Round 22 of the AFL season is headlined by two blockbuster pre-final clashes. It’s 1 v 2 and 3 v 4 in a battle of the 2019 heavyweights.

Melbourne v Sydney Swans @ MCG

Friday 16th August, 19:50 (AEST)

MelbourneSydney
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Hibberd, Frost, LeverBMills, Rampe, Aliir
HBJones, Hore, SalemHBLloyd, McCartin, Dawson
CDunkley, Viney, StretchCHeeney, Hewett, Florent
HFC. Wagner, Fritsch, HarmesHFRonke, Blakey, Papley
FLewis, Melksham, PetraccaFJack, Reid, Menzel
FOLGawn, Brayshaw, OliverFOLMcLean, Kennedy, Parker
I/CSpargo, Kennedy-Harris, Neal-Bullen, ChandlerI/CClarke, Fox, Bell, Rowbottom


History:
Played 208: Melbourne 93 v Sydney 113 (2 draws).

Last Meeting: AFL Round 4, 2019: Sydney 11.12 (78) lost to Melbourne 15.10 (100).

Final Thoughts: Both these clubs’ seasons are petering out, and when league chiefs released the 2019 fixture they may have (justifiably) thought this game could have big ramifications for the finals. As it turns out, it doesn’t. Not that that will deter either Simon Goodwin or John Longmire, who in no uncertain terms are desperate for a win. The Dees and winless in their last five, the Swans in their last six. Goodwin’s troops won on the road against the Swans at the SCG earlier in the season. And while much has gone under the bridge since, could that hold them in good stead back at home?

Tip: Head to head: Sydney @ $2.05

Carlton v St Kilda @ MCG

Saturday 17th August, 13:45 (AEST)

CarltonSt Kilda
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Newman, Plowman, ThomasBSavage, Brown, Paton
HBSetterfield, Weitering, SimpsonHBNewnes, Carlisle, Clark
CMurphy, Cripps, O’BrienCBillings, Ross, Hannebery
HFCasboult, McKay, SilvagniHFHind, Bruce, Steele
FFisher, Kennedy, McGovernFLonie, Membrey, Long
FOLKreuzer, E. Curnow, WalshFOLMarshall, Sinclair, Acres
I/CPetrevski-Seton, Dow, Deluca, GibbonsI/CSteven, Dunstan, Battle, Wilkie


History:
Played 220: Carlton 162 v St Kilda 56 (2 draws).

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2019: St Kilda 9.14 (68) defeated Carlton 8.7 (55).

Final Thoughts: Much like the Melbourne v Sydney Friday night clash, this game also has little ramifications for the 2019 AFL season. But try telling that to Carlton (three wins in their last five) and St Kilda (three wins in four), who have thrived under new coaches David Teague and Brett Ratten respectively. Teague was given the role for good this week, and Ratten doesn’t appear far off. But in essence, this clash is about looking ahead. The Blues haven’t knocked off the Saints at the MCG since way back in 1998, and their strong form in the last month pits them as strong chances. Ratten’s side are marginal $1.85 favourites in what should be an entertaining game of footy.

Tip: To get 30+ disposals: Patrick Cripps (Carlton) @ $2.00

Brisbane Lions v Geelong @ The Gabba

Saturday 17th August, 14:10 (AEST)

BrisbaneGeelong
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Hodge, Andrews, AdamsBBews, Blicavs, Taylor
HBWitherden, Gardiner, RichHBTuohy, Kolodjashnij, O’Connor
CMcCarthy, Zorko, RobinsonCDuncan, Stewart, Dangerfield
HFCameron, Hipwood, McCluggageHFAblett, Henry, C. Guthrie
FMcInerney, McStay, BerryFDahlhaus, Hawkins, Atkins
FOLMartin, Neale, LyonsFOLRatugolea, J. Selwood, Kelly
I/CChristensen, Rayner, Bailey, AnswerthI/CHenderson, Parfitt, Miers, Narkle


History:
Played 33: Brisbane 14 v Geelong 19.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 19, 2018: Geelong 18.12 (120) defeated Brisbane 11.12 (78).

Final Thoughts: It’s the top of the table clash we’ve been waiting for. The Cats, who up until recently held premiership favouritism with Palmerbet, head north for the game of the round against their young upstarts. The winner will almost certainly take top spot (barring a big Eagles win) and further solidify their chance for a home qualifying final. At the final siren we’re also likely have a strong idea where these two really sit before September. Chris Scott will be buoyed by a 55-point win last week that saw his side retain their sense of ruthlessness, while the Lions are now on an incredible eight game winning run. The home side have lost their last eight to the Cats, but rarely has there been a better time to break that losing streak.

