The following are previews with betting tips for Round 22 of the 2017 AFL season.
Friday, August 18
Adelaide v Sydney
7:50PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
What a game of footy this should be. The two best teams in the competition right now are set to fight it out, and there’s plenty on the line. The Swans need to win to keep their hope of a double chance alive, and while the Crows have nothing to gain themselves, being able to end the top four hopes of one of their biggest threats in the premiership race is a big incentive for them to win.
They’ll be sweating on the fitness of star duo Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane, who are both sore from the clash against the Bombers on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Swans are set to regain skipper Josh Kennedy, and what a difference he’ll make to a side that is already flying. They gave themselves a nice percentage boost in their 104-point win over the Dockers and are now just waiting on a slip-up from the fourth-placed Tigers. But this is a big hurdle they need to get over first of all. I think the Swans are good enough to beat the Crows, especially considering that Walker and Sloane are a little underdone and the Crows already have a top two spot stitched up. I expect it’ll be a great game of footy that will go down to the final minutes, but I think the Swans might just sneak home in a thriller.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $2.40 (Marathon Bet)
Saturday, August 19
Western Bulldogs v Port Adelaide
1:45PM AEST, Eureka Stadium
As has been the case for much of their season, the Dogs inconsistency and their inability to capitalise on their periods of dominance really hurt against the Giants. They dominated the second quarter but were unable to put on any significant scoreboard pressure, kicking 3.6 for the term to the Giants’ 3.0. It must be demoralising to work so hard for little reward, and then watch as the Giants go down the other end and kick a couple of quick goals with ease. Which is exactly what happened at the beginning of the third quarter; the Dogs then dropped their heads and it was game over. It’s staggering that a team can win the inside 50 count 65 to 34 and lose by eight goals. It just goes to show how poor the Dogs are in their attacking half. They may still make the finals if they win their next two, but this year they’ll just be making up the numbers.
It’ll be fascinating to see how Port Adelaide go this weekend, travelling to Melbourne to play at a venue they’ve never encountered, against a team that might not be top eight quality but is thereabouts. In the past this is the type of game they’ve struggled in, but I think they’ll be up for the challenge on Saturday. It’s all on the line for both clubs, but I get the feeling Port will be desperate to make a statement this weekend while the Dogs might already have their eye on 2018.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $2.00 (Bet365)
Collingwood v Geelong
2:10PM AEST, MCG
In their impressive 14-point victory over the Tigers, the Cats proved they can beat good opposition even without stars Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins—at Skilled Stadium anyway. They’ll need to do it again this weekend against a team they have struggled against in recent times; the Pies have beaten Geelong in their last three encounters. You have to suspect they’re every chance to do it again, as the Cats are not the same team without Selwood and Hawkins, and they don’t have the heavily discussed home ground advantage this week. Add to that the fact that Collingwood are playing some good footy at the moment and it points to another upset looking likely. The Pies are still having some trouble in attack, but regardless of that they’re still playing a better brand of footy than they were in the first half of the season. I expect them to trouble the Cats—I still don’t trust a Geelong outfit missing Selwood and Hawkins, and let’s be honest, beating the Tigers at Skilled Stadium doesn’t necessarily indicate all that much. It should be close, but I reckon the Pies snatch it.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $2.68 (Bet365)
GWS v West Coast
4:35PM AEST, Spotless Stadium
Despite having recently gone through a rough patch, the Giants seem to be peaking at just the right time. The win over the Dogs on Friday night was a massive confidence boost for them heading into September, and they’re going to be incredibly difficult to stop if they can earn themselves a double chance and a home final. To do that they first need to beat the Eagles on Saturday, who are fighting to hang on to their spot in the top eight. The Eagles survived a big scare from the young Blues on Saturday night, who fought back from six goals down to take the lead late in the third term. The Eagles were good enough to steady and earn a 17-point win, but they’ll need to be careful they don’t lapse at any stage this week, because if they let the Giants get a run-on they won’t be able to turn it around like they did against Carlton.
The return of Shane Mumford will boost the Giants’ midfield, and he could have a big influence against a thin Eagles’ ruck division. It’s hard to see the Eagles winning this game. Their best effort probably gets them within three or four goals, but no closer. The Giants will simply be too good for them.
Betting tip: GWS (-28.5) @ $1.92 (Marathon Bet)
Gold Coast v Essendon
7:25PM AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Bombers weren’t terrible in their loss to Adelaide, they were just beaten by a very good team. They’ll be looking to tighten up in defence for next season, but their attacking half is looking very dangerous. They should win their final two games, which will give them a small chance of sneaking into eighth position if other results fall their way, but it’s highly unlikely. Nevertheless, it’s been a successful comeback season for the Bombers, with plenty for Essendon fans to look forward to. The same can’t be said for their opposition this week. The Gold Coast are in dire straits, with the biggest decision of their brief history ahead of them. If they make the wrong call on their next senior coach, it could be enough to destroy the club. They need a coach who will be able to turn things around, and quickly. Rodney Eade has apparently made vast changes up there, but it’s apparent there’s still plenty of work to do.
