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Your complete betting guide to the AFL finals 2012. Previews, finals tipping and odds

Posted on 04/09 by T J Dilfer

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It’s nearly time for the Grand Final again, and we know which eight teams will be setting their sights on the flag. It’s a mouth-watering proposition on the opening weekend, both from a fan’s perspective, and also if you’re looking for a bet to place. Hawthorn are the bookmaker's favourites, after a powerful end to the regular season that saw them win 12 of their last 13 games. But the Hawks likely won’t have it all their own way on Friday night at the MCG against a Collingwood side who were stung by defeat at the hands of the Eagles two weeks ago, and who found a return to some form against Essendon – maybe just in time to mount a serious challenge for the flag.

Let’s take a look at how we think the fixtures will shape up this weekend: we’ll give you the odds on offer at sportsbet.com.au, too, so you know where you stand if you fancy a flutter...

First of all, Friday night’s big game. This is just the sort of massive head-to-head that should start the run-in to the Grand Final – a real treat for the neutrals who will be tuning in in massive numbers – and there’s plenty of subtext to keep the die-hard fans interested, too. The Hawks are the hands-down favourites to ultimately take the flag, but they have some injury woe to contend with: the most recent news we’re hearing is that Brent Guerra has suffered a tear to his hamstring, and that he may well play no part in the finals.

On the flip side of that, Cyril Rioli is a possibility (returning from a shoulder injury), and his inclusion could mean as strong a side as the Hawks have turned out all season could take the field at the MCG. At Sportsbet.com.au, you’ll get $2.10 on the Hawks to take the flag come the final whistle of the Grand Final, and $1.36 for them to beat Collingwood on Friday. The Magpies stand at $3.25 to upset the Hawks on Friday night, and at $7.00 to make sure the flag stays in Melbourne. It might just be that the Magpies are finding some form (all eyes will be on Travis Cloke to perform again on Friday) at the right time. Certainly there was a lot more for coach Nathan Buckley to be pleased about against Essendon than in the previous defeat at the hands of West Coast. Dane Swan was dominant against Essendon, and the Brownlow medal holder could be key to Collingwood’s hopes.

Saturday afternoon’s game sees Adelaide Crows hosting the Sydney Swans, in a fixture that could be a vital one in shaping the rest of the finals. The odds are close for the two sides to take home the flag – Adelaide at $6.00 and Sydney at $7.00 – and that gives a tantalising hint at what’s in store for Saturday. The Swans finished the minor rounds as the top contested possession side in the competition, but Adelaide were only three possessions short of their tally: expect a muscular contest at the AAMI stadium at the weekend. Neither side will want to give an inch, and the Crows will be especially eager to silence those critics who point to their ‘easy’ run into the finals.

There are some bright lights indeed in the Adelaide side, and Brownlow medal hopefuls Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Scott Thompson could well give them the firepower they need to get past the Swans. Sydney, though, will be no easy opponents. After defeats by the other three top-four sides in the past month, the Swans haven’t had the ideal preparation by any stretch, but John Longmire’s side were competitive in each of those games, and they can be expected to compete for everything come Saturday afternoon. Currently, the odds are $1.66 for Adelaide to take the fixture, and $2.25 for it to go Sydney’s way.

Back at the MCG on Saturday night, the Geelong are fancied to beat the Fremantle Dockers, on offer at $1.30 for a Cats win, and $3.55 for a Dockers victory. But Ross Lyon’s men might be the surprise package of the final eight – the coach has described them as an ‘anytime, anywhere’ side, and if they can make the MCG on Saturday night their time and place, then the Cats will have their hands full. Still, things look to be going Geelong’s way after a strong performance and a win over the Swans last weekend.

The manner of the victory was significant, with the Cats finishing powerfully to put the game beyond Sydney, and laying down a marker for the other seven finalists in the process. Freemantle are given longs odds, $41.00, to take the flag, where Geelong are given $7.50. You’ll have noticed how close together the odds are for Collingwood, Adelaide, Sydney and Geelong: the Hawks might be favourites, but if they can be derailed early on, then the Cats are right amongst it.

Last of all, Sunday night’s fixture sees the West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne come together. After the tantalising prospect of a western derby in the first finals week failed to materialise, the Eagles will be coming to terms with a clash with North Melbourne – a clash they’re tipped to win. Both times the teams have met this season have ended in West Coast wins, but it’s not too much of a cliché to say that all bets are off when it comes to the finals.

That said, if you were looking to place a long-odds bet on the Kangaroos to take the flag, you’d get $67.00, where the Eagles are at $13.00 to win the Grand Final. That suggests the contest might not be the most even of the four in the first weekend of the finals, but the odds are $1.25 Eagles, $4.50 Kangaroos for the game. Isn’t it always the way that the unfancied teams in the first weekend of the finals can come out and play without holding anything back? North Melbourne will have to do just that on Sunday if they want to keep their season alive for another week or two...



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