Punters like what they have seen from West Coast during the AFL pre-season.
The Eagles have been backed from $13 into $9 in premiership betting, despite first-choice ruck men Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett suffering knee injuries.
Adam Simpson’s men won two of their three JLT Community Series games, dropping the opening match to Premiership favourite GWS, although they played a weakened side.
Much of the buzz surrounding the Eagles has been created by the recruitment of ex-Hawk captain Sam Mitchell, who shockingly crossed to the West in October’s trade period.
The Eagles final hit-out before their season opener against North Melbourne, was a 25-point victory over Melbourne at Domain Stadium, a game in which Mitchell collated 39 possessions.
But it was another recruit, injury plagued ex-Cat Nathan Vardy, who perhaps will be the most important part of the puzzle, while Naitanui Lycett and Jon Giles (thumb) remain sidelined anyway.
Playing as the Eagles’ first choice ruckman, Vardy gathered 12 possessions and kicked two goals against the Demons, and most-importantly showed he would be competitive in the ruck. He was given ample support from former North Melbourne forward Drew Petrie.
“We got (Vardy) for a reason. He’s a long-term investment for us,” Simpson said.
“We think he’s going to fill the void for a little while – along with Giles, Lycett and Drew (Petrie).
“He’s coming from a low-base, he hasn’t rucked too much before, so a great start point is aggression and follow-up – and that’s what both of them (Vardy and Petrie) are doing.”
There has been little movement in the top-end of the Premiership market, with GWS remaining the $4.50 favourite with Sportsbet.com.au, narrowly ahead of reigning premier Western Bulldogs ($5.50).
Ironically, the team that Mitchell was such an important part of, Hawthorn, is receiving no love from punters, drifting out to $13 with some bookmakers, despite beginning the JLT series as short as $8. There was plenty to like about the Hawks during the JLT Series, including promising club debuts from Tom Mitchell and Jaegar O’Meara.
Collingwood has drifted out to $34 (from $23) despite winning two JLT games, with disappointed fans not seeing boom recruit Daniel Wells in action at all over the pre-season.
An injury scare to captain Scott Pendlebury before Saturday’s seven-point win over Richmond at Moe has also got punters running scared, despite the club coming out and saying he would be fit for Saturday week’s season opener against the Bulldogs.
Carlton ($101) and Brisbane ($501) are the teams least likely to win the flag.
Who to avoid in Premiership betting
Yes it would be a fairytale if Essendon won the flag, but $23 seems far too short for a team which will be reintroducing upwards of 10 players to the AFL after they were rubbed out for drugs.
Nothing we saw over the preseason enamoured them to us and a finish in the bottom four seems more realistic. To put those odds into perspective, St Kilda ($26) and Collingwood ($34) are both less chance of of flagging in 2017, according to Sportsbet.com.au.
Fremantle was sluggish at best over the preseason and have a lot of work to do if they are to even make the finals, let alone live up to the $18 on offer at Sportsbet for them to win the flag. The Dockers forward line is lacking A grade talent and an injury cloud over Harley Bennell heaps even ore pressure on Brownlow Medalist Nat Fyfe.
Who looks good value in 2017 betting
If you fancy GWS get on now at $4.50 with Crownbet.com. There is very little chance that the Giants won’t be top four at season’s end and it’s hard seeing them losing more than a handful of games. The current price is as good as it is likely to get.
While the $34 on offer for a Collingwood flag is tempting, there is too many ‘ifs’ surrounding the Pies fortunes, so we’ll leave them until we can get a gauge on the regular season.
AFL Premiership Market
Greater Western Sydney $4.50
Western Bulldogs $5.50
West Coast $9
St Kilda $26
Port Adelaide $34
Gold Coast $41
North Melbourne $67
* Odds courtesy of Sportsbet.com.au
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