AFL round 18 preview: Collingwood to continue its top form

30 July 2010

Written by: Evan Harding

St Kilda v Essendon: Tonight- 7.40pm at Etihad Stadium

Essendon will be full of confidence after a thrilling three-point win over a depleted Kangaroos side last weekend. Captain Jobe Watson played what many considered his finest game for the club, gathering 38 hard-earned possessions in a best-on-ground performance.

St Kilda was challenged against a genuine premiership threat in Hawthorn last Friday night and were somehow able to salvage a draw after the Hawks led for the majority of the night. A huge positive was skipper Nick Riewoldt taking a couple of important contested marks and showing signs that he is returning to his best form.  

But even though Essendon does regain the services of number one ruckman and skipper David Hille, St Kilda is a much classier outfit – even if the surface does resemble an ice-skating ring – across every line and should win quite comfortably.

Best Bet: St Kilda by 40+ ($2.25)


Collingwood v Carlton: Saturday- 2.10pm at MCG

Collingwood bullied the young Tigers last week to win by 82 points and stay atop the ladder. Brownlow Medal second-favourite Dane Swan ($5) was unstoppable once again with 39 touches and Alan Didak seemed to be back to his creative best.

Carlton is still in danger of slipping out of the top eight. The Blues looked very ordinary in the first half against the Eagles but found another gear in the third quarter to boot 7.9 to 2.2 and set up a vital 26-point win. They need to string a few wins together over the remaining five rounds if they want to cement a place in the finals.

The Magpies will deservedly go into this game as firm favourites ($1.18), but this match could quickly turn into a game of mental strength more than anything else. There is a lot riding on this game for Carlton, who  will surely be up and about with the season on the line. But despite the fact that they don’t possess a lot of star players unlike a St Kilda or a Geelong team, Collingwood is the best team in the competition at the moment and their great balance and depth across every line should be on show this Saturday.

Best bet: Collingwood by 1-39 ($2.20)


Port Adelaide v Hawthorn: Saturday- 2.40pm at AAMI Stadium

The Power couldn’t have asked for a better send-off for club hero Josh Carr than with a gritty 19-point victory over archrival Adelaide last weekend. Led by skipper Domenic Cassisi, Port Adelaide broke a nine-game losing streak and seriously hindered Adelaide’s chances of making the finals.

The Hawks can blame the big interchange fiasco all they want, but the bottom line is that they had a perfect opportunity to prevail over a top-four side last Friday night and blew it. Their draw with St Kilda now leaves them a game and a half behind fifth spot and with an uphill battle to make the top four. On the positive side of things, Luke Hodge – a $4 favourite for this year’s Brownlow Medal – continues his career-best season and Lance Franklin is fit and firing.

Former Port Adelaide midfielder Shaun Burgoyne encounters his old side for the first time and will be part of a Hawk midfield group that should annihilate the Power at the stoppages. Despite the fact the match is in Adelaide, Hawthorn will be too refined for a Port Adelaide side no longer playing for much.

Best Bet: Hawthorn by 1-39 ($2.18)


Sydney v Geelong: Saturday-7.10pm at ANZ Stadium

It’s hard to find reasons why the Swans were so putrid against Melbourne last week. They had some good form behind them, an opportunity to strengthen their position in the top eight and the added motivation of Jude Bolton’s 250th game. Besides Adam Goodes, no Sydney player could walk off the MCG after their 73-point loss and claim that they had justified their spots that day.

Geelong just did what was required against Brisbane last week, running out comfortable 63-point winners at Skilled Stadium. Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett returned to form with five goals while Joel Selwood’s 41-possession performance surely earned him three Brownlow votes.

The Cats do lose Jimmy Bartel and James Podsiadly for this game but they do welcome back Shannon Byrnes and Tom Hawkins from injury. At the same venue around this time last year, Sydney gave the Cats an almighty scare with the latter team escaping with a five-point victory. However Geelong will be keen to topple Collingwood from top spot and should have more than enough inspiration to win without too many issues.

