For the 2nd time this season, all 9 AFL favourites won last week, and on the back of 7/9 and 8/9 winning the two previous weeks, it would be fair to say that the results on AFL have been running fairly predictably. The multi for all 9 to win last week worked at around $4.70 based on the prices Wednesday, but the task is not so easy this week with the Wednesday price for Round 7 being $21.90.
The game of the round is clearly at Etihad on Friday night when the two undefeated sides, Geelong and Essendon, do battle. Friday night matches are always the biggest betting games of the round, but this is shaping as potentially the best of the year, and while 80% of the early money has been for Geelong at $1.62, the Bombers have plenty of followers at $2.30. Geelong remain the $4.50 second pick behind Hawthorn ($3.75) to win the flag while Essendon are at $8.00. Less than $300 has been placed on Essendon to win the big one since the first round began, and the reasons for that are obvious, whereas Geelong have probably been the best backed side over the last couple of weeks. Depending on the result of this game as well as the Hawks v Swans match, we may well have a new favourite next week.
Hawthorn have been winning, but could quite easily have lost their last 2 matches, and with Buddy Franklin struggling, and Cyril Rioli out, we expected the Hawks to drift in betting this week. That hasn’t been the case however as the opening $1.60 disappeared quickly and there has been continued support for them at $1.57 while Sydney is out to $2.40. The stats point towards this match being a close one, and we have seen that in the line betting with the preference for the Swans at +10.5 as opposed to Hawthorn at the minus.
There have been several betting moves early this week, mostly for the favourites, and one of those has been Port Adelaide. The Power may have lost their first match for the season in Tasmania last week but they wouldn’t have lost too many admirers, and in a terrific betting game they have firmed from an opening $1.70 into $1.67 to beat Richmond this week. The largest of the early bets was $5000, and there has been money for them again at the shorter quote, however Richmond is also attracting support at $2.20.
As is the case with the Aussie Rules, a tough round of rugby league is looming as well. The price for all favourites to win round 9 is around the $21 mark, and only 3 of those fav’s are playing at home. Of the 64 games played so far this season, 38 have been won by the ‘home’ side, so that suggests there could be an upset or two. That’s how we see it, but punters view it differently as no less than 6 of the 8 fav’s have firmed since betting opened on Tuesday.
The North Queensland Cowboys have lost their last 8 matches at ANZ Stadium, and punters think that they will not improve on that record on Friday night. Souths opened at $1.33 in this match but some heavy action, mostly through multis, saw that price crash into $1.28 by Thursday morning. Even the line of -8.5 has met with heavy support, including several bets of $2000. The Cowboys were fortunate to get away with a win against Parramatta last week, and they have always struggled on the road.
The two other significant firmers for the week have been Canterbury and the Roosters. Canterbury travel across the ditch to play the Warriors, but this game will be played away from the Warriors home base. Wellington will host the match, and although the Warriors have definitely been on the improve the last few rounds, Canterbury are back in favour with the betting public after an ordinary start to the season. The opening $1.60 didn’t last long, and they have continued to firm into $1.50. The Roosters opened at $1.90 equal favourites with Manly in their Monday night clash, but that price was slashed to $1.75 when it was announced that Brett Stewart would be out for a month with a back injury. Manly toughed it out against the Dragons on Monday night, and the Roosters have piled on a lot of points in recent wins, but Manly look likely to get to decent odds considering they are at home.
There has been a bit of movement in the Origin Series market with all the injury concerns for NSW. The Blues are out to $2.25 with Queensland the dominant $1.65 favourites.
The win by the Crusaders over the Brumbies last week has elevated the Crusaders into second favouritism at $4.75 to win the competition, but it is still wide open. The Chiefs are back in form and head the betting at $4.00 with the Brumbies at $5.00 and the Reds at $7.50. The Chiefs look to be a strong chance for maximum points this week when they host the Force, quoted at $1.11 with a line of 14.5 points. The Force have been beaten by 18 and 28 points on the 2 occasions they have played the Chiefs in New Zealand, but the travelling side would take some comfort in that fact that the Chiefs have not covered the line in their last 5 matches.
The Reds have been struggling of late with 2 draws and 2 wins by a solitary point in their last 5 matches, but punters are content to be on them at the $1.34 or -6.5 this week against the Sharks. The Sharks have a fantastic record against the Reds (6 of last 7), but are on a losing streak of 4 in a row and have lost Frans Steyn. All points towards a Reds win, this should be a good pointer to where they are at.
