2019 AFL Finals Week 1 Preview

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The 2019 AFL Finals are here and we are set for four fascinating games of football in the opening week.

The West Coast Eagles are dominant favourites to beat Essendon, but the three other games are all set to be competitive affairs and there is very little between them in betting.

We have analysed all four games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2019 AFL Finals Week 1 tips can be found below.

West Coast Eagles Vs Essendon

Thursday 5 September, 8.10pm, Optus Stadium


For the Bombers, the bye week presents an opportunity to rest up ahead of their first finals appearance since 2017.

For West Coast, the bye week presents a chance to regroup following last week’s horror performance against Hawthorn.

Adam Simpson’s side lost by 38-points to the Hawks in what was West Coast’s most concerning performance of the season. The Eagles, a team with two of the AFL’s Top 10 leading goal scorers, struggled to move the ball forward as Hawthorn’s defensive zones caused chaos.

The Bombers have a lot less to worry about on the ground despite losing by 11-points to Collingwood last week. Instead, Essendon’s biggest concerns come in the form of injury, as the Dons will be hoping Dyson Heppell, Jake Stringer, Cale Hooker, and the recently injured Michael Hurley are all good to go on Thursday night.

With the casualty ward growing, it’s no surprise to find the Bombers listed at a wide price on the road. The Bombers lost by 35-points to the Eagles in Perth back in Round 14, adding to their ho-hum 3-3 interstate record this season.

For the Eagles, the return of Nic Naitanui is still unclear, but even without their star ruckmen, West Coast should prove too strong for an out of form Bombers side.

Say what you will about the Eagles’ loss to the Hawks, but the week off might be just what West Coast needs. For all their troubles getting the ball inside 50 last week, the Eagles should find opportunities easy to come by against a Bombers side allowing the fourth-most inside 50 entries this season.

Tip: Back West Coast 40+ @ $2.40

Geelong Vs Collingwood

Friday 6 September, 7.50pm, MCG

A big crowd will be on hand to witness this rematch of Round 1’s epic heavyweight clash.

Geelong got the better of Collingwood that day winning by seven points, but as the odds suggest, the bookmakers are having a difficult time separating the two based on recent form.

Collingwood posed a few questions towards the business end of the season but have since responded by winning four of their last five games. To be fair, those wins have come over the Suns, Demons, Crows and Bombers, but with health somewhat on their side now, the Pies are poised for a deep finals run.

Geelong, on the other hand, bounced back from a one-point loss to the Lions a fortnight ago to thump Carlton by 68-points. The minor premiers would like this final to be played at GMHBA Stadium, but the Cats should feel confident in the fact they are 4-1 at the MCG this season.

Much of this game will boil down to the midfield battle, as both sides possess their own unique strengths.

Collingwood finished the home/away season ranked first in disposals, while the Cats ranked on top in tackles.

Chris Scott’s side has won three straight over the Pies dating back to 2017, although it’s worth noting Collingwood own a handy 3-1 record as the “away” underdog against Geelong.

The last five games between these two sides have been decided by 1-39 points, and with two potent forward lines, it’s safe to expect the same on Friday night.

With that in mind, goals have typically come at a premium between these two in recent memory. That should play into Geelong’s hands, but only if Tom Hawkins turns up for the contest.

Against top four sides this year, Hawkins has combined for only eight goals. It’s been a down season by his usual standards, and if the Pies can isolate him early, Collingwood should be well on their way to a spot in the Semi-Finals.

Tip: Back Collingwood 1-39 @ $2.55

GWS Giants Vs Western Bulldogs

Saturday 7 September, 3.20pm, Giants Stadium

Big time Victorian clashes are all the rage come finals, but this is by far one of the most intriguing matchups of the qualifying round.

“Dangerous” and “scary” are the words best used to describe the Bulldogs, as they have combined for an average score of 128-points across their last three games.

There are shades of 2016 about this current Bulldogs squad, and after belting GWS by 61-points only a fortnight ago, it’s not surprising to find Luke Beveridge’s side as the favourite on the road.

