IT is a big round of football this weekend with two matches in particular potentially shaping the final structure of the top eight.
The Tigers can push for a top-four berth with a victory over the Crows, but a win to Adelaide keeps their finals chances alive, while the Hawks and the Eagles play off effectively for the second spot on the ladder.
The Bulldogs and the Power face off in the match of the round, a game that may decide who plays finals and who misses out.
Crows vs. Tigers
Friday, August 7th, 7:50pm, Adelaide Oval
Adelaide – $1.92 (+4.5)
Richmond – $1.92 (-4.5)
The round begins on Friday night in South Australia with the Crows hosting the Tigers at Adelaide Oval.
The Tigers are in red-hot form and are in striking distance of a top-four finish after delivering one of the upsets of the season against Hawthorn last Friday night at the MCG.
The Crows came down to earth with a thud last weekend against Sydney at the SCG, going down by 52 points.
The loss leaves Adelaide outside the top-eight with a little over a month to go until finals.
A big question mark hangs over the head of Richmond superstar Brett Deledio, who did not travel with the team to Adelaide on Thursday morning, citing gastro.
Deledio is coming off the back of a match-winning four goal performance against Hawthorn and will be a massive loss if he is unable to take to the field.
So much on the line for both teams, but Richmond should prove too classy here, with the Crows looking understandably tired and deflated after several testing weeks.
Tip: Richmond to win $1.73 via Crownbet
Exotic: Most disposals group 1 Scott Thompson – $4.00 via Sportsbet
Magpies vs. Blues
Saturday, August 8th, 1:45pm, Melbourne Cricket Ground
Collingwood – $1.91 (-30.5)
Carlton – $1.91 (+30.5)
Saturday afternoon at the MCG sees two of the AFL’s biggest rivals renew hostilities with Collingwood hosting Carlton at the home of football.
The Magpies are in dire need of a win to keep their faint finals hopes alive and if there last outing against Melbourne is any indication, their top-eight chances are as good as gone.
Carlton have been abysmal after a mini-revival under caretaker coach John Barker, losing heavily to North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium last Saturday night.
Good news for the Pies with Ben Reid making his way into the side for the first time this year to finally play out his 100th game at AFL level, with Ben Sinclair also overcoming injury to force his way back into the side.
The Blues welcome back versatile swing-man Andrew Walker back into the fold after missing several weeks through injury.
Despite losing five games in a row the Pies are far superior to the struggling Blues and should come away with the victory.
Tip: Collingwood to win $1.20 via Crownbet
Exotic: Most possessions group 2 – Tom Bell $8.00 via Sportsbet
Bulldogs vs. Power
Saturday, August 8th, 2:10pm, Etihad Stadium
Western Bulldogs – $1.91 (-9.5)
Port Adelaide – $1.91 (+9.5)
Etihad Stadium is the venue for the match of the round with the red-hot Bulldogs hosting the in-form Power.
The Dogs are flying and within reaching distance of the top-four after dismantling Essendon last week at Etihad Stadium.
The Power kept the flicking finals flame alive with a comprehensive win over St Kilda at home.
The Bulldogs have lost inspirational captain Robert Murphy to injury but regain emerging midfielder Lin Jong.
The Power have recalled Jarmen Impey into the squad to replace injured on-baller Olly Wines.
It is all to play for, with both teams in dire need of a win for different reasons, but an upset looms large here with the Power’s experience and run-and-gun style the perfect game plan to disrupt the Dogs’ fast paced offense.
Tip: Port Adelaide to win $2.35 via William Hill
Exotic: Most possessions/most goals – Travis Boak/Justin Westhoff $54 via Sportsbet
Lions vs. Suns
Saturday, August 8th, 4:35pm, GABBA
Brisbane – $1.92 (+11.5)
Gold Coast – $1.92 (-11.5)
The GABBA is the scene for the second installment of this year’s Q-clash between the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast Suns.
The Lions were gallant in defeat down at Simonds Stadium last week, with the visitors right in the contest midway through the third quarter before being blown away late by the Cats.
The Gold Coast produced one of their finest performances of the year, splitting the points with the second placed West Coast Eagles in the first draw of the year.
The Lions suffered a big blow with gun on-baller Danye Beams ruled out for the year with a shoulder injury.
Zac O’Brien, who has impressed in the NEAFL, gets his chance at AFL level.
Michael Rischitelli finds his way back into the Suns’ side after overcoming an injury, with Josh Glen the man omitted.
Both teams are looking to run out the clock, with a host of injuries and a raft of off-field issues seeing both the Suns and the Lions languishing towards the bottom of the ladder.
Expect the Suns to get the points here in a game neither side will be too upset about losing.
Tip: Gold Coast to win $1.20 via William Hill
Exotic: Most possessions group 1 – Harley Bennell $3.50 via Sportsbet
Cats vs. Swans
Saturday, August 8th, 7:20pm, Simonds Stadium
Geelong – $1.91 (+2.5)
Sydney – $1.91 (-2.5)
Night time footy returns to Geelong on Saturday night with the Cats hosting the Swans at Simonds Stadium.
