Round 20 AFL Preview

Friday
North Melbourne vs Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium - 19:50

Marvel Stadium is the venue for Friday-night footy this weekend, as North Melbourne and Hawthorn meet in our first match of Round 20, and while it looks like it is near impossible for the Kangaroos to make the finals in 2019, the Hawks still have the ability to sneak into the lower rungs of the Top 8. While Shaun Atley and Scott Thompson will be hoping to pass fitness tests, Majac Daw's season is very much over after suffering a hamstring ("Oh no, I've done a hammy!!!) injury in the VFL. For the Hawks, Tim O'Brien is likely to come back into the side, while Jack Scrimshaw will be hoping to play his first game since Round 10, besides those two, the Hawks side is looking pretty settled as they eye being a part of the action in September.
Hawthorn by 21 points

Saturday
Essendon vs Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium - 13:45

In the second game played at Marvel Stadium within 15 hours (I hope the surface holds up better than it has in past years) the Bombers will meet the Port Adelaide Power in our first game on Saturday. While they have only really played one high-quality team, Essendon has won their last five matches in a row, including a 10-point win over the Suns last week that they left until the final two minutes to lock-in. The Power are currently sitting in tenth spot, being a game behind the Doggies and Crows, but aren't looking like a team in the hunt for finals. Even with players the quality of Boak, Ebert, Gray, Cameron and Westhoff and Rockliff the Power have been disappointing in 2019 and with this game at Marvel Stadium, the Bombers should inflict the Power's fourth consecutive loss.
Essendon by 16 points

GWS Giants vs Sydney @ Sydney Showgrounds - 14:10

At the Sydney Showgrounds this coming Saturday we will see the Giants take on cross-town rivals the Sydney Swans in a match that only has any 'real' importance to the GWS team. As the Giants are firmly entrenched in the Top 8, things will have progressed to fine-tuning for the finals, not to mention a desire to get back into the Top 4, from which they are a game adrift and reliant on the teams above them to falter and open up a spot. Without the stellar play of Dane Rampe down back, the Swans will have a VERY tough time in putting the brakes on the Giant's tall timber, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of Cameron, Finlayson or Himmelberg kick a bag.
GWS Giants by 32 points

Fremantle vs Geelong @ Optus Stadium - 16:35

In a fixture between the twelfth and first ranked teams in the AFL, we find the Dockers taking on the Geelong Cats at Optus Stadium on Saturday afternoon in Perth. Being back at home will be great for the Dockers, although the ongoing injury concerns to Lobb and Natt Fyfe will continue to reduce their ability to play at their fullest. With a list that is probably the healthiest in the AFL, at this point of the season, the Cats are able to field an oh-so-close to full-strength line-up. The Dockers are coming off a 47 point belting by the Bulldogs last week, whereas the Cats fought their way past the Swans to break out of a bit of a late-season slump where they had lost half of their past six matches.
Geelong by 27 points

Melbourne vs Richmond @ The MCG - 19:25

On Saturday night, the MCG will play host to a match between the Melbourne Demons and the Richmond Tigers. With the Demons currently sitting in second-last spot on the ladder, season 2019 can be considered nothing short of a huge disappointment for the club and its fans. Yet just up Punt Road a few kilometres, the Tigers are on a five-game winning roll as they build for the finals. Not only is this a cause for celebration the Tiger's Captain, Trent Cotchin, has just become a father to a bouncing baby boy; for Tiger fans, hopefully it is a footy he is bouncing! Being in the middle of a pretty tough run of matches, having recently come up against the Lions, Bulldogs and Eagles, the Demons now have the big task of facing the Tigers at a venue Richmond has managed to make a bit of a 'fortress' over the past few years.
Richmond by 38 points

Adelaide vs St. Kilda @ Adelaide Oval - 19:40

In our second Saturday night match of the round, we have the Adelaide Crows hosting a St Kilda team that is back to its early-season winning ways but a match at Adelaide Oval, against a Crows outfit that should be stinging from the comments aimed at them recently, will be a tough match for them. Looking at the respective form of both teams, it would be pretty easy to pick the Saints to keep their late-season winning streak alive and well, but they haven't won a single match at Adelaide Oval when playing the Crows AND the Crows have a 100% winning record against them over the past half a decade and more. The Crows just have to make a stand in this match and, hopefully, it isn't one that makes them look like Power Rangers action figures!
Adelaide by 19 points

Sunday
Collingwood vs Gold Coast @ The MCG - 13:10

At the MCG on Sunday, the Magpies will play host to the travelling Suns for our first match of the day. After their narrow loss to the Bombers last week, will the Suns come into this match with a shroud of disappointment hanging over them, or will they be heartened by a solid performance against quality opposition? For the Pies, they suffered a loss against the Tigers last week and, unfortunately, have had to plan to be without Isaac Quanor (foot) and Jordan De Goey (Hamstring) for this match. Will it be the case of losing De Goey is too much for Collingwood to be able to overcome, or can the Magpies find 'something' to get their season back on track, starting with a solid win over the bottom-placed Suns?
Collingwood by 7 points

Carlton vs West Coast @ Marvel Stadium - 15:20

The West Coast Eagles travel across the Nullabor to take on the better-performing Carlton Blues at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a match that looks much harder for the visitors that most would have thought. While Carlton isn't a team that others fear meeting in the finals, they are a team that has greatly improved under their interim coach, David Teague, that has included some quality wins of the Swans, Bulldogs and even the second-placed Lions! With the one-point loss to the Magpies as the only blemish across their last six matches, the Eagles are peaking at the right time of the year and with Shannon Hurn looking as a probable inclusion, the Eagles will only be stronger for his return. In Carlton's favour, the Eagles haven't played many games at Marvel of late...
West Coast by 17 points

Brisbane vs Western Bulldogs @ The Gabba - 16:40

In a match that has the potential to be the most entertaining one to watch this round, the Western Bulldogs head north to take on the in-form Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon. With both teams having a lot to play for; the Lions will be out to ensure they finish in the Top Four, and the Bulldogs need to win this match to keep their chance at a final's berth alive. On the 'need to win' front, the Bulldogs certainly have more reason to come out hard, but up at the Gabba, the Lion's speed and options for getting goals will be a bit too much for the Bulldogs to cover. Having said that, if the Lion forwards have an 'off' afternoon at the office, the Bulldogs have a real chance of getting past their more fancied opponent.
Brisbane by 15 points

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