St Kilda Saints v Melbourne Demons

Saturday March 25, 4:35pm – Etihad Stadium

The two teams tipped to shake up the eight this year meet in round one. The Dees opened as slight favourites, but the money is all St Kilda, unbeaten in five starts against the Demons. The Saints hold a big home ground advantage here; the Betfair model has them 17.5 point favourites. While Jordan Lewis and Jake Melksham add an element of toughness, the Demons lack speed and that’s the St Kilda strength. Both lists have enormous room for improvement, but I’m confident at close to ‘pick em’ odds the value is with Saints this early in the piece.

Betting Strategy

BACK – St Kilda HTH

Essendon Bombers v Hawthorn Hawks

Saturday March 25, 7:25pm – Melbourne Cricket Ground

What a big night at the ‘G’. The return of the Bombers squad from the abyss and the return of Jarryd Roughead. If there were a match to attend for the weekend this would be it. Expect plenty of emotion that could spill over into ‘line in the sand’ type spot fires. Luke Hodge is out following behavioural issues. The model makes Hawthorn a seven goal better team, which suggests it is happy with the Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell replacements. Hawks have won seven of the last eight clashes and more often than not, it is a belting. No doubt Roughead will straighten the Hawks up, which was severely lacking in 2016. Both sides will lack polish but happy to side with Hawthorn who hold a big mental edge.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Hawthorn – Minus

Fremantle Dockers v Geelong Cats

Sunday March 26, 4:40pm – Domain Stadium

The market and model are red hot on Geelong in round one. However, it’s hard to step into the Cats away at $1.50, especially with Cam McCarthy firing in a new look Fremantle forward line. The Dockers have showed positive signs in the off-season and no coach can turn around a ‘dead’ side quite like Ross Lyon can. Does the market know Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright are retired? The impact of both veterans could be bigger than most expect. Patrick Dangerfield will need to carry this side into the top four, as will Nat Fyfe if the Dockers are thinking finals football. The cats are top heavy across the park and I’m expecting the addition of new blood and youth to be enough to put the cats on back foot with Fremantle holding a slight edge (3-2) in recent encounters.

Betting Strategy

LAY – Geelong HTH

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