JLT Tips – Week 2

The first week of JLT saw some BIG margins, and a high profile casualty in Robbie Gray. Fortunately for the Power however, it was not injury related and the All-Australian will only miss their Round 1 match.
Week 2 sees a match-up that is almost impossible to predict in the preseason, with the Blues and Saints both in development phases- and this is where the Wolf is going for a bit of value. The Giants and Magpies clash, however, looks a bit lopsided, with a less than impressive forward line being named for the Pies.

Blues v Saints – Wednesday 7.10pm, Carlton

Notable absentees

Blues: Darcy Lang, Sam Docherty, Sam Rowe, Sam Kerridge
Saints: Jack Billings, Tom Hickey, Josh Bruce, Hugh Goddard

Blues and Saints supporters have endured a fair bit of heartache over the last few years, with the Saints last playing finals footy in 2011 and the Blues featuring most recently in 2013. The Blues were dealt a very cruel blow in November when star All-Australian halfback Sam Docherty suffered a season-ending ACL injury in an innocuous training accident. Not only did the rebounding defender earn All-Australian selection; but he won the Carlton B&F, broke the AFL record for most effective kicks in a season and registered the most uncontested marks in a season, ever. New recruits Aaron Mullett (Kangaroos) and Cam O’Shea (previously Power) will get their chance in the preseason to put forward their case to replace Docherty, while big man Harry McKay has been named at Full Forward for what could finally be his breakthrough season.
St Kilda have been relatively untroubled with injury and have named a strong side for their first JLT match, with midfielder David Armitage returning following a disappointing 2017 that saw him only feature in two games thanks to a persistent groin injury. The class of Armitage and a fully-fit Jack Steven is something to keep a close eye on in this game, as is the impact of much-maligned key forward Patty McCartin, who will have a lot of expectation resting on his shoulders after the retirement of Nick Riewoldt.
This match is easily the hardest to predict of any of the Week 1 JLT clashes, so the Wolf doesn’t think you should be parting with all of your savings account, but the price for Carlton is very tempting for a side containing some proven, exciting match-winners like Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy and Charlie Curnow.
Best Bet:  Both Teams to Score 70 Points YES ($2.05)
Value Bet: Carlton WIN ($2.40)
First Goalscorer: Maverick Weller ($17) / Charlie Curnow ($15)

Giants v Magpies – Thursday 7.10pm, Canberra
Notable absentees
Giants: Toby Greene, Rory Lobb, Brett Deledio, Tom Scully, Jacob Hopper, Zac Williams, Nick Haynes, Will Setterfield, Aidan Corr, Matt Buntine, Adam Kennedy
Magpies: Jordan DeGoey, Daniel Wells, Adam Treloar, Jamie Elliot, Darcy Moore, Levi Greenwood, Jeremy Howe, Alex Fasolo

The quality, and quantity, in the list of absentees from both side is staggering; although at least Jordan DeGoey’s dog has stayed out of the headlines this preseason. His owner, however, did not- and will be missing indefinitely. It is certainly a blow as the #5 pick from 2014 is a prodigious ball-winner, though the absence of Alex Fasolo and Jamie Elliot has far greater ramifications for the Magpies, who clearly struggled last season when the talented forward pair were missing. The preseason noise hasn’t been particularly loud this season, apart from the excitement surrounding Jaidyn Stephenson, the high draft pick of last season who could very well prove to be the pick of the draft, despite the worries surrounding his heart condition. How he, and the midfield of Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, Taylor Adams, James Aish and Will Hoskin-Elliot perform will go a long way towards gauging the chances of the Pies in this clash, though the Wolf has some serious reservations about a forward line that was dysfunctional at best last year, even when they did have their star smalls. The targets in this game will be Mason Cox, Chris Mayne, Jarryd Blair and Brodie Grundy (when resting), and that doesn’t stack up well against a very solid Giants defence.
The Giants are missing some pretty classy cattle, and have been ravaged by injury (once again) this preseason- but there are certainly enough A-grade players in this side to get a sense of how they’ve improved after two successive prelim final exits. After rebounding half-back Zac Williams’ season ending achilles injury, his replacement is certainly something to keep an eye on throughout the JLT, with a fit-again Ryan Griffin and Lachie Whitfield both spending time there in intra-club and trial matches. Coach Leon Cameron has also nominated youngsters Harry Perryman and Isaac Cumming as players who could fill the breach- with Perryman named in the back pocket for this game.
A footy team is only as strong as its weakest link, and on this basis the Wolf thinks the Giants will make the Pies night in Canberra very miserable. The Magpies might need to head out to Mooseheads after the game to give themselves a pep up after this.
Best Bet: GWS Giants WIN ($1.33)
Value Bet: GWS -20.5 ($1.90)
First Goalscorer: Will Hoskin-Elliot ($21) / Jonathan Patton ($9)

