Fremantle landed a decent plunge when they defeated the Eagles in the first part of round 1 last week, but punters did come out of the weekend slightly behind after Essendon were too good for Adelaide on Friday night.
Betting has been open on the Round One games for nearly 2 months, and the Brisbane Lions have been the biggest ‘go’ in the first round that we have ever seen. The Lions opened at $1.83, but good NAB Cup form and weight of money has been relentless since that price started to move. Matthew Boyd is now out of the Bulldogs side, and that has created another wave for the Lions with bets of $6000 and $5000 at $1.40, $6000 at -16.5 and $7500 for Brisbane -15.5 at $1.75 on the Tri Bet option. The Bulldogs have gone from $1.95 out to $3.10, and there is no interest at all in them.
Port Adelaide have been big firmers in their match against Melbourne on Sunday, and they are another side who impressed in the pre-season. Port opened at $2.30 but are pushing for favouritism at $1.95 following on from several 4 figure bets for them. The ratio of bets for Port over Melbourne is running at 10-1, but wins for them away from home are a rarity.
Geelong have had the wood on Hawthorn in recent years, and there has been good money ($2.55-$2.40) in the last week for them to do the same again at the MCG on Monday. The Hawks had an ordinary NAB Cup campaign but did leave several players out each time they played, but punters haven’t been overly keen to take the short odds here, or for them to win the flag. Hawthorn have eased from $4.00 out to $5.00 with most other sides in commission attracting solid support. Amazingly there has been more betting for Brisbane ($67-$34) over the last 3 weeks than Hawthorn.
Although we are only two matches into the new season, Jobe Watson has overtaken Gary Ablett as the Brownlow favourite at $7.00. Watson was clearly the best on the ground in Essendon’s win over Adelaide and would be in line for a certain 3 votes there.
Favoured teams were again to the fore in the NRL last week with 6 of the 8 winning, but only 4 of those covered the allocated line. Melbourne had a hard fought 4 point win over the Bulldogs, and the one anomaly to come out of the weekend was that the Bulldogs firmed in premiership betting ($8.00-$7.00) even though they lost. You don’t see that happen too often but the Bulldogs were valiant up against the form side of the competition and start to get some of their better players back this week, headed up by Ben Barba. Melbourne are still the benchmark, however, and there was another bet of $5000 placed on them last week at $4.00 before that win.
There have been a few early moves on this week’s games and Melbourne is one of those. The Storm opened at $1.36 against Brisbane and that was quickly snapped up with one of the early bets being $6000. Brisbane were poor last week against the Roosters but have named Justin Hodges for this week. This will be the first time that the Broncos have been the longest priced team of the round ($3.25), and they will also be at home which makes it more startling.
The Manly v Tigers game will be played on Thursday night, and be aware that this will be played in Gosford even though it is a Manly home game. That hasn’t deterred punters though as Manly have been the medium of heavy support, $1.48 into $1.40 in the first 24 hours of betting. They wouldn’t have lost too many friends when going down to the Gold Coast last week, and are expected to bounce back here.
The Warriors have been terrible so far this season, and the team and the coach are under enormous pressure form the media. The fact that they haven’t won a game is bad enough, but they are yet to score a point in the first half this season as well. Luckily for them they are taking on the Cowboys, a side who they have been able to beat consistently in New Zealand, and another side who are coming off a heavy loss. On form the Warriors should be much longer that the $2.95 quote they opened at, but we are giving them one more chance to atone!
The Highlanders were one of the best backed sides to win this year’s Super Rugby title but remain winless after 4 matches. To date they have been the lowest scoring team in the competition, but are $1.66 to turn all of that around against the Reds on Friday night. The Reds have their own problems with a growing injury toll , and have failed to win in 7 starts against the Highlanders in New Zealand, and the early signs from punters suggest that this is likely to be a win to the Highlanders.