Best Bet: Geelong by 1-24 ($3.40)


Brisbane v Melbourne: Saturday- 7.10pm at ’Gabba

After four rounds Brisbane was 4-0, with Jonathan Brown and Brendan Fevola kicking 32 goals between them, and touted as premiership contenders. Now – 12 weeks later and after a horrid loss to Geelong last weekend – the Lions sit helplessly under a huge media spotlight in a paltry 14th position. Yes, they have been decimated by injuries, but their attitude has been ordinary and it’s safe to say that their 2010 has been an official waste.

Melbourne has enjoyed a more successful 2010 season and still has a very slim chance of making the finals this year. Brad Green kicked five goals as the Demons demolished a disappointing Swans outfit last Sunday at the MCG.

The Lions have certainly had the better of the Demons over the past few years and have won 11 of 16 against them at the Gabba. Brisbane will also be boosted by the inclusions of Simon Black, Ash McGrath and Xavier Clarke. This game will be close, but Melbourne has so much to play for and simply cannot let this game slip if they want to extend their season past August.

Best Bet: Melbourne by 1-24 ($3.75)


Richmond v Adelaide: Sunday- 1.10pm at MCG

A tired Richmond side has been brought back to reality over the past two weeks with big losses to North Melbourne and Collingwood after winning five of six games. However the club can safely say that it has made progress both on and off the field this year and been successful in blooding a lot of young players.

The Crows’ finals hopes hit a speed hump last week with a shock loss to an inspired Port Adelaide by 19 points. They now have a very tough run home with games against the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and St Kilda in the last four weeks and will now have to rely on other results as well as win themselves to make finals.

There is no doubt that Richmond thinks it can win this Sunday. The Tigers have played two games against interstate clubs at the MCG this year and won both of them. However you can’t ignore the fact that the young Tigers are weary and Adelaide have won four of its last five. Richmond should able to keep the margin reasonably tight, but won’t be able to stop Adelaide from staying alive in the finals race.

Best Bet: Adelaide by 1-24 ($3.50)


Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne: Sunday- 2.10pm at Etihad Stadium

Jason Akerwho? The Bulldogs’ win over Fremantle without the bearded loudmouth last week was one of the most professional and convincing victories of the season. Their run and carry, efficient disposal and tenacity at the ball was something to behold. They now sit in fourth position with a very healthy percentage and seem to be priming themselves to peak in September.

North Melbourne’s three-point loss to Essendon was mainly due to their numerous injuries to key players. In fact they were hit so hard that they had to bring in all three emergencies for three late withdrawals.

For the Kangaroos to make the finals, they have to keep winning and must do so convincingly to improve their poor percentage. But there is no doubt that the Western Bulldogs are setting themselves for a big finals campaign and they should continue their good form with an easy win on Sunday.

Best Bet: Western Bulldogs by 1-39 ($2.25)

Fremantle v West Coast: Sunday- 2.40pm at Subiaco Oval

Like the Tigers, Fremantle is starting to tire and it was particularly evident during an 82-point loss to the Western Bulldogs last weekend. The Dockers are now assured of a spot in the finals – a magnificent effort considering where they finished last year – but their injury list continues to grow and key players such as Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands are desperately in need of a rest.

West Coast looked like a decent football team during the first half against Carlton last weekend, only to be blown away in the second half by a team that had more to play for. The only man who really makes the Eagles worth watching is Mark Le Cras, who has kicked 15 goals in the last two weeks and is close to certain to make the All-Australian team.

Nothing gets the Perth football public more excited than the traditional derby. The Dockers have had the better of the Eagles in recent times winning the past six encounters. Chris Tarrant is back this weekend and should be able to hold Le Cras to a respectable haul. Therefore no Le Cras, no Eagles and Fremantle should get back on the winners list.

Best Bet: Fremantle by 1-39 ($2.20)


Ben’s Tip Tally: 86 (Last Round: 4)


Ben Waterworth is a regular contributor to upstart and a Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can read more of his work at his blog, A Short Sport Thought. This article first appeared on Sportingbet Australia’s website.