GWS own wins over Richmond and Collingwood this season, but it’s largely been another disappointing year for the Giants.

Last week’s victory over the Suns at Metricon was a welcome change to what has otherwise been a concerning month ahead of footy. And although the Giants hold home-field advantage, that still won’t be enough against a Bulldogs side that ranks top five in goals and inside ‘50s.

To their credit, GWS has been a tough opponent in the first half this season. The Giants rank fifth in first halves won, but again, the Dogs rank sixth in second halves won.

Stats aside, this should be a close game at half time with the hosts on top, followed by a Beveridge pep talk and a Doggies win.

Tip: Half-Time/Full-Time: GWS/Dogs @ $6.75

Brisbane Lions Vs Richmond

Saturday 7 September, 7.25pm, The Gabba

A week after a thrilling Sunday afternoon encounter at the ‘G, the Lions and the Tigers prepare for a fascinating rematch, only this time, it’s at the Gabba.

There should be no shortage of motivation for Brisbane on Saturday as the Lions missed out narrowly on the minor premiership. At the same time, Chris Fagan’s side has to feel proud of their effort against the Tigers, especially after fighting back from a 30+ point deficit in the third quarter.

Richmond are the current premiership favourites, and rightfully so. The Tigers hit full stride with a big win over Collingwood last month, adding to their impressive nine-game winning streak.

Sunday’s market is also in favour of the Tigers, but the yellow and black do look a little under the odds at their current price.

Richmond’s 3-2 interstate record casts some doubt on their road form, especially after playing their last seven games in Melbourne.

For the Tigers to win, they simply need to accomplish the same thing twice, and that’s shutting down Charlie Cameron. Damien Hardwick successfully contained Brisbane’s problematic star forward last week, holding him to a pair of goals and only two tackles.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially on a smaller ground like the Gabba. Lions fans have made their home ground a fortress this year, which will play a huge part in Brisbane’s winning chances.

If the Lions are to pull off the upset, they’ll need to find some clean looks at goal. Tricky shots from the boundary and long bombs inside 50 didn’t cut it a fortnight ago, and the same goes on Sunday.

Brisbane can win this game though if they match Richmond’s pressure, which they did at various stages in Round 23. The Lions’ 13-game losing streak to Richmond is well documented, but if Brisbane’s tackling results in turnovers and clean entries going forward, they can easily win this game.

Tip: Brisbane Lions 1-39 @ $2.65

2018

The 2018 AFL Finals are here and, after a fascinating regular season, we couldn’t be more excited.

Richmond have been the dominant side in the competition all season long and they are clear favourites to claim back-to-back flags, but they face a tough qualifying final challenge against a firing Hawthorn outfit.

Melbourne have the chance to win their first final since 2002 when they take on Geelong, while there will be only one Sydney-based side left in the competition at the conclusion of the weekend.

We have analysed all four games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2018 AFL Finals Week 1 tips can be found below!

Richmond Vs Hawthorn

Thursday 6 September, 7.20pm, MCG

Would it be wrong to say this game could turn out bigger than the Grand Final?

For Hawthorn, it’s a free crack at the reigning premiers, while for Richmond, it’s a tune-up at home against the most experienced premiership side in the competition.

It goes without saying the Tigers are the favourites in this one, but what would it take for the Hawks to upset the yellow and black at the G’?

It’s hard to believe this is the first finals meeting between the two clubs, but Hawthorn will find confidence in knowing star defender James Sicily is set to return.

You can’t read too much into Round 3’s meeting, but Jack Riewoldt did manage to boot a four-goal bag on the Hawks, so Sicily’s inclusion is huge for what has been an unpredictable Hawthorn back-line all season long.

The last time the Hawks took care of the Tigers was back in 2016, but this is perhaps Hawthorn’s best chance at winning one over Damien Hardwick’s side. The Hawks have been firing on all cylinders offensively, and if Luke Breust and Jaeger O’Meara are on, they should keep this one close.

There’s plenty of personnel decisions to be made though, and the focus is of course on Dustin Martin. Do the Tigers play him forward? And what do the Hawks do in the ruck?

