Can you smell those finals just around the corner? Go Tiges!
AFL Round 22 preview from aflratings.com.au, @aflratings.
Only two weeks until finals, here are our thoughts for Round 22.
Geelong 10-2-8 v Collingwood 9-11
The Cats are in a must-win game to keep alive their slim chances of playing finals this year, a win this week v Collingwood combined with an Adelaide loss to West Coast will put it all on the line next week at Simonds Stadium when the play the Crows for the last spot in the final eight. Collingwood have been disappointing since their bye in Round 12 losing eight of their past nine matches. Prior to the Bye the Magpies conceded 77.2pts avg per game and post-bye they have conceded 92.9pts avg per game including a disastrous 147pts last week v Richmond. Expect Collingwood to be better this week amidst a little external pressure questioning a lack of on-field success in recent seasons under coach Nathan Buckley, the Cats however have more to play for and put the Magpies to the sword back in round six by 41pts. Slippery conditions are likely at
the MCG on Friday night but unless there is a major downpour it may provide an opportunity for the over to hit in what could be a low total match points line, a check of the radar is recommended on Friday afternoon.
GWS Giants 10-10 v Carlton 4-16
The Giants were immensely disappointing in a must-win game last week v Sydney conceding 133pts in an 89pt defeat at Spotless Stadium, Carlton were a surprise winning just their fourth game of the season last week to lift themselves from the bottom of the ladder with two games remaining in the home & away season. The Giants have struggled since Round 9 scoring 73.5pts avg from their last 12 games compared to 97.6pts from their first eight games of 2015. Carlton are finding it even harder to hit the scoreboard averaging just 58.5pts from their last eight games with only one win. Would have to lean towards the Giants in this game but with little confidence, they are capable of running up a big number on the Blues who are only 1-4 in travel games this season.
Hawthorn 14-6 v Brisbane 3-17
There is no questioning the result in this game as the Hawks will deliver a comfortable margin at the final siren but can you mess with the quite large line of -69.5 Hawthorn with forecast wind & rain at Aurora Stadium in Launceston on Saturday. The Lions have conceded 100pts or more in four of their last five games and are on their second consecutive travel game, with such a young list a poor output is highly likely considering their high scoring opponent. Hawthorn have scored 100pts or more in 12 of 20 games this season which is the most of any team in the AFL, the Hawks have averaged 111.7pts at Aurora Stadium in three games thus far in 2015. Expecting the Hawks to hit 100pts in this game, if they do then they will be a good chance to get the large line on offer.
Nth Melbourne 13-7 v Western Bulldogs 13-7
It will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs are slow starters v Nth Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, a six-day break returning from a warm Perth might leave the Bulldogs a little short in what is expected to be a highly intense and fast game. The Kangaroos have been superb in recent weeks, a seven-game winning streak albeit against only one top eight team has them well placed to play finals in two weeks. Nth Melbourne are 3-4 vs top eight teams in 2015, the Western Bulldogs have a 4-3 record vs top eight teams in 2015. The total match points line is interestingly high despite expectations of a high scoring games, both teams have conceded just one game of 100pts or more in a combined 17 games in recent weeks (Nth Melbourne: 0-7, Western Bulldogs: 1-9). A letdown may just be possible from the Bulldogs, but they are the most profitable
team to bet on this year along with a 6-5 record when starting as underdog.
Essendon 5-15 v Richmond 13-7
Was not thinking too much in to an upset for the Bombers this week against a well drilled Tigers team bound for the Finals but team selection has thrown a little question of doubt in to the thoughts for this game, Trent Cotchin will miss for Richmond and based on the excellent output from Essendon last week the -39.5 Richmond betting line does seem a little on the high side considering the Tigers will be without arguably their best player. Again slippery conditions at the MCG will likely impact this game, Richmond has conceded just 65.8pts in their last 13 games whilst Essendon has averaged a miserly 66.2pts from their last 12 games. If the Bombers can hold the Tigers team to fewer than 100pts then the total match points Line of 175.5pts looks set to be an Under result, the Bombers at the +39.5 Betting Line will also likely be successful.
Gold Coast 4-1-15 v Port Adelaide 10-10
Both teams have fallen well short of expectations this year, Gold Coast were around even money to make the final eight in the pre-season and Port Adelaide were third premiership favourite heading in to the season. For the Suns they have been destroyed by injuries and off-field issues but have found a resilience to be very competitive despite the lack of quality personnel, they have had the biggest negative differential in team disposals per game (-20.9) from 2014 which underlines their missing A-Grade midfielders. The belief at the Power has been growing in recent weeks, they have averaged 106.2pts in their last six games scoring more than 100pts in five of those games. This will be a tight game in regular slippery conditions at Metricon Stadium, tough game to make a choice in most popular available markets.
Adelaide 12-1-7 v West Coast 15-1-4
The stakes are huge for both teams in a cracking game to open the Sunday AFL coverage. Adelaide can clinch a final eight spot with a win and West Coast can clinch a top two spot with a win. The Crows & Eagles have the capabilities to open up the scoring, but the Eagles have not allowed a team to score 100pts since round three and have conceded just 67.4pts AGA Rounds 4-21. For all their injury concerns to key defenders, West Coast have allowed the fewest 100pt games this season. A win for the Eagles will likely result in resting players at Home next week v St Kilda, this would be an ideal preparation leading in to the Finals. Adelaide can avoid a winner take all battle next week at Geelong if they can secure a win, a home final is still a possibility for the Crows. Fine conditions are likely to contribute to a high scoring game, the O/U 192.5 total match points line will be challenged.
St Kilda 6-1-13 v Sydney 14-6
Totally misread the Saints last week, they were outstanding in a draw v Geelong and should have actually won in the late stages of the game. Sydney are strengthened with the return of key forward Lance Franklin, the Swans will no doubt want to get him the ball as often as possible for the best Finals preparation. Sydney can’t afford a loss to the Saints otherwise their top four spot may be lost to one of the chasing pack, if last week was a precursor to this game then a win won’t come easy against an improving St Kilda. The Saints will go in to this game as heavy underdogs, they have a 1-7 record vs top eight teams this year and 4-14 record when starting as underdog.
Fremantle 16-4 v Melbourne 6-14
A win for Fremantle combined with an earlier loss by West Coast will clinch top spot, the Dockers were devastatingly good in the early part of the season setting up their high ladder position. Despite a negative outlook from the majority of opinion makers the Dockers are well place to win their first-ever premiership, this won’t be the prettiest game to watch vs Melbourne but the Dockers will get the job done early and settle in late in the game with no real urgency to score frequently. The Demons have been the talk of the town failing to be successful in recent years but they have dramatically improved under coach Paul Roos. The Demons provided a remarkable win at Geelong earlier this year, a win in this game would exceed that performance.