Thursday, July 16
Geelong vs Collingwood
8:10pm , Optus Stadium
The Pies bounced back from a disappointing two weeks by belting the Hawks in what was an otherwise forgettable game of footy. It turned into a slog after their first quarter onslaught, but the Pies would have simply been happy to get the four points. They now head over to Perth to take on the Cats, who are fresh off an outstanding performance against the Brisbane Lions. It was a head-scratcher of a contest; the Lions were the dominant team for a quarter and a half and the game looked over, before the Cats took over and ended up winning easily. If they can manage to play like they did in the second half more often than not, then they’ll go close to winning the flag this year.
They generally play pretty well against Collingwood, so you’d suspect this will be a close one. The Pies will be glad to get Jordan De Goey back into the team to make their forward line a little more dynamic, while the Cats have replaced the injured Mitch Duncan with Jack Steven, who they’ll be hoping can now string a few games together and build match fitness.
I’m looking forward to watching these two teams run around in front of a crowd at Optus Stadium on Thursday night, and I expect it to turn into an entertaining battle. The Cats have the better form, but I think this might be the week their ruck weakness hurts them. Brodie Grundy should get right on top and that will pave the way for Collingwood’s midfield to win the battle in the clinches.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.80 (BetEasy)
Friday, July 17
Essendon vs Western Bulldogs
7:50pm , Metricon Stadium
The Bombers continue to coast along beautifully, now sitting in the top four with a game up their sleeve. They managed to defeat North Melbourne without too much stress, but this week they have another big task against the Dogs, who they have a horrible recent record against: the Dogs have beaten them in all of their past five encounters, the smallest margin being 21 points. That doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the Bombers, particularly when you consider the reason. The Dogs generally beat them in the centre, and with the on-fire Dylan Shiel missing this one due to suspension, history could be about to repeat.
The Dogs will be filthy at themselves for their pitiful effort against the Blues on Sunday night, and you’d expect them to bounce back here. Luke Beveridge has wielded the selection axe, making four unforced changes, and he’d be hoping that sparks them up. That’s their biggest problem at the moment: the gap between their best and their worst is absolutely enormous. I expect to see them return to a better brand of footy this week against a team they’ve loved playing in recent years. Dogs by three goals.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.91 (UniBet)
Saturday, July 18
GWS vs Brisbane
1:45pm , Giants Stadium
These two clubs, who hold high hopes for season 2020, will both be bitterly disappointed with their efforts last weekend. The Lions were five goals in front of a lethargic Geelong outfit, before completely succumbing and allowing a ten goal turnaround to cost them the match. It was almost as if they thought they had the game wrapped up already and took the foot off the pedal. The Cats made them pay, and the Giants will do the same thing if they don’t come to play for four quarters this week.
GWS were similarly disappointing against Port, but unlike the Lions, they never really got going. They were behind most of the game, briefly taking the lead early in the final quarter before four unanswered Port Adelaide goals killed the contest. Their form continues to yo-yo up and down; they’ll be hoping this is the week they begin to build some consistency. Tim Taranto’s inclusion for his first game of the year will be a massive boost in that regard, being their 2019 best and fairest.
It’s a really tough one to pick. If the Lions hadn’t completely capitulated in the second half against Geelong you’d have them as warm favourites, but that lapse adds some doubt about their abilities. I reckon it’ll be a close one, but I’m expecting the Giants to win this one, for no reason other than they seem to be good at bouncing back after a poor loss.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.78 (bet365)
Sydney vs Gold Coast
4:35pm , SCG
The Swans have stretched their losing streak to three games now, after a turgid affair against the Tigers on Sunday resulted in an eight point loss. Rubbing salt into the wounds were the injuries to Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney, both of whom will be missing for an extended period of time. They return to the SCG this week to take on the Suns, who couldn’t get the job done in an entertaining game against the Demons. They had their chances, but in the end weren’t quite polished enough. Izak Rankine’s debut was the big talking point out of the game, with the silky forward providing a highlight reel that plenty of hundred gamers would be proud of.
Both teams will be desperate to get a win in this one: the Swans would love one at home before they’re forced to relocate to Queensland, while the Suns will want to snap their two-game losing streak and keep within touch of the top eight. I reckon Sydney’s omissions might hurt them too much and the exciting Suns should be able to take advantage with a hard-fought win.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.72 (bet365)
Richmond vs North Melbourne
7:40pm , Metricon Stadium
Richmond’s previous two outings haven’t been pretty games of footy, but they’ve put two wins together and are now well and truly back in contention. They’re not yet playing their best footy, but what can you expect with so many key players missing. So long as they keep the wins ticking along they’ll be in a decent place when those guys return. They’ve got another very winnable game this weekend against a struggling North Melbourne.
