AFL Round 2 Preview

Footy is back in a big, big way in what was a sensational return to the AFL last week. All nine games were played at a frenetic pace, which would have brought a smile to the face of even the most disgruntled modern day critic of the sport. Round Two shapes to be just as exciting with a couple of hugely important games in the context of the season.

It kicks off on Friday night with traditional rivals Richmond ($1.55) and Collingwood ($2.45) facing off in a blockbuster at the MCG. The Tigers were less than impressive last week against Carlton in the season opener but managed to claim the all-important four points on the back of the performance of unheralded midfielder Kane Lambert. Meanwhile its opponents in the Magpies are looking to rebound from a shocking loss up in Sydney. The task this week will be even harder with the absence of two key playmakers in Steele Sidebottom and Dane Swan but you can never write a proud club off.

Melbourne enter as short-priced ($1.12) favourites against Essendon ($6.20) in what must be the first time in many years. But the Demons certainly look a safe bet in this match with its young players playing with a wave of confidence that has not been seen at the club for a long time.

Brisbane ($3.80) will try to redeem itself from last week’s thrashing at the hands of West Coast but take on a stiff opposition in North Melbourne ($1.26). The match will be played at the Gabba so you cannot rule the Lions out but one would expect the Kangaroos to win comfortably.

Fremantle ($1.18) host an emerging Gold Coast Suns ($4.70) at Domain Stadium in Perth on Saturday. The Dockers were woeful last week in Melbourne but will look to regain some pride this weekend with a big win. However, sometimes youthful energy can play a big part in modern football and the Suns, boosted by one G. Ablett, are a completely different side to 2015 so do not rule out an upset.

Steve Johnson will come up against his old side when the Greater Western Sydney ($2.85) host Geelong ($1.41) in Sydney. The Giants dropped what was a very winnable game last weekend and will use that as motivation heading into this contest. But with Paddy Dangerfield looking absolutely unstoppable at the moment, it is hard to see the Cats losing this one.

Arguably the biggest game of the weekend will be the Showdown between Adelaide ($2.32) and Port Adelaide ($1.61). Regardless of ladder position, history tells us that these games can go either way so the Crows could be worth a sneaky bet at that price. It was unlucky last weekend against the Roos but with big Taylor Walker leading from the front, a win is certainly a big possibility. The Power started slowly last weekend but when its exquisitely skilled players in Chad Wingard and Robbie Gray started finding more of the football, the momentum turned in their side’s favour.

Hawthorn ($2.06) face West Coast ($1.76) on Sunday at the MCG in what should be an absolute beauty of a contest. It is the rematch of last seasons’ grand final so the Eagles will look to extract some revenge after that fateful day for the club. History tells us that the vast majority of sides that start the season 0-2 struggle to make the finals, but the Hawks are widely regarded as premiership favourites, and rightly so.

The round draws to a close with Carlton ($5.60) squaring off against Sydney ($1.14) at Etihad Stadium. The Blues gave its fans a glimmer of hope last week with a creditable performances against the Tigers. Number one selection in the National Draft, Jacob Weitering, slotted in the backline with the poise of a veteran and adds stability to their defence. But Sydney started the season in perfect fashion with Lance Franklin causing headaches for the opposition’s defence. The midfield class of Luke Parker and Dan Hannebery will be too much for the Blues to overcome.