The final game of the 2018 premiership season culminates at the hallowed ground of football as the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies go at it for the third time this season to decide this year's ultimate champions.
2018 AFL Grand Final
West Coast Eagles v Collingwood Magpies
It is quite mind boggling to think that the Richmond Tigers, the best team for most part of the year, will not be running out onto the big stage for this year's grand final decider. The Magpies were able to stun the yellow and black army last week to advance through to this year's grand final. The ferrocious pressure the 'Pies were able to put the Tigers under seemingly flipped the script on how the Tigers have played for much of this year. On the other side of the country, the West Coast Eagles dismantled the fairytale team of the Melbourne Demons when they locked it up in WA last Saturday. The Eagles gave the Demons absolutely no chance and when the final siren sounded, you had to assume that odds makers for this matchup were going to overreact, somewhat, in the Eagles favour after that performance. The Demons had not played a bad game all year and when it mattered, were found wanting. The Eagles soft run through to the grand final means they could have it up their sleeve to play 'tough' ball if it is required today for the Grand Final, but that has never been their go anyway. Two injury concerns for both sides, Jeremy Howe had a slight ankle roll last week against the Tigers and spent the better part of the week nursing himself right. An open training session on Friday assured that Howe would be good to go for the Pies as he went through light runs and kicking drills. For the Eagles, Jeremy McGovern was left managing a hip pointer/flexor injury through the week coming off a heavy collision last Saturday. The injury cloud surrounding McGovern has been more significant and the rumour-mill was clicked up mid afternoon yesterday when it appeared McGovern was not even in Melbourne. As of writing, there are no late changes and both, McGovern and Howe will line up for their respective clubs today.
On a far less analytical approach to this year's grand final, a few reason as to why I'm firmly in the Collingwood camp. Earlier this year the AFL announced that the rights to the next twenty two (through to 2040), grand finals would be locked into the MCG venue. This created a stir amongst the AFL public in what outlined a bias for the interstate teams that had to travel to Melbourne to win themselves a premiership. Of course, the argument was made that, years gone past interstate teams have come to Melbourne and won themselves premiership and not just once. The game has changed in the twenty years(ish) since the Brisbane Lions won the hatrick and unfortunately the game hasn't been able to move with the times. The game is now a matter of inches, defining moments, and split second decisions and such a bias of home ground is too much of an advantage in this modern game. I'd argue that for an interstate team to come to Melbourne and beat the Melbourne team in a grand final, you'd need to be, at least, a 5 goal better team to hoist the cup.
The past six years, the grand final has consisted of one interstate team against one Melbourne based team and only once out of those last six years was an interstate team able to lift the cup. Sydney defeated Hawthorn in 2012 by 10 points. Since that grand final, four of the five interstate teams that come to Melbourne (Fremantle, Sydney, Sydney and Adelaide) were favourites and were inevitably toppled by the Melbourne based team. More so a piggy-back notion from the above point, interstate teams have not had as much luck in the grand final in recent time.
A few novelty picks in the Norm Smith will have us cheering for the Pies just that little bit more. Grundy should be relatively 'un-checked' in the ruck and should be able to hit his season averages for hitouts and possessions. If he does this, he'll go almighty close to being named Norm Smith medallion winner for this year's grand final. A couple others worth spec'ing will be Taylor Adams for the Pies midfield who has had two strong performances against the Eagles already this year. The hard nut Pie is a bull in and around the stoppages and if Pies are going to stop the smooth game style of the Pies, Adams will be a big reason for this. Finally, Jordan De Goey up forward is a true barometre for the Magpies. When he plays well, so do the Magpies. It'd be silly not to have something on De Goey here who could easily bag himself three or four goals to wrap this game up.
As soon as both prelims' finished last week, my tip for this matchup was already set - the Collingwood Magpies would win this years premiership. Three weeks ago when these two teams met in WA, the Eagles were left scrambling for a solution for the Pies as they looked like running away with a win that'd take them straight through to the preminlinarys. To the Eagles credit, they were able to rally themselves and get themselves back into the fight in the last quarter. Can they do that again, on the other side of the country through? As explained above, I can't viably find myself being with the Pies here and, by some chance that the Pies are able to jump the blocks like they did against the Tigers. Don't expect a spirited come back from the West Coagles Eagles away from home. It will only be a matter of time before the MCG is ringing out the hollowed chants of 'COLLINGWOOD' as they go on to win their 16th premiership flag.
