The AFL’s COVID-enforced season of strangeness continue as we gear up for the first ever Monday-to-Friday Round of footy action.

Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs @ Adelaide Oval

Monday 3rd August, 19:10 (AEST)

Port AdelaideWestern Bulldogs
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
S.Mayes, T.Clurey, T.McKenzieBEaston Wood, Alex Keath, Caleb Daniel
HBH.Hartlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-JonesHBBailey Williams, Zaine Cordy, Hayden Crozier
CX.Duursma, O.Wines, K.AmonCJason Johannisen, Jack Macrae, Pat Lipinski
HFS.Powell-Pepper, T.Rockliff, C.RozeeHFToby McLean, Marcus Bontempelli, Laitham Vandermeer
FZ.Butters, C.Dixon, R.GrayFMitch Wallis, Josh Bruce, Cody Weightman
FOLP.Ladhams, D.Houston, T.BoakFOLTim English, Tom Liberatore, Josh Dunkley
I/CM.Georgiades, K.Farrell, B.Woodwock, J.WesthoffI/CBailey Smith, Ed Richards, Sam Lloyd, Roarke Smith


History:
Played 30: Port Adelaide 16 v Western Bulldogs 14

Last Meeting: AFL Round 15, 2019: Port Adelaide 5.11 (41) def by Western Bulldogs 10.6 (66)

Final Thoughts: The Power were scintillating in their demolition of the Dees in Round 9, swiftly answering critics who questioned their credentials following the loss to St Kilda. While their crosstown rivals stare down the barrel of the first winless season since 1964, Ken Hinkley’s men are sitting pretty atop the AFL ladder. And they’ll go a long way to securing an all-important top four place with a win over the Dogs; four more points will see them 10 points ahead of the Tigers in fifth. Hinkley is set to hand a debut to Boyd Woodcock, who comes in for Brad Ebert (concussion). Defender Trent McKenzie returns from a back injury, and Jarrod Lienert will make way.

For the Dogs, it’s a wholly different equation. Most pundits rate their best as finals-worthy, but consistency has dogged them all season. And they certainly can’t allow the Power to jump them early, as they did the Tigers in Round 9. Pleasingly for Dogs fans, ball magnet Josh Dunkley returns, alongside Cody Weightman and Roarke Smith.

Tip: Line: Port Adelaide -12.5 @ $1.90

Richmond v Brisbane Lions @ Metricon Stadium

Tuesday 4th August, 19:10 (AEST)

RichmondBrisbane
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Nathan Broad, Dylan Grimes, Noah BaltaBAh Chee, Andrews, Gardiner
HBDerek Eggmolesse-Smith, Nick Vlastuin, Jayden ShortHBWitherden, Payne, Answerth
CKamdyn McIntosh, Sydney Stack, Marlion PickettCRobinson, Zorko, McCluggage
HFKane Lambert, Jake Aarts, Tom LynchHFBerry, Rayner, McCarthy
FJason Castagna, Dustin Martin, Jack RiewoldtFBailey, Hipwood, Cameron
FOLIvan Soldo, Trent Cotchin, Shai BoltonFOLMcInerney, Lyons, Neale
I/CLiam Baker, Jack Higgins, Mabior Chol, Jack RossI/CSkinner, Ellis-Yolmen, Starcevich, Ballenden


History:
Played 31: Richmond 22 v Brisbane 8 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Qualifying Final, 2019: Brisbane 8.17 (65) def by Richmond 18.4 (112)

Final Thoughts: Match of the round, without doubt. And the tight head-to-head market (which has already fluctuated) suggests it will be a cracker. The Lions have won eight of their last nine games, and deservedly slot into second-favourites (behind West Coast) in Palmerbet’s premiership market. They make just one change, granting defender Jack Payne his AFL debut after deciding to rest veteran Grant Birchall with the four-day break.
Speaking of which, will a six-day layoff benefit the Tigers? Almost certainly so, and one gets the feeling the head-to-head market might be further skewed in the Lions’ favour if they were on an even keel (break-wise) with Richmond. Damien Hardwick’s side is buoyed by the return of premiership defender Nick Vlastuin (in what will be his 150th game), who comes in for Oleg Markov.

