Will they won’t they? Turns out they will play. In a move that shocked most people the AFL has bucked the trend of the NBA, NHL and MLB in the Good old US of A and decided to let the season start on time albeit with a couple of changes.
It would be an eery feeling playing to an empty stadium and we have to wonder how this will effect the game as the crowd generates so much energy in a game.
From a betting perspective we will be cautious early on especially with bets based on any game totals. The reduced quarter length will have a big impact on how teams play
The season kicks of on Thursday night with reigning premiers Richmond taking on cellar dweller Carlton now I know these are two of the biggest rivals in footy but maybe it’s time for the AFL to kick the season off with a real block buster a rematch of the Grandfinal or at least a battle of two teams expected to fight out at the pointy end of the season.
It’s a pretty bland looking round one with no real highlight games but there are a few games of interest. G.W.S take on the visiting Geelong will Father Time finally catch up the Cats who have been perched a top of the AFL for over a decade. Will the Giants bounce back after one of the most humiliating Grand final loses in history.
North V Saint Kilda many predict one of these two teams to challenge for the finals which one will rise from the bottom halves of the ladder we get our first look on Sunday of what to expect and the other game of note is Hawthorn at home to Brisbane. The Lions crashed out of the finals last year after only finishing percentage off top spot and will be keen to show that last year was not a fluke, while the Hawks are tipped to be big improvers from last season picking up some very handy players and the return of Brownlow medalist Tom Mitchell.
Richmond V Carlton
The season opener on Thursday will see the reigning premier Tigers take on the Blues in what looks like a nice easy win for the Tigers. The Blues are expected to improve on last year again where they where competitive for long stretches of games but it is a very tough ask going up against a near full strength Tiger team that will be aiming for their third premiership in four years. The Blues haven’t won a round 1 clash since 2012 and this will continue tonight. Expect a big game from young gun Patrick Cripps and Jack Martin will be eager to impress after crossing from the Suns. The tigers it will be more of the same Lynch to dominate up forward while Martin should pick up plenty of touches and is always in the goals. A player to watch will be Marlin Pickett after his first game Grand Final heroics last season, hopefully he can continue on with a full season in 2020.
Score Prediction 86 -56
Richmond win by 30 points
Western Bulldogs V Collingwood
In what should be one of the games of the round the Dogs are at home in Marvel Stadium against the Pies. The Dogs look to be one of the teams to watch this year and have in recent years been a thorn in Collingwood’s side. Both sides match up well and play a similar style of football which at times is some of the best footy to watch but it can quickly become very ugly for these two teams as both have struggled with accuracy in front goal in past seasons. The indoor stadium seems to suit the Doggies a little better and with Magpies carrying a decent injury list already to start the season we predict the Dogs might sneak away with a win in a very tight match. The Bont will be a big measuring stick for the dogs again if he continues his form he will be looking for 3 early Brownlow votes here. The Pies are pretty much unchanged from last season and will need the yiunge5 guys to step up and take over from the elder statesmen of the team like Pendlebury and Sidebottom.
Score Prediction 78 -75
Bulldogs win by 3 points
Essendon V Fremantle
New coach new Dockers? That is the question for this game. The Dockers have struggled the last few years despite having some of the best football talent in the league and wonder now with Longmuir at the helm will we see more of the same or sweeping changes. The Bombers can look like the real deal at times but then complete basket case the next which Bombers team turns up round 1. The Bombers will have the home grind advantage and should be able to capitalise on this as Dockers have had a poor travel record in recent times. Expect a tight tussle with the game going down to the wire but the Bombers to hold on.
Score Prediction 83 – 76
Bombers win by 6 points
Adelaide V Sydney
Similar situation with the Crows as with the Dockers, new coach – new team… personnel wise the playing group in Adelaide hasn’t changed a lot….. but neither has Sydney. Matthew Nicks has seemed to have had a good impression on the Crows in much need of healing after the last couple seasons. With the home ground advantage and a solid record against the swans and a renewed approach the Crows should get a win. The Swans are not a team to take lightly they are always competitive in games and rarely get given a bad beating. They have freshened up the list a little but in previous seasons have been very slow to start the year.
Score Prediction 79 -65
Crows win by 14 points
Gold Coast V Port Adelaide
Port all day long here or is it really that simple… the Suns have been nothing short of disappointing and just plan bad. The Power have shown signs of brilliance the last couple years but have produced too many mediocre performances to have too much faith in them. On “paper” it looks to be a Power victory they look to have the edge all around the ground but the Suns do have a few unknowns and started last season in a blaze of glory before burning out into nothing. The suns will give themselves a chance to win this one but the Power should get up by a couple goals. Ken Hinkley will start feeling the pressure early if they drop this one.
Score Prediction 70 -90
Power win by 20 points
GWS V Geelong
This game will be the highlight of Saturday’s footy and should be an absolute belter!
Can the Giants recover after last seasons devastating final loss and can the Cats continue their stellar run of seasons. The Cats have a good record against the Giants and will be out to impress early. The Giants at home will be a tough ask for any team but mentally teams that have had finals belting shave not faired well in seasons past.
The Giants are stacked with talent all over the field but the Cats have all the old masters sprinkled with some exciting young talent of their own. This game will go down to the wire and could be something as simple as goal kicking that makes the difference. The Giants have been wayward in front of goal in previous seasons while the Cats one of the most impressive. The Giants to steal a victory in the final minutes in a thriller
Score Prediction 82 – 77
Giants win by 5 points
North Melbourne V Saint Kilda
One of the more intriguing games of the round which should be very tightly contested game. Both clubs will be looking to improve on last year and many have predicted the Saints to rise fast under new coach Brett Ratten, and with the inclusion of some very solid talent they should make some headway this year. The Kangas have a polished midfield ranked one of the highest int the AFL and if Ben Brown stays fit they have one of the best goal kickers in the game to lead them. The game could go either way but we think the Kangas just have that class edge around the ground compared to the raw Saints.
Score Prediction 75 – 70
Kangas win by 5 points
Hawthorn V Brisbane
Young Lions to spring board from last season or the Hawks to start the season with a bang. The Lions impressed a lot last season and do have a good record against the hawks winning four of the last five games between the clubs. The Hawks at the G is a tough nut to crack but this Lions side will be ramped up to start their season right an shiw that last year wasn’t a blip on the radar but the norm for this team going forward for the next few years. The Hawks recruited well in the off season somehow they just continue to keep regenerating the addition of Patton up forward will be a big asset for them and the return of Tom Mitchell vital to this teams success. It’s looks a very even matchup on across the ground and see little separating the two sides. With it this close you have to go with the home team in a tight one.
Score Prediction 82 -78
Hawks win by 4 points
West Coast V Melbourne
The Eagles seemed to suffer a brain fart near the end of last season costing them a top four spot and any chance of repeating their premiership heroics of 2018. Melbourne went from an early premiership fancy to a hole lot of horror last year and will be very keen to show it was a one off. Unfortunately for the Demons they have to travel out west which is not a good trip for anyone. Until the Demons can show they are back at their best you can not tip them with any sort of confidence. The Eagles will use this game as a warm up sharpen their skills, kick the rust out and should make reasonably light work of Melbourne. Tim Kelly will get plenty of the ball with his new club that rounds out one of the best teams in the league. Hoping the Demons can return to 2018 form but not likely.
Score Prediction 85 -64
Eagles by 21 points