Round 18 AFL Preview

Friday
Adelaide vs Essendon @ Adelaide Oval - 19:50

In the first game of Round 18, the Adelaide Crows come up against an Essendon team that has won four of its last five matches, including it's last three in a row. After their dismal showing a couple of weeks ago, the Crows hit back hard in their match against the Suns, but the way Gold Coast has been playing I don't know how much that means when assessing Adelaide's form in the lead-up to this match. The Bombers will be hoping that Dyson Heppell will be over his foot injury, but in a big blow, defender Michael Hurley looks unlikely to play again this season after suffering a shoulder injury last week. With the Crow's team being settled after last weekend's big win over the Suns, I wonder how Bryce Gibbs is feeling after leaving the Blues to play at Adelaide only to find himself in their reserves team?
Adelaide by 14

Saturday
Richmond vs Port Adelaide @ The MCG - 13:45

At the MCG this Saturday the Richmond Tigers will be looking to get their win streak out to four matches when they come up against the Port Adelaide Power. On the injury front it is looking like the Power's Brad Ebert (knee) and Ryan Burton (hamstring) will both miss this match, while Ollie Wines is also a chance to not make the trip across to Victoria, due to a fractured thumb. For the first time in a while, the Tigers look to have players coming back from injury, instead of going out through injury. As they got through last round's match unscathed, the Tigers will probably bring Josh Caddy back into the side, after he was their VFL team's best last Sunday. In only their second visit to the MCG for the year, the Power will have their work cut out for them coming up against the MCG specialist Tigers, who appear to be coming into some good form at the right time of the year.
Richmond by 20

Carlton vs Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium - 14:10

Under the roof of Marvel Stadium on Saturday, the Carlton Blues come up against a floundering Gold Coast Suns who, while the season is done and dusted for them, will be out to salvage some self-respect from their remaining matches. While Carlton is also down the bottom end of the ladder, they have achieved three of their four wins over the past five matches, showing a marked improvement on the previous twelve matches they played. For the Suns, they should treat this game as a "this is how we want to play in 2020" match, whatever that may look like. Carlton will be hoping to welcome back talented young key-back, Jacob Weitering this weekend, while I am sure the Sun's coaching staff wish they could hand in all their cards and draw again from the deck.
Carlton by 31

GWS Giants vs Collingwood @ Sydney Showgrounds - 16:35

On Saturday afternoon the GWS Giants come up against the Collingwood Magpies in a match where they will be looking to rectify some areas that were exposed by the Tigers last weekend, Forward 50 entries will be one of these. While it took the most of three-quarters, the Magpies found their mojo to roll over the top of the Eagles over in Perth. While Darcy Moore is a definite out with a hamstring injury, Ben Crocker should be dropped after doing little well last round. In a big blow for the Magpies, Scott Pendlebury looks a large chance to miss this match due to a broken finger suffered in his side's great win against the Eagles. For the Giants, Shane Mumford is looking right to resume hostilities with Brodie Grundy, while Stephen Coniglio will have had knee surgery on Tuesday, so highly unlikely to play again this season, let alone Saturday.
Collingwood by 9

Brisbane vs North Melbourne @ The Gabba - 19:25

The No #3 placed Brisbane Lions will play host to the North Melbourne Kangaroos on Saturday night at The Gabba in what should be a highly entertaining match between two quality teams. While Brisbane will be waiting to see if Eric Hipwood and Hugh McCluggage come up for Saturday's match, the Kangaroos will be watching how Shaun Higgins and Mason Wood train late this week with equal interest. Unfortunately, Roo's key backman Scott Thompson has suffered a lower leg fracture and his season is over, leaving a big hole in the Roos defence that will need to be filled for them to have a chance of upsetting the streaking Lions who have won their last four matches. The last time these two teams met this year the Lions came out 20 point winners, a number I think I will stick with for this match too.
Brisbane by 20 points

Fremantle vs Sydney @ Optus Stadium - 20:10

At Optus Stadium this coming Saturday night the Fremantle Dockers will be looking to arrest their slide when they come up against the Sydney Swans. After losing against the Bombers and the Blues over the previous two rounds, I believe they have to make a change to their gameplan around the ruck and Alir Alir as it's just not working and in a big boost for the Dockers, Jesse Hogan looks set to resume again after being out with a foot sprain for a month. Hogan's inclusion will place further emphasis on needing Alir Alir in the back-half. Coming into this match the Dockers have lost their last four games, and have been looking pretty impotent up forward but back on the wide expanses of Optus Stadium they should put up a better performance against the Swans.
Fremantle by 13 points

Sunday
Geelong vs Hawthorn @ The MCG - 13:10

In our first match of Sunday, the Geelong Cats will be heading to the MCG for a home game against the Hawks. Key forward Jack Gunston looks to have recovered from some wear and tear enough to put his hand up for this important match, while Cat's fans will be waiting to see how Gary Ablett pulls up after getting a sore hip. As my nana said to me, "once the hip goes, it's time to slow things down!" Will my nana's wisdom hold true, or will Ablett make it out onto the G this weekend and run riot? In their meeting earlier this season, the Cats were able to get a 23-point win at the MCG. As both teams have some quality down back, this game will be won through the middle. With the Hawks having the superior ruck in Ben McEvoy, the Geelong midfielders are going to have to work hard to win the ball back, which they have the talent to do.
Geelong by 17

Melbourne vs West Coast @ Traeger Park - 15:20

Alice Springs will be welcoming the Melbourne Demons and West Coast Eagles this coming Sunday, as both teams battle it out in the warmth (see. Not Melbourne) at Traeger Park. Last round both teams suffered a loss, with the Eagle's the far more dramatic when they went down by a single point, to the Magpies in the final minutes of their match. Although the Demons have been playing better football over the past month, it hasn't translated into a big uptick in wins column, splitting two of their past four matches, with the wins being over the Dockers and Blues. Having dropped down to fourth place on the ladder, the Eagles will be out to rectify the unwanted change of direction and should.
West Coast by 25

St. Kilda vs Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium - 16:40

In the week that their head coach was the third AFL coach to resign in 2019, the Saints will need to get themselves motivated to play the in-form Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In their favour is the traditional 'our coach just resigned because we have been so rubbish this season' bounce, and with ex-Carlton coach, Brett Ratten, being put in charge of the Saints that 'bounce' is a real possibility, but will it be high enough to ge over the Doggies? The Bulldogs have been in solid form across the past month, with wins over the Power, Cats and Demons, and with Caleb Daniel, and Tom Liberatore a chance to be right for selection, the Bulldogs should be too tough for the Saints in this one.
Western Bulldogs by 34

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