For punters, perhaps the only thing that matters is the fact this game is at the MCG. Richmond’s consecutive wins record at the ground is well documented, but as we saw in the preliminary final against Geelong a season ago, the crowd plays a huge factor in September.

The Hawks have every reason to believe they can win this. Alastair Clarkson showed just how clever he was two week’s ago against the Swans, and his record in September is unmatched.

Still, the Hawks have had their hairy moments this season, many of which have come against lesser clubs.

Richmond don’t fall into that category, but if the Hawks fail to win the clearances and tag Martin appropriately, this looks somewhere in the ballpark of a 15-point game.

Tip: Back Richmond 1-39 @ $2.02

Same Game Multi: Richmond 1-39, Under 157.5 Points, Jack Gunston 3+ Goals

Melbourne Vs Geelong

Friday 7 September, 7.50pm, MCG

For the second night in a row the MCG will be alight as the Demons play their first final in over a decade.

It’s a big game for both clubs on the heels of an up and down home/away season, but after a week off, it’s anyone’s guess how both teams show up on Friday night.

For Melbourne, their bread and butter all season has been pressure inside their own fifty, which in turn has resulted in plenty of points on the scoreboard.

The Demons would like to have star forward Jesse Hogan out on the pitch, but with the 23-year old ruled out for the rest of the season, scoring responsibilities now fall in Christian Petracca’s lap.

For Geelong, the cruisy run toward September was nice in terms of health and fitness, but is there any chance it’s made the Cats soft?

Geelong haven’t faced a quality club like Melbourne in over three weeks, and if they show up lacking confidence like they did against Hawthorn earlier in August, the Demons will make short work of Chris Scott’s side.

Head-to-head, the Cats have won four straight over the Demons, with Melbourne’s last victory over Geelong coming way back in 2015.

Betting wise, the Cats enter as the underdog, and if you’re a punter, buyer beware – Geelong are a so-so 3-3 as the away underdog this season.

With expectations high and the emotions of a tortured fanbase behind them, this shapes up as a memorable day in Demons history. All they need to do is focus on what works: win the footy, rack up disposals like they have done all season, and feed the ball forward.

Easier said than done, especially against midfielders like Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, but with a week off to concentrate, take Melbourne in a close one.

Tip: Pick Your Own Line – Melbourne (-9.5 Points) @ $2.14

Same Game Multi: Melbourne 1-39, Over 174.5 Total Points

Sydney Swans Vs GWS Giants

Saturday 8 September, 4.20pm, SCG

The Battle of the Bridge was intense three weeks ago at Spotless, but with the SCG playing host, this could easily be the game of the round.

Sydney are expected to feature the likes of Buddy Franklin on Saturday, while GWS should see Toby Greene return.

Both inclusions are huge for either side, but who actually wins this epic rivalry?

The Swans hold the home crowd advantage, but as we saw a fortnight ago against Hawthorn, that’s meaningless if your team can’t defend.

Sydney struggled to contain Hawthorn’s speedy playmakers, in particular Luke Breust, Jack Gunston and Jarman Impey, and if Aliir Aliir has another awful night down back, the Giants are every chance to win this.

Perhaps nobody is taking GWS seriously as a legitimate flag contender, but Leon Cameron’s side thrive on that kind of underestimation.

The Giants game plan this weekend will be simple: blaze the Swans through the midfield, and find Greene in one-on-one situations inside the fifty.

Despite their dominance in recent memory, the Giants manhandled the Swans last season, piling on 38-points in a big win at the SCG.

The Hawks didn’t have to face Franklin in Round 23, but it’s safe to say, if you can keep Buddy quiet, the Swans aren’t quite the same team.

GWS have surprised all season long, and with such high preseason expectations, this is the kind of game the Giants can build on.

With a 3-3 record as the away underdog against the Swans, this is an upset bet worth taking.

Tip: Back the Giants To Win @ $2.15

Same Game Multi: Giants To Win, Buddy Franklin to Score 2+ Goals, Under 156.5 Total Points

West Coast Eagles Vs Collingwood

Saturday 8 September, 8.10pm, Optus Stadium

The Eagles ensured a home-final berth in the final round of the season, pummeling the Brisbane Lions to give themselves a legitimate chance at hosting a preliminary final in two weeks time.

