A FEW shock losses last week left the premiership market wide open, with no real contenders emerging from the pack so far to challenge the might of the Fremantle Dockers.
This week may show us who is ready for September action and who is ready for an early post-season footy trip with several important clashes that will have finals implications.
Compound this with two different rivalry clashes and a former Demon playing his first game against the club he burnt in the off-season, and round seven suddenly looks like it could be an explosive one.
Let’s take a look at the matchups and see if we can find some value.
Bombers vs. Kangaroos
Friday, May 15th, 7:50pm, Etihad Stadium
Essendon – $1.92 (+12.5)
North Melbourne- $1.92 (-12.5)
Two teams with top four aspirations coming into the season meet at Etihad Stadium on Friday night in a contest that could leave the loser two games outside of finals contention.
The Dons welcome back veteran defender Dustin Fletcher and youngsters Kyle Langford and Jason Ashby, but have lost former best and fairest winner David Zaharakis to an ankle injury. North Melbourne has only made the one change, with Jamie McMillian reclaiming his spot in the 22 at the expense of Mason Wood.
Both teams are desperate for a win to remain in touch with the final eight, but it should be North Melbourne who get across the line here, with more avenues to goal and firepower forward of centre.
Tip: North Melbourne $1.52 via Sportsbet
Crows vs. Saints
Saturday, May 16th, 1:45pm, Adelaide Oval
Adelaide – $1.91 (-32.5)
St Kilda – $1.91 (+32.5)
The Crows and Saints kick off Saturday’s bout of AFL footy with both teams coming off the back of impressive wins.
The Crows did what they had to do against an undermanned Gold Coast, while the Saints overturned a club record 55-point deficit to defeat the rampaging Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
Ricky Henderson makes his way back into the Crows line up, taking superstar midfielder Rory Sloane’s position, who will miss with a broken cheekbone. The Saints will go in unchanged.
An interesting contest looms here, and while it will be closer than the line bet suggests, the Crows should prevail.
Tip: Adelaide to win 1-39 margin $2.30 via Sportbet
Exotic:Most disposals group A – Scott Thompson $4.50 via Sportsbet
Hawks vs. Demons
Saturday, May 16th, 2:10pm, Melbourne Cricket Ground
Hawthorn – $1.91 (-38.5)
Melbourne- $1.91 (+38.5)
Two teams that were expected to be at opposite ends of the premiership ladder in 2015 meet at the MCG on Saturday with only one game separating them on the ladder.
Both the Dees and the Hawks are coming off the back of embarrassing losses, with Melbourne never firing a shot against a rampaging Sydney, while Hawthorn were stunned by GWS in Sydney.
The Hawks welcome back James Frawley from a chest injury that’s kept him out of the side since round two, while Paul Roos has sensationally left out former number one draft pick Jack Watts, but has included former captain Jack Grimes.
On paper it looks like a clear-cut case and that is the way it should play out. The Hawks should bounce back and handle the Dees with consummate ease.
Tip: Hawthorn to win 40+ point margin $1.90 via Sportsbet
Exotic: Most tackles group A – Nathan Jones $6 via William Hill
Blues vs. Giants
Saturday, May 16th, 4:35pm, Etihad Stadium
Carlton – $1.92 (+12.5)
GWS – $1.92 (-12.5)
Etihad Stadium plays host to a game that could get ugly for the host team if they do not change their form around from the get-go.
The Blues are coming off one of their worst defeats in recent memory, falling to the previously winless Brisbane Lions after controlling the match. Conversely, the Giants had one of the best wins in the club’s history against the reigning premiers.
The Blues have welcomed back a host of stars into their line-up, with Chris Yarran, Andrew Carrazzo, Simon White and Troy Menzel all making their way into the team. Andrew Walker is the only forced change, whilst the Giants remain unchanged.
Based on the current form lines it is hard to see how the Blues could get the victory here, with the Giants in great condition.
Giants should win comfortably and keep their September aspirations right on track.
Tip: GWS to win 40 points $4 via William Hill
Swans vs. Cats
Saturday, May 16th, 7:10pm, ANZ Stadium
Sydney – $1.91 (-26.5)
Geelong – $1.91 (+26.5)
The clash between the Swans and Cats rounds out Saturday’s round seven action, with both teams in great form coming into this vital clash.
The Swans easily accounted for the Demons last week, while a first quarter burst against the Pies saw the Cats recapture their domineering form.
