Australia is ready. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is ready. As an excited nation waits for the Australian Football League’s Grand Final clash between Hawthorn Hawks and Fremantle Dockers, the only way to pass time is by checking the latest team news and placing a handful of cheeky bets.
Such a monumental encounter means many punters will brave the bookmakers with a large wad of cash. Can Hawthorn—the AFL’s No. 1 offensive team this campaign—overpower an opponent that has posted the best defensive record of the season?
Let’s consider the latest round of team news before breaking down betting odds that should grab your attention.
Jonathan Simpkin Added to Hawthorn’s Selection
Alastair Clarkson’s team head into the 2013 Grand Final in excellent form and decent fitness. The side from Victoria have just one major loss to deal with against the Dockers, but boy, is it a saddening one.
As written by Matt Windley of the Herald Sun, defensive player Brendan Whitecross has succumbed to another career blow after limping out of Hawks’ preliminary final win over Geelong Cats:
Whitecross, 23, knew as soon as he went down in the last quarter of the preliminary final that his knee injury would keep him out for much of next season and, of course, Saturday’s Grand Final.
It would be a sickening blow for any player, but particularly Whitecross considering he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the qualifying final last year, a setback that kept him on the sidelines until Round 14.
Despite the anguish, he was still in middle of the MCG after the game last Friday night to sign autographs and give mini-footballs to Hawks fans.
Clarkson had little time to call a replacement into his squad and quickly settled on bringing Jonathan Simpkin into the team. Simpkin’s exemplary work ethic and willingness to improve his game has been rewarded, as club president Andrew Newbold told ABC:
Fantastic story and he's a great bloke.
And I think he's been a super-sub nine times this year and every time he's come on he's found the footy. And I know his team-mates just love him so they're happy to be going into battle with him I think.
While the likes of Michael Johnson, Luke McPharlin and Chris Mayne have been struggling with slight injuries, the Fremantle Dockers have the advantage of naming an unchanged side heading into the MCG, as reported by Yahoo! News.
Best Bets for the 2013 Grand Final
Although Hawthorn remain heavy favourites to win the upcoming encounter, the bookmakers are obviously wary of Fremantle's ability to cause an upset. The Hawks' shocking 2012 Grand Final loss is playing on the minds of many, ensuring there's little value in betting on an outright winner.
Luckily, a number of simple bets offer intriguing odds. Presuming Hawthorn make good on their potential and finish the match with a long overdue prize, predicting the winning margin is a excellent way of racking up funds.
If Fremantle can hassle and harry the outstanding Hawthorn attack, much like they did in the preliminary final against Sydney Swans, Ross Lyon's men will significantly dent their opposition's chances of racking up an unassailable score.
As such, picking Hawthorn to win via a gap of 1-12 or 13-24 is a smart move.
Looking at bets based on individual performances, it's a wise idea to stick with players who are unlikely to feel the jitters of such an important clash. The Grand Final is a testing stage, so look to each side's captain for inspiration.
Matthew Pavlich racked up two early goals in the win over Sydney. Should Hawthorn start slowly, backing him for first scorer at 10-3 will see you into decent money. Similarly, Nathan Fyfe's scoring form ensures a first scorer's bet of 8-1 could heavily reward those who take a slight punt.
Aside from this, Hawthorn's captain Luke Hodge is expected to lead by example in Melbourne. This is a man who needs to tackle hard, pass accurately and generally grab his team by the scruff of the neck to ensure their potential is realised.
Backing Hodge for most disposals at 9-1 is the kind of bet that can pay dividends, no matter the result.