AFL Round 19 Preview

It’s full steam ahead to the finals and all remaining rounds in the 2018 AFL season will boast a full complement of games.

The action in Round 19 is underway at Etihad Stadium on Friday night when Essendon attempt to keeps their finals hopes alive against the Swans. Richmond and Collingwood square off in a blockbuster at the G on Saturday, before the Giants look to continue a smart run of form at the expense of St Kilda.

The Hawks will try to consolidate their position in the eight by beating the Dockers in the nation’s west on Sunday.

Essendon vs Sydney
Swans to Win ($2)

Essendon play host to Sydney at Etihad Stadium in the first match of the round on Friday night. The Dons will be looking to keep their slim finals chances alive while the Swans risk falling out of the top four.

The Bombers came away with the spoils against a struggling Dockers side thanks to the exploits of their 2 returning stars, Orazio Fantasia and David Zaharakis. Crowd favourite Orazio kicked 5 goals in his return from a groin strain, while Zaha provided a much-needed punch through the middle of the ground. A season-ending hamstring injury to in-form forward Shaun McKernan put a dampener on the Dons 7th victory from their last 9 games, though fortunately John Worsfold will be able to call on attacking weapon Jake Stringer, after the star recruit’s quicker-than-expected recovery from a calf strain.

In contrast, the Swans head into this fixture off one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club’s history. John Longmire’s men flew out of the blocks against the seemingly unbackable Suns, taking a 40-11 leadi into the first break. The toothless Swans only managed to add two goals & 12 behinds in the following three terms and finished the game on the wrong end of a 64-88 sore line. Lance Franklin has enjoyed playing against the Dons previously, kicking 68 goals from 15 matches and will look to bounce back strongly following his duck against the Suns.

The Swans have fared well against the Dons in the past and hold a superior record during Friday night fixtures; these two factors combined with the desire to atone for last week’s performance should get the New South Welshmen over the line.

Richmond vs Collingwood
Richmond 1-24 ($3.10)

Reigning premiers Richmond host the in-form Pies in one of the most highly anticipated matches of the season – the winner sure to take a mental edge into September.

Richmond absolutely demolished a much-improved Saints side last round, with the Tigers finishing 10 goals up at the final siren. Jack Riewoldt did the damage up front slotting four majors, while Dustin Martin & Dion Prestia controlled proceedings through the middle of the park with the former pitching in with three goals of his own.

The Pies also fly into this contest after outclassing North Melbourne across the park at the MCG last week. Collingwood’s multi-faceted attack proved too hard to handle for the Roos’ defence as De Goey & Mihocek put away four goals each, with Hoskin-Elliott & Stephenson added 3 of their own. Pendlebury, Adams & Sidebottom made light work of North Melbourne’s midfield off the back of Grudy’s dominant ruck work.

This contest should explode from the opening bounce – with both sides implementing a high-pressure brand of football, an exciting contest is guaranteed. The Tigers have dominated the recent outings between the two and hold an edge over the Pies, who are yet to prove themselves against quality opposition.

Geelong vs Brisbane
Geelong 1-39 ($2.30)

The Lions travel to the Cattery to take on a Geelong side sitting outside the top eight on scoring percentage alone.

Brisbane narrowly missed out on grabbing 4 wins on the trot when they went down to the revitalised Crows by 5 points in front of a vocal crowd at the Gabba. Chris Fagan’s young side have been playing an attractive and attacking brand of footy, and can count themselves as unlucky to be sitting in 16th place. 2017’s number 1 pick Cam Rayner has been impressive up front for the Lions and pulled off a contender for mark of the year over both All-Australian defender Daniel Talia and Doedee.

Chris Scott’s side will still be buzzing after their thrilling two-point comeback victory over a shattered Demons outfit. Tom Hawkins was the hero of the night kicking 7 majors, 4 of which came in the last term and ultimately helping Geelong overcome a 23-point 3 quarter time deficit. Gary Ablett turned back the clock and silenced a few critics by picking up 14 possessions in the fourth and delivering five inside 50s.

The Cats have their tails up heading into this must-win clash and with Tom Hawkins purring in front of goal, they should make light work of the young Lions.

GWS vs St Kilda
GWS 40+ ($1.85)

The Saints travel to Spotless Stadium to face the competition’s in-form side, the Giants, with both clubs looking to go one better after their thrilling draw in Round 5.

The Saints were on the receiving side of a Richmond masterclass last week and were fortunate to only be down by 10 goals at the final siren. Alan Richardson’s side had been in season’s best form heading into that clash with the flag favourites, winning three from their previous four outings. The Saints average the least amount of clearances at just over 51 per game and will need to improve drastically through the middle of the ground if they are a chance of keeping the Giants’ ball magnet Callan Ward quiet.

Following a midseason slump the Giants have come back firing and have won five of their last six. Last week, they put a dent in Port’s top four aspirations and saw off a valiant comeback attempt to secure an 80-58 victory at Adelaide Oval. Coniglio, Kelly, Ward & Hopper have looked unstoppable through the middle of the park while Heath Shaw continues to lead from the back.

The Giants should add to the Saints’ woes this weekend with a percentage-boosting victory at home.

Gold Coast vs Carlton
Under 160.5 ($1.90)

The Blues travel north to take on the Suns in a game which is sure to draw minimal interest from a neutral’s perspective.