Just two games to go before the biggest game of the season and both deciders to reveal the grand finalists are expected to be close affairs.
AFL Finals Week Three
Richmond Tigers v Collingwood Magpies
The first preliminary final of the third week of the finals and the Pies and the Tiges will lock it up at the MCG on Friday night. TWe could easily have accepted if these two had made it through to the grand final as they are both deserving to be there but be it as it may, only one should advance. The Pies dominated the Giants from the outset and if it wasn't for their own inaccuracy kicking for goal, they would have buried the Giants by a bigger margin. Jordan De Goey left the ground early with a slight injury scare only to return into the game to be the deciding 'X Factor' for the Pies up forward. Steele Sidebottom was a ball magnet for the Pies through the midfield and was able to create passages of play that the Giants simply couldn't stop. Simimarily, the Tigers were also dominant against the Hawks two weeks ago and since then have had the luxury to rest their superstars having had a bye last week.
The Tigers are the fresher team and some eye brows were raised when the AFL decided that the first Preliminary Final was going to be taking place on the Friday night, ensuring that the qualifying team would have a short turn around, having played the week before. The Tigers at the 'G is a hard enough task as it is, and when the chance to play in another grand final is in place for them, the edge firmly sits in the Tigers corner. The Magpies have shown that they can play that Richmond game style be constantly harassing and pressuring the ball carrier and in turn powering the ball forward at any cost but when you're taking on the masters at the style, you're going to need something more up your sleeve. Take the reigning premiers in the margin betting here as they roll onto their second grand final in as many years, at the expense of the Collingwood Magpies.
West Coast Eagles v Melbourne Demons
Second preliminary final and the West Coast Eagles will have a chance to make their second grand final this decade. Their final hurdle will be the visting Melbourne Demons, who just four weeks ago, come to the West and beat the Eagles on their home ground. The last time we saw the West Coast Eagles, they were pushed right out to the final stages of the final term against the Collingwood Magpies, to get the job done. The Eagles are not necessarily a team that has fired first up after a bye and have shown that they might need match time under them to be effective in their run to a premiership. The Demons were absolutely dominant against the Hawks last week and from the outset showed that it was only a matter of time before they buried the Hawks, to end their season. The constant harassing and pressure on the ball carrier is very much like the Tigers game style and it has shown that it can stack up before. The scoreline flattered the Hawks last week as the Demons had a strangle hold on the game from start to finish.
You cannot dny that the momentum is firmly with the Demons at the moment. Melbourne are now eerily on the same path the 2016 Western Bulldogs took on their way to their fairytake premiership, by first eliminating the Hawks in Melbourne before heading to the West to tackle West Coast in order to advance. We're going to ride the wave that is the Demons at the moment and take them to get the job in the West for the second time in five weeks. Melbourne win, eliminate the Eagles and advance to the 2018 Grand Final.
It is do-or-die for four teams heading into the second round of the AFL final series and with the top two teams of the competition having won through to the quarter-finals, winners of this weekend will need bring a quality brand of football.
AFL Finals Week Two
Hawthorn Hawks v Melbourne Demons
Our first game of the round takes place on Friday night when the Hawks look to butter up once more after being put to the sword by the reigning premiers last week. Their opponents, the surging Melbourne Demons who dispatched the Geelong Cats with ease last weekened to win through to the semi finals. The Hawks were dismall in their attempt to dethrone the Tigers on Friday night. They were outnumbered, outclassed and outworked on all facets of the gamne and it begs the question on whether or not the Tigers already have the 2018 premiership already wrapped up. Ben Stratton injured his hamstring in the loss and will alsmost certainly take no part against the Demons this weekend. The Demons scoreline from last week did them no justice and after kicking the first five goals of the game, went on to kick 1.9 in the following two quarters. The Demons have an obvious issue going forward but the weight of numbers of inside forward 50s allows them to continue having shots on goal. With the Hawks backline taking a hit with Stratton going down, we can assume that the Demons will be putting this weakened Hawks backline under the pump, as well.
