Week 1 of the 2020 AFL Finals are now upon us and there are some juicy matchups on the cards. There are four matches set to play out across Thursday-Saturday night and all four loom as must-see TV. We’ll be bringing you our best AFL tips for each match of the 2020 AFL Finals, with thanks to the team at Total Sports Picks.
Port Adelaide Power vs Geelong Cats
Thursday 7:40pm, Adelaide Oval
The first of the two qualifying finals will see top-of-the-ladder Port Adelaide host Geelong at the Adelaide Oval. A win for the Power would see them make their first preliminary final since 2014, while a win for the Cats would give them a chance to make amends for their preliminary final exit last season.
Port Adelaide have been the best team all season and remained on top of the ladder from the start of the season, all the way to the end. The bulk of their improvement has come from their younger guys like Butters and DBJ, but the older guys in Boak and Dixon are also having career-best seasons.
Geelong enjoyed yet another fantastic season to earn themselves a double chance in the finals. They weren’t able to finish on top like they did in 2019, but many believe they’re an improved side this campaign and have the ability to give the finals a real shake. B-graders Menegola and Guthrie made the leap to A-grade, while Dangerfield, Stewart, Hawkins and the like are also on top of their game.
These teams met in Round 12 this year in a highly anticipated match, but it ended up being all one-way traffic in favour of the Cats who have now won 15 of their last 17 matches against the Power. Geelong structure up extremely well against Port Adelaide and while the Power would’ve learned a thing or two from their crushing defeat this season, it’s hard to go past the Cats as underdogs in this one.
Prediction: Geelong +4.5 @$1.93
Brisbane Lions vs Richmond Tigers
Friday 7:50pm, Gabba
The second of the qualifying finals on this weekend features Brisbane taking on Richmond at this year’s Grand Final destination, the Gabba. The Lions will be hoping to capitalise on their top two finish and make better use of their home ground advantage this year, and the Tigers are looking to win and progress through to their fourth consecutive preliminary final.
Brisbane have handled this unprecedented season better than most, but they’ve also been heavily favoured by the draw, which will continue in this finals series. They’ve been led from the front by superstar midfielder, Lachie Neale, who has put together one of the most dominant individual seasons in recent memory.
Richmond faced adversity again this season when a whole bunch of their star players went down with injury. The depth of their playing list shone through again however, allowing them to finish top four and earn a double chance. The Tigers will still be without a couple of key players for this clash, most notably, Tom Lynch.
Brisbane’s struggles against Richmond have been well documented and for good reason. The Lions haven’t beaten the Tigers in their last 15 attempts, with their last win coming back 2009 when the likes of Simon Black and Luke Power were running rampant in the midfield. Richmond got the better of Brisbane by 41 points earlier this season and we’re expecting more of the same on Friday night.
Prediction: Richmond -3.5 @$2
St Kilda Saints vs Western Bulldogs
Saturday 4:40pm, Gabba
The first elimination final for the year will see St Kilda play Western Bulldogs at the Gabba on Saturday afternoon. The Saints are making their first finals appearance since 2011, while the Bulldogs will be hoping to repeat their historic Grand Final run from 2016 where they also finished the regular season in 7th position.
St Kilda have proven a lot of pre-season doubters wrong with a strong 2020 campaign. The list changes they made in the off-season have paid immediate dividends, with the likes of Hill, Jones, Butler, and Ryder all putting together strong seasons.
The Western Bulldogs had a similar season to their 2019 campaign, where they had to finish with a wet sail to lock up a top eight spot. They’ll be hoping for a much stronger elimination final performance this time around, and many feel they’re much better placed to win a game or two over the coming weeks.
This is probably the hardest of the four games this weekend to get a read on. The Saints crushed the Bulldogs in their match earlier this season, but that was all the way back in Round 2 and a lot has changed since then for both clubs. Further, the Bulldogs have far more finals experience compared to the Saints, so they’re much better off in that department. All things considered, we’re expecting a close game, but for the Bulldogs to have the slight edge when push comes to shove in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Western Bulldogs 1-39 @$2.05
West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies
Saturday 8:10pm, Optus Stadium
The second elimination final and the final match on this weekend will see West Coast host Collingwood at Optus Stadium. Both clubs have underperformed this year and aren’t expected to go as deep into the finals as in previous years, but this 2018 Grand Final rematch is still a mouth-watering fixture that every footy fan will be tuning into.
West Coast have had an interesting season where they’ve drifted in and out of premiership favouritism. Their form at home is better than anyone, but their inability to show up on the road has everyone questioning their legitimacy as a flag hope.
Collingwood have also had a weird season where they haven’t been able to live up to, or even get close to everyone’s expectations of them. The Magpies have never been the same since star defender, Jeremy Howe, went down with a serious injury early in the season, but they’ve still shown glimpses of being a decent finals team.
West Coast have had a clear advantage in the H2H against Collingwood in recent years, winning five of their last six meetings, two of which came in the finals, and one obviously being the 2018 Grand Final. The Eagles dominated the Magpies by 66 points in their meeting earlier this season and it’s hard to see the Magpies getting close enough to win on Saturday night.
Prediction: West Coast -13.5 @$2