Tip: H2H: Richmond @ $1.93

Geelong v North Melbourne @ Gabba

Wednesday 5th August, 17:40 (AEST)

GeelongNorth Melbourne
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
M.Blicavs, L.Henderson, J.HenryBB.McKay, R.Tarrant, L.McDonald
HBZ.Tuohy, H.Taylor, T.StewartHBS.Atley, J.Walker, A.Bonar
CS.Menegola, M.Duncan, M.O’ConnorCJ.Macmillan, J.Simpkin, S.Higgins
HFB.Close, T.Hawkins, T.AtkinsHFC.Zurhaar, B.Brown, B.Scott
FJ.Steven, G.Miers, S.SimpsonFJ.Mahony, M.Daw, L.Hosie
FOLR.Stanley, P.Dangerfield, J.SelwoodFOLT.Goldstein, A.Hall, J.Anderson
I/CJ.Bews, Z.Guthrie, L.Fogarty, C.GuthrieI/CJ.Polec, T.Dumont, J.Pittard, W.Walker


History:
Played 164: Geelong 100 v North Melbourne 63 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 21, 2019: Geelong 9.15 (69) def North Melbourne 1.8 (14)

Final Thoughts: Despite their narrow loss to (now premiership favourites) West Coast on Saturday night, the Cats lost few admirers from the clash. In what was one of the games of the season, Chris Scott’s men only just couldn’t hold on against a fast-finishes Eagles outfit. But a win here, which they should do, would propel them back into the top four. Scott has flagged big changes, with Joel Selwood, Jack Steven and Rhys Stanley all chances of being picked.

North breathed a sigh of relief last week, snapping a six-game losing streak against the Crows. And they did it in style, prevailing by 69 points in an emotional game that saw the return of club favourite Majak Daw. The big question is whether coach Rhyce Shaw will stick to his guns and keep Ben Brown and Jared Polec – dropped from the Adelaide clash – on the outer. “We’ve got guys sitting there waiting to play, so we’ve got to make decisions on what that looks like and those two players (Brown and Polec) will certainly play a part, whether it be this game, the next game or the game after,” Shaw said.

Tip: Line: North Melbourne +15.5 @ $1.90

Adelaide v Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval

Wednesday 5th August, 20:10 (AEST)

AdelaideMelbourne
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
L.Brown, D.Talia, J.KellyBJ.Lockhart, S.May, M.Hibberd
HBR.Laird, T.Doedee, W.HamillHBC.Salem, J.Lever, N.Jones
CB.Smith, M.Crouch, P.SeedsmanCE.Langdon, C.Oliver, A.Tomlinson
HFN.McHenry, F.McAsey, T.LynchHFJ.Melksham, S.Weideman, A.Brayshaw
FE.Himmelberg, T.Walker, L.MurphyFB.Fritsch, L.Jackson, H.Bennell
FOLR.O’Brien, B.Keays, C.JonesFOLM.Gawn, C.Petracca, J.Viney
I/CD.Mackay, H.Schoenberg, D.Fogarty, L.SchollI/CJ.Harmes, A.vandenBerg, A.Neal-Bullen, T.Sparrow

 

History: Played 40: Adelaide 25 v Melbourne 15

Last Meeting: AFL Round 11, 2019: Melbourne 12.16 (88) def by Adelaide 14.6 (90)

Final Thoughts: Rather than a blockbuster, this clash might be billed as a shockbuster. Ahem. Whoever the loser, things will look dire. You could argue Melbourne has much more on the line. A loss would see them go 3-6 and, in all likelihood, their finals hopes thrown out the window. The Dees’ output in a 51-point loss to the Power in Round 9 was described by club great Garry Lyon as ‘insipid’, ‘pathetic’ and ‘shambolic’, on the back of what had been a promising few weeks. And it moved them out to $4.40 outsiders to make the AFL Finals. Four points here is simply a non-negotiable.

For the Crows, another loss would see them 0-10 and staring down the barrel of the first winless season since 1964. It’s been a baptism of fire for new coach Matthew Nicks. And having already played other struggling sides in Sydney, Fremantle and North Melbourne, this could be his best chance for a win in 2020.

Tip: Line: Melbourne -15.5 @ $1.90

Collingwood v Sydney Swans @ Gabba

Thursday 6th August 1st August, 17:40 (AEST)

CollingwoodSydney
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
J.Madgen, J.Roughead, I.QuaynorBJ.Lloyd, D.Rampe, M.Ling
HBB.Maynard, D.Moore, J.NobleHBR.Fox, A.Aliir, W.Hayward
CT.Phillips, J.Crisp, C.BrownCD.Stephens, O.Florent, H.Cunningham
HFJ.Stephenson, B.Mihocek, W.Hoskin-ElliottHFJ.Thurlow, T.McCartin, J.Rowbottom
FS.Sidebottom, B.Reid, J.ElliottFT.Papley, S.Reid, E.Taylor
FOLB.Grundy, T.Adams, A.TreloarFOLC.Sinclair, L.Parker, C.Mills
I/CJ.Daicos, B.Sier, T.Ruscoe, J.ThomasI/CL.Melican, J.Bell, J.Dawson, S.Wicks


History:
Played 227: Collingwood 142 v Sydney 84 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2019: Sydney 11.7 (73) def Collingwood 11.14 (80)

Final Thoughts: The Pies will look to dust themselves off from what was a terrible week last week. After coach Nathan Buckley breached hub rules – on the back of president Eddie McGuire previously suggesting those who did ought to be sent home – his team were upset by an inspired Fremantle side on Sunday night. Perhaps the change of scenery in Queensland will do them well. Jordan Roughead is listed on the club’s website as ‘a likely inclusion’.