You will never again, in your life, see Shaun Burgoyne and/or Luke Breust miss a set shot, directly in front, in the same game being two of the classiest and most skilled players of the game but we're inclined to think the 'yips' the Hawks had last week wasn't a coicidence. The last time these two played it was a one sided affair in the favour of the Hawks. The tide has turned and the Demons are now going to be the ones to beat here (and potentially for the rest of the finals series?). The Demons' fairytale will continue on for at least another week and they'll make sure of this by doing the Hawks good and proper here. Take the Demons with the minus as they romp the Hawks in week two of the finals.
Collingwood Magpies v Greater Western Sydney Giants
Round twenty one action here and we're into the home straight of the regular season. We've got a handful of games that we're looking to take advantage of here with the first game being Friday night footy..
AFL ROUND 21
Essendon Bombers v St Kilda Saints
To open up our twenty first round of tips for the weekend, we're going to be taking a look at the Friday night encounter between the Bombers and the Saints. The Bombers were left heartbroken last week when the Hawks pipped them on the post last week in what was an 'Elimination Final' for both clubs. The Bombers played their breakneck style of football only to have some crucial moments late in the game cost them. The Saints went absolutely missing after half time last week. The Saints looked as if they were keeping the Dogs at arms reach for the better part of the first half, holding a comfortable 24pt lead. However, after half time, the insipid Western Bulldogs who have had issues scoring themselves, piled up 14 goals in the second half to run out 35pt winners. The pressure continues to build for St Kilda coach Alan Richardson.
The Saints were too bad to be true last, too bad. We believe that they do have it in them to bounce back and getting back youngster Ben Long could bolster their forward line attack. The Saints are severely down on confidence at the moment but do have themselves some of the more efficient ball winners in Steven and Ross. The Bombers copped a fair whack to the finals aspirations last week and we're intended to think that they're going to be flat here with the potential of not playing finals footy for the year. Take the Saints to cover this handicap just shy of six goals, in a close affair on Friday night.
Hawthorn Hawks v Geelong Cats
A near ten year rivalry adds another page to the story when we see Hawthorn and Geelong lock it up center stage of the MCG, Saturday afternoon. Both teams here had margins of three points respectively last week with one being a winner and the other being a loser. The Hawks were able to cling on to a victory when the Bombers begun their late fourth quarter surge to get within three points before the final siren sounded. The Hawks led by as many as 28pts in the last and the final term doesn't truly reflect final result. The Cats, inversely, played the roll of chaser last week when they were left to reel in the reigning premiers on Friday night. The Cats had their chance to snag victory when Ablett missed a short shot on goal deep into red time. The Cats looked to be out of the game also last week when it appeared that the Tigers were just looking to hold on. Again, the final margin of both games did not reflect the true result of the game.
Because of the nature of last week's results, it will mean this game is now an elimination final for the Cats who cannot afford to lose anymore games. The Hawks had their first, and passed, their elimination final last week and will need to butter up again. The Cats have been playing strong enough footy and will regain the services of Tom Stewart who has been a hidden gem for the Cats plucked from their local footy competitions. The Cats have a superior midfield and should be able to dictate any influences hot Brownlow-favourite Tom Mitchell should have on the game. Take the Cats to win this game comfortably enough to shunt the Hawks to the bottom end of the 8.
Port Adelaide Power v West Coast Eagles
The most talked-about team of the week, the West Coast Eagles, travel to Adelaide to square up to the Port Power who were arguably robbed in their own SA derby against the Crows, last week. Both teams here are coming out of their respective derbys of SA and WA. Andrew Gaff was the talk of the country through the week with how many weeks he'd receive for his 'moment of madness'. The eight weeks has effectively ruled him out for the rest of the season and possible the rest of his West Coast career? West Coast comfortably accounted for Fremantle last week, before and after the Gaff incident and now have four wins from the past five outings. Port continue a real flat form run having only won one game in the last month and three wins in the last seven games with two of them coming against Carlton and St Kilda.
