The following are previews with betting tips for Round 16 of the 2020 AFL season.
Saturday, September 5
North Melbourne vs Port Adelaide
7:40 PM , Metricon Stadium
North Melbourne put in one of their worst efforts of the season on Sunday evening, losing to the Suns by 63 points—a margin that probably flattered them. North had just 8 scoring shots to the Suns’ 31, and they were smashed in both the clearances and contested possessions. And just when you think the season can’t get much worse for the Roos, they face the top-of-the-ladder Port Adelaide. North will take some solace in the fact that Port haven’t been all that great over the past three weeks, but that’s just about the only positive they can hold onto.
For Port, this is their last easy game before a tricky last two weeks when they face the Bombers followed by the Pies. They should win all three, but you just never know at this time of year. They’ll be happy that Charlie Dixon managed to find some form and kick a few goals against the Swans, because they need him up and firing to be real premiership threat. They’ve opted to drop veteran Justin Westhoff again for this one, but I suspect he’s got a role to play in the upcoming finals series, particularly if Port are to go deep. Not sure this game is going to tell us much about either side; Port will win by a pretty significant margin and both sides will go on their separate ways.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-32.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Sunday, September 6
St Kilda vs Hawthorn
1:05 PM , Metricon Stadium
What a terrible round 15 it was for these two clubs; the Saints lost a game they should’ve won against an average Demons team, putting their finals chances in jeopardy, while the Hawks became the first team to lose to the Adelaide Crows in 2020.
First of all, the Saints. They should be playing finals football this year based on their season to date, but their last month has seen three losses from their past four games, leaving them just one game clear of ninth position. This is now an absolute must win game, as they’ve got two tough opponents in the final two weeks of the season that they’d be lucky to come away from with one win.
But surely they win this one. The Hawks have just been embarrassed by the Crows, and in response have opted to drop a host of experienced players and bring in some youngsters. Usually the Hawks respond well from a poor performance, but with so many inexperienced players in the team this week it seems as though Alastair Clarkson isn’t necessarily looking for a team response, he’s more interested in gauging individual performances from some of the guys that haven’t had all that much AFL exposure. That should result in a comfortable Saints win, but you just never know in this strange year.
Betting tip: St Kilda (-22.5) @ $1.90 (Unibet)
Geelong vs Essendon
3:35 PM , The Gabba
Essendon’s season is likely over after their loss to the Eagles, but they didn’t lose any supporters with their effort. They’ve got one last chance to make a surge towards finals action against the Cats on Sunday afternoon, but you’d suspect the class of a better team will outdo them, just as it did against the Eagles. Geelong’s hopes of a top four finish looked shaky at quarter time on Friday night; they didn’t show up to play and the Dogs punished them heavily. But like good teams do, they regrouped, slowly got the game back on their terms and ended up grinding out a really solid win. They’re now looking good for a top four spot, but they’ll need to get the four points against a Bombers team that can play some good footy when they’re at their best.
Unfortunately for Essendon one of their shining lights in 2020, Andy McGrath, injured his ankle and will take no further part in the season. His loss, along with Joe Daniher being managed for this one, means the Bombers are going to need to pull something out of their hat to beat the Cats. I can’t see it happening; other than their terrible start to last week’s game, the Cats haven’t looked like losing for weeks now; I expect the winning streak to continue.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.28 (bet365)
Western Bulldogs vs West Coast
6:10 PM , Metricon Stadium
The Dogs were ever so close to staking their claim for a 2020 finals berth when they jumped the Cats on Friday night, but they couldn’t quite hang on. It was a decent effort as Geelong were all over them from quarter time onwards, but some lapses in concentration and costly misses hurt them in the end. It showed where they are at really; the Dogs are an average footy side that can match it with the better sides for a while, but not a whole game. They’ve got another very good side this week in the Eagles, who are fighting for a top four spot. With so much on the line in their battle against the Bombers they took a risk and put Luke Shuey back on the ground and that might end up coming back to bite them—they got the win, but Shuey hurt his other hamstring in the process. Adam Simpson says it won’t add any time to his recovery, but that’s hard to believe. They’ll also be without ex-skipper Shannon Hurn this week, but the return of Josh Kennedy, along with Jake Waterman, will help stretch the Western Bulldogs undersized defence.
The Dogs continue to play Josh Dunkley or Jack Macrae in the ruck, and while it hasn’t cost them too dearly just yet, it will if they go with it again this week—Nic Nat will have a day out. If he is allowed to tap it down the throat of his midfielders and they kick in long to Kennedy, Jack Darling, and Waterman, the Eagles will win this by a heap.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.76 (Unibet)
Monday, September 7
Melbourne vs Fremantle
7:10 PM , Cazaly’s Stadium
Gee, Melbourne are frustrating. They gave their finals chances a massive boost last Saturday night by beating the Saints in a thriller, to then just a few days later capitulating at the hands of 15th-placed Sydney. It was one of their worst efforts of the year and puts them right back in the pack of teams looking to sneak into eighth spot. The only positive for them is they don’t have long to wait to make amends; they’re back at it again on Monday night when they take on the Dockers in Cairns.
