AFL Preview round 18 matches
Preview of AFL round 18 matches.
FRIDAY, July 27
ESSENDON V HAWTHORN, Etihad Stadium, 7.50pm
Head to head: Essendon 95 Hawthorn 58 Drawn 0
Last time: Hawthorn 23.8 (146) bt Essendon 12.9 (81) R14, 2011, MCG
TAB Sportsbet: Essendon $5 Hawthorn $1.18
Sportingbet: Essendon $4.60 Hawthorn $1.20
The Hawks are flying, with their past seven games all big wins, including last round’s impressive demolition of Collingwood, and they’ve been strengthened by the return of skipper Luke Hodge. The Bombers’ season is heading in the other direction with four losses from their past seven games, culminating in last round’s thumping from Geelong. The Cats thrashed them in winning the contested ball, so Essendon ought to come out with a point to prove in that department. But the Hawks’ superior firepower in attack should prove the difference.
Key: With Michael Hurley and Paddy Ryder out injured and Stewart Crameri also under an injury cloud, the Bombers will struggle to kick a winning score.
Tip: Hawks by 24 points.
SATURDAY, July 28
GEELONG V ADELAIDE, Simonds Stadium, 1.45pm
Head to head: Geelong 17 Adelaide 16 Drawn 0
Last time: Adelaide 19.8 (122) bt Geelong 10.12 (72) R7, 2012, Aurora Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Geelong $1.62 Adelaide $2.30
Sportingbet: Geelong $1.70 Adelaide $2.15
The Cats finally found the form to match their status as reigning premiers in last round’s big win over the Bombers. Premiership stars such as Joel Corey and James Kelly led the way and Jimmy Bartel returns to help them. But the Crows were similarly impressive in thrashing West Coast and they demolished Geelong at AAMI Stadium when they last met. The Cats are now in better form and playing at home, so have the chance to show their performance against the Bombers was a sign of things to come, not just a parting shot from a waning powerhouse.
Key: When Cats star forward Tom Hawkins kicks straight, as he did against the Bombers, it makes a big difference on the scoreboard and to his team’s confidence.
Tip: Adelaide by 6 points.
NORTH MELBOURNE V MELBOURNE, Etihad Stadium, 2.10pm
Head to head: North Melbourne 68 Melbourne 83, Drawn 1
Last time: North Melbourne 19.10 (124) bt Melbourne 12.11 (83) R8, 2011, Etihad Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: North Melbourne $1.09 Melbourne $7.50
Sportingbet: North Melbourne $1.10 Melbourne $6.75
With five wins from their past six games, a spot in the eight and consecutive seven-goal hauls from key forward Drew Petrie, things are falling into place for the Kangaroos. After recent wins over finals aspirants Adelaide, St Kilda, Carlton and Richmond, it would be a major shock if they slipped up against the Demons. Melbourne’s season has never hit any heights, but letting Port Adelaide run away from them to win comfortably in Darwin last round was a low ebb.
Key: The Kangaroos have greater midfield depth, the kind of forward target the Demons lack and much more to play for.
Tip: North by 38 points.
GWS GIANTS v COLLINGWOOD, Skoda Stadium, 4.40pm
Head to head: GWS Giants 0 Collingwood 0 Drawn 0
TAB Sportsbet: GWS Giants $17 Collingwood $1.01
Sportingbet: GWS Giants $26 Collingwood $1.01
Collingwood’s top four spot is on the line and they have had two bad losses in their past three games, erasing complacency as a factor. The Magpies will also want to boost their percentage, given the tight battle for a double chance. There had been speculation that Collingwood might drop out-of-form key forwards Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes. But with the Giants’ youngsters tiring and their team copping thrashings at or near triple figures on a weekly basis, it might be the attacking pair’s chance to gain a confidence boost.
Key: Collingwood’s Dane Swan and Dayne Beams have been consistently starring and Scott Pendlebury has made a great return from injury over the past fortnight to give the Magpies a classy midfield core.
Tip: Collingwood by 100 points.
CARLTON V RICHMOND, MCG, 7.40pm
Head to head: Carlton 122 Richmond 84 Drawn 2
Last time: Carlton 18.17 (125) bt Richmond 12.9 (81)
TAB Sportsbet: Carlton $2.25 Richmond $1.65
Sportingbet: Carlton $2.18 Richmond $1.67
Richmond haven’t beaten Carlton in well over four years and their 44-point loss to the Blues in round one is by far their biggest this season. So while the Tigers’ finals hopes are all but over, they would take some satisfaction if they could drag the wounded Blues down with them by inflicting a costly defeat. It’s hard to imagine they’ll get a better chance, given Carlton are missing a heap of first-choice players, including skipper Chris Judd, key forward Jarrad Waite and key defender Lachie Henderson, although ruckman Matthew Kreuzer is back.
