The following are previews with betting tips for Round 14 of the 2020 AFL season.
Thursday, August 27
Hawthorn vs Essendon
4:40 PM , Adelaide Oval
The Hawks put in a much-improved performance last week against Port Adelaide, an effort that probably would’ve resulted in a win if they were playing a lesser team. As it was they pushed the ladder-leaders right to the end, and while they were hoping for four points they at least did their supporters proud. This week they take on the Bombers at the same venue, and I’m thinking it’s going to be a really interesting game of footy. The Bombers were involved in a strange contest on Saturday evening: the Tigers absolutely dominated possession of the football, but the Essendon defence held up and the Bombers were pretty clinical going inside forward fifty. Funnily enough, that was the complete opposite of their previous match against St Kilda, when they couldn’t score from their forward entries.
But the big news in this game is the return of Joe Daniher. He’s been out for so long that expectations have to be low, but if he manages to string some games together now he could transform their forward line. He’s the key target they’ve been missing, and he’ll allow the likes of Jake Stringer and James Stewart a little more freedom. The Bombers desperately need a win and I expect the feel good news of Daniher’s return will result in a strong performance from them. Essendon by four goals.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $1.70 (bet365)
Richmond vs West Coast
7:10 PM , Metricon Stadium
The Eagles have now won eight consecutive games after defeating the Giants by two goals in their last match at Optus Stadium. Will this be the week the streak comes to an end? They’re up against the reigning premiers, who are chugging along nicely without being at their absolute best. It seems like each week they are getting back a key player, with Toby Nankervis ready to return to the team for this one. That’s going to help immensely against a West Coast lineup headed by Nic Naitanui, in what is a very important game for both clubs. A top four spot is on the line, and it’s probably not too far of a stretch to say that the loser of this misses out.
First point of interest will be monitoring how the Eagles re-adjust to hub life. If their form dips again and it looks like they are going to struggle for the next month then that spells trouble, but I expect them to be focused. The battle between the Eagles’ defence and the Richmond forward line could be what decides this one; if Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt can kick a bag of goals between them the Tigers will win, but if Jeremy McGovern is able to intercept all night and repel at ease then West Coast will kick a big score off the turnover. I reckon it’s going to be a scintillating game of footy and I can’t wait to see what happens, but I’m sticking with the Tigers in a tight one.
Betting tip: Richmond @ $1.82 (BetEasy)
Friday, August 28
Western Bulldogs vs Geelong
7:50 PM , Metricon Stadium
The Dogs forced their way back into the top eight with a big win over the Demons on Saturday afternoon, but they’ll have to play some very good footy to retain that spot over the next few weeks. They’ve got Geelong on Friday night, followed by the Eagles next Sunday. If they can somehow manage to win one of those they’ll give themselves a good chance of playing finals footy, but it’s a tough ask. The Cats, despite phoning it in against the Crows, are just about the best team in the competition right now, and the Eagles aren’t far behind them. The Dogs will need to lift their form to another level to challenge either club, but I suspect beating the Eagles next week is more likely; the Cats are absolutely flying, and the Dogs have struggled against them in recent times.
The ruck situation is still a bizarre struggle for the Dogs, and while Geelong aren’t particularly good in that area, I feel like they are great at exploiting opposition weaknesses. For the Dogs, that’s the ruck, and their key defence stocks. I expect the Cats to win more than their share of centre clearances, and kick it long and direct to Tom Hawkins, who should have an absolute field day. I’m going with the Cats to win by six goals, and Hawkins to kick five.
Betting tip: Geelong (-9.5) @ $1.90 (UniBet)
Saturday, August 29
Port Adelaide vs Sydney
1:45 PM , Adelaide Oval
Port received another almighty scare a week after their third loss of the season, with the Hawks lifting a gear to really test the Power’s resolve. Port were good enough to rise to the challenge, despite missing some of their best players, and others not being at their usual standard. They need to keep winning to ensure a top two finish, with four other clubs hot on their heels. A match-up this week against the Swans should ensure they bank another four points, but they’ll need to remain switched on: Sydney showed against GWS what they can do when a side isn’t fully prepared to play.