Fremantle are actually quite similar to the Sydney, the team Melbourne just lost to, in that they’re down the bottom of the ladder but their best is good enough to challenge most clubs. That was witnessed by their effort against the Tigers on Wednesday evening, when they were a real threat at causing an upset at the three quarter time break. I also feel far more comfortable predicting what the Dockers will serve up in comparison to the Demons; Fremantle will give a good account of themselves and work hard with and without the footy, but Melbourne, well they could either play like a top four side or a bottom four side.
The Dees have reacted harshly to their disappointing loss, making four unforced changes along with another three due to injury. That’s in stark contrast to the unchanged Fremantle team, but despite that I think I’m going to back the Demons in one last time. Lose here and they may as well give up on finals, so I expect some fight; I’m going with Melbourne in a tight one.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.60 (Bet365)
Tuesday, September 8
Adelaide vs GWS
5:40 PM , Adelaide Oval
The Crows finally managed their first win of 2020 with a pretty impressive performance over the Hawks on Tuesday evening. We were all probably thinking that if the Crows did manage a win this year it was going to be by the barest of margins, so to come out and utterly outplay the Hawks for the full four quarters was a credit to Adelaide’s determination. They haven’t thrown in the towel, and there are now, finally, some small glimmers of hope shining through. Tyson Stengle and Shane McAdam are exciting small forward prospects, Ben Keays is proving to be a handy bargain recruit, and the Crouch brothers once again showed they can be pretty damaging working in tandem.
Still, they’ll find it tough this week against a GWS team who have now won two in a row and are gunning for a finals position. The Giants weren’t at their best against the Blues, but after an inaccurate first three quarters were good to lift in the last and get over the line. It was the usual suspects who willed them home, and you’d suspect if the Giants are to go far in the finals this year they’ll need their best players at the top of their game. This week against the Crows should provide them another opportunity to build up some nice form.
Betting tip: GWS (-18.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Carlton vs Sydney
8:10 PM , Metricon Stadium
The Swans have had a pretty good last four weeks—beating the Giants and the Demons—and if they finish the year off in that fashion then 2020 will be looked back upon as a solid building block for their next finals assault. It was Sydney’s experienced heads who did most of the heavy lifting against Melbourne, with Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy two of the best players on the ground, but they were ably supported by young guns like Nick Blakey and James Rowbottom.
This week they take on another club full of young talent, but the Blues aren’t feeling as good about themselves right now as Sydney are; Carlton have blown two golden opportunities in the past two weeks, games that would have given them the chance to fight for a top eight position if they’d only held their nerve a little longer. That is Carlton’s main problem at the minute: they can’t seem to string four quarters together. In a low-scoring contest they were the better team for three quarters against GWS, but a last quarter fade away saw the Giants kick four goals to nothing to steal victory.
The Blues desperately need to finish the season off on a high note so that they can truly believe they’ve made some progress this year, but a win against the Swans might be tough without Marc Pittonet and Eddie Betts. Pittonet in particular has been crucial for Carlton all year, so it’ll be fascinating to see how they fare without him. I reckon that almost tips the game in Sydney’s favour, but I think Carlton have more to play for and I’m expecting a big response from them this week, so I’m backing them in in a close one.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $1.56 (Unibet)
Wednesday, September 9
Brisbane vs Gold Coast
7:10 PM , The Gabba
The Lions were involved in a third consecutive game decided by under 10 points, but this was probably the most convincing win of the lot. They started poorly, were up against a determined Collingwood side, and lost two key players to injury, but were still good enough to hold the Pies at arm’s length. It was an ugly game of footy, but you can’t always win in style. The Lions did what was required and are now in the box seat for a top two finish.
To lock that in they’ll need to get past the Suns this week, who are fresh off a bye after a confidence boosting win over the Kangaroos. The Suns will head in with an unchanged team, but the Lions will be forced to acclimatize to life without vice-captain Harris Andrews, who has torn a hamstring and will be missing for at least five weeks. That’s not going to be easy for Brisbane to deal with, but in better news Stefan Martin looks close to a return, while fellow ruck Archie Smith is ready to go. His inclusion will allow Oscar McInerney to spend more time forward and that should make the Lions a much more dangerous side.
Pending any major goal kicking troubles, the Lions should be able to take care of the Suns this week. Ben King might have a chance to kick a few goals in Andrews’s absence—he’s the perfect match-up for the King brothers—but overall the Lions should be too good.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-18.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Melbourne to win @ $1.60 (Bet365)
Brisbane (-18.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)