The bye rounds are complete and all roads lead to the finals across the coming months with some key games in Round 15 this weekend.
GWS Giants and Essendon Bombers kick things off on Thursday night and leaders Geelong Cats host Adelaide Crows in Friday night footy.
We take a look at all nine games:
GWS Giants v Essendon Bombers
This is a must win game for Essendon in their bid to make the finals in season 2019. The Bombers are precariously placed in 10th spot on the ladder with six wins from their 13 games and another loss will make it tough. John Worsfold’s side come off a 35 point loss to West Coast in Round 14, a margin that should have been more were it not for the Eagles inaccuracy in front of goal. Their opponents for Thursday’s game, GWS, enjoyed the bye last weekend. Prior to the break, the Giants accounted for North Melbourne by 23 points in Hobart. GWS will be too good in this game and can continue their charge towards the finals.
Prediction: Giants -11.5 ($1.87 TopBetta)
Geelong Cats v Adelaide Crows
Geelong suffered their second loss of the season in Round 14 when beaten by Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. In a low-scoring contest, the Cats were beaten by 11 points, but the margin could have been greater. The Cats are one game clear on top of the ladder with an 11-2 record. Adelaide are fifth with an 8-5 record and they have won their last three matches. The latest was a 101-68 victory over Richmond. Geelong should bounce back at home to remain one game clear on top of the AFL ladder.
Prediction: Cats by 1-39 ($2.00 TopBetta)
Hawthorn v West Coast Eagles
The two sides have had contrasting seasons up until this point. Hawthorn’s season is in freefall after three recent losses. The Hawks have won just five of their 13 games in 2019 and are set to miss the finals for just the second time this decade. They come off a 19 point loss at the hands of Sydney in Round 14. Their opponents, West Coast, have won nine of their 13 games, including six of their past seven. Last year’s premiers defeated Essendon at Perth Stadium by 35 and that margin should have been more were it not for a wayward kicking display in front of goal. Hawthorn can surprise in this game and while their season has been disappointing, the average margin in their losses has been just 15 points. They will be more than competitive back at the MCG and the absence of McGovern is a big plus. Take the home side with the start.
Prediction: Hawthorn +12.5 ($1.80 TopBetta)
Sydney Swans v Gold Coast Suns
Sydney should be hard to beat at their home ground of the SCG and after a slow start to the year, the Swans have won four of their past six. They defeated the premiership contenders, West Coast, by 45 points at the venue two rounds ago and last weekend it was a 19 point victory over Hawthorn. It has been a long while in between drinks for the Gold Coast. After a promising start to the season that yielded three wins from their first four games, the Suns have since lost their past nine. Sydney will have the answers in what shapes as a bit of a dour affair at the SCG.
Prediction: Swans by 1-39 ($2.20 TopBetta)
Collingwood v North Melbourne
Collingwood sit second on the ladder with 10 wins and three losses. North Melbourne have won five and lost eight to sit 13th. The Magpies didn’t play well at all against the Western Bulldogs but still picked up a nine-point win over the 2016 premiers. They won’t want to make the same mistakes against the Kangaroos because it will result in a loss for the Pies. North Melbourne come off a bye; they lost to the GWS Giants in Round 13. Collingwood have blown out North Melbourne in their past two encounters but this one should be closer.
Prediction: Collingwood by 1-39 ($2.02 TopBetta)
Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs
Port Adelaide are seventh on the ladder with seven wins and six losses. They come off an 11-point win over Geelong. The Western Bulldogs are 15th with a record of 5-8. They probably should have beaten Collingwood but couldn’t capitalise as they lost by nine points. The Power have the wood on the Dogs in their last three matches with a pair of dominant victories. They have mixed their form during the season but last week was a positive sign as they shut down the best team in the competition. A repeat performance this week should see the Power comfortably beat the Dogs.
Prediction: Port Adelaide -20.5 ($1.95 TopBetta)
St Kilda v Richmond Tigers
Both sides are in the mix for a finals spot but it is Richmond that are set to head in as strong favourites for the Sunday clash, despite their recent form that has seen them drop their past three by an average margin of 45 points. Those losses came against North Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide but the Tigers have won seven of their 13 games over the course of the year and are set to welcome back some key players from injury. They had the bye in Round 14. On the same weekend, a disappointing St Kilda outfit were rolled by 56 points by Brisbane. St Kilda are not without a chance in this game and represent value with the 24.5 point line that has been set.
Prediction: St Kilda +21.5 ($1.80 TopBetta)
Brisbane Lions v Melbourne Demons
Brisbane head into this full of confidence after their dominant 56 point win in Round 14 against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium. The Lions have now won eight of their 13 games this year and are within striking distance of their first finals campaign since 2009. Melbourne also registered a victory in Round 14, defeating an injury hit Fremantle outfit by 14 points. That snapped a four game losing streak for the side that many predicted would be one of the contenders this year. Melbourne have won the past four against Brisbane, but the Lions have won five of six at the GABBA this season and should be too good.
Prediction: Lions -12.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)
Fremantle Dockers v Carlton
Fremantle head in favourites for this encounter and will be out to notch up a much needed win to keep the likes of Richmond at bay. The Dockers just sit inside the eight with seven wins from their 13 games and are holding onto their spot due to a slightly superior percentage. Last weekend, they went down by 14 points to Melbourne after struggling with injuries to key players during that game. Their opponents, Carlton, come off the bye and were narrow losers to the Western Bulldogs prior to the break. The Dockers have won four of their five games against interstate opposition at Perth Stadium this season. Carlton have lost their past five interstate games, and this one should follow similarly.
Prediction: Dockers -21.5 ($1.85 TopBetta)