Carlton v Collingwood
The Magpies have won four of the past five encounters between thse two bitter rivals, but the Blues appear to be the side on a more upward spiral. They were ultra-competitive against reigning premiers Richmond in round one, with the 25-point final scoreline belying their genuine winning chances at various stages.
Carlton will be looking to improve defensive pressure in the forward line, and their midfield will be bolstered by GWS recruit Zac Williams who makes his first appearance in the navy blue.
There looks further improvement in this rising Blues side, while the Pies looked to lack crucial speed through the middle in their 16-point defeat to the Bulldogs.
Steele Sidebottom will bring a touch of class back to the Pies, but he’s not a player who will add much-needed speed to their midfield.
Suggested bet: 2u on Carlton at $1.96
Geelong v Brisbane
The biggest match of the round, with two premiership fancies out to respond to last week’s shock losses to sides many believed would finish bottom four.
The Cats fell to the Crows by two goals, but it was a margin which didn’t tell the exact story of how out-worked they were as short-priced favourites.
They simply had no response to the Crows pressure and speed and are now without star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield who has been suspended for three weeks.
It adds another layer of uncertainty to a midfield which was exposed for its low work-rate in round one.
Just as surprising was the Lions’ 32-point loss to the Swans at home. The Lions appeared out of sorts with poor skills and lacking a focal point up forward despite Joe Daniher’s creditable start to life in Brisbane.
After two indifferent performances in round one, happy to sit this one out and watch which team responds best.
No suggested bet
Sydney v Adelaide
These two sides will be looking to show their round one surprise victories were on fluke.
Sydney was impressive against the Lions and Adelaide likewise beating the Cats. Both sides displayed speed and tenacity and it will be interesting to see if this clash remains as fast-paced as their opening round clashes.
Another point of interest will be the likely return of Swans star Lance Franklin for his first game since 2019.
Franklin’s return and the resurgence of Adelaide forward Tex Walker last week adds another fascinating subplot to this clash.
The market has the Swans clear favourites, likely on the back of home ground advantage, but I suspect this will be much closer than the market suggests.
1u Adelaide win at $3.35
1u Adelaide +19.5 at $1.95
Port Adelaide v Essendon
Another interesting clash with the Power hosting Essendon – one of the curious cases of round one.
Port was far too good for a struggling North Melbourne side and will enjoy being back at Adelaide Oval for the first time this year.
Port continue to display fast and ferocious football and the addition of Orazio Fantasia (four goals last week) – who comes up against his old side – adds another string to an already potent forward line.
Meanwhile, the Bombers produced a head-scratching second half to relinquish a 39-point lead and lose by the barest of margins to Hawthorn.
The Bombers will take plenty of positives out of the first half but will be searching for answers to the second half collapse.
In an ominous sign for the Bombers, Hamish Hartlett and Tom Rockliff are likely inclusions for the Power.
Suggested bet: 1.5u on Port -32.5 at $1.90
St Kilda v Melbourne
Both the Saints and Dees scored victories in round one and can build a solid 2-0 base for their season.
The Saints ground out a courageous away win over the Giants and this week will likely welcome back key players Max King and Zak Jones.
With plenty more talented Saints to return from the injured list as the season progresses, it’s no surprise they are being locked in as a top eight side.
The Dees come off an unconvincing win over an injury-ravaged Freo side and suspect this is a big step up against the Saints.
Suggested bet: 2u St Kilda -8.5 at $1.95
Gold Coast v North Melbourne
An important game to signal the level of development from an improving Suns side with expectations to play finals. Sadly, they’ll have to do it without young gun Matt Rowell who will spend the next few months on the sidelines through injury.
The Suns kicked off the season with the most daunting task in footy – a road trip to Perth against West Coast – but they were far from disgraced. They were right in the contest for all but the last 10 minutes.
North was soundly beaten by a classy Port side and while this is a drop back in grade, home ground advantage the Suns should count for something who should prove they are a few moves ahead of their opponents in the development phase.
Suggested bet: 1.5u Gold Coast -19.5 at $1.85
Hawthorn v Richmond
The Tigers scored a workman-like win over Carlton in round one and expect the reigning premiers to take another step forward against the Hawks.
The Tigers face a Hawthorn side who return from a remarkable second half surge to beat old rivals Essendon by a point.
There were positive signs from the Hawthorn youth, but it wasn’t enough to suggest they’ll be beating a Richmond side likely to go up a notch from the first-up win.
No suggested bet
Western Bulldogs v West Coast
While the Eagles had to dig deep at home to fend off a brave Suns side in round one, it was their final 10 minutes which was arguably their best. If they can continue that momentum into round two, the Eagles are silly odds here against the Bulldogs.
The Dogs were too good for a Collingwood side not expected to be in the mix for finals and will face a sterner test here against an experienced West Coast side.
West Coast has won the past six clashes with the Bulldogs, including two here at Marvel Stadium. I’m aware there’s a touch of hype about the Bulldogs this year, but I’m unconvinced they should be clear favourites as the market suggests.
Suggested bet: 3u West Coast win at $2.55
Fremantle v GWS
The Giants head west and should take the four points against an injury-ravaged Fremantle side.
After looking the winner at various stages, the Giants eventually succumbed to a late surge by St Kilda in round one. The Giants will no doubt be stinging to notch win number one for the season after being agonisingly close against a serious finals contender.
Despite being unable to grab the win, the Giants were impressive during many segments of the clash and with a touch more luck could’ve been on the other side of the ledger.
Fremantle produced a below-par effort to fail against the Demons in a performance riddled with errors.
They may have home ground advantage, but the Giants have won four of their past five against Freo, including a last start win in Perth.
Suggested bet: 2.5u GWS win at $1.97
(Prices quoted Topsport on Wednesday 9pm)