Tue, Sep 4, 11:05am by Staff Writer
The 2018 AFL finals series begins on Thursday night and after more than a week off, teams should be ready to go for the most important time of the season.
Richmond versus Hawthorn
Thursday, 6 September 2018 at 7.20pm AEST at the MCG
Richmond finished the home and away season on top of the ladder and host Hawthorn on Thursday night, with the winner progressing to the preliminary finals.
The Tigers are $1.34 favourites to win the match, with the Hawks $3.29 outsiders.
Richmond finished the season with 18 wins and only four losses, two games clear on top of the ladder.
Hawthorn was one of the surprise teams to feature in the top four this season, as their late season surge had them into fourth, a game clear of Melbourne. The Hawks amassed 15 wins during the home and away season.
These teams met only once this year and that was in round three at the MCG. Hawthorn kicked five of the last six goals to slash a 39-point margin down to just 13 points by the final siren.
Trent Cotchin was a stand out for the Tigers on that day with 31 disposals and six tackles, while forward Jack Riewoldt kicked four goals.
For the Hawks, Brownlow medal favourite Tom Mitchell had 42 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.
The Hawks have not beaten Richmond since 2016 when they had a 70-point win against the Tigers in round 18 at the MCG.
Coaches Damien Hardwick and Alastair Clarkson are good friends and will know each other’s game styles inside out.
This is a free hit for Hawthorn, who weren’t expected to figure this high in the top eight at the beginning of the season. They will have to do what no side has managed to do this season and that is beat Richmond at the MCG.
The Tigers to win by a margin of 1-39 points is the shortest price in the margin market at $2. The Hawks to win by the same margin is $3.75. A big Tigers win by 40+ is paying $3.75.
Richmond will start this match as 17.5-point favourites, with the total game points set at over/under 157.5 at $1.90.
Jack Riewoldt leads the first goal scorer market at $6.50, while for the Hawks Luke Bruest ($8.50) and Jack Gunston ($9) are the top picks.
Finals footy is a different beast and there will be a huge crowd on hand on Thursday night to rally these two well supported clubs to victory.
Richmond has plenty of x-factor and avenues to goal, but Hawthorn are no strangers to September. The Tigers will win in a close one.
Best bet- Richmond Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2
Melbourne versus Geelong
Friday, 7 September 2018 at 7.50pm AEST at the MCG
Melbourne embarks on its first finals series in 12 years on Friday night when it takes on Geelong at the MCG.
The Demons are $1.74 favourites to win the match at Sportsbet, with the Cats paying $2.10.
Melbourne finished the home and away season in fifth spot on the ladder after a pair of late season wins against West Coast and GWS. The Demons won 14 games this season.
Geelong squeezed into the top eight and by the time their final round match against Gold Coast was to be played, they were guaranteed finals football.
The Cats finished eighth this season with 13 wins, one game clear of ninth placed North Melbourne.
These two sides have met twice this season, with the Cats prevailing by under a goal both times.
In round one this season, a late shot at goal by Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn was missed which would have given the Demons the win, but Geelong prevailed by three points.
On that afternoon, midfielders Gary Ablett and Josh Selwood each had 39 disposals for the Cats. For Melbourne, Nathan Jones led the way for the Demons with 28 touches and Clayton Oliver had 28.
In round 18 this season, the Cats stole victory after the final siren to win by two points. Zach Tuohy booted a long goal to snatch victory for the Cats, who trailed for most of the match. They kicked a staggering eight final quarter goals to overcome a 29-point final quarter deficit.
Melbourne to win this match by a 1-39 margin is the shortest-priced option in the margin betting at $2.40. The Cats to win by the same margin is $2.70.
The Demons will start as narrow 4.5-point favourites at $1.92.
The total match points is set at over/under 174.5 at $1.90 for Friday night at the MCG.
Forwards Tom Hawkins ($7) and Tom McDonald ($7.50) lead the way when it comes to the first goal scorer market for this elimination final.
There is no doubting the Demons will be excited for this game, but their squad features little finals experience.
By contrast, the Cats have a host of Grand Final winners, Brownlow medalists and superstars of the game. What impact that will have is hard to know, but shying away from Dangerfield, Ablett, Selwood and co. in the finals seems fraught with disaster given the team they are up against.
The Cats to prevail in a classic.
Best bet- Geelong to win at $2.10
AFL Finals Week 1 Odds – Sportsbet
Richmond $1.34 v Hawthorn $3.29
Melbourne $1.74 v Geelong $2.10
Sydney $1.74 v GWS $2.10
West Coast $1.60 v Collingwood $2.35
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