The Eagles will still be without Josh Kennedy who appears to be eyeing his return for the first week of the finals. Gaff will obviously miss, but the Eagles are still a formidable unit that have pushed themselves to the top end of the table missing stars all year. West Coast have historically played well in Adelaide and we're confident that they will lift themselves over this Port team that will no doubt be flat after last week's missed opportunity. West Coast to win and send the Power into a tail spin.
Collingwood Magpies v Brisbane Lions
Saturday night footy and we've got the visiting Brisbane Lions hitting Melbourne to take on the injury ravaged Collingwood Magpies at Etihad Stadium. The Pies looked to have the Swans beaten last week when they surged to the lead midway through the final quarter only for the Swans to pick themselves up off the canvas and snatch victory back. Brisbane rattled off back to back wins a couple rounds ago but since then have dropped off slightly. They were left pondering what could've been as first-year player, Cameron Rayner missed a simple shot on goal deep into red time last week, against the Kangaroos. The Lions now have two travelling away games before finishing their season in Brisbane in three weeks time.
The Pies are starting to get back some of their players that have been out injured, most notably, Jordan De Goey who looked set to miss significant time with a leg injury courtesy of a stress fracture. The Pies are fighting, scrapping unit that have been patching their team they put on the park all year. This inclusion can only make it easier for them as they try to hold onto their top four finals hopes. Take the Pies to win and win well here as they tighten the screws heading into finals.
Melbourne Demons v Sydney Swans
We've left our biggest throw at the stumps until last as we have the Sydney Swans heading to Melbourne to take on the Demons in arguably is the match of the round. The Swans were able to rally after being headed mid way through the final term last week against the Pies to keep their season alive. Buddy responded in convincing fashion to boot six of the Swans 11 goals for the match. The Demons had themselves a tune up when they belted the Suns back to the Gold Coast by a touch under one hundred points.
We'll be making this one our best of the week. The Swans grovelled a win last week against the Pies who effectively had no one to play on Buddy after half time. We don't expect the Demons to be so undermanned and they should be able to flex all over the Swans here. This is a significant step up in competition for the Demons but if they're going to be anywhere near what the public are making them out to be, then they'll be winning this.The Demons know they need to keep winning if they're going to break their finals drought and nothing says a win more than knocking off the Swans in Melbourne. Take the Demons to FINALLY beat their first top 8 opponent of the year, and do it well as they belt the Swans back to Sydney, too.
The Bombers are looking continue their 'unlikely' run towards the finals when they tackle the stumbling Sydney Swans Friday night at Etihad Stadium..
AFL ROUND 19
Essendon Bombers v Sydney Swans
The Bombers are looking continue their 'unlikely' run towards the finals when they tackle the stumbling Sydney Swans. The Bombers put the Fremantle Dockers away last week while the Sydney Swans played part in the biggest upset of the season, going down to the Gold Coast suns in Sydney.
The Bombers were able to keep their final's hopes alive with another win against the Fremantle Dockers on Saturday night. The final scoreline is alot more flattering for the Bombers than it reads as the Dockers were leading at the first and main charge before the Bombers crept back into the contest and kicked away in the final stages, when the game had been won. The Dockers didn't put up much resistance and weren't expected to, with their main duo of Sandilands and Fyfe still out with their respective injuries. The Bombers lost key forward McKernan with a hamstring strain and looks unlikely to get up for this game against the Swans. The Bombers have now rattled off five wins from their past six games. The Swans season was sent into a tailspin on the weekend when they were embarrassed by the visiting Gold Coast Suns last Saturday afternoon. This loss marked the first time losing to the Gold Coast Suns since their inception. The Swans now sit in a precarious position with their season now as they cannot afford to lose another game that they definitely should be winning. The Swans currently sit 4th on the ladder with three teams beneath them with better % and only one game behind. The Swans have the Magpies, Demons, Giants and Hawks to come and will definitely be taking aim at the task at hand this weekend.
