West Coast Eagles ($1.30) v Melbourne Demons ($3.55)
Plucky Dees could pose plenty of problems for Eagles
A preliminary final rematch from last season opens round 9 action when the Eagles host the Dees. The Demons’ 66 point hammering in Perth late last season has been a loss they haven’t recovered from if their form this season is any indication. With just three wins to their name, they will be looking for a massive upset when they travel west to play the Eagles. The Dees scraped over the line in dramatic fashion against the Suns last round, with a Tom McDonald point in the dying seconds enough to seal a miraculous Demons win. They have now put together consecutive narrow victories, but this week’s opponent is sure to provide a sterner test for the red and blue. West Coast dispatched of the Saints by three goals last weekend and it was a six goal to two third term that did most of the damage. Josh Kennedy looked back to his threatening best as he kicked two goals. Four Eagles players booted two goals apiece, while Liam Ryan had five shots on goal for just one major. Prior to last season’s finals loss, Melbourne had won two in a row in Perth against West Coast. The Dees have struggled to score this season, ranking second last in the competition with just 556 points scored. The good news for them is that the Eagles are third last in points scoring 596 points. The Wolf thinks the Dees will take a lot from their heroics in recent weeks and given the lack of scoring prowess among these sides, taking Melbourne and the sizeable points start is the play.
H2H: Demons +21.5 ($1.90)Value: Demons 1-39 ($4.25)
Collingwood Magpies ($1.21) v St Kilda Saints ($4.50)
Magnificent seven for Pies
Collingwood scraped by arch rivals Carlton in a see-sawing match at the ‘G last round and will look to notch their sixth straight win when they host the Saints on Saturday afternoon. The Wolf mentioned last week that the Pies and Blues have played close games recently and their battle last weekend was no different, with Carlton leading half way through the final term. Some late Jordan De Goey magic and Magpies ruthlessness in attack snared them the win. The Saints weren’t as fortunate last Saturday night against the Eagles, trailing for the entire game and losing by three goals. In their only meeting last season, the Pies were 28 point winners, with Brodie Grundy a standout with 23 disposals, 10 contested possessions and 42 hitouts. Jordan De Goey booted six goals as the Pies kicked away in the second half. In the past five seasons, the Saints have a 5-5 record at the ‘G and beat the Dees as big outsiders at the home of footy just a month ago. Three losses on the trot has The Wolf concerned though, as the Saints look to be trending downwards, while the Pies keep finding ways to win. Collingwood looked a step slow last week and still got the job done and will be sharper this week.
H2H: Pies -29.5 ($1.91)Value: Pies 40-59 ($4.50)
Brisbane Lions ($1.78) v Adelaide Crows ($2.05)
Crows in an upset
The Crows edged the Showdown last week, despite a late scare with the Power booting six final term goals to make things interesting, before Adelaide held on to win by 20 points. Four wins in a row for the Crows has seen them rocket up the table to third after a 1-3 start. They travel to the Gabba to play the Lions, who have enjoyed plenty of success in Queensland this season. With just one loss against Collingwood to their name at the Gabba, Brisbane has made its home ground somewhat of a fortress. Their away form leaves plenty to be desired though and despite a strong start in Ballarat against the Dogs, they were overpowered in the second half to lose by 16 points. The Crows have won seven on the trot against Brisbane at all venues, with a five point win in round 18 last season the closest margin across those games. The Wolf has had some success backing teams on big winning streaks against their opponents and despite the Lions’ recent off years, the Crows have had their measure. The Crows should squeeze past Brisbane in a close one and offer good value.
H2H: Crows ($2.05)Value: Crows 1-39 ($2.60)
Geelong Cats ($1.21) v Western Bulldogs ($4.50)
Cats to prevail against Dogs
Geelong will look to extend its one game buffer at the top of the table when it hosts the Western Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. The Cats dispatched of North by four goals last Sunday to notch their fourth win on the trot, while the Dogs improved to 4-4 on the season with a 16 point win against Brisbane in Ballarat. Joel Selwood was a late scratching against the Roos with a leg injury and will be touch and go this week, while Gary Ablett free to play after being given the all clear by the MRP for two incidents against the Roos. Ruckman Tim English should be back for the Dogs after missing against Brisbane, as the Dogs went for the unconventional no ruckman option against the Lions. The Dogs lost 11 in a row against Geelong before a two point win in round 15 last season. They have a woeful record in Geelong, losing all six of their matches by the bay in the past 10 seasons. The Wolf has found it hard to not back the Cats given their recent form and they have been covering machines all season long. There’s no reason to stray from that winning formula this week.