The Waratahs had a record breaking 72-10 win over the Kings last week, but they come off a 6 day turnaround and a return trip from South Africa this week. Punters have been apprehensive to take the $1.77 for the Waratahs against the Stormers, and the reasons above may explain that. The Stormers on the other hand have only had to come from Auckland where they suffered an unlucky narrow loss. They have won their last 3 against the Waratahs, but all of those were in Cape Town. While the Waratahs racked up that big score last week, the last 5 matches between these 2 sides have seen an overage of only 28 points, so if the game is played defensively, the Stormers might come away with the points.
The Players Championship at Sawgrass is often referred to as the 5th Major, and while that may be a questionable description, there is always big interest in it, and this year is no different.
Tiger Woods is the TattsBet $8.50 favourite ahead of Adam Scott ($17), Luke Donald ($19( and Rory McIlroy ($19), and while Tiger is a previous winner in 2001, his overall record of only 1 win from 14 starts suggests that he has struggled with the course. The same applies to McIlroy who has once again met with huge support. The Irishman has missed the cut in all 3 starts at Sawgrass, and it would be fair to say that his lead-up form in those years was far superior to this year. Adam Scott naturally is one of our worst results after winning the Masters, and has been missing in action since that win, so it will be interesting to see how he fires this week. Matt Kuchar ($34) is the defending champion but has been shunned to some degree while Phil Mickelson (winner in 2007) has been well backed at $26. Mickelson was beaten into 3rd place in the Wells Fargo where he looked the likely winner before having bogies at 2 of the last 3 holes. This is one of the few times that we haven’t seen any serious money for Sergio Garcia, but it is worth noting that he did win in 2008 and finished 2nd to Mickelson the previous year, so knows the course well.
Sebastian Vettel is coming off a win in Bahrain, and with 2 wins from the 4 races so far this season, Vettel deserves the $3.00 favourites tag this week in Spain. Last year’s race was won by Pastor Maldonado who is a $301 pop this year, but there have been a handful of small bets for him to do the same again. Fernando Alonso is the second elect at $3.50 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen ($4.50), then it is out to $10 for Mark Webber. The Australian is a previous winner here back in 2010 when he defeated Alonso, and was placed in 2009. There has been plenty of early money to say that he can win again, and there has been a similar push for Lewis Hamilton at $15. One key statistic jumps out on this race, and that is that it is a huge advantage to qualify fastest. The winners of 8 of the last 9 races in Spain have come from pole position, the only one who didn’t was Vettel in 2011 who came from 2 on the grid after Webber qualified fastest. The Red Bulls have the necessary speed, so perhaps the value is with the favourite and Webber at the longer price?
Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes dominated the V8 Supercar racing in Perth last weekend, and the wins in races 2 and 3 at Barbagallo, Whincup is into $2.50 to win the title. The win by Lowndes in race 1 was his 11th in Perth and his 91st overall win, surpassing the great Mark Skaife, and he is now into $4.00 ahead of Will Davison at $5.25.
The V8’s will next race in Texas the weekend after this on the newly built circuit ‘The Americas’. It is the same course that the motor bikes went around on recently, and it will be very interesting to see if the Americans take to our V8 racing.
The Nascar race in Talladega last weekend looked more like a demolition derby, and with a lengthy stoppage due to rain and a pile up in the last lap, the race was eventually won by David Ragan, a $67 bolter. Carl Edwards ($15) finished second just ahead of another outsider in Michael Waltrip ($41).
The action this week moves to Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Jimmie Johnson finished fourth in Talladega and is the TattsBet opening equal favourite at $8.00 along with Kyle Busch. Johnson won the corresponding race last year from Denny Hamlin, and Hamlin ($9.00) is expected to be back in the field this week after being a late withdrawal last week. Edwards ($11) might be hard to beat again following his last start as he has finished second here in 2008 and 2011, while Jeff Gordon ($13) also has form on this track with a won in 2007 and a second the previous year.
Two Superbike races will be held in Italy this week, and Eugene Laverty is the $2.75 favourite to win race 1. Laverty won the second race in Assen a couple of weeks ago, and is also the $3.50 favourite to win the 2013 title. Monza has been a good track for Laverty where he won both races in 2011, but Tom Sykes, second pick at $3.50, looms as the big danger. Sykes won a race here last year (other race abandoned), and was the other winner in Assen, and has attracted some early support to win again. The only other real threat by the betting is Sylvain Guintoli ($4.00), with a long gap to Marco Melandri and Jonathon Rea at $9.00.
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