Dusty Lines for Footy Inc.
The final home & away round throws up a mix of lines with three 40+ point lines and a couple of narrow lines (below 5 points). The tightest line of all is the Cats vs Giants clash which is a battle for a home qualifying final.
After the Crows dropped a line last week against Sydney and the Tigers smashed their line against the Dockers, the Tigers have taken the outright lead on the line ladder.
ROUND 23 LINES
Hawthorn +3.5 / Western Bulldogs -3.5
The Bulldogs are not yet officially out of the finals race but it would take a minor miracle for them to sneak into the top 8. They need to win and also require the Bombers, West Coast and St Kilda all to lose. West Coast and St Kilda both have tough matches but the Bombers play the Dockers at Etihad Stadium which will likely be the final blow that kills off the Doggies season.
Both the Hawks and Bulldogs will be seeing off club champions with Luke Hodge playing his last match for Hawthorn and Robert Murphy and Matthew Boyd playing in the Dogs team for the last time (unless that unlikely finals spot opens up). Josh Gibson is also retiring but injury will keep him from playing in round 23.
Despite an overall disappointing year the Bulldogs have managed a 7-3 win/loss record at Etihad Stadium. The Hawks have only played one game at Etihad this season – that was the surprise loss last week against Carlton. The Dogs should cover the narrow -3.5 point line.
Hawthorn +3.5 points – Big O
Western Bulldogs -3.5 points – Dusty, Moose Dogs, Hollywood, Shan, TRM, Ding Dong
Collingwood +9.5 / Melbourne -9.5
The Pies are finishing off the season with some decent form with 3 wins, 2 respectable losses to top teams (Geelong and Port Adelaide) and a draw to top-of-the-table Adelaide from their last six matches. They have shot up the line ladder over that stretch – they currently sit in 4th (see the line ladder at the top of this post).
The Demons won the Queen’s Birthday clash narrowly (4 points) and have been one of the best performing teams in the latter part of the season (8-4 win/loss after round 9).
Melbourne have also won their last four at the MCG. From 13 matches at the MCG, Collingwood have won only three, lost nine and drawn one. On that basis, the Demons should take the relatively small -9.5 point line.
Collingwood +9.5 points – Moose Dogs, Ding Dong
Melbourne -9.5 points – Dusty, Big O, Hollywood, Shan, TRM
Brisbane -12.5 / North Melbourne +12.5
With the loser here claiming the wooden spoon and the #1 draft pick, talks of tanking have been running rife. But both coaches have assured the football community that the culture of their respective clubs is more important than one position in the draft order.
Form suggests the Lions can knock off the Kangaroos on Saturday. In the second half of the season they have beaten three other lowly teams at the Gabba (Fremantle, Carlton and Gold Coast) and adding North Melbourne to the list would round out a year of solid improvement for their young group. Lions to cover the -12.5 point line.
Brisbane -12.5 points – Dusty, Big O, Moose Dogs, Hollywood, Shan, Ding Dong
North Melbourne +12.5 points – TRM
Sydney -52.5 / Carlton +52.5
It seems like light years ago now but in round 6 this year the Blues beat the Swans by 19 points at the MCG. However, the Sydney team that Carlton will face at the SCG this weekend is a completely different team. Last week they knocked off the ladder leading Crows in Adelaide and took their win/loss record after that round 6 loss to Carlton to 13-2.
The Swans have dished out some seriously big hidings in the second half of the season and with percentage a possible factor in them earning 4th position on the ladder and a double chance in the finals, the big -52.5 point line could be given a serious shake.
Sydney -52.5 points – Dusty
Carlton +52.5 points – Big O, Moose Dogs, Hollywood, Shan, TRM, Ding Dong
Geelong -1.5 / GWS +1.5
3rd (Geelong) vs 2nd (GWS) playing off for a home qualifying final in the first week of finals. It could also be this very match-up in that qualifying final.
These two teams played out a draw in Sydney just eight weeks ago. This time the Cats will have their home ground advantage on their side – they’ve won 5 out of 6 games at Simonds Stadium this season.
The Cats however have serious injury problems while the Giants have almost a full strength team.
The line is incredibly tight suggesting that we could be in for a great match between two top teams. The Cats overcome similar circumstances against the Tigers two weeks ago at Simonds but the Giants might prove to be an even tougher battle.
Geelong -1.5 points – TRM
GWS +1.5 points – Dusty, Big O, Moose Dogs, Hollywood, Shan, Ding Dong
Port Adelaide -48.5 / Gold Coast +48.5
We’ve seen it several times already this year – when Port Adelaide get a chance to trample a weaker team they make the most of it. In round 8 the Power beat the Suns by 72 points in China. This time at the Adelaide Oval with 4th position on the ladder and a double chance in the finals a real possibility, the -48.5 point line looks well within Port Adelaide’s reach.
Port Adelaide -48.5 points – Dusty, Big O, Moose Dogs, Hollywood, TRM, Ding Dong
Gold Coast +48.5 points – Shan
Essendon -42.5 / Fremantle +42.5
Another big line here and it is no surprise given the Dockers have lost two matches in a row by more than 100 points.
The Dockers did beat the Bombers by 37 points in round 7 but this time in Melbourne the Bombers go into the match with better form and a spot in the finals to protect.
Essendon should get the win easily but Fremantle need to restore some pride and should take the line with a 42.5 point head start.
Essendon -42.5 points – Big O, Hollywood, TRM, Ding Dong
Fremantle +42.5 points – Dusty, Moose Dogs, Shan
Richmond -17.5 / St Kilda +17.5
There’s an outside chance that the Saints can squeeze into the top 8 but it would require a win over Richmond as well as an upset loss for the Bombers against Fremantle and the Eagles to lose to the Crows. Everything coming off in the Saints favour is highly unlikely but the part the Saints can control could easily go their way – they beat the Tigers by 67 points in round 16.
The Tigers also have a lot to play for on Sunday with a win securing a top 4 finish and a double chance in the finals. Recent form and the Tigers 8-2 win/loss record at the MCG this season point towards a Tigers win but that demolition job that the Saints performed on the Tigers in round 16 is still fresh in the memory.
Saints at the +17.5 point line.
Richmond -17.5 points – Big O, Hollywood, Shan, TRM, Ding Dong
St Kilda +17.5 points – Dusty, Moose Dogs
West Coast +10.5 / Adelaide -10.5
This match is made much harder to tip due to it being the final match of the round (and of the home & away season) because Adelaide may already have top spot on the ladder secured (if Geelong beat GWS) and West Coast’s finals aspirations may be all but dead and buried (if Essendon have a big win over Fremantle).
But regardless of the situation the Crows are unlikely to mess with their form heading into finals – Adelaide to cover the -10.5 point line.
West Coast +10.5 points – Moose Dogs
Adelaide -10.5 points – Dusty, Big O, Hollywood, Shan, TRM, Ding Dong
The line tipping table after round 22:
Round 23 results and an updated ladder will be published next week on Footy Inc..