The first week of the 2019 AFL Finals is in the books and we are left with two mouth-watering clashes this weekend.
The action begins on Friday night when Geelong take on the West Coast Eagles, who are the early favourites in betting, while the Brisbane Lions host the GWS Giants at The Gabba.
We have analysed both games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2019 AFL Semi-Finals tips can be found below.
West Coast Eagles
Friday 13 September, 7.50pm, MCG
Week 2 of the finals gets underway with a rematch from Round 6 between the Cats and the Eagles, only this time, things should turn out close.
Geelong got the better of West Coast by 58-points at GMHBA Stadium thanks to a four-goal bag from Gary Rohan. If you caught a glimpse of the Cats last week though, a similar performance on Friday is far from a given.
Despite what the scoreboard might suggest, the Cats failed to turn up for the contest against Collingwood. Not for the first time this season, Geelong struggled to move the ball forward against the Pies’ defensive zone, which spells plenty of concern on the road this week in Perth.
After a disastrous loss to Hawthorn in Round 23, the Eagles bounced back last week to thump Essendon by 55-points. The inclusion of Nic Naitanui proved the difference, with both Jamie Cripps and Josh Kennedy combining for eight goals.
Geelong holds home-field advantage this week, although the Cats still find themselves as underdogs in the Ladbrokes market. The Eagles have also won three of their last five meetings against Geelong, as well as two of their three matches at the MCG this season.
Much of this game will boil down to who can control the inside 50 battle. Geelong and West Coast rank top two in goals scored this year, but both have struggled to get the ball forward in recent weeks.
With all that in mind, the reigning premiers are one of the most dangerous sides when it comes to scoring points in a hurry. And with a valuable price on offer, it’s worth backing West Coast outright.
Tip: Back West Coast to Win @ $1.80
Saturday 14 September, 7.25pm, Gabba
Not for the first time this season, the Lions failed to turn up in front of a big crowd at the Gabba last Saturday night.
A fiery first quarter against Richmond gave many Brisbane fans hope, but the Lions failed to respond to the Tigers’ forward pressure going on to lose by 47-points.
GWS find themselves right where they were last year with a Semi-Finals berth on the road. The Giants won’t hold fond memories of their 10-point loss to Collingwood last year, but after a massive win over the Bulldogs last week, GWS should be full of confidence.
A trip to the Gabba is tough for any visitor, although it’s worth noting the Giants have held Brisbane’s number in recent years. GWS has won their last four trips to the Gabba dating back to 2013, but as their 2-4 record as the away underdog suggests, it’s difficult to back the Giants outright.
Brisbane did a lot wrong and a lot right last week. Charlie Cameron’s quiet game doomed the Lions in the second half, but the good news is the little speedster booted two goals when these sides met back in Round 16.
The Lions also played with tremendous pressure in the first half as their quick brand of footy caused a few problems for Richmond early.
There should be no shortage of goals in this game, but the Lions are the play in a close one.
Tip: Back the Lions 1-39 @ $2.15
The MCG will play host to a pair of absolute blockbusters this weekend!
The crowd will be split when Hawthorn take on Melbourne on Friday night, while there will be a sea of black and white at the venue on Saturday when Collingwood host Greater Western Sydney.
We have closely analysed both games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2018 AFL Semi-Finals tips can be found below!
Friday 14 September, 7.50pm, MCG
A week ago we knew what we were getting with the Hawks, while the Demons remained one big mystery.
One 31-point defeat to the Tigers, and of course, a first finals win in 12-years later, and suddenly the roles are reversed.
Underestimating Hawthorn is never clever, especially when Alastair Clarkson’s team have their backs against the wall, but last week’s miserable defeat to Richmond highlighted just how many problems lay within this side.
After a dazzling first quarter that put the reigning premiers under the pump, Hawthorn’s woes in front of goal cost them in the end.
Luke Breust, Shaun Burgoyne, Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston – all four of the Hawks’ veteran playmakers – failed to show up.
By half time, it was painfully clear Clarkson’s side lacked speed and their usual championship poise.
As for the Demons, it was quite the opposite.
If the Tigers were watching, they had to be intrigued by Melbourne’s fast start, one that rattled a hardened premiership side like the Cats.
The midfield pressure was immense, Max Gawn was phenomenal in the ruck, and the era of Sam Weideman officially began.
So with all that in mind, where does that leave us ahead of Friday’s Semi Final?
In case you’ve forgotten, the Hawks have had the upper-hand during this contest in recent years.
Melbourne haven’t defeated Hawthorn since 2016, while Round 4’s 67-point defeat earlier this year marked the demise of the Demons finals’ hopes.