Bulldogs v Hawks – Saturday 2.05pm, Ballarat
Notable absentees
Bulldogs: Mitch Wallis, Dale Morris, Clay Smith
Hawks: Grant Birchall, Cyril Rioli, James Frawley, Will Langford

2017 was a year to forget for both clubs, with 10th and 12th placed finishes not good enough for a couple of powerhouses. The preseason saw some high profile arrivals, with the Dogs welcoming Jackson Trengrove, Josh Schache and Hayden Crozier and the Hawks including dashing utility Jarman Impey. With the exit of the Jake Stringer and the delisting of Stewart Crameri, the make-up of the Bulldogs forward line is far from settled- and there will definitely be some teething problems in this preseason fixture. The same cannot be said about the Hawks forwards- with Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston, Ryan Schoenmakers, Luke Bruest and Paul Puopolo all elite players who have an incredible understanding of each other, and the Wolf thinks the established line-up is where the Hawks will have the edge. 
Best Bet: Hawthorn WIN ($2.15)
Value Bet: Hawthorn 1-24 ($3.45)
First Goalscorer: Bailey Dale ($17) / Jarman Impey ($26)

Lions v Swans – Saturday 4.35pm, Moreton Bay
Lions: Dayne Beams, Luke Hodge
Swans: Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy, Daniel Hannebery, Zak Jones

The Swans kick their 2018 campaign off in Brisbane, and supporters have every right to be positive about their Premiership chances. While there have been some injury concerns in the preseason, the depth in their list looks strong- with the perfect mix of youngsters and veterans. The shortened JLT represents a chance for Sydney to ensure that the horrendous start of 2017 is not repeated, and there is a very strong team on the park against a developing Lions side that is missing their two best players in Beams and Zorko. Much of the interest in this game surrounds #1 draft pick Cameron Rayner, who is giving Lions supporters plenty to be excited about. He looks AFL-ready and ready to make an immediate impact like Alex Witherden did last year; and it would not be a surprise to see either of those players win the Rising Star award.
The Wolf is keen to jump all over Sydney in this one- the baby Lions won’t be roaring in this game.    
Best Bet: Sydney -22.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Sydney 40+ ($3)
First Goalscorer: Charlie Cameron ($17) / Sam Reid ($11)

Suns v Cats – Sunday 4.35pm, Townsville
Suns: David Swallow, Steven May, Peter Wright
Cats: Scott Selwood, Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett, Harry Taylor

The final game for Week 2 takes place in North Queensland, and unfortunately for fans there won’t be a chance to see Dangerfield, Selwood and Ablett in action. The Cats start $1.74 favourites, despite the absence of their midfield trio- and a long trip up to humid Townsville might give the Suns a slight edge. For the first time in their (short) history, the Suns will be without Ablett- and it gives players like Aaron Hall and Fremantle recruit Lachie Weller a chance to prove they are A-grade midfielders, capable of going with the best in the league.
The return of Sam Day is also welcome relief for Tom Lynch, who will not have to carry the entire team on his shoulders again. They simply just need the midfield to get the ball inside 50 often enough, and they will be competitive. With an inexperienced, and undersized, Geelong defence further crippled by the departures of Tom Longergan and Andrew Mackie, the Suns represent great value at $2.10, and the Wolf will definitely be having a play on Lynch landing an exotic.
Best Bet: Gold Coast WIN ($2.10)
Value Bet: Wire to Wire GOLD COAST ($3.70)
First Goalscorer: Tom Lynch ($7.50) / Brandan Parfitt ($26)