The following are previews with betting tips for Round 20 of the 2017 AFL season.
Friday, August 4
Geelong v Sydney
7:50PM AEST, Simonds Stadium
Sydney’s winning streak finally came to an end on Friday night as they were outplayed by the Hawks for the second time this year. They have another big ask in front of them this week when they head down to Skilled Stadium to take on the Cats. It’s not a bad week to get them however, with Cats’ star Patrick Dangerfield due to miss after accepting a one-week suspension for a careless tackle on Carlton big man Matthew Kreuzer. Dangerfield’s absence is balanced by the omission of Sydney captain Josh Kennedy due to a hamstring strain, who is just as important for his team as Dangerfield is for the Cats. The Swans have recalled big men Sam Reid and Kurt Tippett and they will look to stretch the Geelong backline along with Lance Franklin and Callum Sinclair.
It’s going to be a fascinating contest. There’s so much on the line—a top two spot for the Cats, and a finals berth for the Swans—and both teams will have to see if they can manage without their best midfielders. As difficult as it is to beat the Cats in Geelong, I reckon the Swans might be too strong for a Dangerfield-less Geelong. It’ll be close, but I reckon the Swans sneak home in a thriller.
Betting tip: Sydney By 1-39 @ $2.35 (Ladbrokes)
Saturday, August 5
GWS v Melbourne
1:45PM AEST, Manuka Oval
The Giants got a big scare from the Dockers on Saturday afternoon and at one stage looked like they were going to drop another game they should’ve won. They did enough to get over the line in the end, but were again unconvincing. They’ll need to be much better this week if they expect to beat the Demons. Melbourne also weren’t too flash last weekend, going down to the Kangaroos by four-points, but they regain key midfielders Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince for this weekend’s game. The Giants are also set to welcome back veterans Steve Johnson and Shane Mumford, while recruit Brett Deledio is finally fit and ready to make his debut for the Giants. He’ll be enormous for their ball movement and potency in attack if he’s actually able to run out a full game, but I’m not convinced that his body is not absolutely cooked. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it no longer stands up to the pace and rigours of AFL football, but let’s hope that’s not the case.
The Giants have lost Jeremy Cameron for a few weeks due to hamstring strain, while the Demons have also lost their big full-forward, with Jesse Hogan breaking his collarbone last weekend against the Roos. The Giants have plenty of other options to replace Cameron, but the Demons might struggle a little without Hogan up forward, although they’ve had plenty of practice without him this year and seemed to fare pretty well.
This is definitely a danger game for GWS, but I’m backing them in to return to form at home. It’ll have a finals-like intensity, and I expect the Giants to thrive under that and get the job done.
Betting tip: GWS By 1-39 @ $2.20 (Sportsbet)
Essendon v Carlton
2:10PM AEST, MCG
Essendon’s season is hanging by a thread after their 30-point loss to the Dogs last Sunday, but they can keep their faint finals hopes alive with a big win over arch-rival Carlton on Saturday. Their percentage is already better than the couple of teams directly above them, but it wouldn’t hurt to boost it a little more this weekend if possible. And it should definitely be possible, the Blues are really struggling right now. Without Patrick Cripps and Ed Curnow, their midfield is too reliant on Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs and those guys can’t be expected to do much more than they’re already doing. It was a bright start to the season for the Blues, but they’re now limping to the finish line. Which isn’t really too big of a negative for them considering their injuries, but I’m sure they would like to avoid many more 10-goal thumpings in the final four weeks.
The Bombers have taken this opportunity to rest veteran James Kelly and youngster Andrew McGrath, while the Blues have had to make anther four forced changes. With the side they’re going to put out on the park on Saturday, it’s hard to imagine them getting close to the Bombers. Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering have been solid down back this year, but after Tom Hawkins getting hold of them last week they are in for another tough day looking after Joe Daniher, who’s leading the Coleman medal race. It might be another big bag for Joe, and a big win for the Bombers.
Betting tip: Essendon By 40+ @ $2.67 (TopSport)
Brisbane v Western Bulldogs
4:35PM AEST, Gabba
Now that was more like the Western Bulldogs of 2016. The two wins beforehand—over the Blues and Suns—while being important, were not all that impressive, but Sunday’s defeat of Essendon was the Bulldogs at something near to their best. Their pressure was up, they ran hard, and they took the game on. The Bombers will probably regret letting the game play out that way, because the fast-paced game played right into the Bulldog’s hand, and it may have even played them back into form. We’ll find out this week when they head north to take on the Lions, who regain Dayne Zorko and a few other important players as they attempt to bounce back from a hiding from the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
Luke Beveridge doesn’t like to employ a tag, so expect Zorko, Tom Rockliff and Dayne Beams to get plenty of the footy and cause the Bulldogs a few headaches. But the Dogs will back their midfielders to beat the Lions going the other way, and I expect that should be the case—the reigning premiers should get the points and keep their flag defence alive.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs By 25+ @ $1.72 (Ladbrokes)
North Melbourne v Collingwood
7:25PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
What a strange game it was between the Pies and the Crows at the MCG on Sunday. Collingwood were doing all the early running, skipping out to a 51-point lead early in the third-quarter before the Crows kicked an avalanche of goals to bring the margin back to a goal midway through the final term. To their credit, Collingwood settled and kicked three quick goals which should’ve been enough to ice the game, but it wasn’t to be. They let themselves down in that final minute, allowing Mitch McGovern to mark and kick a goal after the siren to split the points. Still, it was another decent effort against one of the best teams in the competition, and there was plenty for the Pies to take away from the game. Daniel Wells was absolutely superb and he seems to have got through it unscathed, so he’ll be lining up again this week against his former club the Kangaroos. They come in full of confidence after knocking off the Demons in Tasmania, but have once again lost star forward Jarrad Waite to a calf injury.