H2H: Cats -29.5 ($1.90)
Value: Cats 60+ ($4.75)
Value: Cats 60+ ($4.75)
Essendon Bombers ($1.41) v Fremantle Dockers ($2.95)
Bombers to get past Dockers in low scoring match
Essendon is staring at four straight losses if they can’t beat the Dockers as big favourites on Saturday night. The Dons lost to the bottom placed Swans last round by five points with a shot after the siren by David Myers from 55 metres out not making the distance. Fremantle is on a two game losing streak after a 25 point defeat at the hands of Richmond last Sunday. The Dockers couldn’t get past a wounded Tigers outfit that was missing a number of key players through injury, giving up 100+ points for the first time this campaign. The last meeting between these sides was in round 18 last year, with the Bombers prevailing by 29 points. The final scoreline flattered Freo, who had just 15 scoring shots to the Bombers’ 34. Orazio Fantasia was unstoppable in that match, booting five goals and netting three Brownlow votes. He will be out of this one through injury as the forward star has been struggling for fitness all season. The Wolf knows neither team has lit up the scoreboard consistently in 2019, but home ground advantage and a desperation to not drop to 3-6 will see the Bombers prevail narrowly.
H2H: Dockers +16.5 ($1.91)
Value: Bombers 1-24 ($3.10)
Value: Bombers 1-24 ($3.10)
North Melbourne Kangaroos ($1.76) v Sydney Swans ($2.07)
Roos to hop out of Hobart with a win
The Roos and Swans meet for just the third time in Hobart on Saturday night, with both teams desperate to get out of the bottom four. It was always going to be an uphill battle for North against the competition leaders and despite never being out of the match, they also never threatened to topple a far slicker Geelong side. Ben Brown’s five goals will give the Roos plenty of heart though, with the big forward looking a lot better in recent weeks. It was win at any cost for Sydney, with Dane Rampe shaking the goal post on David Myers’ final second shot. Luckily for the Swans, that escaped the penalty of a free kick on the goal line and the Swans snuck away with a five point victory. The Swans have won both of their games at Blundstone Arena against North. The Roos have turned the Tasmanian venue into a home away from home, amassing a 13-3 record at the ground, with two of those losses being to Sydney. Lance Franklin is a chance to play in a big boost for Sydney, while Daniel Menzel has shown strong form in the reserves and could add some scoring punch for Sydney. The Swans have been poor on the road all season long, while North will welcome a trip back to a venue where they love playing at. The Wolf wasn’t inspired by the Swans performance a week ago and is backing North to turn around their poor start to the season.
H2H: Kangaroos ($1.76)
Value: Kangaroos -4.5 / Under 166.5 ($3.60)
Port Adelaide Power ($1.19) v Gold Coast Suns ($4.75)
Port to extend winning streak against Suns
The Power would be left disappointed with their Showdown effort and while they climbed out of a 44 point deficit to get within two goals, they left their run too late and lost by 20 points. Their opponents this week, the Suns, have had their fair share of heartbreaking losses this season and last round was no different. A one-point loss to Melbourne close to the siren was their second one-point loss of the season and fifth game overall decided by a goal or less. They are 2-3 in those matches. It was a return to form of sorts for Stewart Dew’s men though, as they were blown away in their three prior matches. Of concern is the fact that they are on a four game losing streak. The Power have the wood over the Suns in recent times, winning nine matches in a row. Adelaide Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for the Queenslanders either, who are yet to record a victory at the ground in five attempts. Port’s injury list appears to be growing by the week, but Robbie Gray could return from a broken hand if all goes well at training this week. It’s hard to get a read on either side ahead of this one, but The Wolf has seen that Port has clobbered the Suns in recent times and with a mental edge and home ground advantage, should win comfortably.
H2H: Power -30.5 ($1.91)Value: Power 60+ ($4.60)
Richmond Tigers ($1.60) v Hawthorn Hawks ($2.35)
Hawks in an upset
It goes from bad to worse for the Tigers in terms of injuries, with a host of injuries to come out of their win across the Nullarbor against the Dockers. Toby Nankervis and Jack Riewoldt are the latest to join the injury list, but Daniel Rioli and Nick Vlastuin could be among the ins at the selection table. Hawthorn pulled off a surprise 33-point win against the Giants last weekend. They restricted one of the league’s most potent attacks to just five goals in a dominant second half, where they booted five goals to one. Former skipper Jarryd Roughead impressed in the reserves with five goals and could be in line for an instant recall to the senior side. The Tigers have tasted victory in their last three games against this opponent, but it was the Hawks who dominated this fixture before that. The brown and gold’s four losses have all been by less than four goals this season and The Wolf senses a game against a wounded Tigers team travelling back from Perth could just be the tonic for an upset win.
H2H: Hawks ($2.35)Value: Hawks 1-39 ($3.05)
GWS Giants ($1.13) v Carlton Blues ($6)
Tigers to upset Dockers
The Giants are the rounds shortest priced favourites as they come against the bottom of the ladder Blues on Sunday afternoon in Sydney. GWS suffered a surprise loss to Hawthorn in their last game, with their 2-15 record at the MCG showing they still aren’t up to it on the big stage. The Blues hung around against Collingwood, even taking the lead halfway through the final term before succumbing to some late Magpie brilliance to lose by three goals. The Giants have won five of their past six against the Blues, with Carlton’s only win in that span coming by just one point in 2017. Lachie Whitfield and Shane Mumford could be among those coming into the Giants team this week, with Leon Cameron likely to ring the changes after last week’s blowout loss. GWS has been strong at home all season long and won’t be taking the Blues lightly after last weekend’s loss. The Wolf can sense a big Giants win in this one.
H2H: Giants -37.5 ($1.91)Value: Giants 60+ ($3.60)