Unfortunately the Swans couldn’t back that up, only managed to score a paltry 19 points in their loss to the Dockers. It’s one they’ll one to move on from quickly, but unfortunately I can’t see a much better result awaiting them against a Port team who welcome some key players back this week. The Swans will probably score more than 19 points, but the margin could be a whole lot more than the 31 points they lost by to Fremantle.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-29.5) @ $1.91 (BetEasy)
Fremantle vs GWS
4:35 PM , Optus Stadium
The Giants aren’t yet out of finals contention, but a loss to Fremantle on Saturday will effectively end their 2020 season. There’s still time to make something of the season, but so far it’s been a pretty terrible follow-up to last year, when they made their maiden Grand Final appearance. It’s hard to know where they’re at: they’ve still got a heap of talent, but they don’t seem to have the desire this year. That should be something that’s easily rectified, but if not there could be ramifications. There are always GWS players on the move, but they’d hate to lose a key pillar like Jeremy Cameron or Josh Kelly.
The Dockers are on the other end of the spectrum, building a young, talented team that isn’t quite ready yet but is likely to be a force in three or four years. This is their last game of the season in Perth, and that could spell trouble for GWS; the Dockers are still very hard to beat at Optus Stadium, and they’d love to go out with a bang. This feels like the type of unpredictable game where either team could win by eight goals, but I’m backing the Dockers to finish their home stint on a high.
Betting tip: Fremantle to win @ $2.45 (Bet365)
Melbourne vs St Kilda
7:40 PM , TIO Traeger Park
The Saints have lost two of their past three games, but I don’t think they’ll be too discouraged. They got trounced by a rampant Geelong, and then last week went down to the second-placed Lions by just two points. Brisbane wasted opportunities in front of goal, sure, but in those last few minutes the Saints were probably unlucky not to steal the win. They’re still only a game outside the top four, and they’ve got a relatively easy run home.
That’s assuming they beat the Demons on Saturday, which they really should: Melbourne had teased us with good form over the previous month, but were back to their flaky worst against the Dogs on Saturday. It looked like they were in a good position at the half time break, going in seven points in front despite probably being outplayed. That left plenty of upside; if they could lift they’d be able to record another 10 goal win. But it all went pear-shaped — the Dees didn’t come out to play the second half, and they were belted. It was a harsh lesson, one that might have ended their season, but there’s still time to make amends. They welcome Max Gawn back into the team this week, but unfortunately I’m just not sure they’re good enough — I fully expect the Saints to be the better team on Saturday, just as they have been all season.
Betting tip: St Kilda @ $1.85 (BetEasy)
Sunday, August 30
Carlton vs Collingwood
3:35 PM , The Gabba
It’s been a while since a Carlton vs Collingwood game meant something significant to both teams, but the game this Sunday is massive for both clubs. The Pies are desperately trying to cement their finals berth, despite dealing with a heavy injury toll. And the Blues are doing their best to keep in touch with the top eight, but their finals chances will just about be over if they can’t manage a win on Sunday. The Blues are in some decent form, having won their past two games, while the Pies have also won three of their last four but have been somewhat less convincing.
They’ll be without star midfielder Steele Sidebottom from this game onwards and his absence is sure to have a big impact. Unfortunately I can’t see the Pies going far into finals action with the big name players they’re currently missing, and their form line isn’t all that encouraging — despite the fact they’ve managed to keep the wins coming. I feel like as soon as they play a half-decent side they’re going to struggle and I think the Blues will really test them on Sunday afternoon. Patrick Cripps and co. will challenge them in the clearances, and that should be enough to put the Pies on the back foot. It should be a close one, but I’m backing Carlton in to get the four points in this one and keep their season alive.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $2.10 (bet365)
Gold Coast vs North Melbourne
6:10 PM , Metricon Stadium
Both of these clubs are in need of a win, but it definitely feels like the Suns have more to lose in this one. After a promising start to last year they ended up going on a 19 game losing streak, and while things are nowhere near as bad, things will begin to feel eerily similar if they lose to the Kangaroos on Sunday. They’ve made improvements all over the field, but in the end it all comes down to wins, and they really need one here.
The Roos are in a similar boat, but the difference is that the Suns should be on the way up, while North are in rebuild mode. I still think it’s strange that they refuse to play Jared Polec, who is surely the least of their worries. Every time he plays he puts in a pretty good effort and regularly racks up 20 touches and a goal, but he’s obviously doing something the coaches don’t like. That said, I can’t help but feel his absence makes North a less dangerous team, and particularly against a Gold Coast outfit that loves to run and carry the footy. If North can’t beat them in the midfield then they’re going to struggle, and I think that might be the difference in the game. I’m going with the Suns by three goals.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.60 (Unibet)
Best Bets of the Round
Gold Coast to win @ $1.60 (Unibet)