The following are previews with betting tips for Round 9 of the 2020 AFL season.
Wednesday, July 29
Western Bulldogs vs Richmond
7:10pm , Metricon Stadium
19 consecutive days of footy kicks off with the Dogs playing the Tigers in a massive game at Metricon Stadium. It’s sixth against ninth, and there’s plenty on the line; despite some injuries, both clubs are well and truly in the hunt. The Dogs got home in a scrappy contest against the Suns to make it five wins from their past six matches, while the Tigers dropped a three game winning streak when they went down to GWS on Friday night.
They had their chances to get the four points, but the Giants were the better team for the majority of the night and deserved the win. Dustin Martin was on fire, Shai Bolton was good again as was Marlion Pickett, but they didn’t have enough helpers. That’s fair enough considering the number of key players the Tigers have missing, but it makes it hard to beat quality opposition, and the Tigers might run into the same problem this weekend. Skipper Trent Cotchin is back, but his return is just about cancelled out by the loss of Nick Vlastuin. These two clubs have played some close ones in recent years and I think this might be the same, but I expect Richmond’s depth to be tested by a strong Dogs outfit, and I think the ‘home’ team might get the job done by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $2.04 (UniBet)
Thursday, July 30
Melbourne vs Port Adelaide
7:50pm , Gabba
For the first time in 2020 Port Adelaide are going through a tough patch. They’re still on top of the ladder, but they’ve dropped two of their past four games and aren’t playing at the same standard they were earlier in the season. They didn’t just lose to the Saints, they were completely outplayed in the last quarter on their home deck. It wasn’t quite embarrassing, but it was an effort they’d definitely like to forget.
They have the chance to bounce back this week when they head to Brisbane to take on the Demons, who are in a decent patch of form. The Dees nearly made it three on the trot when they played the Lions on Sunday, but fell four points short. Christian Petracca and Max Gawn continued their dominant seasons, while Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney were able assistants. They’ll need to be good again this week to trouble the ladder-leaders, but Port are definitely more vulnerable now than they might have seemed a few short weeks back.
I still think that Port are the better team, with a whole lot more firepower up forward, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this turn into a tight battle. I’m going with the Power by two goals.
Friday, July 31
Carlton vs Hawthorn
5:40pm , Optus Stadium
The Blues made hard work out of what probably should have been an easier win over the Kangaroos on Saturday afternoon. They looked the better team early in the game but struggled to put the Roos away and allowed them right back into the game. They still got the job done, which was pleasing, but I’m sure they’d like to start putting teams away when they get the chance. That opportunity might just present itself this week when they face the Hawks at Optus Stadium, in the first game of the Friday double-header.
The once-great Hawthorn team are really struggling at the moment, slumping to their fourth consecutive loss last weekend when they went down to the Swans. Alastair Clarkson doesn’t seem to have the answers right now, but he’ll be hoping they find something soon. Jarmen Impey comes into the team for his first game since rupturing his ACL 12 months ago, while Luke Breust and Jon Ceglar are also back in. For the Blues, Harry McKay returns but they lose fellow tall Mitch McGovern, who had one of his better games for the season against the Roos.
I’m expecting the Hawks to bounce back one game soon, and it could just be this one. Carlton have clearly been the better side over the past month, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an upset on Friday arvo.
Betting tip: Hawthorn (+9.5) @ $1.91 (BetEasy)
Essendon vs Brisbane
8:10pm , Metricon Stadium
The Lions were another team that made hard work of their game last weekend; they had it just about wrapped up, and then allowed the Demons to kick the final three goals. Again, they were good enough to hold on and that’s all that really matters. That’s exactly what the Bombers did against the winless Crows at Adelaide Oval, in a game that would’ve given Essendon fans some heart palpitations. They didn’t play at their best—nowhere near it—and made the Crows look like an AFL-standard footy club, but they did just enough. That sort of effort won’t fly against the Lions, however. If they play like that they’ll get belted.
It’s actually a great week for these clubs to play each other: both are bringing in debutantes to play in the ruck. Brisbane because of injuries, the Bombers because they’re still searching for their best ruck combination. It’ll be fascinating to see the two young ruckman go up against each other, and if one can have an impact it’ll go a long way. I expect the Lions will be too strong in this one; Essendon’s form seems to be trending in the wrong direction, and I can’t see that changing this week.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.38 (bet365)
Saturday, August 1
North Melbourne vs Adelaide
2:35pm , Metricon Stadium
North haven’t won a game in six weeks, but they head into their Round 9 clash as hot favourites. Why? Because they’re playing the winless Adelaide Crows, who have looked absolutely abysmal all year. The Crows have had their chances over the past two weeks, but they still haven’t played great footy. Even in their three point loss to the Bombers I don’t think they were particularly good, the Bombers were just bad. That said, if North are bad this weekend then the Crows will be a chance, and North have played some terrible footy over the past month. What I’m getting at is that this will be the battle of who can be the least bad.
