Wed, Sep 14, 11:55am by Jake Equid
After a fascinating first weekend of finals action, which is being described as one of the greatest ever we turn our attention to two cut-throat semi-finals at the two most historical venues in Australian sport. The MCG and the SCG.
First up on Friday night at the home of football, the MCG we have Hawthorn hosting the likeable Western Bulldogs. The Dogs are coming off their first ever finals win interstate and are carrying the entire city’s support minus the Hawks supporters, obviously.
Hawthorn were good in patches against Geelong which suggests their time at the summit may not be over just yet. As coach Alistair Clarkson said post game, they weren’t great but had Isaac Smith kicked straight after the siren the story would be a lot different.
The following day the Crows head to the Harbour City with the aim of knocking the Swans out of the finals in straight sets for the second year in a row. The Swans will want to put last week behind them as quickly as possible as they were ‘beaten up’ by the Giants.
WATCH: Our Preview of the AFL semi-finals
The Crows looked slick against North Melbourne in a 62-point demolition, which covered our total match points bet nicely. Although it is rare to see a team knocked out in straight sets we have seen it three times in the past two years. Before that it only happened twice in the previous 14 years.
With six teams remaining in the premiership race, here’s our best bets for the semi-finals:
Second Semi Final –Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs
MCG – 7:50pm Friday 16 September
The young Dogs will be brimming with confidence when they take on the reigning premiers after dominating the Eagles on their home deck. The Hawks on the MCG in September is another challenge altogether though.
The Hawks opened up as $1.45 favourites but there has been some money for the Dogs which has seen them come in to $2.65 from $2.83. The Hawks have slid out marginally to $1.50. The line moved from 14.5 into 11.5.
As soon as Smith’s shot went right of the goals last Friday, the task for the three-time reigning champs became significantly tougher. They must now win three consecutive cut-throat finals to make history and become the first team since Collingwood in 1930 to achieve a four-peat.
The midfield battle will be fascinating with the Rising Star runner-up Caleb Daniel, who was brilliant last week, set to go head-to-head with Hawks playmaker Sam Mitchell. Daniel held in own when the sides met in Round 3, which ended in a three-point win for the Hawks. Let’s hope we get a similarly tight contest in this one.
The Dogs will not mind the being the outsider as proven last Thursday. They made the Eagles look like they were stuck in concrete at times and showed once again just how dangerous they can be when they are given space. There is absolutely no chance they’ll be afforded the same space in this one though.
History favours Hawthorn, who have won their past eight games against the Bulldogs by an average of 38 points, and has also triumphed in their four finals encounters by an average of 49 points.
BEST BET: Hawthorn to win: $1.50
First Semi Final –Sydney v Adelaide
SCG – 7:25pm Saturday 17 September
All the pressure is on the Swans here as a loss would mean they are the first minor premier to be knocked out in straight sets since 1983. The Crows showed last week just how powerful they can be in attack and will head to Sydney with plenty of confidence.
The Swans’ recent finals record is not good; they’ve lost their past four finals dating back to the decider against Hawthorn in 2014. Rising Star winner Callum Mills injured his right hamstring in the second quarter of the qualifying final loss to GWS on Saturday, while ruckman Kurt Tippett suffered a hairline fracture in his jaw in the first term. Mills will need the Swans to make the Grand Final if he is a chance to return and even then it will be touch and go.
The Crows continue to be the highest scoring side in 2016, averaging 114 points per game, and last week against North Melbourne kicked 100 points in a game for the 17th time this season. The Swans average 98 points per game this season, but were held to 7.13 (55) last week against the Giants, their lowest score of the season. Adelaide have tasted victory in six of the sides’ past eight clashes at the SCG.
As mentioned, history is on the Swans side as the last time a minor premier went out in straight sets was in 1983 when, under a top-five system, North Melbourne was belted in both the second semi-final (40 points) and the preliminary final (86 points). Having said that, I’m going to take the Crows to reverse the historical trend and win this one. Their offence is first class and the Giants were able to ruffle the Swans feathers last week.
BEST BET: Adelaide to win: $2.55
AFL Semi Finals odds:
Hawthorn $1.50 (-11.5) v Western Bulldogs $2.65 (+11.5)
Sydney $1.54 (-10.5) v Adelaide $2.55 (+10.5)
Premiership odds: (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs $13
Stay tuned to australiangambling.com.au over the coming days for betting previews including best bets and video previews and as we continue to preview the AFL finals.
Odds sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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