SYDNEY is the $3.75 outright favourites for the AFL premiership at Sportsbet.com.au after a magnificent month of football which has seen the Swans record four straight wins.
John Longmire’s men boast an average winning margin of 58.25 points, handing them second position on the ladder as well as the best percentage in the league.
Sydney is the $2.85 second favourite to win the minor premiership behind league leaders Hawthorn ($2.25).
The Swans have strugglers North Melbourne and bottom-10 side Richmond in the final fortnight of the home and away season, while Hawthorn face a tough away trip to play the Eagles before hosting the Pies in round 23.
In even more positive news for the Swans, key forward/ruck gun Kurt Tippett could make a return to the senior side as early as round 22 against the Kangaroos after a two-month layoff following hamstring surgery.
Swans coach Longmire said the former Crow will play more time up forward in his return to the AFL.
“You’d have to say at this point it will be more forward,” Longmire said.
“He’s missed a bit of footy but he’s been training pretty well.
“If he comes back, it will be more forward ruck. Our young ruckmen were pretty good tonight.”
The inclusion of Tippett will make Sydney’s forward line one of the most potent attacks in the league, given how dominant Coleman Medal favourite Lance Franklin’s form has been.
Buddy booted six goals in a best afield performance against St Kilda on Saturday night, but he still remains three goals behind West Coast full forward Josh Kennedy.
Franklin is the $2.25 second favourite for the Coleman Medal behind Josh Kennedy ($1.66) at Sportsbet.com.au.
John Longimire described his star forward’s six-goal haul as ‘pretty reasonable’.
“He was getting involved up the ground; that was what we noticed. But that’s what makes him a good player, he can do that and be so useful going into the forward 50m,” he said.
Another man who is having a standout season is young Swan Callum Mills.
The Sydney Swans academy product had 27 disposals and took eight marks in his side’s strong win over St Kilda, moving him into outright favourite ($2.25) for the Rising Star award at WilliamHill.com.au.
The 19-year-old said winning the award was not high on his list of priorities this season.
“The award is at the back of my mind at the moment,” Mills said.
“Whatever happens, happens. My main focus is staying in the team at finals time, that’s more exciting than winning the Rising Star at the moment.”
Geelong maintain top-four hopes after come-from-behind win
GEELONG is all but assured of a top-four finish after its amazing comeback victory against Richmond, bringing the Cats in to the unbackable $1.04 to successfully claim the double chance.
The Cats were 35-points down against the Tigers at three quarter time, but were able to rally to storm over the top and clinch the important win that moves them four points clear of the fifth placed GWS Giants.
The win means the Cats should maintain their position inside the top-four given their next two matches are against the Brisbane Lions and the Melbourne Demons.
GWS face a home game against Fremantle before finishing the season in at Etihad Stadium against North Melbourne.
The Giants are at the $4 quote at WilliamHill.com.au to make the top-four given they are relying on a Geelong slip up along the way.
Cats’ coach Chris Scott said admitted he thought his side were ‘in trouble’ going into the final change.
“The glass half full (approach) is that in the moment when it really counted we needed to deliver and we did, but for the first three quarters we were obviously disappointing.
“For whatever reason, and we’ve got to dig really deep in our review, we weren’t at our best in a game that was really important for us.”
Melbourne still an outside finals chance after powerful Port win
MELBOURNE’S strong win over Port Adelaide ensures that the Demons ($9) are now the only team outside the eight still in Sportsbet.com.au’s finals market.
The Demons are two games behind North Melbourne, and Paul Roos’ men also have an inferior percentage to the Kangaroos.
This means that Melbourne would need to have a percentage-boosting victory against either the Blues or the Cats in the final fortnight of football and hope North Melbourne fail to overcome Sydney and GWS.
North Melbourne is still favourite to maintain their position inside the eight at $1.04.
Demons’ coach Paul Roos said the win was ‘really significant’ for his players, and refused to rule out the finals until it is an impossibility.
“It’s mathematically possible but one of the things I’ve learned over the years – it’s a cliche but it’s true – all you can do is worry about Port this week, Carlton the week after,” he said.
“The ladder looks after itself, whatever happens, happens.”
2016 AFL Premiership Market
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
Greater Western Sydney $9.00
West Coast $21.00
Western Bulldogs $34.00
North Melbourne $67.00