A CRUSHING 71-point victory over Carlton has reopened the door for St Kilda to play finals in 2016 according to Sportsbet.com.au, which has moved the Saints from $26 to $15 to make it.
North Melbourne’s unexpected loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday night means the Saints now have the ability to close the gap on the eighth-placed Roos.
St Kilda is now just eight premiership points adrift of North Melbourne.
The Saints failed to perform two weeks ago when they met the Kangaroos in a match that would have closed the gap on eighth spot, but coach Alan Richardson said his side will now embrace the finals ‘noise’ that is set to engulf the club.
“Call it pressure, call it expectation, call it potentially noise that was going to distract [but], the guys played really strong, aggressive footy and took the game on.” Richardson said.
“So if that’s the lead-in to what we’re going to get against Sydney then that’s positive.”
“We’d much rather be in a position where we have control over whether we play finals or not, so we’ve still got a fair bit of work to do, there’s no doubt about that,”
“Having said that, it’s pleasing. It’s good for our guys.”
North Melbourne has a few headaches leading into this weekend’s crunch clash against the Hawks.
The Roos finished Saturday night’s loss against the Bulldogs without Ben Brown and Scott Thompson, who sustained injuries that could threaten their immediate football futures.
North Melbourne director of football Geoff Walsh said the club was able to rule out long-term injuries to both players, but still could not guarantee the availability of both players.
“Scans have showed there is certainly no structural damage to either Ben or Scotty, but we’ll have to wait and see how they recover throughout the week as they are both still sore,” Walsh said.
“They will have to prove their fitness of course, so it is a wait and see prospect as to whether they will be available for selection this weekend against the Hawks.”
Despite the positive news, the Kangaroos have drifted slightly in the finals market at sportsbet.com.au, but they are still heavy favourites to retain their position at the $1.04 quote.
Port Adelaide ($18) and Melbourne ($101) remain in the market, but given both teams are three games behind they would need divine intervention to play finals in 2016.
St Kilda and North Melbourne are on very different paths heading into the latter stages of the season.
The Saints play just one current team inside finals contention, finishing the season playing arguably the worst team in the league in form of the Brisbane Lions.
Their finals hopes hinge on this weekend’s match against the second placed Swans, but the Saints host the Sydney-siders at Etihad Stadium, a venue they have dominated at in recent times.
North Melbourne’s final three weeks could not be any tougher.
The Roos face the top-two back-to-back while finishing the season hosting the youngest and hottest team in the league; the GWS Giants.
Expect the Saints’ finals odds to shave dramatically if they can overcome the Swans this weekend.
The run home to finals:
St Kilda: Sydney (H), Richmond (A), Brisbane (H)
North Melbourne: Hawthorn (H), Sydney (H), GWS (H)
AFL To Make the Top 8:
North Melbourne $1.04
St Kilda $15
Port Adelaide $18
Sportsbet tighten their Norm Smith medal market
THERE is less than a month of regular season football remaining and sportsbet.com.au has put some serious work into their 2016 Norm Smith market for future loving punters.
Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield is the $11 favourite to take home best on ground honours in the Grand Final, while former teammate Rory Sloane is the next best at $14.
Cyril Rioli is at $17 to go back-to-back and his teammate and captain Luke Hodge is a $26 outsider to win his third Norm Smith.
His big game credentials speak for themselves and the elusive goal kicker has an uncanny ability to turn a game on its head in the space of five minutes.
If the Crows make it he will be sure to catch the judges’ eyes.
Another man at big odds is Sydney Swan superstar Lance Franklin, who is at the $30 mark.
Buddy had a huge Grand Final in his side’s loss to the Hawks two years ago, booting four goals.
If the Swans can make it back to the big stage the Bud will be set on redemption, and there is no question his odds will shorten significantly throughout the 2016 finals series.
2016 Norm Smith medal winner:
Odds provided by sportsbet.com.au
Patrick Dangerfield (Geel) $11
Rory Sloane (Ade) $14
Sam Mitchell (Haw) $17
Cyril Rioli (Haw) $17
Josh P. Kennedy (Syd) $19
Dan Hannebery (Syd) $19
Joel Selwood (Geel) $19
Callan Ward (GWS) $23
Stephen Coniglio (GWS) $24
Jordan Lewis (Haw) $24
Dylan Shiel (GWS) $24
Luke Hodge (Haw) $26
Rory Laird (Ade) $28
Lance Franklin (Syd) $30
Jack Gunston (Haw) $30
Josh Gibson (Haw) $30
Corey Enright (Geel) $30
Eddie Betts (Ade) $33
Shaun Burgoyne (Haw) $35
Tom Mitchell (Syd) $40
Heath Shaw (GWS) $42
Scott Thompson (Ade) $45
Matt Crouch (Ade) $45
Taylor Walker (Ade) $45
Jimmy Bartel (Geel) $45
Marcus Bontempelli (WB) $53
Josh Kennedy’s Coleman odds shorten after seven goal haul
A SEVEN goal masterclass from Josh Kennedy in Sunday’s Western Derby has seen the reigning Coleman medallist’s chances of going back-to-back come in to $1.17 at WilliamHill.com.au.
The former Blue was the difference on Sunday afternoon, separating himself from the goal kicking pack, winning the Ross Glendinning medal for best afield in the derby in the process.
The sharpshooting Eagle sits six goals clear from Sydney’s Lance Franklin ($8.50) and the Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch ($9).
No other player in the league is currently in the Coleman medal frame.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson was full of praise following Kennedy’s match defining haul.
“He’s a tremendous leader for us,” Simpson said.
“He got on the end of a couple today and he stood up in big moments. He makes others better around him.”
2016 AFL Coleman medal market:
Odds provided by WilliamHill.com.au
Lance Franklin $8.50
Tom Lynch $9.00