MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Taylor Walker of the Crows celebrates a goal with Josh Jenkins (L) during the round one AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium on March 26, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Round 14 preview

Adelaide v North Melbourne – Thursday Night, Adelaide Oval

Thursday night football returns to the calendar this week and the refreshed Crows take on the walking wounded North Melbourne.

It is a battle between two of the most enigmatic and exciting forward lines in the game with Petrie (3 goals @ $3.50), Thomas, Waite, Wood (8 handballs @ $2.06) and Ben Brown against Betts (4 goals @ $3.80), Walker (8 marks @ $2.87), Jenkins (4 goals @ $4.00), Lynch (10 handballs @ $2.08) and Charlie Cameron.

Adelaide have reinvigorated themselves during a much needed week off following their impressive victory over West Coast that showed they were a force to be reckoned with. Being as well-drilled as they are, there is no doubt time has been allowed to review their win and continue to grow what has made them so dangerous.

These two sides met in Round 1 at Etihad, with the Roos taking the win by 10 points. The Crows were a formidable opponent that night and will be desperate to make amends in front of their home crowd. Unfortunately for the Kangaroos, Daniel Wells (31 disposals @ $2.37) is unlikely to play due to injury which is a further blow to their mounting injury list.

The Roos have lost their last two games are in danger of sinking further down the ladder this weekend. They will be expected to get skipper Andrew Swallow (15 handballs @ $3.29) back, and Ben Cunnington (16 contested possessions @ $2.35) would be likely to return too along with key forward Jarred Waite.

Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins could hold the key to a Crows victory, with the pair combining for 6 goals last time these sides met. Tex Walker has been in great form of late and will look to impose himself on the game once again.

North showed last week that they were able to match it with the best in Hawthorn, so it won’t be an easy one for the Crows at home. Their fresher legs and the home crowd will play a big part for the Crows, so they should win this one and edge ever closer to the top four – particularly with a favourable draw in the back end of the season.

Prediction: Crows by 14pts

Mad Bookie’s suggested bet: North +17.5 @ $1.90

Suggested Player Bet: Brent Harvey to kick at least 3 goals @ $3.00

Collingwood v Fremantle – Friday Night, MCG

Collingwood are returning from a much needed week off to face the Dockers, who have won their past three matches after starting 0-10. The Dockers will travel to Melbourne on Wednesday and will hope that their good form has given them plenty of confidence to keep moving forward and try to get back up the ladder this season.

Collingwood’s form of late has been poor. They have lost their past three matches against Melbourne, Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, leaving them 14th on the ladder – hard to believe that just a month ago they were a game outside the eight, following a stirring victory over the Cats.

The Dockers can jump ahead of Collingwood if they win, which will be more of a mental victory than anything. Fremantle have beaten Collingwood three of the last five times they have played and will look to add to that record at the MCG. Michael Barlow (32 disposals @ 2.30) was electric last week with 42 disposals, proving to coach Ross Lyon he is capable of playing at AFL level while the fitness of Matthew Pavlich will be monitored as the former skipper has not traveled often. Lachie Neale (38 disposals @ $2.48) is the number one possession-getter in the game at the moment and had 38 disposals on Saturday, so look for him to once again put together similar sort of figures.

Steele Sidebottom (2 goals @ $3.00) has been one of Collingwood’s best players all season long and should be fresher off the back of the bye, so expect him to give his all to win the game. He is averaging 26.0 disposals and a goal per game so there is plenty to like about Sidebottom’s year if you’re a Collingwood supporter.

This is a tough game to tip, as both sides are desperate for wins. I haven’t really liked Collingwood’s form this season and they haven’t done much to convince me they can win here whereas Freo were tremendous last week and will look to grow in confidence. Should be a close contest but the Purple Haze are up and about, so look for them to go that little bit harder with a week off next week.

Prediction: Dockers by 24pts

Mad Bookie’s suggested Bet: Fremantle H2H @ $2

Suggested Player Bet: Lachie Weller to kick at least 3 goals @ $3.50

Richmond v Brisbane – Saturday Afternoon, MCG

The Tigers won their game before the bye against the Suns, but were tested along the way. They will hope that the other team from Queensland are a much easier proposition and gain some much needed percentage along the way.

Brisbane haven’t won a game since Round 4, and to be honest have been blown away ever since. They have had 1644 points scored against them this season, the most of any team in the competition and the Bombers losing meant it kept them off the bottom of the ladder – for now.

Richmond need to win these games to keep themselves in the hunt as it’s ultimately “do or die” now for the Tigers. A nine game streak akin to the one they put together in 2014 will be required if they are to see any September football.

Jack Riewoldt (9 marks @ $3.31) has been playing higher up the ground this season, but expect him to get some action in front of goals this week. He hasn’t scored as often this season and will be looking to change that against a very young and shaky Lions defence. Trent Cotchin (16 handballs @ $2.63) and Brett Deledio (28 disposals @ $2.86) are having good seasons and will need another big possession game here to make sure it’s a sure thing.

Dayne Zorko (30 disposals @ $3.10) and Pearce Hanley (2 goals @ $3.00) were good last week, while Daniel Rich (17 kicks @ $2.56) continues to show that his best is electrifying.

It will be a tough day at the ‘G for the Lions as this is just the percentage boosting game that the Tigers need to make up a few spots on the ladder. If all things go their way, Sunday night could have them sitting at ninth.

