JUST when you think the AFL season is starting to take shape, a round of unbelievable upsets comes along and throws all predictions into disarray.
Two Western Australian teams sit first and second after blistering starts to the season, the Pies sit in third, even after stumbling over the weekend and the Power and the Bombers still sit outside finals contention with plenty to think about.
This year is looking like being the most even in recent memory, and with possession being nine tenths of the law, sitting inside the eight even at this early stage gives improving teams serious hope of shaping the finals picture.
Round six major market review
Saturday afternoon saw one of the games of the season when St Kilda stunned the Western Bulldogs, overturning a 55-point third quarter deficit to record its second win of the season by seven points.
The Dogs looked to be in control for the entire match having never trailed in the contest, but seemed to feel the effects of a hard-fought victory over Sydney in the wet the week before, only managing three second half goals.
The Saints conversely left their run for the second half after failing to kick a goal in the second term, piling on seven goals in the third quarter before eventually over-running the Dogs to record the famous victory – their equal greatest comeback of all-time.
Their success came off the back of the brilliant David Armitage, who collected a career-high 45 possessions, as well as a fourth quarter burst by young gun Jack Billings, who set the game alight with four second half goals.
Armitage in particular has been in stellar form this season, and at $81 to win the Brownlow with William Hill, he represents terrific value in a team that will not have many players competing for the umpires’ votes.
The game that ran concurrently with the Saints vs. Bulldogs game saw the Giants pull off another massive upset, this time defeating reigning premiers Hawthorn by 10 points in Sydney’s West.
The flag favourites looked to have the Giants’ measure of their much younger opponents for large chunks of the game, always keeping a three goal buffer once challenged.
However, GWS were not to be denied and stormed past their much more-fancied opponent to record arguably the club’s greatest win in its short history.
The win came off the back of a six goal haul to All-Australian forward Jeremy Cameron, who has recaptured his very best form after a lacklustre 2014. The man they call Jezza moved to outright third on the AFL goal kicking tally and second outright favourite to take home the Coleman medal, paying $5.50 with Sportsbet.
Sunday saw a dramatic change in the market at the bottom of the table with the Brisbane Lions registering their first win in season 2015, stunning the Blues at Etihad Stadium.
Carlton looked to have the game sewn up at different stages throughout the game, but endured a third quarter burst which saw the Lions surge past their opponents and never concede the lead again for the match.
The game was won through sheer grit and a touch of class up forward from full forward Daniel McStay, who now looks likely to be the heir apparent to the throne that Jonathan Brown vacated last year.
McStay booted four goals for the match and moved into second favourite to kick the most club goals for the year at $2.75 with Sportsbet. If he produces the football he did on Sunday against the Blues with any sort of regularity, his price will plummet even further.
The news was diabolical for Carlton, which had several gilt-edged chances to take the lead back late in the game but failed to do so.
The loss plunged the Blues into joint favourite for least wins of the year at $2.65 with Sportsbet, after starting round 6 at $11.
Round six ended with a result that not many would have predicted, with the West Coast Eagles shocking the AFL world and their opponents the Port Adelaide Power to the tune of 10 points at Adelaide Oval.
The Power and the Eagles traded majors throughout a tight first quarter, but it was Port who made the most of their ascendency, jumping out to a four goal lead late in the first half and looked like running away with the match.
Yet it was the Eagles who refused to yield as the pressure was applied, feeding off a brilliant game by reigning Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis and two ice-cold goals to seal the victory by Luke Shuey in the final minutes of the match.
A worrying sign for the Eagles however was the inability of Josh Kennedy to assert any kind of dominance over the match. The leader of the Coleman medal coming into the round was held to just one goal and looked severely hampered by a lingering elbow complaint. There was talk prior to the match that he would have season-ending surgery to correct the problem, but Kennedy played through the pain.
Right now, he sits far and away the Eagles number one target inside 50, but fellow Western Australian sharp-shooter Mark LeCras has a proven track record of consistently hitting the scoreboard, and the $8 that he is paying with Sportsbet to be the club’s leading goal kicker at the end of the season looks very enticing, especially if Kennedy is forced into surgery with that elbow issue.
Injury news around the AFL
It was a much quieter weekend on the injury front across the league, with Geelong captain Joel Selwood the significant story from the weekend in terms of premiership and finals market impact.
Thankfully the Cats’ skipper has been cleared of any serious injury to his severely swollen hand and will be available to play the Swans this weekend.
Conversely, the Swans’ young gun Isaac Heeney will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a knee injury sustained in Saturday’s win over Melbourne. The one-time favourite for the Rising Star will require surgery, and has subsequently blown out to $26 with Sportsbet to take out the award.
Adelaide will also be without midfielder Rory Sloane after scans revealed he has a fractured cheekbone. The injury will require surgery which could leave the Crows’ vice-captain out of action for up to two months.