Tip: Total Score: Under 170.5 @ $1.85

Adelaide Oval v Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval

Saturday 17th August, 16:35 (AEST)

AdelaideCollingwood
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Laird, Talia, BrownBGreenwood, Scharenberg, Howe
HBKelly, Hartigan, MackayHBCrisp, Madgen, Maynard
CSeedsman, B. Crouch, MileraCPhillips, Pendlebury, Mayne
HFSmith, Walker, LynchHFBrown, Mihocek, Hoskin-Elliott
FJacobs, Fogarty, BettsFElliott, Roughead, Sidebottom
FOLO’Brien, M. Crouch, SloaneFOLGrundy, Treloar, Adams
I/CKnight, Gibbs, Douglas, MurphyI/CNoble, Thomas, Varcoe, Wills

 

History: Played 42: Adelaide 15 v Collingwood 26 (1 draw).

Last Meeting: AFL Round 4, 2018: Adelaide 9.4 (58) lost to Collingwood 16.10 (106).

Final Thoughts: Another intriguing clash that should tell us lots before the finals. Adelaide are on the precipice of (quite incredibly) missing out on a spot in the top eight. A side that were $1.05 to make the finals heading into the mid-season bye, their calamitous form has seen them drop out and, should they lose this one, likely kiss their finals hopes goodbye. They haven’t beaten Collingwood since 2016, and the pressure is squarely on Don Pyke to deliver. There’s much on the line for the Pies, too, who could sneak back into the top four with a win (provided Richmond lose to West Coast). With the carrot of the double-chance dangling, expect this one to be big.

Tip: Margin: Collingwood by 1-24 pts @ $3.60

North Melbourne v Port Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 17th August, 19:25 (AEST)

North MelbournePort Adelaide
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Williams, Thompson, PittardBHouston, Clurey, Bonner
HBMacmillan, Tarrant, AhernHBHartlett, Jonas, Byrne-Jones
CSimpkin, Higgins, PolecCWesthoff, Rockliff, Amon
HFAnderson, Larkey, GarnerHFR. Gray, Dixon, S. Gray
FZiebell, Brown, ZurhaarFMarshall, Ladhams, Rozee
FOLGoldstein, Thomas, CunningtonFOLRyder, Wines, Boak
I/CDumont, Atley, Durdin, TurnerI/CBroadbent, Butters, Powell-Pepper, Burton


History:
Played 34: North Melbourne 21 v Port Adelaide 13.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 6, 2019: Port Adelaide 12.16 (88) defeated North Melbourne 11.6 (72).

Final Thoughts: While North have shown an upward curve under new coach Rhyce Shaw, last week represented a huge drop-off. In kicking just one goal, they posted their lowest ever score (14 points) in their 94-year VFL/AFL history. But with finals now off the agenda, will they have the spark needed to overcome an in-form Power outfit? Ken Hinkley’s side won their first back-to-back games since rounds five and six last week, and finally look to be a side that may just be able to play consistent footy. The carrot this week could hardly be bigger; sitting inside the top eight on percentage alone, nothing short of the four points will suffice for Port.

Tip: Head to head: North Melbourne @ $2.12

Fremantle v Essendon @ Optus Stadium

Saturday 17th August, 20:10 (AEST)

FremantleEssendon
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Duman, Hamling, BlakelyBHurley, Hooker, Gleeson
HBHughes, Logue, TuckerHBMcKenna, Ambrose, Redman
CB. Hill, Conca, LangdonCMcDonald-Tipungwuti, Merrett, McGrath
HFBrayshaw, Walters, SwitkowskiHFParish, McKernan, Langford
FMcCarthy, Darcy, BallantyneFZaharakis, Brown, Stringer
FOLSandilands, Fyfe, MundyFOLZ. Clarke, Shiel, Heppell
I/CCerra, Schultz, Crowden, MateraI/CHam, Saad, Fantasia, Francis

 

History: Played 35: Fremantle 14 v Essendon 21.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2019: Essendon 8.12 (60) defeated 7.11 (53).

Final Thoughts: What can we say about Essendon? Humbled, thrashed, humiliated last week to the tune of 104 points by the Western Bulldogs, the Saturday night clash represented one of their worst on-field moments of this century. Despite the considerable doom and gloom, however, they’re still inside the top eight. But only just. With three sides circling, John Worsfold knows his side need one win in their last two to confirm a finals spot. And with Collingwood to come Friday night, is this game against the Dockers their best chance? Fremantle in Perth isn’t the AFL’s toughest away task, but it’s far from straightforward, either. The Dons have also lost eight of their last nine trips to the west.