No one could have predicted a Swans loss to the Gold Coast suns last week and we're not going to be drawing too much attention to this as a form reference. The rebound factor from the Swans will come into play here- the Swans arguably play Etihad Stadium just as well as any other club in the competition and now know their finals aspirations are now on the line. The Bombers have strung together some good performances in the past month but when the Swans need to win, they always find a way. Take the Swans price early as be think this will shorten by the time the ball is bounced. Swans victory on Friday night footy.
Geelong Cats v Brisbane Lions
For the second time this season the Cats were able to steal victory from the clutches from the Melbourne Demons. This was a win the Cats needed to notch as they were in serious jeopardy of missing the finals if they had lost this one. Surprisingly, the Cats fell outside the 8 on percentage and if we were to reverse both results to the Demons this year, the Cats would be sitting 12th and the Demons would be sitting equal second. Tom Hawkins played one of the games of his career, booting four goals in the final term and seven for the game. He was instrumental in the Cats resurgence having been down by 29 points to begin the final quarter. Gary Ablett was also able to turn it on, collecting 14 disposals in the final term also. Brisbane
For the second time this season the Cats were able to steal victory from the clutches from the Melbourne Demons. This was a win the Cats needed to notch as they were in serious jeopardy of missing the finals if they had lost this one. Surprisingly, the Cats fell outside the 8 on percentage and if we were to reverse both results to the Demons this year, the Cats would be sitting 12th and the Demons would be sitting equal second. Tom Hawkins played one of the games of his career, booting four goals in the final term and seven for the game. He was instrumental in the Cats resurgence having been down by 29 points to begin the final quarter. Gary Ablett was also able to turn it on, collecting 14 disposals in the final term also. Brisbane had themselves another 'honourable' loss on the weekend when the Crows were able to sneak away from the Gabba with a five point win. The Lions were in the contest for much of the night and with the exclusion of a couple of poor errors in judgement, should've been the ones with their theme song playing after the final siren. Zorko and Beams were their trojan-like selves and were able to really take it up to the elite midfield of the Crows. Eric Hipwood and Mitch Robertson were also serviceable for the Lions throughout the contest.
The last time the Brisbane Lions were sent out as 6-goal underdogs, they were able to roll the Hawks down in Tasmania. Geelong pulled out all the stops in the final quarter last week just to get the win and we're inclined to think the Cats could be a little slow off the mark here against the Lions. The Lions have had no issues scoring away from home this season and if they were to play up to their standard of footy over the past month, will have no dramas covering this handicap. Take Brisbane to cover the current line of +34.5 at the moment as we believe this line will only shrink the closer we get towards this weekend.
North Melbourne Kangaroos v West Coast Eagles
North Melbourne fell outside the top 8 for the first time in over two months and will be looking to desperate get back in the winner's list before their window for finals footy closes on them. The Kangaroos were unable to hang with the Pies on the weekend and inevitably fell to them by 66 points. The West Coast Eagles were had themselves their training run on late Sunday afternoon as they were able to easily navigate themselves past the visting Western Bulldogs to the tune of 54 points.
North Melbourne are starting to feel the effects of the long AFL season. They have now dropped back to back games and took a serious beating for their efforts on the weekend. They forced play to come to a halt a total of eight times on the weekend for blood rules and alot of questions remaing on whether they'll be getting the services of any of their injured back. Mason Wood and Jarrod Waite still look weeks away while Ben Jacobs injury of concussion appears to be more serious than oringinally thought and sustained, six weeks ago now. North losing their last two have cast huge shadows over their finals campaign and whether or not they'll make it. Majak Daw playing up forward has been the shining light of the Roos team, having kicked seven goals in the last night fortnight. The West Coast Eagles are returning to their first half of the season form after they trounced the Doggies on the weekend. They appear to be getting back to full health all over the park and it is only a matter of selection now on whether Liam Ryan returns to the Eagles forward line also. Shannon Hurn has found himself in a situation and will be sweating on an MRO decision after a late hit on Mitch Wallis. Since the trio of Kennedy, LeCras and Darling all returned from injury, they have combined for 15 goals, 11 points in the last fortnight and look to be running riot on opposition defenses.
