Wed, Aug 1, 8:36am by Staff Writer
Round 20 of the AFL season features a number of matches with finals implications, headlined by arch-rivals Hawthorn and Essendon meeting at the MCG on Saturday.
Hawthorn versus Essendon
Saturday, 4 August 2018 at 1.45pm AEST at the MCG
Hawthorn’s 59-point victory against Fremantle in round 20 has catapulted them to seventh spot on the ladder, but they are only a game clear of the chasing pack which features the Bombers.
Essendon are $1.81 favourites to topple the Hawks on Saturday, with the home side paying $2 at Sportsbet.
The Bombers were impressive in their 43-point thumping of Sydney on Friday night, as they look to make a late charge towards September.
The Dons have won six of their past seven games and with their run home including games against Richmond and Port Adelaide in Adelaide, this is a match they cannot afford to drop.
The Hawks draw is no easier as they face Geelong and Sydney, as well as the Saints in the final rounds.
Hawthorn has won four of its past six matches against Essendon, including a 23-point win in round seven this season.
That was a different Bombers side to the team they have been in the latter part of the season, with their second-half fade outs no longer an issue.
The Hawks are returning from Perth and have a six-day break, as opposed to the Bombers with an eight-day break.
At this late stage of the season, small advantages such as those can swing a game. This is a difficult match to call and the Bombers form has been poor at the MCG this season, but we are tipping them to win this one narrowly.
Best bet- Essendon Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2.40
Adelaide versus Port Adelaide
Saturday, 4 August 2018 at 4.35pm AEST at the Adelaide Oval
The 45th Showdown between Adelaide and Port takes place on Saturday afternoon, with the crows in need of a win to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
Port are $1.74 favourites to win the match as the ‘away’ side on Saturday, with the Crows $2.10 favourites.
Adelaide are two games outside the top eight with four to play and will need to win all of their remaining fixtures to be any chance of playing finals.
The 2017 Grand Finalist’s have been unable to recapture their dazzling form of last season, with injuries and ill-discipline costing the side through the year.
A case in point is captain Taylor Walker, who was in the face of Melbourne ruckman and Brownlow medal fancy Max Gawn last weekend after the Crows booted the first three goals of the game.
Thereafter, the Adelaide captain was ineffective and Gawn had a best-on-ground game.
Adelaide needs to sharpen their attack if they want to compete with the Power on Saturday, as well as play a consistent style of football across four quarters.
Port recorded an epic win in the last Showdown in round eight this season, with a late goal to Steven Motlop with 21 seconds left sealing the five-point win.
The Power is playing for a top four berth and are the better side and should win their second Showdown in a row.
Best bet- Port Adelaide Big Win Little Win 1-39 at $2.30
Sydney versus Collingwood
Saturday, 4 August 2018 at 7.25pm AEST at the SCG
Sydney are outside the top eight for the first time this season and one the pre-season flag favourites are in dire need of a victory to move back into finals contention.
The Swans are $1.87 to beat the Pies at the SCG on Saturday night, with the visitors paying $1.95.
Collingwood were not disgraced in their loss to the Tigers on Saturday, but will be keen to bounce back and consolidate their spot in the top four.
Sydney have lost four of their past five matches and five matches at the SCG this season, so are hardly an irresistible force at present.
One of the Swans recent losses included an embarrassing four-goal loss to the Suns.
Sydney’s run home features games against Melbourne, Hawthorn and GWS, so a win here is essential.
Collingwood’s recent record in Sydney has been exceptional, winning six of nine matches against the Swans, with five of those coming at ANZ Stadium during the past decade.
The Pies snuck home by a point when these two sides met last season. They are in better form now despite their injuries and should have too much for Sydney.
Best bet- Collingwood to win at $1.95
Richmond ($1.37) can all but secure a top-of-the-table finish when they host Geelong ($3.10) at the MCG on Friday night.
Brisbane ($2.10) host North Melbourne ($1.74) at the Gabba on Saturday, with the Roos needing a win to stay in contention for finals.
St Kilda ($1.70) should be too good for the Dogs ($2.15) on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.
AFL Round 21 Odds – Sportsbet
Richmond $1.37 v Geelong $3.10
Hawthorn $2 v Essendon $1.81
Brisbane $2.10 v North Melbourne $1.74
Adelaide $2.10 v Port Adelaide $1.74
St Kilda $1.70 v Western Bulldogs $2.15
Sydney $1.87 v Collingwood $1.95
Carlton $8 v GWS $1.08
Melbourne $1.04 v Gold Coast $11
West Coast $1.15 v Fremantle $5.50
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