Despite the game being played at Metricon Stadium, there’s no way the Suns beat Essendon. The Suns are cooked for 2017, they just need to continue playing the kids and hope they don’t cop a 20 goal belting.
Betting tip: Essendon (-20.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Carlton v Hawthorn
7:25PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Blues nearly pulled off a gigantic upset against the Eagles in Perth, but in the end they couldn’t maintain the terrific comeback. It will give them confidence that they’re good enough to cause an upset over the Hawks—if they can kick six goals in a row against the Eagles in Perth, they can do it against almost anyone. The Hawks continued their strong second half of the season with a solid 27-point win over the Kangaroos in Tasmania, and they’ll be looking to continue the Luke Hodge farewell tour on Saturday night with a big win over the Blues. Josh Gibson has joined Hodge in the retiring class of 2017, and what an outrageously good group it is. Those two are two of the best, and I suspect the Hawks are going to do everything in their power to win these final two games.
This week shouldn’t be too much trouble for them—despite a strong rally against the Eagles, I’m not sure the Blues are capable of playing four quarters of footy good enough to get them over the line against the Hawks. I’m expecting it to be a scrappy game of footy under the roof, with the Hawks to end up winning by a lazy five or six goals.
Betting tip: Hawthorn By 25+ @ $2.05 (Ladbrokes)
Sunday, August 20
Melbourne v Brisbane
1:10PM AEST, MCG
The 24-point win over the Saints on Sunday afternoon has put the Demons in a really strong position heading into the final two games of the home and away season. A finals berth is theirs to lose from here, and with games against the Lions and Collingwood to come, you’d have to think the Demons are just about there. After jumping out of the blocks at the ‘G, the Saints fought back to gave the Demons a scare, but the Dees were good enough to rally and hold on.
You wouldn’t think they’ll have to fight as much to get the win over the Lions this week. That being said, Brisbane are coming off a 10 goal win and their form of late has been rather impressive. I’m sure they’ll keep the Dees honest in this one, but I reckon they might lapse for a quarter and let Melbourne pile on a few quick goals to put the contest out of arm’s reach. In the past this may have been a game Melbourne would have dropped, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing that from this Melbourne outfit. They’re a different, more mature team, and they’ll be playing finals footy in 2017.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-32.5) @ $1.70 William Hill)
St Kilda v North Melbourne
3:20PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
St Kilda’s season is officially over after a disappointing loss to Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday. They haven’t improved at all from last year from a team perspective, but to put a positive spin on things, they’ve pumped more games into their younger players and some of those guys have shown significant improvement over the course of the year. Jack Billings, who’s just signed a two-year contract extension, being one of them, and the Saints will be hoping the other young guys all buy in and lead the club to the finals next season. For now they’ll have to make do with finishing the season off strongly to send off retiring champion Nick Riewoldt.
This week they take on the Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium, in a game that is probably lacking a point of real interest. The season is over for both clubs, and neither club is playing breathtaking footy at present. It’s likely to be a somewhat lacklustre affair, but it could come with an exciting finish as I don’t think all that much separates these two at the moment. It should be close in the end, but I’m backing the Saints to get over the line.
Betting tip: St Kilda (-10.5) @ $1.62 (William Hill)
Fremantle v Richmond
4:40PM AEST, Domain Stadium
A poor effort against the Cats means the pressure is still on Richmond to win their last two games or risk being bundled out of the top four. While the Tigers are a vastly superior side to Fremantle, this could be a danger game for them. Fremantle got the better of them last time when David Mundy kicked a goal after the siren to snatch victory at the MCG. This time they do battle in Perth, and Fremantle will be licking their wounds after a huge belting from the Swans. To add some excitement to the contest, Fremantle recruit Harley Bennell will finally play his first game in purple colours, and that may just spark the Dockers into some good form. They need something to spark them, because they were absolutely deplorable last weekend.
Having said all that, if Richmond are a genuine premiership threat, they win this game, and they win it comfortably. They’ve proven that their best is good enough, now it’s just a question of whether they can cope with the pressure when so much is at stake. I think they will—they’ll make a statement and beat the Dockers by a fair margin.
Betting tip: Richmond (-18.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Hawthorn By 25+ @ $2.05 (Ladbrokes)
All Bets: -26.13 units
Best Bets: +7.70 units