Geelong have won two on the trot and have forced their way back into the eight after looking like 2015 may be a wasted year.
The Swans bounced back in emphatic fashion last week, man-handling the Crows on the way to a 52 point victory.
The big story out of Thursday night’s team news is that Sydney superstar forward Lance Franklin will not make the journey down to Victoria after suffering a back injury last week.
Adam Goodes is the man that replaces the former Coleman medallist.
For the Cats Matthew Stokes gets another chance at AFL level after being dropped for a string of poor performances, with Steve Johnson set to miss after receiving a one match ban for striking.
Prior to the team selections Sydney would have been overwhelming favourites to take out the match, but with Franklin set to sit the game out the scales tip in Geelong’s favour.
Expect the Cats to keep their good form rolling, with another September campaign firmly in their sights.
Tip: Geelong to win $2.00 via Sportsbet
Exotic: To get 30 or more disposals – Jimmy Bartel $4.70 via Sportsbet
Eagles vs. Hawks
Saturday, August 8th, 7.20pm, Domain Stadium
West Coast – $1.92 (+5.5)
Hawthorn – $1.92 (-5.5)
Saturday night in the west sees the Eagles hosting the Hawks in a game that could hand the winner a top-two spot by the end of the season.
The Eagles were disappointing last week and will be kicking themselves that they could not get past the Gold Coast Suns, drawing with the second last team on the ladder at Metricon Stadium.
The Hawks were brought crashing down to earth after winning eight games in a row, losing to Richmond last Friday night at the MCG.
Intercept marking superstar Jeremy McGovern has overcome a leg injury to find his way back into the side for the Eagles, with Josh Hill the man making way.
Hawk Jonathan Ceglar gets another chance at AFL level after David Hale was forced to withdraw from the team with general soreness.
Despite their lacklustre performance last week, the Eagles are a much improved side in 2015 and should prove too much for the Hawks, especially on their home ground.
Tip: West Coast to win $2.10 via Sportsbet
Exotic: Most possessions group 1 – Matt Priddis $4 via Sportsbet
Demons vs. Kangaroos
Sunday, August 9th, 1:10pm, Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne – $1.91 (+21.5)
North Melbourne – $1.91 (-21.5)
The first Sunday game of the weekend takes place at the MCG with Melbourne hosting the Kangaroos.
The Demons are fresh off their first victory over Collingwood since 2007, with Paul Roos’ men doing it in style, arguably their best win for the season.
The Kangaroos are motoring along and easily brushed aside Carlton last week to sit in seventh position.
North Melbourne have welcomed back Lachlan Hansen into the side for suspended backman Michael Firrito.
The Kangaroos currently sit inside the top eight, but with such a logjam of teams towards the lower half of the eight they cannot afford to drop games like this against lower ranked opposition.
Expect the Kangaroos to keep the finals dream alive and get the four points against the Dees.
Tip: North Melbourne to win $1.32 via Sportsbet
Exotic: First goal scorer –Jarrad Waite $8 via Sportsbet
Giants vs. Bombers
Sunday, August 9th, 3:20pm, Spotless Stadium
GWS – $1.91 (-26.5)
Essendon – $1.92 (+23.5)
The lone Sydney match this week sees the Giants hosting the Bombers in a game the home team has to win to keep their finals hopes alive.
The Giants were brave last week but could not topple the top of the table Dockers, never quite doing enough to get within reach of Fremantle.
The Dons were dismal last week and were out of the game at quarter time against the Dogs. The players look tired and ready for the end of the season.
Big news for the Giants is that Jonathan Patton has finally made his way back into the side after overcoming an ACL injury that ended his 2014 season.
The Dons welcome back Michael Hurley and Heath Hocking, the latter playing his first game of the season after an injury riddled pre-season.
The Giants have been hard to beat at home and they should be far too strong for an Essendon team that is bereft of confidence.
Tip: GWS to win 40+ $2.40 via Sportsbet
Exotic: First goal scorer –Jeremy Cameron $7 via Sportsbet
Saints vs. Dockers
Sunday, August 9th, 4:40pm, Etihad Stadium
St Kilda – $1.92 (+14.5)
Fremantle – $1.92 (-14.5)
The final game of the round sees the Saints and the Dockers clash on Sunday at Etihad Stadium, with the top of the table Fremantle hoping to keep the ball rolling in an effort to finish the season with the minor premiership.
The Dockers were terrific last week in a hard fought win over the Giants. The home side kept GWS at bay for the entire game and enjoyed a thoroughly professional win over their counterparts.
The Saints showed the first signs of fatigue this season, succumbing to the Power over at Adelaide Oval.
Fremantle will again be without Nat Fyfe after the Brownlow medal favourite failed to shake a groin complaint that kept him out of last week’s win over GWS.
The Dockers will be hoping history does not repeat itself this season after copping a hammering at the hands of the Saints at Etihad in 2014 which was one of the biggest upsets in recent AFL history.
That should not happen in 2015 though, with too much at stake for Fremantle.
Expect Ross Lyon’s Dockers to pick up the four points.
Tip: Fremantle to win $1.48 via William Hill
Exotic: First goal scorer – Matthew Pavlich $8 via Sportsbet
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