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EVERY AFL club in finals contention will be watching the Collingwood-Adelaide match with much interest.
Or more directly they will be watching the match-up between Crows’ star Rory Sloane and Magpies’ tagger Levi Greenwood, who can lay claim to being the ‘best pest’ in the business after playing starring roles in the Magpies’ best two wins of the season.
In those matches he eclipsed Geelong captain Joel Selwood and West Coast ball magnet Andrew Gaff, the latter match-up fresh in football fans minds after the Magpies kept their slim finals chances alive on Sunday.
Sloane starred in the Crows victory over Geelong in Adelaide, but it felt like Chris Scott was keeping a hard tag on the midfielder up his sleeve for a potential September rematch.
But Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley will have no such luxury, with every game a ‘must win’ encounter as his team tries to make up the two match deficit and score an unlikely finals berth.
Sloane may have had his ability to deal with a tag brought into question this season, but one thing is for sure, when he plays well the Crows are much much better. Stop Sloane and the odds swing in the other teams favour.
The interest from other teams will surround Sloane’s support cast, his fellow midfield bull Brad Crouch is out, who else will step up? And if they do, will it be enough to get the Crows a win on the road against a desperate Magpies’ outfit?
While the Crows are $1.36 favourites (at Sportsbet.com.au), i’m not willing to completely write the Magpies off at $2.75. I still firmly believe it’s a case of a stop Sloane’s impact and you go a long way to stopping the Crows.
Over to you Levi.
Betting on selection
Adelaide will be without Eddie Betts, who will miss at least a fortnight after undergoing an Appendix operation, while Brad Crouch has also been ruled out after playing out the game against Geelong with a fractured cheekbone. The other big out is Jake Lever, who missed the Crows last match with a hamstring injury but was close to playing against the Pies. Ex-pie speedster Paul Seedsman and 19-year-old small forward Wayne Milera come into the Crows team.
Collingwood is likely to be without skipper Scott Pendlebury for the remainder of the season, while Travis Varcoe (elbow and concussion) will also miss. The Pies are more confident on Darcy Moore, who suffered a neck injury, and have named him, but he is no certainty to play. The Pies also withdrew Rupert Wills with quad tightness after naming him in the initial squad. This earned a surprise reprieve for small forward Jarryd Blair after a terrible game against West Coast. Tom Phillips, after his 40 possession VFL game, and Matthew Scharenberg come into the line-up. Remarkably Daniel Wells is not injured.
What Nathan Buckley thinks of Adelaide
“They are a really heavy scoring side — 112 points per game for the last 40 games basically,” Buckley said at Thursday’s press conference.
“They prevent scores at 80 points per game against.
“Their averages winning margin is about six goals and they are very strong in a lot of areas.
“We will be challenged by their forward line, they way they operate and they way they move, they are in sync all the time and that’s a really solid challenge for our back six.
“Clearly the midfield battle is going to be important as well.”
What Don Pyke thinks of Collingwood
“I rate them very highly to be honest, if you look at their numbers throughought the year percentage-wise they are strong, which would suggest to me they have been in the majority of games, and they have been in the majority of games they have played,” Pyke said at Thursday’s press conference.
“They’re really solid through the midfield even with Pendlebury missing if you go through some of their midfielders and Grundy in the ruck is giving their midfield first access.
“Last week they had a good win, they beat the Suns the week before and they are going to be a good test.”
Best bets for Magpies v Crows
Most goals market at Sportsbet.com.au: It’s gonna be seriously windy at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, which may help the Magpies given the strength of the Crows’ key forwards, the Magpies under-sized backline and the absence of Eddie Betts. Charlie Cameron, as the main small man up front, looms as a key for the Crows, and he offers great value at $19 for most goals in group 1 at Sportsbet. The Magpies’ main man Jamie Elliott, is on the third line of betting in this market at $5.50, which I suggest offers value given the expected conditions.
Big Win Little Win at Sportsbet.com.au: It’s hard to look past the Crows given the respective form lines of the team this year. But as a punter I like a bit more value than the $1.46 on offer, which brings me to the Crows winning by between 1-39 points, increasing those odds out to $2.30.
Roughie of the day
Punters could do worse than take a look at the Adam Treloar / Charlie Cameron double in the most possessions / most goals market. Treloar knows how to rack them up and his team has struggled with the talented smalls this year, think Orazio Fantasia and Sam Petresvki-Seton. This is paying $236 with Sportsbet.com.au.
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