The Brumbies suffered their first defeat of the season in Cape Town last Saturday night, and although they will be back at home this week, the Bulls have a distinct advantage in that they only have to travel down from Brisbane. The Bulls have a good recent record against the Brumbies having won 4 of the last 5 games, but 4 of those were in Pretoria. On the flip side to that is that they have only been able to produce 1 win from their last 6 visits to Canberra, and Stegmann has been added to a growing injury list. The Brumbies have opened at $1.28 with the Bulls at $3.60, and the line has been set at 8.5 points.
The game of the round will be the Stormers at home to the Crusaders, and although the Stormers defeated the Brumbies last week, this will be no easy assignment. They have opened at $1.55 with the line set at 3.5 points in their favour, but have a terrible overall record against the Crusaders with only 2 wins coming from the last 13 meetings, including losing 3 of their last 4 at home. This game does have all the signs of a potential upset, and if the Crusaders can win, they will be back into favourites to take the title.
Tiger Woods was back in the winner’s circle last week, and he is now all the rage to win the upcoming Masters. Woods was $7.00 in the original market, and while he has been a consistent firmer since then, it has been this week where we have taken most of the action at $4.25. Rory McIlroy remains second elect at $9.00 ahead of Phil Mickelson ($12), but there has been good support for Adam Scott and Brandt Snedeker, both of whom are $21.
McIlroy is the $10 favourite to win the Houston Open this week, and while the field will be missing several of the big names, this event hasn’t been too kind to Rory. He has had 2 starts in the Houston Open for a 19th in 2009 before missing the cut in 2010, and although he has shown flashes of brilliance recently, he is clearly still struggling with the new clubs. Keegan Bradley is the second pick at $14, but apart from McIlroy, the money has come for Louis Oosthuizen ($26), Bill Haas ($34) and Lee Westwood at the same quote. Oosthuizen finished third here last year to Hunter Mahan, and while Mahan looks one of the players to beat, he has been unwanted at $17.
It would be fairly safe to assume that Sebastian Vettel will not be on Mark Webber’s Christmas card list this year, but those who took the $2.75 for Vettel to win in Malaysia were happy with his decision to go against team orders and pass team-mate Mark Webber. Team orders also played a role in determining 3rd position with Lewis Hamilton taking that position after Nico Rosberg was instructed not to pass. That race has seen the issue of ‘team orders’ surface again after all thought that there had been a resolution to it all a couple of years ago. Those who took the $19 for Webber can feel aggrieved as those who backed Rosberg for a Top 3 finish. Unfortunately the rules regarding this are still grey at best, and will definitely affect how people bet on some drivers until the official stance is clarified.
Having said that, there will be a break of a couple of weeks before the Chinese Grand Prix, and betting is open on that. Vettel is the favourite at $2.75 ahead of Fernando Alonso ($4.00) and Kimi Raikkonen ($6.50), with Webber and Lewis Hamilton at $9.00. Alonso started the $2.60 favourite in Malaysia and showed enough in the qualifying sessions before crashing out on the first lap to say that he will be hard to beat in China.
There is a host of sport on over the Easter weekend, but one of the time honoured events on the sporting calendar will be held on Monday. The Stawell Gift is probably the biggest athletics event held in Australia, and this year’s Gift will see one of the fastest men on the planet, Asafa Powell. The Jamaican is more at home over distances shorter than the 120 metres of the Gift, and will also be trying to win off scratch, but if he can overcome those 2 hurdles then he looms as the one to beat. Powell is a big drawcard and punters like his chances as he has been popular at $5.00 since the market opened. Several runners have been backed to beat him however including Augustine Carty-Cowling ($7.00), Aaron Stubbs ($13), Shane Woodrow ($21-$13) and two time finalist Kevin Britain ($29-$23). There have only been 2 winners come off scratch at Stawell, the great Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa (Ravelo) in 1975 and Josh Ross in 2005. Heats will be conducted on Saturday with the semis and the final set to be run on Monday.