As of writing, Shannon Hurn had not been givien his sanction for his late hit but we're inclined to think that it will be graded as careless, with low impact which should see him get a fine, at most. We would be highly surprised if anything more was to come of it and as it were, we will be playing the Eagles as if he will be suiting up. The Eagles kicked 44 points in the first quarter and effectively had the game won after that point. This will not be as close as the odds suggest and we're going to be betting accordingly. Our best bet of the weekend- Take the Eagles to win this matchup and heap more pain on the North Melbourne Kangaroos.
The Pies and the Roos are both coming off losses last week and will be looking to rebound back into the winner's circle this weekend....
AFL ROUND 18
Collingwood Magpies v North Melbourne Kangaroos
The Pies and the Roos are both coming off losses last week and will be looking to rebound back into the winner's circle this weekend. The Pies faded late to the visiting West Coast Eagles last week while the Roos were pipped on the line by a depleted Swans outfit that had made their way down from Sydney.
The Magpies had their winning streak of seven brought to an abrupt halt last week when the Eagles shocked the Pies and run out 35-point winners. The late omission of Mason Cox proved vital for the Pies who were left scrambling for options down back to counter the tall West Coast forwards. Mason Cox will almost certainly return to the lineup for the Pies this week after having a week to rest from general soreness. Jordan De Goey booted four goals last week but it appears that the Pies are struggling for goal kicking options. De Goey was sorely missed in the midfield but was forced to stay forward for large portions of the game. Steel Sidebottom was ominously quiet last week and will almost certainly respond to that performance this weekend with a stronger effort. Jaidyn Stephenson was also unusually quiet for his standards but a downturn on the first-year rookie is to be expected. The Kangaroos had themselves every chance possible last week against the Swans- leading with 8 minutes remaining in the final quarter, Swans down their prime ball winner in Josh Kennedy, and still weren't able to get the job done. Ziebell was a shining light for the Roos up forward with the veteran bagging five majors on his own. Ben Jacobs has been sorely missed in the past month for the Roos and since he's been out, the Roos have gone 1-2 without him.
Sickeningly stiff for OTP followers last week who took the Roos to win straight up. We were rolled on the death with the Sydney Swans fullback kicking the match-winning goal against us in redtime. We're bullish on the Roos here and think they'll be able to go one better than they did last week. Ben Jacobs should make his return to the Roos lineup and if he does, this selection is a lock. The Roos straight up and right their wrong from last week giving the Pies two losses in a row.
Brisbane Lions v Adelaide Crows
Unlike the first game we've covered, both Brisbane Lions and Adelaide Crows won last week as outsiders and will enter this matchup at the Gabba with confidence. The Crows are coming off an extended nine day break, having beaten the Cats last Thursday night by 15 points. The Brisbane Lions went south to Tasmania and rolled the Hawks in an impressive display.
Arguably the form team of the competition at the moment, the Brisbane Lions, took their biggest scalp of the season last week by upsetting the Hawks down at their second home of Tasmania. The Lions entered the game as +28.5 underdogs which was seemingly under threat of extending when Luke Hodge pulled himself from the starting lineup due to a calf niggle he had copped through the week. Hodge looks set to return to the Brisbane defense after his week off. The Lions are averaging just over 105 ppg in their last month's worth of footy and will relish getting back on their home deck this weekend. The Crows rekindled their final's aspirations last week by holding tough against the Geelong Cats (who now look in trouble of playing finals footy themselves). The win was soured with the blind hit (and now suspension) of Taylor Walker on Zach Tuohy. Walker will miss this week's clash and the Crows will now rely on the leadership of Sloane and Laird to get the rest of the playing group up for this.
Brisbane are starting to show signs of their youth growing up and their past three games have been very impressive showings. We're inclined to take the Lions here straight up. Crows may miss Talia (again) and their skipper through suspension so, as has been the case for most of their year, will be undermanned for this matchup. Brisbane win and extend their win streak to four games on their home turf.
Geelong Cats v Melbourne Demons
Saturday night football and we've got the Geelong Cats who return to their sanctuary of the Cattery having went to Adelaide last week and being beaten by a spirited Adelaide Crows. The Cats will welcome the Melbourne Demons into town after they easily accounted for the Dogs last week.
