North Melbourne and Hawthorn get AFL Round 20 underway on Friday night with both sides still hoping to squeeze into the finals picture.
In a congested table, both sides have not given up hope of making the eight and Round 20 shapes up as key for a host of clubs.
We preview all nine games and pick out the best bets.
North Melbourne v Hawthorn
Both sides are all but out of finals contention, and this weekend will all but signal the end for one. Hawks fans hold on to a smidgen of hope that their side can feature in September but they will need plenty of luck to go their way with a tricky draw to follow with games on the road against GWS and West Coast to come. Last weekend they went down to 2nd placed Brisbane by 27 points in Launceston. On the same day, North Melbourne were outclassed to the tune of 49 points by West Coast and they have now lost their past three. Hawthorn should have the answers in this game and can keep their remote finals hopes alive with a win.
Prediction: Hawks to win ($1.94 TopBetta)
Essendon Bombers v Port Adelaide
Essendon can all but lock in a finals spot and a victory here would make it six on the trot. Last weekend, the Bombers overcame an early deficit to eventually roll the Gold Coast Suns by 10 points and at the conclusion of Round 19 they sit in 7th spot on the ladder. Port Adelaide are amongst a host of sides that are chasing the likes of 8th placed Adelaide. The Power sit in 10th spot on the ladder, one win behind their local rivals and just missed out on securing a vital victory last weekend, going down to GWS by a solitary point. This shapes as another close one for both sides.
Prediction: Tri-Bet – Either by under 15.5 ($2.70 TopBetta)
GWS Giants v Sydney Swans
GWS head in as favourites for the Round 20 affair and have been the superior of the two sides from NSW in 2019. The expansion club have won 11 games this season and sit in 5th position on the ladder, while their neighbours, Sydney, are 15th with just the six wins. Last weekend the Giants held on to win by one point against Port Adelaide in Adelaide, while Sydney went down to the ladder leaders, Geelong, by 27 points at the SCG. GWS will notch up an important win and stay in touch with the top four in the process.
Prediction: Giants by 1-39 ($2.00 TopBetta)
Fremantle Dockers v Geelong Cats
Fremantle are all but out of the finals race after going down to the Western Bulldogs in Round 19 by 47 points and so a lot of the interest centres around how the ladder leaders, Geelong, can go. The Cats scored a 27 point win over Sydney last weekend as well as some breathing space at the top in the process. Chris Scott’s side are a game clear of West Coast and Brisbane and another victory here will see them take a step closer towards a top two finish and a home final at the end of the season. This one will go the way of the Cats.
Prediction: Cats by 1-39 ($1.90 TopBetta)
Melbourne Demons v Richmond Tigers
Melbourne have been the disappointments of 2019 and have strung together just five wins, despite being tipped as challengers heading into the current season. Last weekend, it was another fadeout when the game was up for grabs, going down to St Kilda by 19 points. They are now 17th on the ladder, just two games clear of bottom placed Gold Coast. In the same round, Richmond took another step towards finishing in the top four when they defeated Collingwood by 32 points in a performance that many described as reminiscent of some of their 2017 efforts. The Tigers have now five on the trot since the mid season bye and have jumped into premiership favouritism and they will hold all the answers here.
Prediction: Tigers by 1-39 ($2.04 TopBetta)
Adelaide Crows v St Kilda
It is now or never for the Adelaide Crows, who somehow remain in 8th position on the ladder despite a number of recent underwhelming performances. The 2017 Grand Finalists have won just one of their past five games and the pressure is mounting on their coach, Don Pyke. Last weekend, they went down by 27 points to Carlton at the MCG. On the same weekend, St Kilda continued their unbeaten time of it under their new coach, Brett Ratten, by defeating Melbourne by 19 points. It is two from two since Ratten took over from Alan Richardson. They will need to overcome a hoodoo over Adelaide, but given the more recent form of the two sides, St Kilda are well worth a crack with the start.
Prediction: Saints +19.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)
Collingwood v Gold Coast Suns
This shapes as an interesting clash given the spate of injuries that Collingwood have suffered in recent times. This, combined with Gold Coast’s competitive form in the last couple of weeks, makes it a bit of a danger game for the Magpies. Nathan Buckley’s side can ill afford another slip up and dropped out of the top four last weekend after losing to Richmond by 32 points. The Grand Finalists from 2018 have now lost four of their past five. Their opponents, the Gold Coast, have lost 14 in a row but went agonisingly close to breaking that run of outs against Essendon last weekend, leading in the last minute of the game before going down to the Bombers by 10. This will go down as another Gold Coast loss but the Suns cam make a game of it and the 1-39 point margin looks to be the play.
Prediction: Pies by 1-39 ($2.18 TopBetta)
Carlton v West Coast Eagles
West Coast are the obvious favourites but Carlton have won five of their seven games under their new coach, David Teague, and their two losses were both by under a goal. The Blues come off a 27 point win over Adelaide and now have six wins for the season. West Coast have won 13 of 18 and last weekend it was a 49 point win for the premiers over North Melbourne. This shapes as an interesting one given Carlton’s recent form and nothing seems beyond them at the minute. However, West Coast are ticking along nicely and this one might be a bridge too far for the resurgent side.
Prediction: Eagles -18.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)
Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs
This shapes as another stepping stone for the Brisbane Lions in their remarkable rise in 2019. After winning just five games last season, the Queensland based outfit have risen from the lower rungs of the ladder and are now 3rd with 13 wins under their belt. They conquered Hawthorn by 27 points in Launceston last weekend and that victory was their sixth in succession. They take on a Western Bulldogs outfit that have also displayed some solid form in recent times. The Dogs have won four of their past five and looked the goods when defeating Fremantle by 47 in Round 19. This will be closer than what most are predicting and the Bulldogs represent the value with the 18.5 point start.
Prediction: Bulldogs +18.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)