AFL restart part 2: How the bottom 10 teams are placed for the premiership

AFL 2020: Season Restart Part 2

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It’s been a rocky road to a restart for the AFL amid the COVID-19 crisis. After pulling the pin just one round into season 2020, fans and punters have waited patiently for two and a half months – but the 11 June finish to end the footy drought is finally in sight.

To prepare for the premiership’s return and give your AFL betting tips a nudge in the right direction, let’s take a look at how each of the bottom 10 clubs according to the AFL ladder at the end of round 1 are placed ahead of the competition’s resumption. Can these teams still rub shoulders with the AFL favourites at the business end of the season?

NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS

The North Melbourne Kangaroos were down 29 points at half-time of their round 1 clash with St Kilda, but rallied to win by two in a stirring turnaround. It was a courageous effort from the injury-hit Roos, with Ben Cunnington the star.

It was Rhyce Shaw’s eighth win in 13 games since taking over from Brad Scott midway through last season. But North remain rank outsiders for the premiership in AFL betting odds and are unlikely to make the AFL finals.

The club has been rocked by a potentially season-ending injury to key defender Majak Daw and a fourth straight season in the bottom half of the AFL ladder seems likely.

ST KILDA SAINTS

Bottling a five-goal lead against North Melbourne in round 1 severely dented the optimism surrounding the St Kilda Saints in 2020.

The club has missed the AFL finals for the past eight straight seasons, but many were – and still are – tipping them for a top 8 return after the appointment of Brett Ratten as coach and the addition of experienced players Paddy Ryder and Zak Jones.

A long-shot premiership chance in AFL betting odds, the Saints face a tough schedule upon the season’s resumption. They are distinct underdogs in AFL round 2 odds ahead of a showdown with Western Bulldogs, and then square off against heavyweights Collingwood Magpies and Richmond Tigers.

ADELAIDE CROWS

Adelaide Crows staged a late comeback in round 1, but ultimately fell three points short of Sydney Swans – a disappointing result at home. Utility Wayne Milera’s performance was a positive takeaway, with the player seemingly finding his position across half-back.

The Crows’ AFL odds for the premiership are way out on the second-last line of AFL betting, a reflection of how far the 2017 Grand Finalists have fallen in the past two years.

The issue of where Adelaide’s goals will come from shapes as the side’s biggest bugbear after the off-season exits of Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins. Meanwhile, the impact of the Crows relocating to a hub is another big question mark.

AFL round 2 tips are pointing to a derby loss to Port Adelaide Power, with the Crows underdogs at the time of writing.

FREMANTLE DOCKERS

Fremantle Dockers are being left alone by pundits in AFL betting tips, with the club drifting into untouchable territory in premiership markets.

Thirteenth or lower on the AFL ladder for the past four seasons, the Dockers kicked off 2020 with a six-point loss to the Bombers – but they showed genuine resolve in fighting back from 26 points down at halftime. Reigning Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe was typically superb, while three-goal debutant Sam Sturt looks a real prospect.

In Nat Fyfe, the Dockers boast a top-three player in the league. But prolific goalkicker Michael Walters aside, they are otherwise severely lacking in blue-chip talent. The Dockers are underdogs against Brisbane Lions in AFL round 2 odds as they attempt to adjust to hub life.

CARLTON BLUES

It’s been a long, tough time in the doldrums for the Carlton Blues, finishing 13th or lower on the AFL ladder every season since last reaching the AFL finals in 2013.

Facing Richmond Tigers in the opening round was a tough way to start, but the Blues won some admirers for outscoring the defending premiers in the second half of a 24-point loss, after finding themselves 46 down at the main break. Recruit Jack Martin (4 goals, 17 disposals) and marquee man Patrick Cripps (31 disposals, 10 clearances) put in fine showings.

The bad news was ruckman Matthew Kreuzer’s foot injury, which will sideline him for most of 2020.

A push up the AFL ladder is within Carlton’s grasp but the AFL odds for the Blues to make the Top 8 are best avoided.

GEELONG CATS

One of the AFL favourites for the flag pre-season, Geelong Cats have drifted out slightly to the fifth line of AFL betting. A 32-point loss to GWS Giants in a round 1 blockbuster did not help – although Mitch Duncan (3 goals, 21 disposals) put in an eye-catching performance.

The ‘Dad’s Army’ jibe is an easy one to make for the Cats’ detractors: 30-year-old Patrick Dangerfield is the youngest of a blue-chip brigade that includes Tom Hawkins, Joel Selwood, Harry Taylor and Gary Ablett, and recruits Josh Jenkins and Jack Steven.

They’re aiming to fill the hole left by Tim Kelly, and Geelong also needs Jenkins to step up and ease the goal-scoring load on Hawkins.

Still a threat, but the AFL odds and AFL betting tips suggest a repeat of last year’s top-four finish and prelim appearance would be a par achievement.

BRISBANE LIONS

Brisbane Lions were one of the AFL favourites for premiership glory after a breakout 2019 campaign. But like Geelong, the Lions’ dreams of grandeur took a round 1 hit – courtesy of a 28-point loss to Hawthorn at the MCG.

Brisbane snapped a decade-long AFL finals drought in 2019 with a 16–6 season before dipping out in straight sets to Richmond and GWS. But the performance against the Hawks shone the spotlight on the void left by retired veteran Luke Hodge.

Experienced recruit Grant Birchall is battling a hamstring injury, leaving club stalwart Daniel Rich and their best player Lachie Neale as the main men leadership-wise. The Lions boast a super-talented young list, however, and have the benefit of staying in Queensland for the first month after the resumption.

Their AFL odds to make the top 8 look top value, while AFL round 2 tips are favouring a handsome win over the Dockers next Saturday.

MELBOURNE DEMONS

Melbourne Demons began 2019 as one of the AFL favourites for the flag following their prelim appearance the previous season. What ensued last year was a six-month horror show that saw the team garnering just five wins.

A 27-point round 1 loss to West Coast Eagles in Perth was not overly encouraging. But nor was it a reason to hit the panic button.

The outsiders may not feature in too many AFL betting tips for a premiership charge, but if Tom McDonald, Jake Melksham and Alex Neal-Bullen can enjoy a better run with injury and ease the Dees’ goal-kicking woes, superstars Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver can lead the club back up the AFL ladder.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Little has gone right for Western Bulldogs since pre-season AFL betting tips spruiked them as a 2020 premiership dark horse.

The Bulldogs reached the play-offs in 2019 following a two-season flag hangover and, with one of the strongest midfields in the league, were touted as a top-four contender this year.

But a 52-point beat down at the hands of the Magpies in round 1 had some pundits and punters reassessing their chances, while Lachie Hunter’s indiscretions (and subsequent four-match ban) made the club the bad-news story of the season.

Getting Lin Jong, Taylor Duryea and Tom Liberatore back on the field will help get the Bulldogs back on track – but a win over St Kilda next Sunday at low AFL round 2 odds is essential.

GOLD COAST SUNS

AFL odds pegging Gold Coast Suns as favourites in the ‘least wins’ market gives a fair indication of the club’s 2020 outlook.

Wooden spooners in 2019 after back-to-back second-last finishes, the Suns were steamrolled by Port Adelaide Power at home by a 47-point margin in round 1. It was the club’s 19th straight defeat. Getting the top two picks in the draft, taking Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson, helps somewhat but there is precious little star power on Gold Coast’s roster.

The Suns are understandably friendless in AFL round 2 tips, going into next Saturday’s daunting assignment against West Coast Eagles as the biggest outsiders of the round.

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