The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, August 3
Richmond vs Geelong
7:50 pm AEST, MCG
Last weekend’s results fell perfectly for the Tigers and the Cats, with Richmond now holding an almost unshakable grip on first position, while the Cats are back in the eight with a chance to solidify that position on Friday night. Not to mention the fact that both clubs had important wins: Richmond fought off a spirited challenge from a strong Collingwood side decimated by injuries, while the Cats put in a determined second-half effort to run away from the in-form Brisbane Lions. This week they face off under the Friday night lights in front of what should be a huge crowd at the MCG. The Tigers are used to big challenges coming at them week after week, but the Cats will surely be setting themselves for this one. It’s an enormous game in the context of their season, and really, they can’t afford to lose if they want to make sure they end up playing finals football.
Unfortunately for Geelong, the Tigers are still at the peak of their powers and I just can’t see how they lose this one. Tom Hawkins has been incredible for Geelong over the past two weeks, and if he gets off the leash again the Cats might have an edge, but overall I feel like Richmond could still cover the Cats if that were to happen. Geelong might be playing for their season, but the Tigers will be too good for them I suspect.
Betting tip: Richmond (-18.5) @ $1.95 (BetFair)
Saturday, August 4
Hawthorn vs Essendon
1:45 pm AEST, MCG
The Bombers’ finals hopes are no longer pure fantasy — they’re now a legitimate chance of making the eight, and if their current form continues there will be more than a few contenders hoping they miss out, as they’re looking very dangerous. The 43-point win over the Swans was impressive but Sydney are clearly struggling at the moment; this match against the Hawks at the MCG looms as a more difficult proposition.
Despite it looking like a danger game, the Hawks went over to Perth and dispatched of the Dockers with ease. Tom Mitchell continued his brilliant season with another 42 possessions, while Luke Breust kicked another bag of four. The Hawks are starting to build back into some of their best form, and the timing couldn’t be better. They need to win most of their remaining games, and they’ll need to be at their best to get over the Bombers on Saturday.
Can the Bombers keep up their amazing form or will they soon run out of steam? I reckon this might be the week they have a hiccup and the Hawks get the better of them. Either way it should be an exciting game of footy, but I’m going with the Hawks to get over the line.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $2.06 (BetFair)
Brisbane vs North Melbourne
2:10 pm AEST, Gabba
Brisbane’s run of victories came to an abrupt halt last weekend when they went down to the Cats in Geelong, although they definitely didn’t disgrace themselves by any means. This week’s game against the Kangaroos at the Gabba presents as a much more winnable opportunity if they’re on their game. The Roos are coming off a good win, having taken care of a lacklustre West Coast side to finish up 40-point victors. That win keeps their season alive, and a win here could potentially propel them into eighth position if other results fall their way. First things first however, as the Lions have been playing some good footy recently and won’t be pushovers. Star midfielder Shaun Higgins has been ruled out in a huge blow for the Kangaroos, though that’s balanced by the return of spearhead Jarrad Waite who should provide some much needed support for Ben Brown.
I think this is a real danger game for the Roos and wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lions get up, but I think North might just edge them out in a close one to keep their season alive for another week.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $2.05 (William Hill)
Adelaide vs Port Adelaide
4:35 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
Adelaide’s season is just about over after their loss to the Demons on Saturday night, but they can still cause plenty of havoc in the last couple of rounds and wouldn’t they just love to knock off Port this week. Mitch McGovern and Paul Seedsman will both miss due to injury, but Tom Doedee and Brodie Smith will return in a major boost to the Adelaide backline. It’ll be Smith’s first game since the 2017 preliminary final, and the Crows have missed him terribly this year. It’s too late for him to make any impact on their 2018 season, but it’ll be important to get some games back into him and have him feeling good and ready to go for next year.
Port will go in unchanged from their win over the Bulldogs in Ballarat after an impressive performance in difficult conditions. Charlie Dixon had a day out against the Dogs, but they didn’t really have a good match-up for him like Adelaide do in Daniel Talia. I expect the Crows to take it right up to the Power this week — I reckon the Crows might even knock them off and give themselves something to hang their hat on for the remaining rounds of 2018.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $2.14 (BetFair)
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs
7:25 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
There’s finally some good news for the Saints in what has been a horrid season: former top ten draft pick Nathan Freeman will make his long-awaited AFL debut after continuous hamstring injuries. It’s been a long time coming for the talented Freeman, but this week he finally gets to appear on the big stage after an impressive 37-possession game in the VFL last weekend. He comes in at a good time as well; there’s no pressure on him to perform — the Saints are well and truly out of the finals race, and now they’re just looking for little signs of improvements. And they might be a chance of a win this week when they host the Dogs at Etihad — after a great win over the Cats a month ago, the Dogs have played some really disappointing footy. They’ve faded out in just about every second half, and they don’t look cohesive going forward with the footy — it doesn’t help that their foot skills are horrendous. What the Dogs have going for them when they’re on is manic pressure and contested ball winning ability, but we haven’t seen that for a number of weeks now, and I’m not sure it’ll be back again this year so I’m expecting the Saints to enjoy a rare win on Saturday night.
