Amphitrite ridden by Craig Williams, outside, comes from last at the bend to beat Fundamentalist ridden by Luke Nolen in the Thousand Guineas. Picture: Michael Klein

Bombers and Demons fight to save seasons

 

They were predicted to have a great year. But both Essendon and Melbourne have so far been underwhelming. And after Friday night, one will be 0-3. We look at this game plus NRL, Champions League soccer and the Doncaster Mile in this week’s Late Mail.

Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver fires off a handpass under pressure from Essendon captain Dyson Heppell last year. Picture: AAP Image/Joe Castro

Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver fires off a handpass under pressure from Essendon captain Dyson Heppell last year. Picture: AAP Image/Joe CastroSource:AAP

AFL

Everything has changed for Melbourne and Essendon since they approached the opening week of the season as two teams expected to play significant roles in the 2019 season.

They have both suffered embarrassing consecutive losses.

In what shapes as a showdown for which club can avoid further scrutiny for another week Essendon arrives a significant outsider in a game in which form suggests the odds should be tighter.

The Bombers have been bad but the Demons have not been much better.

For those looking to have a Friday night sighter taking the outsider for a smaller investment looks the way to play it.

In a season where the betting underdogs have held sway a host of outsiders look more than capable of helping that trend continue for another week.

Carlton at home could prove a problem for a Swans side searching for its first win while the Tigers — though injury ravaged — should not be underestimated against the Giants.

The Lions have been terrific but Port Adelaide is no easybeat and could definitely bring Brisbane back to earth on Saturday night.

Round 3 looks like a tough punting week but outsiders have been the flavour of the

month and it would be surprising if at least a few don’t get up this weekend.

John Bateman of the Canberra Raiders on the march against Newcastle. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

John Bateman of the Canberra Raiders on the march against Newcastle. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

NRL

For the second week in a row Ladbrokes punters are taking a set against the North Queensland Cowboys.

The Cowboys opened as $1.80 favourites with Ladbrokes but all the money has been for the

Canberra Raiders, who are now into $1.90 to claim their first back-to-back wins in Townsville since 2004.

Manly is another outsider that has been well backed this weekend have following its outstanding victory over the New Zealand Warriors last weekend.

There have been a couple of sizeable bets for a Manly upset win, but the recent record at

Brookvale Oval does not inspire confidence.

The Sea Eagles have won only two of their past 11 games in front of their home fans and haven’t beaten the Rabbitohs at home since 2015.

The Melbourne Storm will go into Sunday’s clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs as the shortest-priced favourites of the NRL season but that has not stopped punters throwing their cash on Craig Bellamy’s side.

Melbourne is $1.12 and the line has been set at a juicy 16.5 points, which is the biggest line in the NRL since the Sydney Roosters beat an undermanned Gold Coast Titans at the end of the 2017 regular season.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals get underway next Wednesday morning and there could be a changing of the guard in football’s premier club competition.

Three-time defending champion Real Madrid was eliminated by Ajax in the round of 16 and Manchester City is on top of betting with Ladbrokes at $3.25.

Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid to three triumphs and has a chance to cement his legacy with Juventus in 2019.

The Old Lady of Italian Football is $4.33 to win her first Champions League title since 1996 and is the clear favourite to eliminate Ajax in the quarter-finals.

Barcelona is the only club that has won the Champions League in the past decade that is still left in the competition and is on the third line of betting at $4.50.

Last year’s runner-up Liverpool is at $5 to go one better this season.

The market is rounded out by Manchester United ($17), Tottenham ($23), Ajax ($29) and Porto ($67).

The English clubs have proven particularly popular with punters; Manchester United and Liverpool are easily the worst results for the Ladbrokes book.

MLB

Major League Baseball really is a punter’s dream.

Not only are there a stack of games every single day, the even nature and unpredictability of the competition means that any side can win on any given day.

It has been a while — for their standards — since the New York Yankees tasted World Series success but the market suggests that they will be thereabouts in 2019.

They are equal favourites with the Houston Astros at $7 from defending World Series champion the Boston Red Sox and the always consistent Los Angeles Dodgers at $8.

The best-backed side in the early market with has been Philadelphia.

Superstar Bryce Harper joined the Phillies in the off-season and they have started the season with four straight wins, including an 8-2 win over Harper’s old side the Washington Nationals.

Another side that has been surprisingly well-backed with Ladbrokes is Texas.

The Rangers are $201 to claim their first ever World Series but their good early-season form has led to a few optimistic punters throwing their support behind them and they are the second-worst result for the Ladbrokes book.

Amphitrite ridden by Craig Williams, outside, comes from last at the bend to beat Fundamentalist ridden by Luke Nolen in the Thousand Guineas. Picture: Michael Klein

Amphitrite ridden by Craig Williams, outside, comes from last at the bend to beat Fundamentalist ridden by Luke Nolen in the Thousand Guineas. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

BEST BETS

 

HORSE RACING

Fundamentalist to win the Doncaster Mile @ $10

Fundamentalist has only recorded two wins from her 16 race starts but she does have form around some of the very best horses in the country. It took an enormous effort from Nakeeta Jane to deny her in the Surround Stakes and her run in the Randwick Guineas, where she almost beat The Autumn Sun, was excellent.

NRL

St George Illawarra Dragons to beat Newcastle Knights @ $2.10

They have lost Gareth Widdop to injury but the Dragons are good value to account for the Newcastle Knights this weekend. The Dragons have won seven of their past eight games against the Knights and have been a profitable betting play as away underdogs over the past 12 months.

AFL

North Melbourne to beat Hawthorn @ $2.55

North Melbourne played some good football in its loss to Brisbane last weekend and is great value to upset Hawthorn. Hawthorn ran out of puff against the Western Bulldogs last weekend and they has been a losing betting proposition as favourite over the past 12 months.

SUPER RUGBY

Highlanders to beat Hurricanes @ $2.20

The home side has won the past six games played between the Highlanders and the Hurricanes and the $2.20 available for a Highlanders win appeals. The Highlanders have won five of their past six games in front of their home fans while the Hurricanes have won only two of their past nine games on the road.

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