To make things even more intriguing, this battle is really going to come down to the clearances.
Gawn has played like a potential Brownlow Medal winner this year, but Ben McEvoy is one of the best in the business when it comes to the ruck.
It’s also likely both of these sides play a similar brand of footy this week.
Melbourne were all about pressure last week, but the Demons will know the Hawks can match them in that department and vice versa, so expect plenty of unsocial, kick-to-kick footy.
Still, this Demons run just feels special, and momentum is a big deal in the finals.
It might have 2016 Bulldogs written all over it, and with Melbourne owning a 6-1 record as the “away” favourite this year, you have to like their chances.
It’s also worth remembering the Hawks only led by eight points at half-time during Round 4, showcasing just how evenly matched these two sides are.
The Demons will need to be careful in the third quarter after last week’s one-goal fall-away, a period Hawthorn normally dominate.
Unfortunately for the Top 4 Hawks though, it looks like another straight-sets exit from the finals unless Breust and Gunston can provide some spark.
Tip: Back Melbourne 1-39 @ $2.06
Same Game Multi: Melbourne 1-39, Tom Mitchell 30+ Disposals, Half-Time/Full-Time: Hawthorn/Melbourne
Saturday 15 September, 7.25pm, MCG
Are GWS the real deal… again?
Phil Davis was the story last weekend during the Giants resounding 49-point win over the Swans.
The 28-year old superstar locked down Buddy Franklin during the whole game, keeping the All-Australian scoreless.
It’ll take a similar effort against Jordan de Goey and the Pies this week, but even with a trip to the MCG ahead, the Giants look like they’re up to the task.
Speaking of up to the task, despite last week’s narrow loss to West Coast, Collingwood still have plenty to feel positive about.
They consistently matched West Coast’s pressure and momentum throughout, and it appears the addition of Adam Treloar back into the side has worked wonders for the Pies.
Heading back to the G’, Collingwood will know a trip to Melbourne is a tall order for a young team like the Giants, but don’t for one second expect Nathan Buckley’s side to take this game lightly.
The Giants won eight of their interstate matches last season, including their trip to the G’ to face the Pies in Round 2. A
fter such bitter disappointment against the Tigers during the Prelim last year, the Giants will also hope to make amends.
Collingwood are as dangerous as anyone when they get going, especially with a home crowd behind them.
There’s been plenty of talk about the short turn-around, but if the Pies can shut down Toby Greene and apply some real pressure in the midfield, they’ll go a long way toward’s winning this.
As for GWS, they’ll rest easy knowing they’ve had Collingwood’s number recently.
The Giants have won the last two games between these clubs, although their 2-6 record as the away underdog in the last 12 months isn’t quite so convincing.
For the most part, much of this game will come down to the midfield, an area Collingwood have dominated in all season.
Steele Sidebottom has been in exceptional form, even racking up 27-disposals during last week’s losing effort.
If the Pies can continue to play like the top disposal club of the competition, this shouldn’t be a comfortable win, but at least a close one.
Tip: Back Collingwood 1-39 @ $2.10
Same Game Multi: Collingwood 1-39, Steele Sidebottom 29 or More Disposals, Over 23.5 Goals
There are no second chances in the AFL Finals anymore and every game from this point forward is sudden death.
Sydney may have finished outside the top four, but they still look like genuine premiership contenders and they are clear favourites to account for a Geelong side that were left shell-shocked by Richmond last Friday night.
The West Coast Eagles beat Port Adelaide with an after-the-siren goal in an extra-time thriller, but they face another difficult road trip against Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium.
We have closely analysed both games set to take place this weekend and our 2017 AFL Semi-Finals tips can be found below!
Friday 15 September, 7.50pm, MCG
Geelong finished in the top four, but the market is confident they will go out in straight sets and Sydney will start this clash as dominant favourites.
Sydney remain the x-factor in the 2017 AFL Finals and they tuned up for this test with a very comfortable victory over Essendon last Saturday afternoon.
Hawthorn remain the only team to have beaten Sydney since they lost to Carlton in round six and they have won five of their past six games against Geelong, which included a comfortable win in round 20 of the regular season.
Sydney have won five of their past seven games as away favourites for a clear profit and they have covered the line in each of those victories.
Geelong walked into a Richmond onslaught last Friday night and they were completely decimated in the final quarter.
The Cats simply did not handle the defensive pressure of Richmond and if it were not for some magic from Patrick Dangerfield they probably would have found themselves out of the contest sooner.
Joel Selwood may have been on the field on Friday night, but it is clear that he is not anywhere near peak fitness and he needs to fire if Geelong are any chance against Sydney this weekend.
