The following are previews with betting tips for Round 18 of the 2017 AFL season.
Friday, July 21
Adelaide v Geelong
7:50PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
Friday night brings us the top-of-the-table clash between Adelaide and Geelong at the Adelaide Oval, and it should be an absolute belter of a game. The Cats have had the wood over Adelaide in their recent encounters, but with the home ground advantage coupled with the injury cloud over Cats’ superstar Patrick Dangerfield, the Crows won’t have a better opportunity to get one back over the Cats than they will here. Adelaide also have a few personnel issues of their own, with Jake Lever out due to hamstring tightness, and queries over forward Josh Jenkins, who was struck down by food poisoning during the week, and star midfielder Rory Sloane, who is trying to get himself right after a big head knock and resulting concussion against the Demons. Sloane looks like he should be right to go, but I’d be surprised if Jenkins recovers in time.
In their past three encounters, Chris Scott and his coaching team has structured his team up perfectly against the Crows, making sure to keep defenders deep and to not let the Crows get out the back for the quick transition goals they love. Don Pyke stated after their round 11 loss to Geelong that the Crows would be tinkering with their game plan to make sure they’re better prepared for their next contest against the Cats, so it’ll be interesting to see how this game pans out. Will the Crows have answers to what Geelong has previously thrown at them? And if so, can the Cats adapt during the game and wrestle the control back? It might be difficult if they don’t have Dangerfield out there. They are so reliant on him that regardless of game plan, I struggle to see them winning without him. They might get close, but I think the Crows will be too strong on this occasion.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-16.5) @ $1.95 (Marathon Bet)
Saturday, July 22
Essendon v North Melbourne
1:45PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Bombers were back at their best on Friday night, dominating the entire game to hand the Saints a 61-point belting. It was a game they needed to win to keep their finals hopes alive, and they did it in convincing fashion. If they play to that standard for the remainder of the year they’ll book themselves a spot in an elimination final. The question is whether they can keep that form up. They shouldn’t have any troubles this week when they come up against a struggling Kangaroos outfit. The Roos have hit a wall, and with skipper Jack Ziebell needing a rest this week it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll be able to lift significantly against the Bombers. North Melbourne will want to keep fighting and finish the season off strongly, but they look genuinely tired at the moment. The return of Jarrad Waite will help, but I’m not sure he’s going to get enough opportunities to make a massive difference.
If the Bombers are serious about playing finals, they should get up by a comfortable five or six goals at the very least, but I expect it could blow out to a much larger margin that that if the Roos aren’t able to improve on their previous few performances.
Betting tip: Essendon By 25+ @ $1.80 (Ladbrokes)
Melbourne v Port Adelaide
2:10PM AEST, MCG
Port continued on their merry way with a massive 70-point win over the Kangaroos on Saturday afternoon, keeping the pressure on the other clubs vying for a top four position. This week they travel to Melbourne to take on the Demons, who have had a disappointing few weeks, largely due to having to field a depleted side because of both injury and suspension. Another casualty from last weekend was the careless Bernie Vince who has again been suspended, this time for two weeks. It couldn’t come at a worse time for the Demons, as they’ve already got more midfielders missing than they can handle and they need to get themselves back on the winners list with finals fast approaching.
This week they will be bolstered by the return of Dom Tyson and Jack Watts, as well as the surprise inclusion of co-captain Jack Viney, who has recovered incredibly quickly, but I still think they’re going to struggle against the Port Adelaide midfield. Port enjoy playing at the MCG, and I expect them to overpower a Demons team that is still missing too many key players to knock over any of the AFL’s better teams.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 25+ @ $2.80 (Ladbrokes)
Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast
4:35PM AEST, Cazalys Stadium
The Dogs perhaps took their first, tentative step towards regaining their best form against the Blues on Sunday afternoon. They looked to have some of their manic pressure back, and their key players performed well: Marcus Bontempelli was best on ground, Jason Johannisen looked to regain some much-needed confidence, and Liam Picken put in a strong performance. The only negative was the hamstring injury to mercurial forward Jake Stringer, which will put him out of action for at least a fortnight. Overall, it was encouraging from the Dogs, but they need to be able to back it up and build on it this week against the Suns.
The Suns would have been setting themselves up for a win against the Magpies at home, and will be sorely disappointed they weren’t able to get the job done. They will no doubt be keen to bounce back this week, but they haven’t managed to beat the Dogs in Cairns from three attempts. Last year they copped a 48-point belting, but the Dogs were in much better form back then. This contest will be closer, but are the Suns good enough to get over the line? A lot depends on the Dogs and if they have really turned the corner. If so, they should win. If they regress, the Suns might run all over them. But without key players Gary Ablett and Steven May, they might not either way. I expect the Dogs to continue to scrap and keep their season alive.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs By 1-39 @ $2.10 (Ladbrokes)
Sydney v St Kilda
7:25PM AEST, SCG
The Sydney train keeps rolling on with no end in sight. They are now in sixth position, and only one game out of the top four. They will almost certainly play finals, and since beating the Giants, there has been some talk that the Swans should be considered flag favourites. It’s been a remarkable turnaround and they are clearly not done yet. This is another decent challenge for them, taking on a St Kilda team that is on the rebound after a disappointing loss to Essendon on Friday night.