The Roos are a very decent side when they play at their best, but I like the way Collingwood are going about it at the moment and expect they should be too good for North, especially if Wells fires again like he did last week.
Betting tip: Collingwood By 1-39 @ $2.30 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle v Gold Coast
7:40PM AEST, Domain Stadium
The Dockers will be bitterly disappointed they couldn’t finish off a good performance against the Giants with a win. It was one of their better efforts from the past month or two, but in the end they fell agonisingly short. They’ll look to go one better this week against the Suns, who definitely won’t be an easy victim as they regain a host of senior players including Gary Ablett and Steven May.
Both clubs are well and truly out of the finals race, but they’ll want to finish the season off strongly. Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade is still out of contract for next year and these final four games could play a part in deciding his future with the club. With the 22 players they’ll take over to Perth they should be capable of winning if they play at their best, but I’m not sure how well they’ll cope with the experience of playing in front of a packed Domain Stadium. The Dockers looked much better last week, and if they can carry that form into Saturday night I expect them to take care of the Suns.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 1-39 @ $2.10 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, August 6
St Kilda v West Coast
1:10PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
One of the biggest games of the weekend sees St Kilda host the Eagles at Etihad Stadium. It’s a huge game in the contest of the final eight. While the Saints are probably out of finals contention after their heartbreaking last-second loss to Port Adelaide, it’s all on the line for the Eagles here. A win goes a long way towards making sure they finish in the top eight, but a loss will make things extremely difficult as they’ve got a fairly tough last couple of weeks. So the stakes are high and it should be a ripping game as the two sides match-up relatively evenly against each other.
If it were being played in Perth you’d be backing the Eagles, but over in Melbourne you have to lean towards the Saints. The Eagles also seem to go to water when there is too much pressure, and with so much on the line I can see them struggling to take risks and get their game going. It’s not a great way to be looked upon, but the Eagles only have themselves to blame. Let’s see if they can do anything to change those perceptions this week; I won’t be holding my breath.
Betting tip: St Kilda By 1-39 @ $2.30 (Sportsbet)
Richmond v Hawthorn
3:20PM AEST, MCG
Dion Prestia has recovered for this crunch match against the Hawks on Sunday, but Tigers’ spearhead Jack Riewoldt is set to spend at least one more week on the sidelines, which is a big blow to their chances. They managed without him against the Gold Coast, but the Hawks are a whole different beast. They’ve just taken care of the in-form team of the competition in Sydney and are playing the sort of footy that will have some top eight clubs happy that they’re not going to make the finals. The only negative to come from last week was the one-week suspension to the retiring champ Luke Hodge, but they’ll back themselves to take it up to the Tigers without him.
I’m really looking forward to this contest, I think it’ll be a very entertaining game of footy between two clubs that know how to put on a show. Even without Riewoldt you’d expect the Tigers to get over the line in the end, but I don’t think they’ll do it as easily as they’d like. I’m expecting a tight contest, with the Tigers to pull away in the last quarter for a three or four goal victory.
Betting tip: Richmond By 1-39 @ $2.39 (TopSport)
Adelaide v Port Adelaide
4:40PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
It just doesn’t feel right having the best game of the weekend scheduled into the Sunday twilight spot, but that’s what we’ve been dealt with in round 20. The second showdown of the year is set to be an absolute belter, with both clubs entrenched at the pointy end of the ladder and desperate to make sure they stay there. Port Adelaide are fighting it out for a top four finish, while the Crows just need another win or two to solidify their top two position. Let’s hope it’s a tight finish, as both clubs were involved in exactly that last weekend and found a way to kick a goal from nowhere, to in Port’s case steal a win and in Adelaide’s case a draw.
The Crows are hopeful of regaining all three of Eddie Betts, Brad Crouch and Jake Lever, but Port Adelaide won’t have star midfielder Chad Wingard back for at least another couple of weeks. I’m not confident in their chances of beating Adelaide without him—they’ve struggled against the Crows recently and will need to be at full strength if they are to turn the tables. I don’t think this weekend is their best shot at it. Maybe if they’re good enough they’ll get another crack it at later on in the year when Wingard is back and firing.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-11.5) @ $1.92 (CrownBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Essendon By 40+ @ $2.67 (TopSport)
St Kilda By 1-39 @ $2.30 (Sportsbet)
All Bets: -28.58 units
Best Bets: +3.51 units