The following are previews with betting tips for Round 18 of the 2020 AFL season.
Thursday, September 17
North Melbourne vs West Coast
7:10pm , Metricon Stadium
North Melbourne will be glad to put a torrid year behind them, but not before likely enduring one last big loss. That should come at the hands of the finals-bound West Coast, who have been dealt some really cruel injury blows in recent weeks but were resilient enough to defeat the Saints on Thursday to keep in the hunt for a top four finish.
Unfortunately it came at a cost, with star defender Jeremy McGovern pinging a hamstring during the contest. It’s going to make life very tough for the Eagles in the coming weeks, but they’ll at least get a confidence boosting win over the Roos heading into the bye week. The Eagles have made three unforced changes as they look to tune up their best team, while the Roos have once again dropped the out-of-contract Mason Wood. There’s really not much else to say about this one: the Eagles will be going through the motions, with half their best team missing, and are still likely to win by 10 goals.
Betting tip: West Coast By 40+ @ $2.20 (Unibet)
Friday, September 18
St Kilda vs GWS
7:50pm , The Gabba
There are a couple of hugely important games this weekend, but none more so than this clash between the Giants and the Saints. Both are struggling for form, but there’s a finals spot on the line for the winner. In St Kilda’s case, win and they’re in. The Giants will need to win by as much as possible and hope other results fall their way, but they’re a genuine chance to make it if they get the four points. The problem for both sides is: they’re not playing good footy.
The Saints somehow couldn’t get over a wounded West Coast on Thursday night, and have now lost three of their past four games. The Giants have similarly lost their last two, and against pretty average opposition too. The odd experiment to drop skipper Stephen Coniglio only lasted the one week, and it doesn’t look good so far: they probably could’ve used him in their five point loss to the Demons. Still, if he comes out this week and is able to return to somewhere near his best then it’ll be judged a success, but it might be too little too late. The Saints have also opted to bring some big names into the team, with Dan Hannebery returning from a long lay-off, along with key defender Jake Carlisle.
It’s almost impossible to confidently pick a winner here; the Saints have been the better team throughout the year, but they’ve almost played nervous the last month. If they do that against the Giants they’ll get beaten, but then the Giants don’t have their usual confidence right now. That makes me think this could be a messy, error-riddled game of footy, and the team that is able to keep their composure and minimize scores from turnovers should get the victory. I’m not at all confident, but I’m going to back in the Saints to finish their good season off on a high and lock in a return to finals action.
Betting tip: St Kilda to win @ $1.80 (bet365)
Saturday, September 19
Essendon vs Melbourne
2:10pm , Metricon Stadium
The Dees kept their season alive with a strong performance against a determined GWS outfit; neither side played particularly well, but it took some grit and determination from the Demons to get the win. They were challenged from half time onwards, but steadied to kick the opening three goals of the final quarter and that was enough to secure victory.
They’ll need to do it all over again this week against the Bombers if they’re to sneak into the top eight, but you’d back them in right now: Essendon have been pretty atrocious over the last couple of weeks. Sure, they’ve played some pretty good teams, but the effort and intensity just hasn’t been there. But their main problem continues to be that they lack the midfield talent to match the best sides.
Surely they finally do something about that this off-season, and that could start with off-loading Joe Daniher. There would be no better way for Joe to finish off as a Bomber than with a big game against the Dees on Saturday, and as terrible as they’ve been recently, I have a feeling they might just finish the season off on a high note. I’m not expecting a highly skilled game of footy here, but I think the Bombers, playing under no pressure, will put in one last big effort for 2020 and upset the Demons.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $2.70 (bet365)
Adelaide vs Richmond
5:10pm , Adelaide Oval
Adelaide’s late season turnaround has been fairly remarkable: just three games ago they were expected to be the first team since Fitzroy to go through a season without a win, and now they’ve won three in a row. That’s a real credit to everyone at the footy club; it would’ve been easy to give up and look to next season, but they’ve hung in there and managed to find some real positives in what started out as a tough year. Despite losing their first 13 games, I feel as if the Crows will now head into the off-season in a really positive frame of mind, which is huge for a rebuilding footy club.