Tip: Line: Essendon +14.5 @ $1.90

Richmond v West Coast @ MCG

Sunday 18th August, 13:10 (AEST)

RichmondWest Coast
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Astbury, Broad, GrimesBSheppard, Barrass, Schofield
HBHouli, Vlastuin, ShortHBHurn, McGovern, Jetta
CEllis, Prestia, CaddyCRedden, Shuey, Sheed
HFRioli, Castagna, LambertHFRioli, Darling, Ryan
FGraham, Lynch, RiewoldtFCripps, Kennedy, Allen
FOLNankervis, Edwards, MartinFOLHickey, Yeo, Gaff
I/CRoss, Bolton, Aarts, Chol, Stack, Soldo, Baker, PickettI/CWaterman, Masten, Vardy, Petruccelle, Nelson, Hutchings, Rotham, Cameron


History:
Played 43: Richmond 17 v West Coast 26.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2018: West Coast 20.10 (130) defeated Richmond 12.11 (83).

Final Thoughts: While the Geelong v Brisbane game represents 1 v 2 on the AFL ladder, this game (3 v 4) represents the battle between the two premiership favourites. For over a week now, both the Eagles and Tigers have been locked on $3.75 joint flag favourites – but the result of this clash is sure to split them one way or another. The Damien Hardwick led Richmond are seven wins on the trot (the Eagles are four), and will relish playing a side they could face in a few weeks’ time. The Eagles have won their last five matches at the home of footy, and for the last two years have never looked out of place at the famous ground.

Tip: Line: West Coast +11.5 @ $1.90

Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs @ Giants Stadium

Sunday 18th August, 15:20 (AEST)

GWSWestern Bulldogs
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Kennedy, Davis, ShawBDuryea, Trengove, Crozier
HBPerryman, Haynes, KeeffeHBJohannisen, Cordy, Wood
CWhitfield, Taranto, KellyCHunter, Bontempelli, Richards
HFDe Boer, Himmelberg, DanielsHFDale, Schache, Lloyd
FHill, Tomlinson, ReidFSmith, Naughton, Dickson
FOLMumford, Greene, WilliamsFOLEnglish, Dunkley, Macrae
I/CCumming, Bonar, Simpson, Hately, Corr, Sproule, Caldwell, SteinI/CSuckling, Le. Young, West, McLean, Lipinski, Porter, Hayes, La. Young


History:
Played 10: GWS 5 v Western Bulldogs 5.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 1, 2018: GWS 20.13 (133) defeated Western Bulldogs 7.9 (51).

Final Thoughts: It’s almost been two full seasons since these two clubs faced off. In round one, 2018, it was the Giants who dispatched the Dogs by 82 points, but it’s difficult to see that result being replicated on Sunday afternoon. Luke Beveridge has said his side need to win their remaining two games to make finals, which makes this game do-or-die for the Dogs. The Giants, meanwhile, were insipid in the snow (yep, *the snow*) last week against Hawthorn, and couldn’t match the Hawks around the contest. With just two games to go before the finals, Leon Cameron will be desperately searching for some momentum, otherwise 2019 looms as yet another unsuccessful finals campaign.

Tip:  Head to head: Western Bulldogs @ $2.15

Hawthorn v Gold Coast Suns @ Marvel Stadium

Sunday 18th August, 16:40 (AEST)

HawthornGold Coast
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Jiath, Frawley, SicilyBLukosius, Graham, Harbrow
HBHardwick, Stratton, BurgoyneHBBallard, Burgess, Weller
CHenderson, O’Meara, ScullyCHanley, Bowes, Fiorini
HFPuopolo, O’Brien, SmithHFSexton, Day, Miller
FBreust, Roughead, HanrahanFLemmens, King, Ainsworth
FOLCeglar, Shiels, WorpelFOLWitts, Swallow, MacPherson
I/CNash, Scrimshaw, Wingard, McEvoy, Cousins, Gunston, Howe, MorrisonI/CDawson, Heron, Horlin-Smith, Murdoch, Rischitelli, Scheer, Wright, Martin


History:
Played 11: Hawthorn 9 v Gold Coast 2.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 14, 2018: Hawthorn 13.18 (96) defeated Gold Coast 5.13 (43).

Final Thoughts: The Hawks couldn’t make the eight, could they? Before last round they were huge $41 outsiders with Palmerbet to do so, but after a big upset win over the Giants in Canberra they’re now into $17. Ahead of a round 23 clash against West Coast, Alastair Clarkson knows they not only need to get the four points against the Suns, but they need to do so handsomely to boost their percentage. And with four-time premiership hero Jarryd Roughead playing his last game for the club, expect them to put on a show. With the incentive to win big very apparent for the Hawks, the line becomes a tasty option.

Tip: Line: Hawthorn -47.5 @ $1.90