The Cats were far from disgraced last week as they fell to Adelaide over in South Australia. Dan Menzel made his return in that game and had a modest outing with just the six touches and the goal. He'll be better for the run and is expected to progress further in his second game out. Tom Hawkins booted four goals last week and is in just about career best form as of late, averaging 3 goals a game since his mid-season bye. The Cats are now starting to hit their stride and despite losing last week, having shown enough to continue pushing towards finals footy. The Demons showed a clear class edge against the Dogs last week, flicking the switch and booting away in the third quarter and effectively putting the game to bed after that. Jack Viney was a late out for the Demons in what we now know to be a much serious injury than first mentioned for the Demons. He is expected to miss the rest of the regular season of football and return for their finals campaign.
Marquee games like this are the ones that the Cats really lift for. The blow of Harry Taylor missing again will be softened by the return of Lachie Henderson making his long awaited returned to the lineup. The Cats swing-man will be a welcomed inclusion and will shore up the Cats backline. Michael Hibberd injuring himself throughout the week all but locked this selection up for us who have won 21 straight games down in Geelong with the exception of the Sydney Swans. Take the Cats to win this game and win it well in front of their home crowd on a brisk Saturday night.
West Coast Eagles v Western Bulldogs
The West Coast Eagles have turned a corner in their march towards finals, having gone to Melbourne, won there and beaten a top 8 team in the process. The Eagles defeated a the Pies last week while the Bulldogs eventually fell to a Demons outfit that flicked the switch in the third quarter. Up to that point, the Dogs were looking competitive.
The Eagles have returned themselves to some serious form in the last fortnight having rolled the Giants and the Pies in consecutive weeks. Much of the hype in the lead up to this game was the return of Kennedy, Darling, LeCras and Waterman who ironically booted 9 goals 8 points between them. This was telling for a team that had played without these four for the better part of the month prior. The win last week was soured by the season-ending injury to Nic Naitanui who ruptured a second ACL to his knee. The response from the West Coast Eagles after Nic-Nat went down was pivotal and Scott Lycett stood up in a big way. He will now shoulder the ruck duties for the remainder of the season and becomes just about their most important player. The Doggies have dished up two very ordinary performances in the past fortnight having been downed by an average of just under 10 goals during that span. Bontempelli is questionable to return to the line after his appendix surgery and any common sense would suggest he'd miss this game also. Tom Boyd could make the trip west for the Doggies in this matchup.
We're going to take aim here at the totals market. The total match points of 145.5 seems to be right on considering the rain coming from WA so we're going to bring into question the Team Total for West Coast here. The Eagles will notch the win here and with the Dogs clogging their backline up and the rain coming, we're expecting the West Coast bigs to have a rough time of it up forward and for their team total to go under.
Port Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney Giants
Cracking game to finish off the weekend's worth of footy. The Power were left red-faced last week when they were beaten in Perth by a 40-point underdog Fremantle, in a low scoring affair. The GWS Giants gave the reigning premiers their fourth loss of the season when they held on against the fast-finishing Tigers.
Port Adelaide dished up one of their worst performances of the year last week when they went to Perth as -40.5 favourites and were beaten by nine points. They were unable to find any fluency and it was obvious from the outset that Fremantle's tactic was to slow down Power and make them grind out the win. Power had insult added to injury when Robbie Gray was concussed from an illegal tackle and Paddy Ryder was forced to watch from the sidelines as he strained his hip-flexor. Gray is a 'touch'n'go' prospect for this game and Ryder will definitely miss this clash. The Giants took the scalp they needed to revitalize their season's hopes of playing finals knocking off the Tigers. Toby Greene made his long awaited return from his footy injury and was a presence up forward that the Giants are lacking at the moment. Himmelberg and Langdon impressed for the Giants last week with the latter booted 3 of his own.
The 'Orange Tsunami' are starting to warm up and having defeated the Tigers last week, have put the league on notice. The Giants will all but solidify their Sepetember's action if they can get over the line here and we're thinking they will. Toby Greene will be better for the first up run and with the Port outs, the Giants should be favourites, in all fairness. Take the Giants to win to round out the weekend's action.