Dean Towers makes his way back into the line-up for the Swans after young gun Isaac Heeney’s knee injury, while former Dee Sam Blease gets his Geelong debut, along with premiership midfielder Matthew Stokes, who plays his first game in a month.
This one should be a tightly-fought contest, but the Swans on-ball brigade should have too much strength for Geelong’s thinly stretched midfield group, even with the inclusion of Stokes.
Tip: Swans 1-39 margin $2.10 via Sportsbet
Exotic: Most goals – Lance Franklin $3 via Sportsbet
Eagles vs. Suns
Saturday, May 16th, 7.40pm, Domain Stadium
West Coast – $1.92 (-42.5)
Gold Coast – $1.92 (+42.5)
The battle of the coasts kicks off Saturday night’s AFL action with the red-hot Eagles hosting the luckless and listless Gold Coast Suns.
The Eagles are coming off their best win in years, defeating Port Adelaide in Adelaide, while the Suns are in free fall, having lost five of their opening six matches.
The Eagles have welcomed back talented on-baller Mark Hutchings, while the Suns have made a multitude of changes, including the infamous booze buddies, Trent McKenzie, Brandon Matera and Harley Bennell.
Whilst the three inclusions for the Suns are massive ones, they do not stand much of a chance against West Coast in Perth and should slump to 1-6.
Tip: West Coast line bet -42.5 $1.92 via Sportbet
Exotic: Most disposals group one – Matt Priddis $4 via Sportsbet
Bulldogs vs. Dockers
Sunday, May 17th, 1:10pm, Etihad Stadium
Western Bulldogs – $1.91 (+23.5)
Fremantle – $1.91 (-23.5)
Two teams that play a brutal yet brilliant brand of football clash at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with the Bulldogs looking to get back on track and the Dockers looking to extend their unbeaten run.
The Dogs were overrun last week by St Kilda in the second half, and looked to run out of gas late in the contest after a taxing game the week before, while the Dockers did what they had to do, easily defeating the Dons over in the West.
Clay Smith is the only forced change in the match thus far, with the luckless midfielder sustaining yet another knee injury that will force him out of the game for 12 months.
The Dogs have been terrific in the opening stages of the 2015 premiership season, but their alarming fourth quarter fadeout against St Kilda will have to be addressed. Was it an aberration or a sign of things to come?
In any case, the Dockers should be far too strong for the young Dogs here, and will move to 7-0 in 2015.
Exotic: First goal – Matthew Pavlich $6 via Sportsbet
Tigers vs. Magpies
Sunday, May 17th, 3:20pm, Melbourne Cricket Ground
Richmond- $1.92 (+4.5)
Collingwood – $1.92 (-4.5)
Two traditional rivals meeting at the MCG on a Sunday afternoon. What could be better?
The Tigers and the Pies have had some spiteful clashes over the years, but it is the Pies who typically have the last laugh in this fixture, in a dominant seven game winning streak that dates all the way back to 2007.
Both teams have named extended benches for Sunday’s clash, with Paul Seedsman and Alex Fasolo the likely inclusions for the Pies, while the Tigers are set to welcome back Ty Vickery and may hand a debut to impressive forward Liam McBean.
Form would suggest that Collingwood should win this game comfortably, but these blockbuster games typically bring out the best in teams and this may be the moment where Richmond can look back and see the game that got their season back on track.
Richmond in an upset.
Tip: Richmond to win $2.15 via Sportsbet
Exotic: First goal scorer – Ben Griffiths $11 via Sportsbet
Loins vs. Power
Sunday, May 17th, 4:40pm, GABBA
Brisbane – $1.91 (+31.5)
Port Adelaide – $1.92 (-31.5)
The round closes out with Port Adelaide travelling to Brisbane to face the Lions in what looms as a bloodbath for the hosts.
The Power are coming off the back of a shock loss to the Eagles while the Lions recorded their first win of the season, beating fellow strugglers Carlton at Etihad Stadium in the same timeslot last week.
Both teams have named extended benches, with the Lions including James Aish and Rohan Bewick while the Power have named Jarman Impey and Cam O’Shea with Alipate Carlile and Aaron Young the only confirmed outs.
Even though the two teams bring a different level of form into the contest, the Power should be able to turn things around very quickly as they will have a desire to atone for their disappointing showing last week.
Power will win and condemn Brisbane to their six loss of the season.
Tip: Power to win 40+ @2.25 via William Hill
Exotic: First goal scorer – Patrick Ryder $11 via Sportsbet