Prediction: Tigers by 72pts

Mad Bookie’s suggested bet: Richmond at the line 41.5 @ $1.90

Suggested Player Bet: Trent Cotchin to get at least 33 possessions @ $2.36         

Greater Western Sydney v Carlton – Saturday Twilight, Spotless Stadium

The Blues’ run of good form came to an end against St. Kilda in round 12 and following the bye, things just get tougher for the Blues with a trip to Sydney to take on the inform Giants.

Toby Greene continues to impress, having kicked at least three goals in his past five matches, so expect him to get on the board again in the same vain. Heath Shaw (6 handballs @ $3.42) had another 30 disposal game and continues to perform in the back half, racking up 27 kicks on the weekend. Both players contribute immensely in their respective halves and are vital to the team’s setup. Midfielders Callan Ward (9 clearances @ $2.18) and Dylan Shiel (12 contested possessions @ $2.08) continue to rack up possessions, averaging 24 and 28 disposals respectively, and this game could see them continue that trend.

The Giants will hope to regain Shane Mumford this week after he injured his ankle a week ago, however they could take a conservative approach with the big man especially with a bye following the Carlton clash.

The Blues will be without skipper Marc Murphy again and might look to inject young talent Jack Silvagni into the fold for the first time. This father-son selection has been in great form in the VFL, kicking eight goals from his last two outings in the reserves, and has not been far from justifying his debut.

The Giants got a scare last week, but shouldn’t have any such issues in this one. Albeit the Blues are a little fresher, we all know GWS are full of talented youngsters who on their day will be far too good for this Carlton side. They have turned Spotless Stadium into somewhat of a fortress in recent times and have decimated teams there previously – this could be one of those situations.

Prediction: Giants by 42pts

Mad Bookie’s Suggested Bet: Giants over 40 points

Suggested Player Bet: Toby Greene to kick at least 4 goals @ $2.95

St.Kilda v Geelong – Saturday Night, Etihad Stadium

St. Kilda showed some positive signs against the Blues before the bye and will go into this clash believing they can beat the Cats. The reality is they probably can’t, but if they can catch the Cats off guard early, they may gain some confidence and keep rolling.

That said, the Cats are a team with very few – if any – weaknesses, and the Saints are a team of young, emerging talent. They won’t be able to compete with Geelong for four quarters, whilst Jack Steven (8 clearances @ $2.19) and David Armitage (14 contested possessions @ 3.36) will struggle to contain Dangerfield (10 clearances @ $2.70) and Selwood (5 marks @ $2.46). The contest between both ruckman, Tom Hickey and Zac Smith, could also pose as one of the more interesting duels the game will have to offer.

The Saints will be boosted by the return of their skipper Nick Riewoldt who is averaging 20 disposals and 10 marks per game playing up the ground. Paddy McCartin will also return as the Saints look to try and exploit the Geelong defence with height. Harry Taylor (10 marks @ $2.72) is a contested marking machine and will be pivotal down back to stop the likes of Bruce, Membrey and McCartin who have combined well in recent times.

Seb Ross is averaging 28 disposals a game this year and will play game number 50 this weekend which will hopefully accompany a win. The Saints and Cats played out a draw late last season in what was a cracking battle and who could forget the 2009 thriller where both teams were undefeated? This could be different though and if the Saints want to prove they’re making progress, fade outs like ones against the Eagles and Crows will have to be a thing of the past. The Cats will win pretty easy in the end, but the week off will have helped the Saints who will fight all the way.

Prediction: Cats by 26pts

Mad Bookie’s suggested bet: St.Kilda at the line +34.5 @ $1.90

Suggested Player Bet: Seb Ross to have at least 31 disposals @ $2.25

Hawthorn v Gold Coast – Sunday afternoon, Aurora Stadium

This is the stand-alone Sunday afternoon fixture of Round 14. The Suns fly all the way down to Tasmania to take on the Hawks who sit in the top four for the first time this season following their win over the Kangaroos.

They were ruthless against North Melbourne, and more importantly they kicked straighter, which ultimately won them the game. Jordan Lewis (17 handballs @ $2.37) lead the Hawks all night with 31 possessions and a goal and will once again hope to take the game away from the Suns.

James Sicily (8 marks @ $2.71) showed that the Hawks forward line is in safe hands for years to come as he booted five goals, guided the Hawks over the line and earned himself a Rising Star nomination in the process. The Hawks haven’t lost in Launceston since 2012, and it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon – they have made the ground their own and we should expect their stellar run to continue.

Gary Ablett (32 disposals @ $2.37) and Sam Mitchell (18 handballs @ $2.62) will go head to head – which will be fascinating – and both will hope to drive their sides forward, especially Ablett who has had a few lean weeks. Both men are crucial to their side’s midfield success and it will be an intriguing battle.

The Suns haven’t won since Round 3, and that streak doesn’t look like it will end soon as they haven’t been able to get any sort of continuity into their game.  Shining light Tom Lynch (4 goals @ $3.80) is still (remarkably) sitting third on the Coleman Medal tally, and will be hoping for another big bag of goals this week. James Frawley (18 disposals @ $2.88) would be his likely matchup but they may need two players to try and stop him from having any sort of impact.

Will be tough down south for the Suns, who are facing their 12th straight loss, and with the prospect of losing more players at seasons end, they will want to start winning to entice some very talented players to stick around.

Prediction: Hawks by 56pts

Mad Bookie’s suggested bet: Hawthorn 40+

Suggested Player Bet: Luke Breust to kick at least 4 goals @ $2.85