Betting tip: St Kilda to win @ $1.63 (Bet365)
Sydney vs Collingwood
7:25 pm AEST, SCG
The Swans are slipping, and slipping fast. Whilst they’re still in a perfectly good position to launch an attack on the top eight and play finals footy yet again, it appears they’re cooked and don’t have much of a chance. They didn’t just simply lose to Essendon on Friday night, they were comprehensively outplayed all night, and the same thing could happen this weekend when they host the Pies at the SCG. It hasn’t been a happy camping ground for them in 2018, and the Pies historically play some good footy in Sydney. If they didn’t continue to incur so many injuries they’d be a genuine premiership chance, but they should still be good enough to beat a dispirited Sydney outfit. Though there is some fantastic news for the Sydney footy club this week — the return of Alex Johnson, who last played for the Swans in the 2012 Grand Final and has since undergone countless knee surgeries to get his body right. That may give them a spiritual boost, but I still think the Pies will be too good for them; there’s something not quite right at the Swans at present, and I expect them to struggle for the remainder of 2018.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $2.25 (Ladbrokes)
Sunday, August 5
Carlton vs GWS
1:10 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Blues finally got their second win of the season when they took full advantage of a second-half lapse from the Gold Coast on Saturday night. The Suns had led the whole way up until half time, but barely fired a shot after half time and the Blues made them pay. There were some really impressive signs from youngsters like Paddy Dow and Sam Petrevski-Seton, while Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy dominated in the midfield as you’d expect them to against the Suns. This week they face a tougher opponent in the GWS Giants, although the Giants will be missing key midfielders Dylan Shiel and Tim Taranto. Jeremy Cameron returns from his five game suspension in a major boost to the GWS forward line which will be incredibly important for them in the lead up to finals — after winning their past three games, the Giants are suddenly in fifth position and staring down the barrel of playing a significant role in the September action, something that might have seemed unlikely a month or two ago. They should be able to beat the Blues comfortably this week and take one step closer to making that a reality.
Betting tip: GWS By 40+ @ $1.75 (Ladbrokes)
Melbourne vs Gold Coast
3:20 pm AEST, MCG
The Demons managed to put the disappointment of their round 18 after-the-siren loss to the Cats behind them last weekend to put in a strong performance against the Crows and ensure they kept their position in the top eight. It was a tricky game for them, but they were the better team for the majority of the game and deserved the victory; this week they can relax a little knowing they’ve only got to beat the Suns at the MCG.
The Suns will be hurting severely with the official announcement that co-captain Tom Lynch will be leaving the club at the end of the season. It’s something that everyone has suspected for quite some time now, but they still would’ve been holding out some form of hope. He’s a huge loss for the Suns as both a player and a leader, but they’ll be compensated with a high draft pick at the very least. And they’re definitely not going to get a win on Sunday to worsen their draft position — the Demons will absolutely trounce them. It’s not going to be pretty.
Betting tip: Melbourne By 40+ @ $1.25 (BlueBet)
West Coast vs Fremantle
4:40 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The Dockers were back to being bitterly disappointing in round 19 when they were embarrassed on their home deck by the Hawks. They looked tired, and they might just be ready to call it quits on season 2018. But if anything’s going to get them up, it would be a Derby against the Eagles, who were themselves very disappointing last weekend when they went down to the Kangaroos without putting up much a fight. Josh Kennedy will miss another couple of weeks with his leg issue, but in better news for the Eagles, Luke Shuey and Lewis Jetta will return to the side while the exciting Liam Ryan has been named on the extended bench.
Even though there’ll be a large crowd and it’ll be built up as a big game, I don’t expect too much excitement to come out of this one — I reckon the Eagles will win this with ease despite still missing Kennedy. They’ll need him to go far in September, but not to beat the Dockers this weekend.
Betting tip: West Coast (-29.5) @ $1.60 (Ladbrokes)
Best Bets of the Round
Collingwood to win @ $2.25 (Ladbrokes)
All Bets: -13.60 units
Best Bets: -0.68 units