I was expecting more from the Roos on Saturday night, and while they weren’t terrible, they definitely weren’t great either. They need to find a way to turn things around quick smart, and that revolves around finding easier avenues to goal. The Tigers have allowed teams to score heavily against them at times this season, so this weekend might be a great opportunity. That said, I can’t see North getting over the line. Despite not being at their best, Richmond are still clearly the better team at the moment and I expect them to win in another scrappy game.
Sunday, July 19
Carlton vs Port Adelaide
1:05pm , The Gabba
Port bounced back from their disappointing loss to the Lions with a really strong performance against the Giants, which has them sitting a game clear on top of the ladder. Things are going beautifully for Port, but this week might not be as simple as they may have thought: the Blues stormed over the Dogs on Sunday night, proving they’re not a side to be taken lightly. They played scintillating footy all night, and despite some patches where the Dogs got on top, they played their best four quarter game of the year and topped it off by running all over them in the last quarter.
They now sit inside the top eight, and there’s no reason they can’t stay there if they continue to play that sort of footy. They did without a starring performance from skipper Patrick Cripps, which was probably the most pleasing aspect of it. This week might be a little different, however; they’re probably not quite at the level where they’re able to take on the top team. The signs are encouraging for Carlton fans, but I think Port will win this by four goals.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-15.5) @ $1.91 (BetEasy)
Hawthorn vs Melbourne
3:35pm , Giants Stadium
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the Hawks. They’ve lost two games to let their position in the top eight slip, and the brand of footy they’ve played has been fairly discouraging. It’s probably given Hawks fans the indication that their team isn’t as close to a flag as they might have hoped, but this is a strange year. They’ll fancy their chances of turning things around this weekend against a pretty average Melbourne team, who finally got their second win of the season against Gold Coast on Saturday. They got the job done, but I didn’t find it a particularly convincing win, and I still think they’ll struggle against the majority of teams.
I think it’ll actually help Hawthorn that Ben McEvoy will be forced to head back into the ruck this week, as it might quell the influence big Max Gawn is able to have on the game. Gawn was outstanding against the Suns, as was ex-skipper Jack Viney, who finally provided some desperately needed spark in the middle to assist the much-improved Christian Petracca. Those were the positives for the Dees, but I don’t trust them to back it up, and that’s why I’m sticking with the Hawks by three goals.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.78 (bet365)
Fremantle vs West Coast
6:35pm , Optus Stadium
The Dockers were involved in one of the more remarkable games of the season last Saturday, when they looked down and out against the Saints early, before turning things around to run out winners after a last gasp St Kilda fight back. It had it all, and the Dockers will all of a sudden have some confidence. The bad news is that skipper Nat Fyfe probably shouldn’t have played and has re-injured his hamstring. They’ll struggle to cope without him, but in all honesty, they were probably never going to beat the Eagles anyway.
The highlight of this game will be seeing a decent-sized crowd cheering on their respective teams. For the Eagles, they’ll also relish it as an opportunity to jump back into the top eight after a tough start to the season. Again, they weren’t amazing against the Crows, but that doesn’t particularly matter; they didn’t need to be. Tim Kelly found some of his best form, while Nic Nat was good as well (on and off the field). This should be another contest they win without hitting top gear, and that’ll hold them in good stead for the weeks to come.
Betting tip: West Coast (-19.5) @ $1.90 (UniBet)
Monday, July 20
Adelaide vs St Kilda
7:40pm , Adelaide Oval
Things are going from bad to worse for the Crows: in their sixth consecutive loss, both their current captain, Rory Sloane, and former captain, Taylor Walker, were injured and will miss multiple weeks. The only positive at the moment is that they’ve returned home to South Australia to take on the Saints this week, but even that won’t hold much relief.
The Saints looked powerful in their first quarter blitz against Fremantle on Saturday, and despite stuffing things up from there, that’s what they’re capable of, and I expect them to play that way against the Crows. They’ll be angry they let a winnable game slip, and they’ll take that anger out on the lowly Crows. There’s not much else to say about this one; the Saints should win by plenty.
Best Bets of the Round
Hawthorn to win @ $1.78 (bet365)