Round 17 of the 2020 AFL season sees all 18 clubs back in action. For six, finals are still on the line. Who’ll seal their spot in the Top 8?

St Kilda v West Coast Eagles @ Gabba

Thursday 10th September, 19:10 (AEST)

St Kilda West Coast
J.Geary, D.Howard, N.CoffieldBW.Schofield, T.Barrass, B.Sheppard
HBH.Clark, C.Wilkie, B.LongHBS.Hurn, J.McGovern, L.Duggan
CJ.Battle, S.Ross, J.BillingsCJ.Nelson, T.Kelly, J.Waterman
HFJ.Lonie, R.Marshall, B.HillHFJ.Brander, J.Darling, J.Petruccelle
FM.King, T.Membrey, D.ButlerFO.Allen, J.Kennedy, L.Ryan
FOLP.Ryder, J.Steele, Z.JonesFOLN.Naitanui, B.Ainsworth, A.Gaff
I/CB.Paton, J.Sinclair, D.Kent, N.HindI/CH.Brayshaw, X.O’Neill, T.Cole, J.Rotham

Played 49: St Kilda 18 v West Coast 30 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2019: St Kilda 10.10 (70) def by West Coast 12.16 (88)

Final Thoughts: After a period of mid-season dominance in which they snatched the premiership favourites tag, the Eagles have plateaued in recent weeks. Two losses in their last three and a raft of injuries has seen them now out to $10 chances for the flag. In fact, just a matter of weeks ago Adam Simpson’s side were $1.20 chances to finished inside the Top 4, but now they’re out to $2.50 with Palmerbet. They need a win here to remain any hope of securing the double-chance. But they’ll have to do so without Mark Hutchings (hamstring), Lewis Jetta (calf), Dom Sheed (hamstring), Brendon Ah Chee (finger) and Jack Redden (thumb) who have all joined the injury list.

The Saints’ win over Hawthorn all but secures their first finals appearance in nine years. But they’re still mathematical chances (that magic phrase at this time of the season) of missing out. A win would of course snuff that out and even make them outside hopes of a Top 4 spot.

Tip: Total Points: Under 112.5 @ $1.88

Geelong v Richmond @ Metricon Stadium

Friday 11th September, 19:50 (AEST)

J.Kolodjashnij, L.Henderson, H.TaylorBB.Houli, D.Grimes, N.Balta
HBJ.Henry, M.Blicavs T.StewartHBJ.Short, N.Vlastuin, O.Markov
CZ.Tuohy, P.Dangerfield, S.MenegolaCK.McIntosh, J.Graham, M.Pickett
HFL.Dahlhaus, G.Rohan, T.AtkinsHFJ.Aarts, K.Lambert, T.Lynch
FJ.Bews, T.Hawkins, G.MiersFJ.Riewoldt, D.Martin, J.Castagna
FOLE.Ratugolea, C.Guthrie, B.ParfittFOLI.Soldo, S.Bolton, T.Cotchin
I/CM.O’Connor, M.Duncan, L.Fogarty, B.CloseI/CL.Baker, T.Nankervis, D.Rioli, J.Ross

Played 196: Geelong 104 v Richmond 89 (3 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Preliminary Final, 2019: Richmond 12.13 (85) def Geelong 9.12 (66)

Final Thoughts: An absolute blockbuster between the two AFL premiership favourites. The Cats are the in-form side of the competition, winning their last six in a row. A thumping win over the Dons on Sunday has taken them into $3.90 premiership favourites with Palmerbet. Chris Scott expects to regain Zach Tuohy, Rhys Stanley and Joel Selwood for this clash.

While things might be going swimmingly at Geelong, it’s not so smooth sailing at Richmond. Their on-field form is fine, as they remain second-favourites (at $4.20) for the flag. But yet again, an off-field incident has soured their season, this time involving a second and more serious hub breach. It’s perhaps a feather in their cap that despite all the goings-on in this COVID-affected season, the Tigers’ on-field output hasn’t been affected. A win here would all but secure a Top 4 spot, too, with bottom-placed Adelaide to come in Round 18.

Four of the last nine encounters between these clubs have been resulted by single-figure margins. Therefore, whilst I’m sticking with marginal outsiders Richmond, I’ll be using my Game Saver token in case they’re pipped after leading a the final change.