The Suns hopes of obtaining 2019’s 1st draft pick were dealt a huge blow last week when they miraculously defeated and ultimately embarrassed the Swans, in what was the greatest upset since the turn of the century! After going down 40-11 in the first quarter, the Suns looked like they were in for another tough day at the office but to their credit, they rallied in the next two terms and kept the Swans goalless, while adding eight of their own. Aaron Young starred for the Suns up front kicking four majors, while Rory Thompson kept Swans’ superstar Buddy Franklin without a single goal.

Just when you think Carlton have hit rock bottom, they seem to find a way to etch themselves further into the history books for all the wrong reasons. The Blues have now gone 50 games straight without scoring 100 points and have averaged a measly 54 points across their last nine fixtures, which included matches against fellow bottom four sides Brisbane and St Kilda. One positive for Carlton leading into this bottom of the table clash is the re-signing of their superstar midfielder Patrick Cripps.

The Suns should secure their second win at home this season and all but relegate the 2018 AFL wooden spoon to the Blues’ trophy cabinet.

Adelaide vs Melbourne
Adelaide 1-39 ($2.25)

The result of this match could have huge implications on the top eight aspirations of serval clubs, with only four points separating the Dees at 7th and the Crows in 12th position respectively.

Melbourne head into this clash off the back of another heart-breaking defeat to the Cats. The Dees manage to blow a 23-point lead in the final term to ultimately go down by two points, courtesy of a goal from Geelong defender Zach Tuohy after the siren. The Demons are still without a victory against a fellow top eight side this season and many pundits are starting to question their ability to get up in the big games. Midfielders Oliver, Brayshaw and Petracca enjoyed at day out last time these two sides met, with Melbourne cruising to an 89-point victory in Round 10.

The Crows have managed to turn their season around in the past month, after looking all but down and out. The Crows have won 3 from their last 4 games to keep in touch with the race for a top 8 place. Rory Laird has been a standout performer for the Crows, providing a much-needed punch from the half-back line. The Crows took care of a dangerous Lions side at the Gabba last round and will welcome their club captain Taylor Walker back for this must-win clash.

The Crows look a vastly different side from the team which were humbled by the Dees earlier in the season and they should take another step toward the top 8 in front of the Adelaide faithful.

North Melbourne vs West Coast
Eagles 1-39 ($2.30)

North Melbourne welcome the West Coast Eagles to their Tasmanian fortress for what is a must-win for the sliding Roos.

After performing beyond expectations during the first half of the season, the Roos have hit a form slump and are in real danger of missing out on finals footy. They were well and truly humbled by the Pies last week, with Buckley’s men pilling on 130 points in a percentage boosting victory at the G. The Roos crumbled under Collingwood’s high tackling pressure and will have to find more composure on the ball if they’re any chance against the revitalised West Coast.

The Eagles have reignited their season after dropping three games during a month without star trio Kennedy, Darling and LeCras. The West Australians made light work of the disastrous Doggies last round in Perth, keeping the traveling side to under 50 points thanks in part to another standout performance from key defender Jeremy McGovern.

Although the Roos have an impressive record in Tasmania, winning 12 from their last 14 contests, they face a huge task in restricting the inform Eagles front 3 on any track across the nation.

Western Bulldogs vs Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide 40+ ($3.40)

Port Adelaide travel to Melbourne to take on the young Doggies outfit on Sunday afternoon. A victory for the Power could see them jump into the top four, while a defeat could incredibly send them tumbling out of the top eight.

The Western Bulldogs have been free falling and have only picked up one win in their past 9 matches. The Bulldogs will be counting down the days until the end of the 2018 season and with a handful of their experienced players out through injury, Luke Beveridge has had to lean on his youth. The young Dogs play with plenty of enthusiasm and fight but are clearly a class below most other sides in the comp.

The Power sank to their second consecutive loss at the hands of a determined Giants side at Adelaide Oval last week. Port are clearly missing Paddy Ryder, with their midfield getting starved of clean football. This could be an area of concern for Ken Hinkley over the weekend, especially with the return of the Doggies’ dangerman Marcus Bontempelli for his 100th game.

With a tough run home Port will be desperate to secure a percentage-boosting win and should be able to get the job done in Ballarat.

Fremantle vs Hawthorn
Hawthorn 1-24 ($3)

Hawthorn face a real test when they travel to Optus Stadium to take on the Dockers in the final game Round 19.

Fremantle are officially out of the running for the 2018 finals series after going down to Essendon in a tight contest last week. Lachie Neale continues to step up in the absence of club captain Nat Fyfe and picked up 30 possessions, 12 of which were contested. Bailey Banfield kept Dons ball magnet Zach Merrett quiet for most of the game, while also picking up six handy clearances.

The Hawks have just scraped into the eight thanks to a percentage-boosting thumping of wooden spoon certainties the Blues last round. Clarkson’s men sit 0.08 per cent above the Cats on the ladder and will be looking to consolidate that advantage this round when they take on the inexperienced Dockers. Brownlow favourite Tom Mitchell will be out to fill the stat sheets again after picking up 46 possessions to go with a couple of goals last weekend, while Luke Breust confirmed his position as the current in-form small forward in the comp contributing 5 majors to the scoreboard.

Freo have been strong at home this season and secured six wins from nine games, but with nothing but pride left to play for Ross Lyon’s side will struggle to complete with the hungrier Hawks.