The following are previews with betting tips for the Preliminary finals of the 2020 AFL season.
Friday, October 16
Port Adelaide vs Richmond
7:50pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
The last time these two teams met at the Adelaide Oval it was one of the games of the year, and I’m expecting this one to be even better. Port won the previous battle, but the Tigers weren’t without their chances. It was a brilliant, fast-paced game of footy, and there’s no reason this one won’t be the same. The pressure will be higher, but both teams are extremely skillful and love to play burst football. Port should be well-rested after their week off, while the Tigers head in with an unchanged side after their semi-final victory over the Saints. That game was probably the perfect warm-up for Richmond: the Saints challenged them and made them earn it, but they got through unscathed and should be relatively fresh for this do-or-die battle against Port Adelaide, who have occupied the top spot for all of 2020. Can the Tigers, who have been the best side of the past three years, knock them off their perch?
Neither side has any glaring weakness, and they should each have their periods of dominance throughout the game, so it’ll really come down to who is best able to capitalize. Port will try to stretch the Tigers in the ruck with Scott Lycett and Peter Ladhams up against Toby Nankervis, but I expect the big Tiger will hold his own. If Charlie Dixon can fire for Port Adelaide they’ll be very hard to beat, but the same goes for Tom Lynch down the other end. And perhaps that’s one area the Tigers might be able to get on top: Port are undersized in defence against the genuine tall forwards; when they played Trent McKenzie on Tom Hawkins two weeks back it was only inaccuracy that stopped Hawkins from having a real influence on the game.
If they’re not able to curb Lynch (and Riewoldt for that matter) then the Power will find it difficult to stop the Tigers from kicking a winning score. I’m tipping this to go right down to the wire, and while I am worried about that Lynch match-up, I think the home crowd will get Port over the line. They’ve been top of the table all year, and they deserve to play off in a Grand Final; I think they’ll make it, but only just.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide @ $1.80 (UniBet)
Saturday, October 17
Brisbane vs Geelong
7:40pm AEST, Gabba
The second place in the 2020 Grand Final is up for grabs on Saturday night when the Lions host the Cats, and it should be another super game of footy. The Lions were immense in their win over the Tigers two weeks ago, and while that was a big achievement for the club, the job isn’t close to being done. They’re up against a Geelong team who have been very good all year, were particularly menacing against the Pies last week, and actually beat the Lions back in Round 6. That was a long time ago now, but the Lions will no doubt have a fight on their hands on Saturday evening. Fortunately they’ve got a great defence, which should stop Tom Hawkins from having too much of an impact on the result, while their midfield is just as good if not better than what the Cats have to offer. Their problem has regularly been converting in front of goal, but they had no issues in that regard against the Tigers. If they can keep up that efficiency then they’ll be very difficult to beat.
That said, the Cats have some obvious weapons: if Patrick Dangerfield spends plenty of time forward, which he will, the Lions will need to pay extra close attention to him: he was close to unstoppable against the Pies and the Lions can’t afford to let him have a similar impact. Mitch Duncan and Cam Guthrie were also good, and when those guys are playing well it allows Dangerfield to stay forward and transforms Geelong into a dangerous outfit. So that’s the blueprint for Brisbane: beat the Cats in the midfield and force them to move Dangerfield out of the forward line.
I think it’ll be an outstanding game of footy, but despite their very impressive win over Collingwood, I’m not confident Geelong are quite good enough to go the full four-quarters with Brisbane. They do play well at the Gabba, but Brisbane play it better. I’m expecting the Lions to lock in their first Grand Final berth since way back in 2004.
Best Bets of the Round
Port Adelaide @ $1.80 (UniBet)