Tip: H2H: Richmond @ $2.12

North Melbourne v Fremantle @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 12th September, 14:10 (AEST)

North MelbourneFremantle
J.Walker, R.Tarrant, F.PerezBT.Watson, B.Cox, N.Wilson
HBS.Atley, B.McKay, L.McDonaldHBS.Hill, L.Ryan, E.Hughes
CS.Higgins, J.Simpkin, J.PolecCA.Cerra, N.Fyfe, J.Aish
HFC.Zurhaar, M.Wood, J.ZiebellHFM.Walters, M.Taberner, M.Crowden
FB.Scott, N.Larkey, A.HallFL.Schultz, R.Lobb, J.Hogan
FOLT.Goldstein, T.Dumont, L.Davies-UniackeFOLS.Darcy, D.Mundy, A.Brayshaw
I/CJ.Anderson, T.Garner, A.Bonar, E.Vickers-WillisI/CM.Frederick, B.Acres, C.Serong, T.Duman

Played 31: North Melbourne 18 v Fremantle 13

Last Meeting: AFL Round 1, 2019: Fremantle 21.15 (141) def North Melbourne 9.5 (59)

Final Thoughts: The Dockers had nothing to play for on Monday night against Melbourne, a side with lots to play for and a Top 8 spot on the line. Yet still, Justin Longmuir’s side outhunted, out-possessed and outscored the Dees in a dominant effort. It’s a hugely positive sign for the young Dockers, and an indication they’ll be a force next season. They start this one as deserved favourites.

North Melbourne are stuttering to the finish line in season 2020 and, with Adelaide having won their last two games, aren’t out of the equation to claim the wooden spoon. Of course, they can avoid that with a win here but they’ll likely have to do so without their best midfielder in Jy Simpkin, who is set to miss with concussion.

Tip: Line: Fremantle -10.5 @ $1.90

Port Adelaide v Essendon @ Adelaide Oval

Saturday 12th September, 17:05 (AEST)

Port AdelaideEssendon
R.Bonner, T.McKenzie, D.HoustonBJ.Ridley, B.Zerk-Thatcher, M.Gleeson
HBH.Hartlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-JonesHBA.Saad, D.Smith, M.Hibberd
CX.Duursma, O.Wines, K.AmonCT.Cutler, Z.Merrett, K.Langford
HFS.Powell-Pepper, T.Marshall, B.EbertHFJ.Stringer, J.Daniher, B.Ham
FC.Rozee, C.Dixon, R.GrayFW.Snelling, J.Stewart, A.McDonald-Tipungwuti
FOLS.Lycett, T.Rockliff, T.BoakFOLS.Draper, D.Shiel, J.Townsend
I/CP.Ladhams, K.Farrell, S.Motlop, T.ClureyI/CA.Phillips, M.Guelfi, D.Clarke, D.Parish


History: Played 31: Port Adelaide 17 v Essendon 14

Last Meeting: AFL Round 20, 2019: Essendon 9.13 (67) def Port Adelaide 19.12 (126)

Final Thoughts: Like North Melbourne, Essendon are crying out for 2020 to be over after a horror back half of the season in which they’ve won just one game. Club legend Matthew Lloyd savaged the current state of the side this week, saying the club was currently going nowhere. “I‘ve tried to detach myself, but too many Essendon people are sick and tired of the excuses and the reasons, game plan, transition, injuries. It has just been for too long,” he said.

The Power should win this one, and handsomely. They’ve started to get their mojo back in recent weeks and, given the importance of momentum heading into a finals series, will seek to bring the intensity needed in a few weeks’ time. They’ll have to do so with young gun Zak Butters who copped a two-week ban for a high hit, while Ryan Burton won’t be returning before finals. Mitch Georgiades is currently a 50-50.

Tip: Margin: Port Adelaide by 1-39pts @ $1.83

GWS Giants v Melbourne @ Gabba

Saturday 12th September, 19:40 (AEST)

S.Reid, L.Keeffe, H.ShawBJ.Smith, S.May, J.Lever
HBA.Kennedy, N.Haynes, Z.WilliamsHBJ.Hunt, T.Rivers, C.Salem
CL.Whitfield, J.Hopper, H.PerrymanCE.Langdon, C.Petracca, A.Tomlinson
HFJ.Cameron, H.Himmelberg, Boer,HFA.vandenBerg, S.Weideman, B.Fritsch
FT.Greene, J.Finlayson, B.DanielsFM.Brown, J.Melksham, C.Spargo
FOLS.Mumford, J.Kelly, T.TarantoFOLM.Gawn, J.Viney, C.Oliver
I/CC.Idun, D.Lloyd, J.Buckley, T.GreenI/CA.Neal-Bullen, O.Baker, K.Pickett, N.Jetta

