 after the defeat and are now listed as $3 outsiders with William Hill to make the eight this season, whilst their counterparts North Melbourne moved into fifth favourite to take the 2015 flag, with the $15 quote available with Sportsbet.
The final game of the round saw one of the more stunning upsets of the last decade, with the Western Bulldogs dismantling the previously unbeaten Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium to the tune of 57 points.
The Bulldogs have made an impressive start to the season, but this has been their biggest scalp to date, comprehensively out-playing their opponents right across the park. A six-goal haul to emerging forward Jake Stringer did the damage for the home team, whilst Bulldogs backman Michael Talia did the job on Crows’ captain Taylor Walker, limiting the Coleman medal favourite to just one goal.
The win puts the Bulldogs in contention for a top-eight berth, with the $4 odds on offer via Sportsbet almost a third of the original $11 offered on the young Pups in the pre-season. Conversely, the measly return from Walker pushed his odds on winning the medal out to $9 after being one of the sole favourites prior to the commencement of the round.
AFL round 4 injury report
Horrible news for the 0-4 Suns, with gun recruit Nick Malceski and vice-captain David Swallow both to spend significant amounts of time on the sidelines.
Malceski will miss at least two weeks with knee soreness, while the news is far worse for former number one pick Swallow, who will miss at least 10 weeks of footy with a posterior cruciate strain in his right knee.
The news is just as bad for the already injury-plagued Hawks with defender Brian Lake, set to miss up to two months with a knee injury, while forward Paul Puopolo could miss a similar amount of time with a high grade hamstring strain.
Port midfielder Robbie Gray, who was a late withdrawal from his side’s win over Hawthorn could again miss this week’s game against bitter rivals Adelaide with a calf strain.
Six goal Bulldog hero Jake Stringer, who was subbed out of the game with hamstring tightness may be fit for this weekend’s clash with the Sydney Swans after Doctors revealed his substitution was only precautionary.
Better news for the Blues with champion Chris Judd and young gun Troy Menzel both set to be welcomed back for Carlton’s pivotal match with Collingwood Friday night.
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