The AFL was criticized for their scheduling of their Friday night fixture last weekend, but there are no complaints in round 18 as Hawthorn play host to Richmond in a genuine Friday night blockbuster at the MCG.
This is clearly the highlight of the round, but there is also a very intriguing contest between the Sydney Swans and the Adelaide Crows on Saturday afternoon and a host of other exciting games.
We have closely analysed every single contest this weekend to come up with what we believe are the best betting plays of the round.
The Hawks are currently clear favourites to beat the Tigers this weekend, but we are offering the inflated odds of $2 for the Hawks to continue their winning run on Friday night.
Hawthorn Hawks vs Richmond Tigers
Friday, July 31 – 7:50pm AEST – MCG
Richmond were desperately unlucky not to walk away with the four points against Fremantle last weekend and they now appear unlikely to move into the top four unless they are able to upset Hawthorn this weekend. Poor kicking in front of goal let the Tigers down badly and they will need to improve this significantly to be any hope this weekend. Hawthorn did everything that they needed to do in what was basically a training run against Carlton last Friday night and they appear to be in simply outstanding form. Hawthorn have lost two of their last three meetings with Richmond, but this Hawthorn side is playing on another level and they will win this game. However, the line on offer is a little bit on the excessive side and a small bet on the Tigers to beat the line of 34.5 points.
Geelong Cats vs Brisbane Lions
Saturday, August 1 – 1:45pm AEST – Simonds Stadium
Geelong kept themselves in the top eight hunt with a victory over the Greater Western Sydney Giants and they have another excellent opportunity to move closer to a finals berth. Contested marking has been a strength for Geelong in 2015 and Tom Hawkins could prove very difficult to contain. The Lions continue to produce some of the most uninspiring football that you will see and they were never competitive against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. They are simply unable to score points with their current formation and they are sure to struggle in what will likely be a low scoring affair. I wouldn’t be touching the line for either team, but the under option in points scoring markets will be a winning play.
Collingwood Magpies vs Melbourne Demons
Saturday, August 1 – 2:10pm AEST – MCG
Collingwood have lost five games on the trot, but they have an excellent opportunity to return to winning form when they take on the hapless Melbourne Demons. The Demons showed signs of improvement at the start of the season, but they have gone backwards again in the second half of the season and they were poor against St Kilda last weekend. The Magpies have not lost six games on the trot since 2006 and the pressure is well and truly on them heading into this clash, but they have too much quality across the park and they look like a good bet to beat the line of 22 and a half points.
Sydney Swans vs Adelaide Crows
Saturday, August 1 – 4:35pm AEST – MCG
This is arguably the most important game of the round and could go a long way to deciding what teams make up the top eight at the end of the regular season. The Swans have been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Adam Goodes in the past month, but that has hidden the fact they are playing fairly average football and they were very poor against West Coast last weekend. In contrast, Adelaide have shown an incredible amount of emotional resilience to take out their past two games and they will play finals football if they keep on winning. This is arguably the toughest game of the weekend to analyse, but the Swans seem awfully short at their current quote of $2.75 based on their recent form and the Crows are well worth a bet at $2.75.
Carlton Blues vs North Melbourne Kangaroos
Saturday, August 1– 7:20pm AEST – Etihad Stadium
Carlton were played of the park by Hawthorn last weekend and it is tough to see them turning the corner against North Melbourne this weekend. The Blues continue to struggle to score points and they will likely be kept quiet by the Kangaroos. North Melbourne are now in the top eight following their big win over the Brisbane Lions and for the first time this season they are playing a consistent brand of football. This is really a gimme game at this stage of the season and if they are unable to get the job done it would prove absolutely fatal to their finals chances. The Kangaroos are one of the safest bets of the week and should be able to beat.
Gold Coast Suns vs West Coast Eagles
Saturday, August 1 – 7:20pm AEST – Metricon Stadium
The West Coast Eagles just keep on winning and that does not look likely to change this weekend. The Eagles proved far too good for the Swans last weekend and their strengths in recent years has been winning games like this one by big margins. The Suns will be without Gary Ablett after he suffered a season ending injury against the Crows last weekend and any progress they made in the past month is sure to go missing. The Eagles have won all five of their previous meetings with the Gold Coast and a repeat of their almost 100 point victory from round seven looks more than likely.
Port Adelaide Power vs St Kilda Saints
Sunday, August 2 – 1:10pm AEST – Adelaide Oval
Port Adelaide need to keep winning to be any chance of playing finals football and they face a tricky encounter against St Kilda on Sunday afternoon. Port played well to beat Essendon last weekend and they have definitely improved in some of the areas that were letting them down earlier in the season, but defence is still a bit of an issue for the side. St Kilda did enough to beat the Demons last weekend, but they were far from impressive with the football in hand and a similar performance will not be enough to beat the Power. Centre clearances will be the big issue for St Kilda and Port Adelaide are a very safe bet to keep their finals hopes alive.
Essendon Bombers vs Western Bulldogs
Sunday, August 2 – 3:20pm AEST – MCG
The Western Bulldogs find themselves entrenched in the top eight following their tough win over Collingwood last weekend and they will be in the box-seat for a surprise finals appearance if they are able to beat the Bombers this weekend. They have a poor recent record against their rivals, but they are a different team this season under Luke Beveridge and they really should win this game. Essendon really don’t have anything to play for at this stage of the season, but to their credit they have produced credible efforts without winning against both the Kangaroos and the Power in the past two weeks. The Bulldogs will get the win, but this game is sure to be closer than the betting suggests and the Bombers to beat the line of 16.5 points is definitely not a bad bet.
Fremantle Dockers vs Greater Western Sydney Giants
Sunday, August 2 – 4:40pm AEST – Domain Stadium
Fremantle were completely outplayed by the Richmond Tigers last weekend, but they still managed to walk away with the four points. The Dockers are still not playing at the same level that they were at the start of the season, but are still doing enough to win football games and they will win the minor premiership. The Dockers have won their three previous meetings against the Giants by big margins, but this is a better side. The ruck will be a big issue for the Giants in the absence of Shane Mumford and Aaron Sandilands and the Dockers midfield are sure to have an absolute field day. The Dockers could use this game to make a statement and they should be able to record a big win.
Don’t forget about our $2 Friday Night Football Special! We’re offering a whopping $2 for the Hawks to roll the Tigers this Friday night.