Punters back Lions over Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Punters back Lions over Cats

By Adam Cooper 10/07/2009 07:49:37 PM Comments (0)

One AFL loss continues to cause pain for Geelong, who will be without Gary Ablett and Travis Varcoe against the Brisbane Lions on Saturday night, and mayhem for betting agencies.

Ablett and Varcoe took to six the number of Cats stars left licking their wounds from last Sunday's bruising, six-point defeat by St Kilda, as they were ruled out of the round 15 game at the Gabba.

Ablett, the star midfielder and Brownlow Medal favourite, has a calf injury and Varcoe, one of his side's better forwards against the Saints, is nursing shoulder soreness.

They joined fullback Matthew Scarlett (back), fellow defender Darren Milburn (ankle), tagger Cameron Ling (knee) and midfielder James Kelly (hamstring) as the casualties of Geelong's first defeat this campaign.

Star forward Steve Johnson will again miss through hip soreness, but defender Harry Taylor has been named despite being concussed against the Saints.

Geelong football operations manager Neil Balme said Ablett and Varcoe tried training on Friday, but were too sore.

"They're a bit sore and the injuries are serious enough for them not to be playing, but they both should be right to be playing next week," Balme said.

The latest injuries mean Geelong had 16 players who could not be considered this weekend, forcing the club to hurriedly assemble a makeshift reserves side for the VFL competition.

The Cats called on 10 players from Geelong's local competition and another player from the Murray Bushrangers under-18s to fill the VFL team.

Geelong's injuries also had a massive influence on the betting markets for the game, as punters believed the Lions could condemn the Cats to successive defeats for the first time since rounds 4-5, 2007.

On Thursday morning the Lions were a $3.50 roughie with TAB Sportsbet, but once Geelong's injuries became known the Lions shortened.

They were a $2.25 chance by 5pm (AEST) Friday after one of the most dramatic swings the agency has witnessed in football betting.

"There has never been a fluctuation like this in my time and I've been involved since 1991," said spokesman Gary Davies.

Rival agency Centrebet has taken $250,000 on the game this week, making it the most heavily-traded game of the season.

Spokesman Neil Evans expected the Lions to shorten to $2.20 by the start of the game after opening at $3.65.

Geelong will still start favourites with bookies.

Ablett and Varcoe were replaced by Kane Tenace and Nathan Djerrkura, who joined David Wojcinski, Tom Gillies, Tom Lonergan and Ryan Gamble as Geelong's replacements.

Lions coach Michael Voss, whose side was thumped by 93 points in Geelong in round five, was not buying into the theory that the Cats were vulnerable.

"We can't afford to look at who's not there (for Geelong). We've got to look at who is there," he said.

"They've still got a bunch of all-Australians. Regardless of who's there, there's a lot we have to get done."

West Coast also experienced pain at selection, as soreness will keep star midfielder Daniel Kerr and young gun Nic Naitanui out of Sunday's clash against the ladder-leading Saints.

But Essendon were cautiously optimistic onballer Jobe Watson was ready to resume from an ankle injury against Sydney on Saturday at the SCG, after he passed a fitness test at training on Friday.

Richmond veteran Matthew Richardson also took part in skills training on Friday, for the first time since he had his hamstring tendon repaired after round six.

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