Played 12: GWS 6 v Melbourne 6

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2019: Melbourne 10.8(68) def by GWS Giants 14.10 (94)

Final Thoughts: Without doubt the most important game of Round 17. Melbourne had one foot in the Top 8 but back-to-back losses to Sydney and Fremantle have now put their chances up in the air. But while those two losses had spelt ‘season over’ for most Dees fans, they were gifted an unexpected lifeline when bottom-place Adelaide defeated the Giants on Tuesday night. That result means Simon Goodwin’s side are only a game outside the 8 and, with a win here, could launch themselves back in. It’s all on the line.

The Giants were insipid against the Crows in Round 16 – a game they started as $1.31 head-to-head favourites in with Palmerbet. Coach Leon Cameron was fuming after the game, and said Saturday night was now a finals-like clash. “We all know the stakes – we’re not going to hide away for it,” he said. Defender Aidan Corr (ankle) is in doubt, while Phil Davis has been ruled out for the season.

Tip: H2H: GWS Giants @ $1.66

Carlton v Adelaide Crows @ Metricon Stadium

Sunday 13th September, 13:05 (AEST)

T.Williamson, J.Weitering, K.SimpsonBL.Brown, K.Hartigan, J.Butts
HBS.Docherty, L.Jones, S.Petrevski-SetonHBB.Gibbs, B.Smith, L.Sholl
CJ.Newnes, P.Cripps, Z.FisherCB.Keays, M.Crouch, C.Jones
HFD.Cuningham, L.Casboult, M.MurphyHFH.Schoenberg, E.Himmelberg, B.Crouch
FM.McGovern, H.McKay, M.GibbonsFT.Stengle, D.Fogarty, S.McAdam
FOLT.De Koning, E.Curnow, S.WalshFOLR.O‘Brien, R.Sloane, R.Laird
I/C (from)L.Plowman, W.Setterfield, L.O‘Brien, E.BettsI/C (from)J.Kelly, B.Frampton, T.Lynch, A.McPherson


History: Played 39: Carlton 19 v Adelaide 20

Last Meeting: AFL Round 19, 2019: Carlton 13.9 (87) def Adelaide 9.6 (60)

Final Thoughts: After a shock set of results in Round 16, the door has been left ever-so-slightly ajar for the Blues to sneak into the Top 8. With both Melbourne and GWS losing games they started as heavy favourites in, then the Blues themselves pulling off a 39-point comeback against the Swans, David Teague’s side could still do the impossible. But it involves a number of things going their way; the first of which must be a big win here against the Crows. Even if the Blues win both their final two games and other results fo their way, the makeup of the Top 8 is likely to go down to percentage. As such, they probably need to win this one by 10+ goals. Jack Martin’s calf is the major concern and will be touch-and-go.

The Crows have finally shown some life in 2020, with two wins on the bounce. In fact, they could even avoid the spoon with a win here (and North Melbourne suffering a heavy defeat).

Tip: Margin: Carlton by 40+ @ $4.50

Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs @ Adelaide Oval

Sunday 13th September, 15:35 (AEST)

HawthornWestern Bulldogs
B.Hardwick, W.Day, T.ScullyBZ.Cordy, A.Keath, C.Daniel
HBJ.Frawley, S.Frost, C.WingardHBB.Williams, R.Gardner, H.Crozier
CD.Greaves, J.O‘Meara, J.ScrimshawCB.Smith, J.Macrae, J.Johannisen
HFL.Breust, M.Lewis, H.MorrisonHFT.McLean, J.Bruce, M.Wallis
FJ.Cousins, T.O‘Brien, J.GunstonFT.Liberatore, A.Naughton, L.Hunter
FOLJ.Ceglar, L.Shiels, T.MitchellFOLT.English, M.Bontempelli, J.Dunkley
I/C (from)B.McEvoy, D.Moore, S.Burgoyne, F.MaginnessI/C (from)M.Suckling, T.Duryea, E.Richards, R.Smith

History: Played 162: Hawthorn 83 v Western Bulldogs 77 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 2, 2019: Hawthorn 13.9(87) def by Western Bulldogs 16.10 (106)

Final Thoughts: Round 16 could not have gone better for the Dogs. If you’d have asked Luke Beveridge to concoct the perfect set of results, it wouldn’t be too far from what happened on the weekend. After fellow AFL Top 8 hopefuls Melbourne and GWS lost games they started as heavy favourites in, the Dogs backed it up with an impressive win over premiership hopefuls the Eagles at Metricon. After conceding the first four goals, it was all the Dogs in an impressive display. Now, they’re favoured to sneak into the finals, chiefly because they face a Hawthorn outfit who appear all but done in season 2020. They’ve put a line through both James Worpel and Isaac Smith this season, but Jaeger O’Meara should return. The Dogs should win this one, and handsomely.

