The 2020 AFL season continues this weekend completely outside the game’s heartland. How will the 10 Victorian clubs deal with the upheaval?

Geelong v Brisbane Lions @ SCG

Thursday 9th July, 19:40 (AEST)

J. Kolodjashnij, M. Blicavs, J. HenryBR. Lester, H. Andrews, D. Gardiner
HBM. O’Connor, H. Taylor, J. BewsHBD. Rich, G. Birchall, B. Starcevich
CB. Parfitt, P. Dangerfield, C. GuthrieCM. Robinson, D. Zorko, H. McCluggage
HFZ. Tuohy, E. Ratugolea, M. DuncanHFJ. Berry, E. Hipwood, C. Rayner
FQ. Narkle, T. Hawkins, L. DahlhausFZ. Bailey, D. McStay, C. Cameron
FOLD. Fort, J. Selwood, S. MenegolaFOLO. McInerney, J. Lyons, L. Neale
I/CG. Ablett, G. Rohan, S. Simpson, G. MiersI/CC. Ah Chee, L. McCarthy, S. Martin, T. Berry

Played 34: Geelong 19 v Brisbane 15

Last Meeting: AFL Round 22, 2019: Brisbane 10.15 (75) def Geelong 10.14 (74)

Final Thoughts: Was the Lions’ scintillating six-goal second term against the previously unbeaten Power the most impressive burst this season? If it wasn’t, then I’d love to know what was. Any doubts that Chris Fagan’s side weren’t a genuine premiership contender this season are now gone, and his side have firmed into $7.50 flag hopes. Lachie Neale has been in imperious touch for the Lions since the season re-start, and has already firmed into a $3 favourite – well ahead of the next-best in Patrick Cripps at $8. For this clash, Palmerbet are offering $5.00 BoostedOdds for both the Lions to win, plus Neale to rack up 30+ disposals.

The Cats were solid in their win over the Suns which, importantly, broke a 12-month duck of failing to win consecutive games. But can they match it with one of the competition’s best coming off a five-day break?

Tip: Margin: Brisbane by 1-39 @ $2.00

Collingwood v Hawthorn @ Giants Stadium

Friday 10th July, 19:50 (AEST)

J.Crisp, J.Roughead, M.ScharenbergBS.Frost, J.Frawley, B.Stratton
HBB.Maynard, D.Moore, I.QuaynorHBB.Hardwick, B.McEvoy, J.Sicily
CT.Phillips, S.Pendlebury, W.Hoskin-ElliottCR.Henderson, J.Worpel, I.Smith
HFJ.Stephenson, B.Mihocek, C.BrownHFJ.Morris, T.O’Brien, C.Wingard
FW.Kelly, M.Cox, J.ElliottFJ.Gunston, J.Patton, P.Puopolo
FOLB.Grundy, T.Adams, A.TreloarFOLJ.Ceglar, L.Shiels, T.Mitchell
I/CT.Varcoe, R.Wills, C.Mayne, A.BosenavulagiI/CJ.O’Meara, W.Day, H.Morrison, T.Scully

Played 165: Collingwood 97 v Hawthorn 68

Last Meeting: AFL Round 16, 2019: Hawthorn 9.13 (67) def Collingwood 9.9 (63)

Final Thoughts: Within a fortnight, the high-flying Pies have come crashing down. On-field, they’ve lost two in a row and gone from $5.50 premiership favourites with Palmerbet out to $9. And off field, things are even worse. Jordan De Goey is being investigated for an indecent assault charge, while Steele Sidebottom still has three weeks to serve from his COVID protocol breach. When put together, Nathan Buckley’s side are under the pump.

While the Hawks are sitting on 3-2, they’re yet to truly impress this season, save for the 32-point win over the Tigers. A poor start was their undoing against the Giants last week, and they’ll need to win more of the contested ball early against the Pies. They welcome back Jonathon Patton, while Mitch Lewis and Jack Scrimshaw will miss.

