With the first match of the AFL’s first round predictably decided with the Swan’s 63 point flogging of newcomers Greater Western Sydney Giants on Saturday, the attention turns to Thursday where the rest of round one kicks off with what should be a far closer encounter.
Richmond v Carlton, MCG, Thursday March 29, 7:45pm
The bumper weekend of AFL will start with traditional rivals Carlton and Richmond going head to head at the famous MCG. Carlton will go into the match as $1.46 favourites at bookmaker.com.au with traditionally slow starters Richmond currently sitting at $2.66. It will be interesting to see whether the Tigers young midfield lives up to the hype after a promising end to last season.
Hawthorn v Collingwood, MCG, Friday March 30, 7.50pm
These two teams sit as the two favourites to take out the 2012 crown so we should see an exciting opening fixture with both sides trying to assert some early season dominance. The star studded Hawks side features the likes of Lance “Buddy” Franklin and Cyril Rioli and they will start as $1.70 favourites against the Magpies ($2.12). Last season’s minor premiers should not be written off as they traditionally start strongly and will be pumped up to show they are a force once again in 2012.
Melbourne Demons v Brisbane Lions, MCG, Saturday March 31, 1.45pm
Melbourne Demons star recruit Mitch Clark will be coming up against his former team for the first time and he will do so in a team that starts as heavy $1.41 favourites. After a disappointing 2011, the Lions ($2.85) will be looking to show they are a rejuvenated outfit but could struggle without injured inspirational leader Jonathan Brown.
Gold Coast Suns v Adelaide Crows, Metricon Stadium, Saturday March 31, 4.45pm
No longer the AFL newcomers, the Gary Ablett lead Gold Coast Suns will be out to prove they are no longer the competition whipping boys when they take on the Crows at home on Saturday afternoon. They have their work cut out against an Adelaide side that is full of confidence following their pre-season NAB Cup competition win. The Crows will start as deserving $1.24 favourites with the Suns not given much of a chance by the bookies ($3.90 – bookmaker.com.au).
Fremantle v Geelong, Patersons Stadium, Saturday March 31, 7.45pm
The Dockers ($2.25) will have to play the house down on Saturday night if they are to upset last year’s premiers Geelong ($1.24). With a fairly similar roster to the one that saw them take the flag in 2011, Geelong should should be among the front runners this season but on the Dockers side will be a parochial home crowd at the ground traditionally known as Subiaco Oval.
North Melbourne v Essendon, Etihad Stadium, Saturday March 31, 7.45pm
This is set to be one of the most hotly contested matches of round one and the bookies and punters agree. The Bombers will go into the fixture as slight favourites ($1.80) but this one is almost too tough to pick and the Kangaroos will start just behind them at $1.99.
Western Bulldogs v West Coast, Etihad Stadium, Sunday April 1, 1.10pm
West Coast showed during the pre-season why they are among the top five favourites for the 2012 flag by making the NAB Cup final. Their pre-season form should continue into this weekend and they will start as $1.66 favourites against the Bulldogs ($2.26) who look likely to struggle this year with a roster that lacks the depth required of a top AFL side.
Port Adelaide v St Kilda, AAMI Stadium, Sunday 4.40pm (EDT)
St Kilda had a less than impressive pre-season campaign but will starts as heavy favourites ($1.39) against a Port Adelaide team ($2.90) that is rated only behind the young GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns to take AFL’s most unwanted prize, the wooden spoon. They lack quality and experience and the Sainters have that in bucket loads and should prove far too strong on Sunday afternoon.
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