Geelong have won four of their games as home underdogs this season for a serious profit, but their poor recent record against Sydney is a genuine concern.
Sydney are the team with all of the momentum heading into this clash and they can set-up a preliminary final clash with Adelaide, while covering the line in the process.
Back Sydney To Beat The Line (-17.5 Points)
West Coast Eagles
Saturday 16 September, 7.25pm, Spotless Stadium
Greater Western Sydney produced a lacklustre effort against Adelaide last Friday night, but they will still go into this clash with the West Coast Eagles as clear favourites.
The Giants were incredibly slow out of the blocks against Adelaide and they lacked the intensity that you would like to see from a team that is still considered a premiership contender.
They simply had no answers for the Crows and they will need to improve on that effort to be any chance of beating West Coast on Saturday night.
GWS beat West Coast in their two meetings this season and they are 9-1-1 as home favourites, but they are a very poor 3-8 against the line in this scenario.
West Coast showed plenty of character to score their thrilling victory over Port Adelaide and they really go into this clash with nothing to lose.
Coach Adam Simpson has a big selection decision on his hands and he may be forced to bring in some fresh legs to bolster a side that did a great deal of running over basically five quarters in Adelaide.
West Coast’s form interstate this season has actually been fairly good and they have won three of their six games as away underdogs, while they are 4-2 against the line in this scenario.
Greater Western Sydney are no certainties to book themselves a preliminary final clash and West Coast have a genuine chance of recording yet another upset win.
Back West Coast To Beat The Line (+16.5 Points)
This is the second week of the AFL Finals and there are only six teams that remain in contention for the 2016 Premiership.
Hawthorn lost to Geelong in an absolute thriller in week 1 of the finals, but they can still keep alive their hopes of a fourth straight premiership with a victory over a brave Western Bulldogs.
Sydney will have the home ground advantage against Adelaide, but still face stiff competition against one of the most exciting outfits in the competition.
There are a wide range of betting markets available in each of these games and you can find our best betting plays below.
Friday 16 September, 7.25pm, MCG
Hawthorn 84 - Western Bulldogs 107
Hawthorn now have to do it the hard way to keep alive their hopes of winning a fourth straight AFL Premiership.
They may not have been able to get the job done against Geelong – with Isaac Smith missing a kick to win it after the siren – but there were still plenty of positives to take from that performance and they will start this clash with the Western Bulldogs as clear favourites.
It is no secret that it has been an eternity since Hawthorn lost back-to-back games and they have been absolutely dominant against the Western Bulldogs in recent seasons.
Hawthorn have lost only four of their past 22 games as favourites, with their record particularly strong at the MCG, and there is plenty to suggest that they will be able to progress to the penultimate round of the season.
From a betting perspective, Hawthorn have struggled against the line somewhat this season – they are just 3-8 against the line as home favourites in the past 12 months.
The majority of AFL experts – myself included – were quick to write off the Bulldogs as they made the trip west for a clash with the Eagles, but they got the job done in extremely impressive fashion.
The character that the Bulldogs have shown this season has been immense and they will need to find another huge effort to keep alive their hopes of a breakthrough premiership.
While the Bulldogs have struggled against Hawthorn in recent seasons, their record as underdogs this season has been excellent from a betting standpoint and they have won four of their past nine games in this scenario for a tidy profit.
Their record against the line in this situation is only slightly better and the line has currently been set at 13.5 points.
It pains me to write off the Western Bulldogs again, but I don’t think that they are capable of beating this Hawthorn side in such an important game and the Hawks should progress to yet another preliminary final.
Back Hawthorn To Beat The Line (-13.5 Points)
Saturday 17 September, 7.50pm, SCG
Sydney Swans 118 - Adelaide 82
This game is set to be an absolute ripper.
The Sydney Swans were stunned by their cross-town rivals in the opening weekend of the AFL, but they still still start this game as favourites.
It is tough to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for Sydney against the Giants – poor kicking did not help – and they face an entirely different challenge against the enterprising Crows.
Sydney have won nine of their past 13 games as home favourites for a narrow loss, but they have been excellent against the line in this scenario and when they win they generally win well.
It came as no shock that Adelaide were able to record a convincing victory over North Melbourne, but it was the manner of the victory that was particularly impressive.
Adelaide have now made a habit of raking up some extremely big scores against the best teams in the competition and they did just that when they beat the Swans earlier this season.
The Crows have won only two of their six games as away underdogs this season, but they have been a profitable betting play against the line in this scenario.
Like Hawthorn, Sydney are another team that very rarely lose back-to-back games and I am confident that they will be able to bounce back and set-up a preliminary final clash with Geelong.
Back Sydney To Beat The Line (-12.5 Points)