And North look like they’re trying their best, dropping two of their most important players in Ben Brown and Jared Polec. Admittedly Brown has been very poor all season, but Polec is a shock. He had 25 disposals and picked up four coaches votes in the game against Carlton. Clearly they were all from David Teague and not his own coach, but it’s a head scratcher nonetheless. I reckon the door is open this week for the Crows. They’re sure to win one eventually, and they’ll have no better opportunity than here. I’m backing them in. On a final note, it’s great to see big Majak Daw back in team. Hopefully he has a good game and cements his spot in the North Melbourne line-up for the remainder of the year.
Betting tip: Adelaide (+8.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda vs Sydney
5:10pm , The Gabba
The Swans snapped their losing streak in an encouraging win over the Hawks, again led by the usual suspects: Tom Papley, Dane Rampe, and Luke Parker. Papley in particular is one of the real bright spots for Sydney this year, going from a great small forward to an absolutely elite one. He nearly left the Swans at the end of last season, but they’ll now be doing everything possible to convince him to stay in Sydney. Winning more games will help, but I can’t see them getting up this weekend when they face the Saints.
St Kilda have been up and down, dropping games they should’ve won against Fremantle and North, but their best has been brilliant, as was on display against Port Adelaide last week. They really motored home in that last quarter to make a good opponent look average, and it’s the first time this season I’ve had to really consider the Saints a contender. I’m not sure they’re quite in that top four level just yet, but they’re no doubt a much-improved footy team that should take care of the Swans pretty comfortably.
West Coast vs Geelong
8:10pm , Optus Stadium
The Eagles made a huge statement against Collingwood on Sunday afternoon, completely outplaying the Pies to rocket into premiership favouritism. I hadn’t considered West Coast’s body of work up until that point to be all that impressive, but they sure proved that they’re back to their best now that they’re in Perth. Based on that, it’s going to be almost impossible to beat the Eagles over there, and Geelong, whilst a good side, are going to struggle.
They’re still without Joel Selwood, and will be cautious with his return, but they’ll definitely miss him this week. They were good enough to beat the Dockers in absolutely horrid conditions on Monday night, but this will be a totally different ball game. They’ll need to put time and effort into stopping Josh Kennedy, but the worry is, do that and Jack Darling will step up and kick a bag. The Cats are lucky that Jeremy McGovern is still unavailable, and they’ll be hoping Tom Hawkins, who is very lucky to be available, will be able to take advantage, but I’m not sure it’ll make a difference. The Eagles should be much too good for Geelong in this one.
Betting tip: West Coast (-16.5) @ $1.91 (BetEasy)
Sunday, August 2
Gold Coast vs GWS
3:35pm , Metricon Stadium
The Giants reversed a two-game losing streak with a strong display against the reigning premiers on Friday night. It was exactly the type of performance the Giants needed, and they’ll be hoping that sparks them for the remainder of the season. If Toby Greene can stay fit and keep playing as he did against the Tigers then they’ll be very hard to beat most weeks, but it also helped that star on-baller Josh Kelly was back to near his best.
This week they face the Suns, who are definitely no easy-beats at Metricon Stadium, not this year. The Suns would’ve been disappointed they lost to the Dogs despite looking the better team for significant chunks of that match, but they’ll learn from the experience. This one might be a bit more difficult for them when you consider the fact that the Giants beat the Tigers, who have just comfortably smacked the Dogs. It’ll be an interesting test of where the Suns are at, and while I think they’ll give a good account of themselves, I expect the Giants to win this one by four or five goals.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.50 (Unibet)
Fremantle vs Collingwood
6:10pm , Optus Stadium
The advantage of the hub situation is, with each club playing the same teams, we get a more immediate indication of how each team is going than we usually would. Case in point: both the Pies and the Dockers have played the Cats and the Eagles in the past two weeks. The Dockers have lost both, while the Pies beat the Cats and lost to West Coast. Obviously you can’t read a whole lot into one week’s results, particularly considering certain games have been played in horrid conditions. And we probably don’t need a direct comparison to realise that Collingwood are a better team than Fremantle, but regardless it’s fairly clear to see that the Pies, while not at their best last weekend, are stronger than the Dockers.
Nat Fyfe’s return will help Fremantle immensely, but the Pies also welcome the return of Steele Sidebottom, who is as important to their team as anyone. They’ve pulled some other selection shocks, the most notable being the omission of Jordan Roughead, who has held down a key back position for the last season and a bit. Nathan Buckley is clearly not happy with last weekend’s effort and is looking for a better team performance this week. I expect he’ll get it, and if so, the Pies should beat the Dockers pretty easily.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.45 (Sportsbet)
Best Bets of the Round
Western Bulldogs to win @ $2.04 (UniBet)