The following are previews with betting tips for Round 4 of the 2020 AFL season.
Thursday, June 25
Sydney vs Western Bulldogs
7:40 pm AEST, SCG
What a crazy week it was in AFL land. There were upsets galore, a positive COVID-19 test and a postponed match. These two teams both caused upsets, the Swans defeating the Roos in Melbourne, and the Dogs knocking off the Giants in a spiteful Friday night clash. I may have to re-evaluate my thinking on the Swans; they keep playing better footy than I think they’re capable of. Young guns like Isaac Heeney, Ollie Florent, and Nick Blakey are leading the way, well supported by the experienced heads of Kennedy, Parker, Rampe, etc. With this game, and next weekend against the Demons, both being at the SCG, the Swans could realistically be 4-1 at the conclusion of Round 5. That’d put them in strong position for a finals berth, something I would’ve said was almost unthinkable a few weeks ago.
The Dogs will be aiming to avoid giving them that chance by bringing the same intensity to the contest that they displayed against the Giants. They were a completely different team, all of a sudden hungry and spirited. Josh Dunkley’s ankle injury is a blow, but they’ve got the inside midfielders to cover him. What this game may hinge on, once again, is how big Tim English stands up under the pressure of a double-team. He did well against Sam Jacobs, but Cal Sinclair and Sam Naismith will work him over a whole lot more than Jacobs did. If he can cope with that, the Dogs will be a real chance, but if not, I think it’s fair to say they’ll get beaten. As encouraging as he was against the Giants, I don’t think he’s ready to go up against two opposition ruckman, week-in, week-out, and I think that’ll cost the Dogs. Sydney by three goals.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.77 (BetEasy)
Friday, June 26
GWS vs Collingwood
7:50 pm AEST, Giants Stadium
The Giants were their usual fiery selves against the Dogs on Friday night, but only in terms of attitude; they couldn’t match the Dogs for intensity around the contest. That resulted in their second consecutive loss, and now their season is suddenly at a crossroads. With only 17 rounds to be played, they can’t afford to slip to 1-3; particularly not when their following two opponents, the Hawks and Port, aren’t too shabby either. But in the form they’re in it is going to be a huge task to beat the Pies, who probably look like the strongest team in the competition at the moment; they didn’t have any trouble whatsoever in dispatching of the Saints.
A big worry for GWS last weekend was Sam Jacobs being beaten in the ruck by a slight Tim English; the Giants are bringing in Shane Mumford to replace Jacobs this week, hoping big Mummy will stop Brodie Grundy from dominating them. He probably will regardless. And that makes it hard to tip against the Pies, even though the Giants are getting some good players back into the team. I expect GWS to respond with some better footy this week, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to topple the Pies, who will be keen to get some revenge for last year’s preliminary final loss. Collingwood by two goals.
Betting tip: Collingwood @ $1.91 (bet365)
Saturday, June 27
Port Adelaide vs West Coast
1:45 pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
Other than Collingwood, the competition’s other form team is Port Adelaide, who continue to play exciting footy and win games with ease. The first major disappointment of their season came when young gun Xavier Duursma pinged his hamstring on Sunday, but he’ll be back soon enough; and it looks like his team will be in a pretty good position when that time comes, though they do have a tough three weeks ahead. That begins with a huge clash against the spluttering Eagles, who now sit in the bottom four after another disappointing loss, this time to Brisbane.
They’ve always been clear that they don’t want to be away from Perth for too long, and it’s obvious from their footy that they don’t want to be in the hub. Perhaps now that the AFL have provided them with a definite return home date the Eagles will be able to get back to their best. Surely they at least show some improvement this weekend. Jeremy McGovern is back into the team after his one week suspension, and they’ve made three other unforced change in aim to mix things up. I reckon they’ll take it up to Port, and this one could go right down to the wire; I’m hesitant to actually tip them to win, but I reckon it’ll be a tight one.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 1-24 @ $2.90 (UniBet)
St Kilda vs Richmond
4:35 pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
After such an exciting performance against the Dogs, it was disappointing that the Saints largely went to water against the Pies. Sure, Collingwood are a very strong team, but the Saints would’ve kept themselves in the game by simply improving some basics. They looked rattled early when the Pies got on top, and then rushed their possessions and didn’t look to help their teammates, reverting to a more individual-focused style compared to the team game they played against the Dogs. But there were some positives: Max King continues to grow, and Dan Butler played well again; he’s looking like being a steal.