Key: The Tigers have lost their past two games by less than a goal, among numerous narrow defeats this season. They will be feeling the pressure if things are tight late on Saturday night.
Tip: Richmond by 2 points.
GOLD COAST V SYDNEY SWANS, Metricon Stadium, 7.40pm
Head to head: Gold Coast 0 Sydney 1 Drawn 0
Last time: Sydney 15.16 (106) bt Gold Coast 4.12 (36) R16, 2011, Metricon Stadium.
TAB Sportsbet: Gold Coast $11 Sydney $1.04
Sportingbet: Gold Coast $10 Sydney $1.05
Gold Coast have shown a few promising recent signs, pushing Geelong and Brisbane hard either side of their only win of the year, over Richmond. But this is unlikely to be the night they achieve their breakthrough first ever home ground win. The top-placed Swans, on a seven-game winning streak, are vying with Hawthorn to be the AFL’s form side. Midfielder Josh Kennedy is continuing the sort of season that has him a Brownlow fancy, with great support from Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh. The loss of ruckman Shane Mumford to a knee injury should not hurt too much.
Key: In Gary Ablett, David Swallow and Harley Bennell, the Suns have some midfield stars, but rely heavily on their best few players, while the Swans have great depth.
Tip: Sydney by 35 points.
SUNDAY, July 29
PORT ADELAIDE V FREMANTLE, AAMI Stadium, 12.40pm
Head to head: Port Adelaide 14 Fremantle 10 Drawn 0
Last time: Fremantle 12.15 (87) bt Port Adelaide 7.5 (47) R7, 2012, Patersons Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: Port Adelaide $2.25 Fremantle $1.65
Sportingbet: Port Adelaide $2.35 Fremantle $1.60
The ninth-placed Dockers can’t afford to slip up in games they should win and this is certainly in that category. Port’s victory over Melbourne in Darwin last round was their first in six games. A strong performance from skipper Domenic Cassisi, on return from injury, helped a lot. The Dockers, on a three-match winning streak, should get a similar boost from the long-awaited return of classy midfielder Nathan Fyfe. Another of Fremantle’s stars, captain Matthew Pavlich, has hit a purple patch in attack in recent weeks, with 31 goals from his past six games.
Key: Fremantle have the AFL’s third stingiest defence and the Power are in the bottom five for scoring. Their lowest score this season came in their previous clash with the Dockers, so finding the goals could again be an issue.
Tip: Fremantle by 30 points.
ST KILDA V WESTERN BULLDOGS, Etihad Stadium, 3.15pm
Head to head: St Kilda 77 Western Bulldogs 70 Drawn 3
Last time: St Kilda 15.13 (103) bt Western Bulldogs 5.10 (40) R3, 2012, Etihad Stadium
TAB Sportsbet: St Kilda $1.14 Western Bulldogs $5.75
Sportingbet: St Kilda $1.16 Western Bulldogs $5.25
The struggling Bulldogs wasted a rare winning chance against a depleted Carlton last round, conceding five of the last six goals to fall short after leading for most of the night. The Saints, who remain well in the finals hunt and have been competitive in every game they’ve played this season, are unlikely to give them such an opportunity. St Kilda have more class and experience, particularly in their midfield and attack and will want to fittingly mark Brendon Goddard’s 200th AFL game.
Key: Saints Nick Riewoldt and Stephen Milne have 40 goals each so far this season, while the Bulldogs don’t have anyone who has managed 20 goals.
Tip: Saints by 35 points.
WEST COAST V BRISBANE, Patersons Stadium, 2.40pm
Head to head: West Coast 27 Brisbane 12 Drawn 1
Last time: Brisbane 16.6 (102) bt West Coast 15.10 (100) R10, 2012, Gabba
TAB Sportsbet: West Coast $1.16 Brisbane $5.25
Sportingbet: West Coast $1.17 Brisbane $5
The injury-depleted Eagles have hit a down patch over the past fortnight, with big losses to Sydney and Adelaide. They were never in the hunt against the Crows, who scored eight of the first nine goals. Brisbane’s best win of the year came against the Eagles at the Gabba in round 10. But that upset aside, the Lions’ only wins have come against bottom-four clubs Melbourne, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs. So, given all but one of the Lions’ wins have come in Queensland, it seems unlikely they can topple the Eagles in Perth, although they would hope to at least push them.
Key: Eagles ruck duo Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui will pose a tough challenge for Lions veteran Ben Hudson.
Tip: Eagles by 25 points.© AAP 2013