The Swans were brought back down to earth on Saturday against the Saints. After a strong third quarter that kept them in the contest, they were blown away by Brett Ratten’s (impressive) men. Coach John Longmire spoke about setting a ‘standard’ as a club, despite the young list they’re currently operating with.

Tip: Line: Sydney +16.5 @ $1.90

Gold Coast Suns v St Kilda @ Metricon Stadium

Thursday 6th August, 20:10 (AEST)

Gold CoastSt Kilda
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
C.Budarick, S.Collins, J.BowesBB.Paton, D.Howard, J.Carlisle
HBJ.Lukosius, C.Ballard, J.HarbrowHBN.Coffield, B.Long, C.Wilkie
CL.Weller, H.Greenwood, B.EllisCJ.Billings, Z.Jones, B.Hill
HFN.Holman, S.Day, A.SextonHFD.Kent, T.Membrey, D.Butler
FI.Rankine, B.King, B.AinsworthFJ.Battle, M.King, J.Gresham
FOLJ.Witts, D.Swallow, T.MillerFOLP.Ryder, J.Steele, H.Clark
I/C (from)N.Anderson, S.Lemmens, W.Powell, J.SharpI/C (from)J.Geary, R.Marshall, N.Hind, J.Sinclair

 

History: Played 13: Gold Coast 4 v St Kilda 9

Last Meeting: AFL Round 13, 2019: Gold Coast 11.10 (76) def by St Kilda 11.14 (80)

Final Thoughts: Despite some strong early-season form, which saw them into $2.10 finals hopes, the Suns have since lost four of their last five. The dip in results has seen them now out to $4.50. They need a spark, and could it come in the form of Izak Rankine? The young star is still Palmerbet’s Rising Star favourite $2.35), but has bagged just one major in the last fortnight.

The Saints, on the other hand, are flying. Three wins in a row has seen them into strong finals hopes and even into $19 premiership chances, in from $51. Their run-and-carry game was in full flight against the Swans and, pleasingly for Brett Ratten, Brad Hill has appeared to find touch again. They start as deserved favourites.

Tip: Any time goalscorer: Brad Hill (StK) @ $2.20

Essendon v GWS Giants @ Metricon Stadium

Friday 7th August, 19:50 (AEST)

EssendonGWS
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
A.Francis, M.Hurley, B.Zerk-ThatcherBH.Shaw, P.Davis, A.Corr
HBJ.Ridley, C.McKenna, A.SaadHBN.Haynes, L.Keeffe, Z.Williams
CT.Cutler, D.Parish, M.GuelfiCL.Whitfield, S.Coniglio, H.Perryman
HFW.Snelling, J.Townsend, D.ZaharakisHFJ.Kelly, H.Himmelberg, B.Daniels
FA.McDonald-Tipungwuti, S.McKernan, K.LangfordFJ.Finlayson, J.Cameron, C.Ward
FOLS.Draper, Z.Merrett, A.McGrathFOLS.Mumford, T.Taranto, J.Hopper
I/C (from)J.Stewart, M.Redman, D.Smith, D.ShielI/C (from)J.Caldwell, L.Ash, Z.Langdon, X.O’Halloran


History:
Played 10: Essendon 6 v GWS 4

Last Meeting: AFL Round 15, 2019: Essendon 12.5 (77) def GWS 10.11 (71)

Final Thoughts: When do we declare that the Bombers’ form is worrying? One win in their last three games – in which they scraped by against cellar-dwellers Adelaide – and a thumping at the hands of Brisbane on Friday night suggests it might be now. Quite simply they’re struggling to kick goals, something that was laid bare last week when they managed a paltry three majors. With Jake Stringer, Jayden Laverne and Joe Daniher out, John Worsfold and Ben Rutten need a solution. And fast.

The Giants have been professional, without setting the world on fire, in recent back-to-back wins. But Sunday’s win over the Suns came at a significant cost, with star Toby Greene and tagger Matt de Boer set for a stint on the sidelines. Nevertheless, they should have enough firepower to get over the Dons.

Tip: To get 20+ disposals: Darcy Parish (Ess) @ $2.20