They’re likely to cop a belting here at the hands of premiership favourites Richmond, but there’s absolutely no shame in that. The Tigers are top four bound, potentially premiership bound yet again, and so if the Crows can manage to keep the margin below six goals they’ll have done a really good job. Not much else to say about this one; the Tigers will win.
Betting tip: Richmond (-22.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Brisbane vs Carlton
7:40pm , The Gabba
This is another almost dead rubber game; the Lions have a top two spot all sewn up, and the Blues gave up their slim chance of securing finals spot when they lost to the Crows last weekend. That was a really disappointing effort, and in fact it’s been a poor finish to the season.
Things started out fairly promisingly for Carlton, but again they just didn’t quite have what it takes to push up the ladder. It hasn’t helped that skipper Patrick Cripps has been injured/out of form, but they’ve found a few positives during the season and I’m sure they’ll be a better team for it next year. The Lions, well they’re gearing up for a genuine attempt at the premiership and despite this being a dead rubber for them, the Blues aren’t going to halt their momentum. They should win this one with ease.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-26.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Sunday, September 20
Hawthorn vs Gold Coast
1:05pm , Adelaide Oval
Not much has gone right for Hawthorn this season, but they’ve got one last chance to take a positive into the off-season with a win over the Suns here. The Suns will be in the same boat, but their season is a little harder to judge. They started well and were even in the frame for a top eight finish mid-way through the season, but have fallen off in the past eight weeks or so. That’s been disappointing, but they’ve definitely improved on last year and that’s the main thing. If they continue to grow, and that’ll start with the return of young gun Matt Rowell, there’s no reason they can’t make the finals next season.
I expect the Suns to highlight their improvement with one last win for 2020 on Sunday afternoon, raining on the retirement parade of Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo, and send the Hawks into a long, soul-searching post-season break.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.72 (bet365)
Sydney vs Geelong
3:35pm , Metricon Stadium
Betting tip: Geelong (-26.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs
6:10pm , Cazaly’s Stadium
It’s all on the line for the Dogs in this one: win and they play finals, lose and they’re out. They’ve played well in recent weeks and they should win this one, but Fremantle aren’t an easy opponent. The Dockers have caused their fair share of upsets this season, and have won three of their past five outings. They’ve also recently played in Cairns so will have a fair idea of the conditions awaiting them. I reckon they’re a chance of causing an upset here, particularly if the Dogs are off their game. They’ve got a three-pronged tall forward attack which will give the Western Bulldogs’ undersized defence some serious headaches, so as long as they can get the ball down there they’ll be a real shot.
That said, the Dogs will know they need to win and will throw everything they’ve got at the Dockers, and the omission of Michael Walters is a big loss for Freo. The Dogs’ midfield is firing on all cylinders, led by skipper Marcus Bontempelli, who is back in some seriously good form, and they should be hard to match in that area. I reckon it’ll be a close one but I’m backing the Dogs in by a goal or two, just because it’s a must win game for them.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.44 (BlueBet)
Monday, September 21
Collingwood vs Port Adelaide
7:15pm , The Gabba
The last game of the regular season sees Collingwood hosting Port Adelaide at the Gabba, a game that will shape the final structure of the top eight. The Pies and the Power will both make it regardless, but the first week of finals will look very different depending on the result. If Port win, they secure top spot and will host the Cats in the first week of finals. If they lose, they’ll finish second and play the Tigers; neither are easy options, but you probably want to be avoiding the Tigers as much as possible. The Pies almost have more incentive to win: lose and they’re off to Perth to play the Eagles, but a win would see them taking on the Saints, a game they’d presumably head into as favourites.
Jaidyn Stephenson comes back into the Collingwood team to add another threat up forward, and he’ll need to play an important role if they’re to go deep in the finals. They need someone to support Jordan De Goey, because as good as he is, they can’t rely solely on him. Port have got plenty of options in attack and that has seen them finish the season with the best percentage in the league (along with Geelong). Collingwood have regained a few important players in recent weeks and could potentially upset a few teams moving forward, but I can’t see them getting over Port in this one. The Power have been so impressive all year, and I expect they’ll finish their season off with strength.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $1.64 (Unibet)
Best Bets of the Round
Geelong (-26.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)