This week he’ll face up against his old team, the Tigers, who have headaches of their own after being smashed by the Hawks. Not only that, but it’s now two consecutive weeks where they just haven’t been able to score. They’ve got runs on the board, but it’s something they’ll need to sort out soon. With Dustin Martin to come back into the team, and a response necessary, I’m pretty certain the Tigers will get the points over St Kilda on Saturday, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turn into another tight affair.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.45 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs Carlton
7:40 pm AEST, MCG
The Bombers have just gone through one of the strangest weeks in AFL history, with their Round 3 match against the Demons cancelled after Conor McKenna’s positive COVID-19 test, only to later find out they probably could have played. The AFL did the right thing, but it must be frustrating from a player’s perspective. It’ll be interesting to see how they go this week after the interruption, which has probably somewhat stifled the momentum they had from winning their first two games. Still, this week is a game they should win if they turn up with their heads switched on; the Blues, while a whole lot better against the Cats, still have a long way to go to put together four quarters of quality footy. They nearly did it, completely outplaying Geelong for three quarters, before falling in an absolute hole in the last to nearly lose from an un-losable position.
But looking at the positives, they beat a very good team at a venue where Geelong rarely lose. Eddie Betts played his best game of the year, as did skipper Patrick Cripps, while Jacob Weitering continues being Mr. Reliable down back. The Blues will head into this one telling themselves the Bombers, having not played last weekend, are underdone and ripe for the picking. They just might be right—I’m backing Carlton to win by less than a goal—but in such an unpredictable season, who could know? Watch with interest.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $2.15 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast vs Fremantle
7:40 pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
Big Stuart Dew will be very pleased with himself at the moment — the Suns are sitting pretty in the top four. It might not last for long, but that’s a remarkable turnaround for a team who lost the last 18 games of the 2019 season. And who’s to say how long it’ll last; they’ve got another very winnable home game this week against the Dockers, who are one of only two winless clubs. That probably undervalues Fremantle a touch—they were close in the opening two rounds, and only played one bad quarter last week against Port—but it’s fair to say they’re an opponent the young Suns will enjoy a crack at. Matt Rowell turned it on again against the Crows, as did Ben King up forward, and Hugh Greenwood looks to have been a very clever pick-up.
Things are finally looking positive for the Suns, and wouldn’t another win this week be nice. They do need to make the most of this; at some stage they’ll have to leave the Gold Coast, and that might coincide with a dry patch in terms of wins. But for now, they’re having fun, playing good footy, and I reckon that’ll continue into another week. Then, Geelong await them, in Geelong.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.72 (Unibet)
Sunday, June 28
Brisbane vs Adelaide
1:05 pm AEST, Gabba
What can you say about the Crows right now? They’re almost worse than last year’s Gold Coast team, who didn’t win after Round 4. It’s hard to see them getting a win at all right now with the way they’re playing, but they’re capable of more. To be beaten by the Suns by 53 points is downright embarrassing, and should elicit a strong response from the Crows this week. Unfortunately for them, they’re up against a pretty good side who don’t lose easily on their home turf, so that even if the Crows do bring a better brand of footy, it’s highly unlikely to result in them winning the game. Nevertheless, they need to show something and take some confidence into the following week’s more favourable contest against the Dockers.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-32.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs Geelong
3:35 pm AEST, MCG
The Demons were the innocent victims of the Connor McKenna situation last weekend, missing their scheduled game and now having to head into a huge clash with the Cats without much match practice. The Cats, for their part, will be fuming after a really poor performance against the Blues. They nearly stole it at the death but they really didn’t deserve to win. It’s hard to fathom how they could be so switched on against the Hawks and then the next week act asleep for three quarters, but that’s footy. They’ll respond this week, and the Demons will be the unfortunate victims, again.
The one advantage the Demons will have is the ruck battle, with the knee injury to Rhys Stanley likely forcing the Cats to move Esava Ratugolea into the middle to do battle with Max Gawn. If there’s any way Melbourne win this game, that’s it. Gawn needs to dominate, to give his midfielders first use of the ball and then get involved around the ground. If he can do enough damage the Dees might be a chance, but I reckon Sav has the ability to run with him and quell him just enough for Geelong to get home.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.54 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne
6:05 pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Hawks, as they always do, bounced back in style last Thursday night, downing the reigning premiers by 32 points. They were completely dominate, stifling Richmond’s ball movement and scoring with relative ease. Having Jaeger O’Meara back in the team certainly helped, with the gun onballer a pretty clear best-on-ground. His presence also helped free up the likes of Chad Wingard and Isaac Smith, who were both extremely influential all over the ground.
The Roos won’t be happy with their effort against the Swans, letting slip the opportunity to go 3-0 when it was there for the taking. It was really just their third quarter that cost them, when they conceded ten shots at goal resulting in five majors for the Swans. It was just a bit sloppy from North, but I expect them to respond with a strong four quarter effort this weekend, and I reckon that’ll result in this being one of the round’s best games of footy. In the end it’ll come down to the midfield battle, and I feel like these two clubs are fairly evenly matched there. I’m going with the Hawks because of their awesome performance last week, but I’m really looking forward to a strong contest in this one.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.62 (bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Collingwood @ $1.91 (bet365)