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 40+ @ $4.00

Sydney Swans v Brisbane Lions @ Cazaly’s Stadium

Sunday 13th September, 18:10 (AEST)

R.Fox, L.Melican, H.CunninghamBD.Rich, D.Gardiner, J.Payne
HBJ.Lloyd, A.Aliir, C.MillsHBZ.Bailey, R.Lester, N.Answerth
CJ.Thurlow, L.Parker, O.FlorentCM.Robinson, H.McCluggage, C.Ah Chee
HFJ.Bell, S.Reid, W.HaywardHFD.Zorko, D.McStay, C.Rayner
FS.Wicks, T.McCartin, T.PapleyFK.Coleman, E.Hipwood, C.Cameron
FOLJ.Amartey, J.Kennedy, N.BlakeyFOLO.McInerney, J.Lyons, L.Neale
I/C (from)J.McInerney, D.Stephens, L.Taylor, R.ClarkeI/C (from)G.Birchall, M.Hinge, C.Ellis-Yolmen, A.Smith


History: Played 36: Sydney 23 v Brisbane 12 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 7, 2019: Brisbane 14.19 (103) def Sydney 12.9 (81)

Final Thoughts: The Lions were dominant in their QClash win on Wednesday night and signalled they may just be peaking at the right time. But the win came at a cost, with Jarrod Berry, Brandon Starcevich and Lincoln McCarthy copping injuries. Added to that the concern surrounding Harris Andrews, and the Lions will lean heavily on their medicos in the coming week or two.

The Swans booted the first seven goals against the Blues to lead by 39 points on Tuesday night, but the young side let it slip to be overrun. “Tonight was just a realisation that the opposition isn’t going to give you the game and wrap it up in a bow – you need to take it off them, so it was just understanding that,” coach Longmire said post-match. Nick Blakey is in doubt after a couple of big hits to the shoulder while Callum Mills is a chance to return. Although at this stage of the season, playing for pride, they may opt to not risk him.

Tip: Line: Brisbane -16.5 @ $1.90

Collingwood v Gold Coast Suns @ Gabba

Monday 14th September, 19:10 (AEST)

CollingwoodGold Coast
J.Crisp, J.Roughead, K.MadgenBJ.Harbrow, S.Collins, J.Lukosius
HBB.Maynard, D.Moore, I.QuaynorHBW.Powell, C.Graham, C.Ballard
CT.Brown, A.Treloar, J.DaicosCL.Weller, H.Greenwood, B.Ellis
HFJ.Elliott, B.Mihocek, W.Hoskin-ElliottHFN.Anderson, S.Day, N.Holman
FJ.Thomas, M.Cox, J.De GoeyFI.Rankine, B.King, J.Corbett
FOLB.Grundy, T.Adams, S.PendleburyFOLJ.Witts, D.Swallow, T.Miller
I/C (from)Callum Brown, John Noble, Levi Greenwood, Travis VarcoeI/C (from)K.Bowes, A.Sexton, S.Lemmens, D.Macpherson


History: Played 9: Collingwood 7 v Gold Coast 2

Last Meeting: AFL Round 20, 2019: Collingwood 18.12 (120) def Gold Coast 8.3 (51)

Final Thoughts: The Pies are not yet guaranteed finals footy in 2020, with a number of clubs in the chasing pack waiting to grab their spot in the Top 8. Before the round kicked off Nathan Buckley’s side were $1.22 to make the finals, and a win here should all but seal that. There’s good news on the injury front too, with both Adam Treloar and Jordan De Goey a chance of playing before the pre-finals bye, although they could be pushing it to be fit on Monday night. Jeremy Howe and Chris Mayne are also tracking for a return in October.

The Suns were disappointing in the midweek QClash, appearing lacklustre despite a nine-day break. Largely playing for pride, veteran Jarrod Harbrow is likely to return while Connor Budarick will miss the remaining two games of the 2020 season after injuring his collarbone against the Lions.

Tip: To get 20+ disposals: John Noble (Coll) @ $2.10