West Coast’s good news didn’t stop there – star forward Josh Kennedy looks set to return this week, gifting the Eagles their most prolific target down forward against an under-strength Collingwood back-line.

Speaking of the Pies’ defence, it’s a big week for Jeremy Howe. He’s likely manned with the tough task of not only shutting down Kennedy, but also the ever-dangerous Jack Darling – two players that combined for six goals when these two teams met back in Round 17.

A lot has changed since then, but both coaches have likely reviewed the film from the Eagles 35-point win. The Pies hardly looked up to the test back then, and that game was at the MCG, so the question now becomes, what should we expect as Nathan Buckley’s side travels to Perth?

If one thing is for sure, the Pies have plenty to worry about. Collingwood’s goal-scoring problems don’t stop at just Kennedy and Darling, there’s also Willie Rioli and Mark LeCras to worry about, while Luke Shuey commands a heavy tag in the midfield.

So can Collingwood win?

Jordan de Goey gives the Pies a chance, but it’s hard to see them having the man-power to address the Eagles long list of talent all over the park.

The Magpies are at long odds for a reason, and with an 0-3 record as the away underdog in hand, it’s tough to trust Collingwood on the road this week.

Tip: Back West Coast 1-39 @ $2.18

Same Game Multi: West Coast 1-39, Josh Kennedy to Score 3+ Goals, Over 164.5 Total Points


2017

The 2017 AFL regular season was an absolute roller-coaster ride that delivered right to its conclusion and we are set for four fascinating weeks of AFL Finals.

The action begins on Thursday when Adelaide host the GWS Giants in a qualifying final and arguably the most anticipated game of the weekend will take place on Friday night when Geelong and Richmond do battle.

Sydney and Essendon as well as Port Adelaide and West Coast will fight to keep their seasons alive on Saturday and these teams have already played a couple of thrillers this season.

All four of these games are very interesting from a betting perspective and our complete 2017 AFL Finals Week 1 tips can be found below.

Adelaide Vs GWS Giants

Thursday 7 September, 7.50pm, Adelaide Oval

Adelaide went into the AFL Finals on the back of a pair of losses, but they will still start this clash with the Greater Western Sydney Giants as clear favourites.

The Crows beat GWS in the first round of the AFL regular season and that was the start of a very consistent campaign.

Adelaide have proved particularly tough to beat in front of their home fans this season and they have won eight of their past 11 games as home favourites, while they have the same record against the line for a big profit.

Injuries have taken their toll on GWS this season and they didn’t win the minor premiership in a canter as expected, but there is still speculation that they are the one team in the top eight that is capable of going to another level.

The Giants were badly beaten by Geelong in their final regular season clash and they haven’t been particularly impressive away from home, but they have won their two games as away underdogs this season for a nice profit.

It was in qualifying final last year when the Giants were able to take a big step forward with their dominant display against the Sydney Swans and a repeat of that effort is definitely not out of the question on Thursday night.

There isn’t as much between these two teams as the current betting market suggests and the Giants are excellent value to secure a preliminary finals berth.

Back GWS Giants To Win @ $2.75

Geelong Vs Richmond

Friday 8 September, 7.50pm, MCG

This is a huge moment for the Richmond Football Club and they have the opportunity to book their first visit to the preliminary finals since 2001.

Geelong scored a fighting win over Richmond when these teams met at Simonds Stadium less than a month ago and it is the Cats that will go into this clash as favourites.

Injuries were cruel on Geelong in the second half of the season, but they still won four of their past five games and played some excellent football in the process.

Geelong have won 12 of their past 19 games as favourites for a small profit, but their record against the line when giving away a start is a very poor 6-11 and they have been a tough team to trust from a betting perspective this season.

Richmond lost only one of their last seven games of the regular season, but that loss did come at the hands of Geelong and they played some incredibly poor football in that contest.