The Saints, at their best, are more than capable of beating anyone, as shown in their demolition of the Tigers just a few short weeks ago, but they don’t produce it often enough. If they can bring the pressure against the Swans, it will set up a fantastic game. I’d still say the Swans are, at present, playing too well for the Saints to beat them either way, but you just never know. Will Jake Carlisle be able to contain the rampant Lance Franklin? I’m not sure he will, and I reckon Buddy might have another day out. I’m looking forward to this one, but I reckon the Swans might blow it out in the second half and win relatively comfortably.
Betting tip: Sydney By 1-39 @ $2.15 (UniBet)
Fremantle v Hawthorn
7:40PM AEST, Domain Stadium
They were so close to snatching the win over the Cats in Luke Hodge’s 300th game, but in the end an Isaac Smith kick at goal just before the final siren sailed wide, and the Hawks fell 3-points short. It would have been a bitter pill to swallow, but they can take heart in the fact they gave it their all and performed admirably against a top four team in Geelong. This week they travel west to take on the Dockers, who are coming off a five goal loss to West Coast in the Derby. They were incredibly wasteful, ending up with the same number of scoring shots as the Eagles, but kicking 5.14 to West Coast’s 11.8. Wasted opportunities has been the story of their year in a way, and a finals berth is now out of the question. The Hawks won’t play finals either, but their form over the past 10 weeks has shown they won’t be down for too long.
This is a really difficult game to pick and could easily go either way, but I like the way Hawthorn are going about it at the moment and think they’ll be able to beat the Dockers, who are in a slight slump at present.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Sunday, July 23
Richmond v GWS
1:10PM AEST, MCG
The Giants have had a tough couple of weeks—two draws and a loss from their past three matches—and it doesn’t get much easier for them here, with a massive MCG clash against fellow top four contender Richmond. Another loss would make things difficult for them in terms of securing a home final, and even puts their top four position at risk. Same goes for the Tigers—a loss on Sunday and they can kiss a double chance goodbye. This is a season defining game for both clubs and I expect it’s also going to be an exciting game to watch. There are plenty of talented players on both teams, but it will be a high pressure contest and the team who manages to make the least mistakes is likely to win. The Tigers have been a good defensive side this year, but they’ve let that slip a little in the past couple of weeks. They’ll need their pressure back at its best if they’re any chance to beat the Giants. The only significant change for this game is GWS welcoming back star midfielder Stephen Coniglio, and they’ll be hoping he can get a injury-free run at the rest of the year.
The last contest between these clubs was a great battle, and I expect this one to be no different. I still think the Giants are a touch better than the Tigers and expect them to get over the line and build towards another September assault.
Betting tip: GWS (-6.5) @ $1.95 (Marathon Bet)
Collingwood v West Coast
3:20PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Pies were much better on Saturday afternoon, with their much-hyped midfield standing strong to secure a 15-point win over the Suns. Taylor Adams, Steele Sidebottom, Adam Treloar and Jordan De Goey all had big games, which they’ll now be required to back up for the rest of the season as skipper Scott Pendlebury is set to miss at least a couple of matches with a badly damaged finger. The Magpies have rarely been forced to go into battle without Pendlebury, so it’ll be a real challenge for those younger guys to step up and carry the load. There’s no doubt they have enough talent there, but Pendlebury not being out there will probably have a mental effect of some sort on the rest of the Collingwood squad as well.
They take on the Eagles, who were solid without being amazing in their win over the Dockers. The long-awaited return of star forward Josh Kennedy was worth the wait as he helped himself to three out of their 11 goals, and he’ll be incredibly important again this week if the Eagles are to topple the Pies. If this game were at MCG, you’d be locking in a Collingwood win, but the Eagles don’t seem to struggle as much at Etihad. They actually played quite well at the venue a few weeks ago against the Dogs, and I reckon they’ll grab another four points under the roof this weekend.
Betting tip: West Coast (-7.5) @ $1.95 (Marathon Bet)
Brisbane v Carlton
4:40PM AEST, Gabba
The Lions will be heartened by the fact that none of their prime movers performed particularly well against the Tigers on Sunday, but they were still able to keep the margin to a respectable 31-points. They’d obviously prefer to be doing better than that, but when Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko, Tom Rockliff and Daniel Rich all have 21 possessions or less, you’d expect a 15 goal belting. Which means the younger, less experienced players carried the side against Richmond, and that’s an encouraging sign for the future. Carlton is another club with its eye firmly on the future, but the Blues’ young stars had an off day against the Dogs. That’s to be expected with a young side, but they’ll want to make sure they’re better this week as it’s a great opportunity for an interstate win, something that’s fairly rare occurrence for Carlton at present.
I expect the Blues to really push Brisbane this week, but I feel like Carlton will struggle for the rest of the year without young star Patrick Cripps. They tried to cover him by moving Sam Docherty into the midfield, but Docherty is such a strong defender and rebounder that his absence down back hurt them too much. The Lions have a strong, attacking midfield, and I think they’ll have the advantage over the Blues in that area, which will prove the difference in this contest.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $2.35 (TopSport)
Best Bets of the Round
Sydney By 1-39 @ $2.15 (UniBet)
Brisbane to win @ $2.35 (TopSport)
All Bets: -25.16 units
Best Bets: +4.16 units