Hawthorn became the first team since the Australian Football League expanded to 18 clubs to win three premierships in a row and it would take a brave punter to bet against the Hawks claiming their fourth consecutive title next year.
No sooner did the final siren go at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday to signal Hawthorn’s Australian Football League Grand Final victory over West Coast that bookmakers posted markets on the outcome of next season’s competition. Hawthorn leads the way at odds of +325 with 888Sport and Unibet and one thinks that the Hawks are the value bet.
Hawthorn became the oldest title-winning side in the history of Australian Rules football’s top tournament but the Hawks have built their roster in such a way that their premiership window remains wide open for years to come. In simple terms, yes, Hawthorn has a number of wise old heads in the likes of Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell but the Hawks have several of the Australian Football League’s gun players in their early 20s, including Luke Breust, Jack Gunston and Liam Shiels. The Australian Football League is designed not to be dominated by one side for many years but Hawthorn boss Alistair Clarkson has been brilliant in managing the Hawks list and ensuring that they remain premiership contenders.
One does not expect any of Hawthorn’s key personnel from its third straight Australian Football League title triumph to go missing before the 2016 competition gets under way and one does not fancy the chance of any of the other 17 teams closing the gap on the Hawks. Indeed, one can put a line through at least half of Hawthorn’s Australian Football League rivals because the gap is too large to bridge.
West Coast did very well to reach this season’s Australian Football League Grand Final after suffering several serious injury blows in the first few rounds. West Coast coach Adam Simpson came up with a web-like defensive strategy that was the envy of his Australian Football League peers, with the Eagles managing without key position defenders due to the astuteness of their strategist. But West Coast’s web could not snare Hawthorn at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is a significantly wider oval than the one at Domain Stadium on which the Eagles play their home games. West Coast needs to prove that it can adapt its style to the Melbourne Cricket Ground because one can rate its Australian Football League premiership highly. Also, one is willing to bet that every Australian Football League coach spends the summer watching West Coast videos to work out how to break down its web.
Fremantle finished the Australian Football League regular season in first position but, once again, a side with Ross Lyon as its boss failed in the sudden-death arena. That has happened too many times for it to be a fluke and one thinks that Lyon’s boring tactics are the reason why it has. Also, Fremantle’s list was the oldest in the Australian Football League last year because Lyon gambled on old heads in his quest to deliver a first title to the desperate Dockers.
No-one knows what is going to happen with Sydney’s superstar forward Lance Franklin – he missed the business end of this season with mental health problems – Port Adelaide did not make the top eight this year, Richmond has yet to prove that it can win big matches on a regular basis, North Melbourne is getting old, Western Bulldogs is promising but still wet behind its ears and Adelaide’s most influential player, Patrick Dangerfield, has requested an interstate move.
Some Australian Football League sides are highly likely to improve – Greater Western Sydney may make the top eight for the first time in its short history – but it is hard to look past Hawthorn when it comes to betting on the title winner.
Hawthorn was 46 points too strong for West Coast in the 2015 Australian Football League Grand Final and odds of +325 about the Hawks becoming only the second team ever to win four premierships in a row are longer than they should be.
Hawthorn to win AFL 2016
Once or twice per month we will provide you with the latest sports tips and keep you updated about the biggest events.