The Tigers have been one of the best betting sides in the AFL this season and they have won five of their nine games as underdogs for a big profit, while they are an impressive 7-2 against the line when being given a start.

This is a massive opportunity for Richmond and a game that they really do need to win – the pressure on them going into a semi-final next weekend would be nothing short of enormous.

There is a lot to like about Richmond heading into this clash and I am keen to back them with the insurance of a 5.5 point start – for obvious reasons.

Back Richmond To Beat The Line (+5.5 Points)

Sydney Swans Vs Essendon

Saturday 9 September, 4.20pm, SCG

The Sydney Swans may have finished outside the top four, but they are still on the second line of AFL Premiership betting markets and are dominant favourites to account for Essendon this weekend.

Sydney could hardly have been slower out of the gates in 2017, but they could hardly have been more impressive in the second half of the season and since round six the only side that they have lost to is Hawthorn.

They were a touch lucky to beat Essendon when they met in a thriller earlier in the season although there is an argument to be made that Sydney have definitely gone to another level since that clash.

The Swans have won only eight of their past 13 games as home favourites for a clear loss, but they are a profitable 7-6 against the line in this scenario.

Essendon have flown under the radar somewhat in 2017, but the fact that they have made the finals after a bulk of their list missed the entire season in 2016 is a testament to the mental strength of the football club.

The Bombers generally did struggle against the very best sides in the competition, but as mentioned earlier they did push Sydney when they met earlier this season.

Essendon have won only two of their past seven games as away underdogs, but they are 4-3 against the line in this scenario and the line of 32.5 points does seem excessive.

This clash will be closer than the market suggests and I am keen on Essendon to cover the line with a very healthy start.

Back Essendon To Beat The Line (+32.5 Points)

Port Adelaide Vs West Coast Eagles

Saturday 9 September, 7.50pm, Adelaide Oval

The rivalry between Port Adelaide and the West Coast Eagles is one of the most unusual in the AFL and this is a fascinating contest from a betting perspective.

The away side has won the past five games played between these two sides, but it is still Port Adelaide that will go into this clash as favourites.

Port Adelaide went into the finals on the back of three straight wins and they did beat West Coast comfortably when they met a couple of months ago.

The big query over the Power this season has been their record against the best sides in the AFL, but they have still been a profitable side from a betting perspective.

They have won eight of their past 10 games as home favourites and they are 6-4 against the line in this scenario – although one of those defeats did come at the hands of West Coast.

It is something of a miracle that the West Coast Eagles have even made the finals and they will have taken plenty of confidence from their thrilling final round win over the Adelaide Crows.

Winning away from home has not been as much of an issue as it generally is for West Coast this season and they have won two of their five games as away underdogs for a big profit.

Port Adelaide will start this clash as clear favourites, but if West Coast bring their best football to the Adelaide Oval they will be right in this contest and they are defintely the value at their current odds.

Back West Coast Eagles To Win @ $2.85


2016

After a weeks break since the end of the season, the AFL Finals finally get underway this weekend.

The AFL Finals first included eight teams for the first time in 1994 and they used the controversial McIntyre System from then until 1999 before the current system came into place in 2000.

Finishing in the top four is vital in the AFL as no team has made the Grand Final from outside the top four since this finals system was introduced and only five of the 32 losing qualifying finalists failed to win their semi-final a week later.

West Coast Eagles Vs Western Bulldogs

Thursday 8 September, 8.10pm, Domain Stadium

West Coast Eagles 52  - Western Bulldogs 99

The West Coast Eagles earnt a home final with their final round victory over the Adelaide Crows and they will go into this clash as clear favourites.

Many AFL experts were quick to write off West Coast in the second half of the season, but they have lost just one of their past eight games and go into the finals on the back of three straight wins over Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn and Adelaide.

Earning a home final was huge for West Coast as they have won 11 of their past 12 games as home favourites and are 9-3 against the line in this situation.

The Western Bulldogs finished the AFL regular season with a loss at the hands of Fremantle and they face another very tricky assignment in Perth.

The Bulldogs lost another player to injury in the form of Tom Boyd and they have really down remarkably well to make it this far into the season with the injury toll they have had to cop with.

West Coast look extremely well-placed to make it to the second week of the AFL Finals and they are a good bet to beat the line of 26.5 points comfortably.

Back West Coast Eagles To Beat The Line (-26.5 Points)

Geelong Vs Hawthorn

Friday 9 September, 7.50pm, MCG

Geelong 85  - Hawthorn 83

This is a genuine Friday Night Blockbuster and one of the most anticipated games of the 2016 AFL season to date.

Geelong warmed up for the finals with a dominant performance against Melbourne and they are another outfit that will head into the finals on the back of a winning streak.

The Cats don’t have the advantage of a home semi-final, but they will still go into this clash as favourites after they beat Hawthorn earlier this season.

Geelong had an excellent record as home favourites this season, but they have generally under-performed away from their home stadium and are just 3-7 against the line as favourites not at Simonds Stadium this season.

There were plenty of nervous moments, but Hawthorn secured a place in the top four with a narrow victory over Collingwood.

There have been a number of warning sides for Hawthorn at the tail end of the regular season, but they have proven time and time again that they have gear they can go to when it really matters.

They find themselves in the unusual position of being underdogs this weekend and this should not be a problem – they are 2-1 as underdogs this season for a tidy little profit.

This will be a very hotly contested clash, but I can’t get Geelong as short as their current quote – they rely too much on Patrick Dangerfield – and Hawthorn are a great bet at their price.

Back Hawthorn To Win @ $2.30

Sydney Swans Vs GWS Giants

Saturday 10 September, 3.20pm, ANZ Stadium

Sydney Swans 55  - GWS Giants 91

This is one of the biggest games in the history of Australian Rules Football in New South Wales.

Sydney secured the minor premiership with a dominant victory over Richmond, but they face a much tougher task in the first week of the AFL Finals against their cross-town rivals.

Greater Western Sydney recorded a comfortable victory over Sydney in their second meeting of the season, but it is Sydney that will go into this clash as clear favourites.

Sydney have won 15 of their 21 games as favourites this season for a narrow loss, while they are 12-9 against the line in this scenario.

This is the first game that the Swans have played at ANZ Stadium this season, but they have won 12 out of their past 19 games at the venue.

This is a massive moment for Greater Western Sydney and how this young list handle their first ever finals clash will be extremely interesting.

Greater Western Sydney have only started two games as away underdogs this season and they lost them both, but they have an overall record as underdogs this season of 3-2.

The Giants are yet to win a game at ANZ Stadium, but it is fair to say that they are a much stronger side than when they used to play semi-regular fixtures at the venue.

This will be a fascinating clash and extremely interesting from a football standpoint, but the market looks to have got the head-to-head market just about right.

The betting market that I am keen to play in this fixture is the total points betting market.

The under is 23-16 in the past 39 games played at ANZ Stadium and it is a venue that is not conducive to high-scoring matches.

Back The Under

Adelaide Crows Vs North Melbourne

Saturday 10 September, 7.40pm, Adelaide Oval

Adelaide Crows 141  - North Melbourne 79

The Adelaide Crows missed out on a golden opportunity to finish in the top four, but they will still go into this clash as clear favourites.

Adelaide could have secured a top two finish with a win over West Coast and they instead produced one of their most disappointing performances of the season.

The Crows will still go into this clash as clear favourites and they are expected to qualify for the second week of the finals, but don’t offer a great deal of value at their current quote.

Adelaide are 6-2 as home favourites this season for a loss and they finished the regular season with a record of 4-4 against the line in this scenario.

North Melbourne head into the finals on the back of a four game losing streak and they are now out to $101 in AFL Premiership betting markets.

Off-field dramas surrounding the future of Brent Harvey and three other club stalwarts dominated talk surrounding North Melbourne last week and the fact that they have won just two of their past eight games was swept under the rug.

North Melbourne have won just two of their seven games as away underdogs this season and their record against the line is not much better.

Adelaide should win this clash comfortably, but there is no value at their current quote and I am happy to stay out of this clash from a betting perspective.

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