Tip: Line: Collingwood -5.5 @ $1.90

Fremantle v St Kilda @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 11th July, 12:35 (AEST)

FremantleSt Kilda
S.Hill, B.Cox, E.HughesBN.Coffield, C.Wilkie, J.Carlisle
HBN.Wilson, L.Ryan, H.YoungHBB.Long, D.Howard, J.Geary
CD.Tucker, N.Fyfe, J.AishCB.Hill, H.Clark, J.Billings
HFA.Cerra, R.Lobb, S.SturtHFD.Butler, M.King, J.Gresham
FT.Colyer, M.Taberner, M.WaltersFD.Kent, T.Membrey, J.Battle
FOLS.Darcy, D.Mundy, A.BrayshawFOLR.Marshall, J.Steele, S.Ross
I/CB.Bewley, C.Serong, L.Schultz, B.AcresI/CZ.Jones, B.Paton, J.Lonie, J.Marsh

Played 36: Fremantle 16 v St Kilda 20

Last Meeting: AFL Round 21, 2019: St Kilda 10.12 (72) def Fremantle 10.9 (69)

Final Thoughts: The Saints again showed in Round 5 why they’re fast becoming one of the competition’s most watchable sides. Their slick ball movement has the potential to carve sides apart. But with some wet weather about in the coming days on the Gold Coast – plus Fremantle’s expected defensiveness – there’s a question over whether they’ll be able to execute like they did against Carlton. Either way, they’ve shown enough to be deserved favourites in this one.

The Dockers finally got on the board against Adelaide last weekend, but it came at a cost. Reece Conca (hamstring), Jesse Hogan (calf) and Griffin Logue (toe) all suffered injuries in the win. Skipper Nat Fyfe (at the time of publishing on Wednesday afternoon) was a ‘test’ to return from a hamstring injury.

Tip: Total Game Points: Under 122.5 @ $1.88

West Coast v Adelaide @ Gabba

Saturday 11th July, 15:05 (AEST)

West CoastAdelaide
S.Hurn, T.Barrass, B.SheppardBL.Brown, D.Talia, K.Hartigan
HBT.Cole, J.McGovern, L.DugganHBR.Laird, F.McAsey, W.Hamill
CA.Gaff, E.Yeo, J.CrippsCR.Sloane, M.Crouch, B.Smith
HFJ.Waterman, J.Darling, J.ReddenHFC.Jones, B.Frampton, T.Lynch
FL.Ryan, J.Kennedy, B.Ah CheeFT.Stengle, S.McAdam, N.McHenry
FOLN.Naitanui, T.Kelly, D.SheedFOLR.O’Brien, B.Crouch, B.Keays
I/CO.Allen, J.Nelson, B.Ainsworth, J.CameronI/CJ.Kelly, D.Mackay, A.McPherson, T.Doedee


History: Played 48: West Coast 27 v Adelaide 21

Last Meeting: AFL Round 21, 2019: West Coast 13.12 (90) def Adelaide 12.8 (80)

Final Thoughts: The Eagles finally, finally, got going in season 2020 last weekend. After a sloppy first quarter, Adam Simpson’s side turned it on against the Swans, and snapped a three-game losing streak in the process. The finish line of their period on the Gold Coast hub is in sight, and if they’re to put together a similar performance they did against Sydney, they’ll have little trouble in claiming the four points against the beleaguered Crows.

Matthew Nicks’ side are now the AFL’s only winless side after defeat to the Dockers last weekend, and there’s little respite in sight. With Darcy Fogarty (shoulder) and Taylor Walker (knee) both missing, their forward outlets are bare.

Tip: Margin: West Coast by 40+ @ $2.37

Melbourne v Gold Coast Suns @ Giants Stadium

Saturday 11th July, 18:05 (AEST)

MelbourneGold Coast
J.Lockhart, S.May, O.McDonaldBC.Budarick, S.Collins, J.Lukosius
HBC.Salem, J.Lever, M.HibberdHBP.Hanley, C.Ballard, J.Harbrow
CE.Langdon, C.Oliver, A.vandenBergCL.Weller, H.Greenwood, B.Ellis
HFM.Hannan, S.Weideman, A.BrayshawHFN.Anderson, S.Day, A.Sexton
FJ.Melksham, T.McDonald, H.BennellFI.Rankine, B.King, B.Ainsworth
FOLM.Gawn, C.Petracca, J.VineyFOLJ.Witts, D.Swallow, T.Miller
I/CJ.Harmes, B.Fritsch, K.Pickett, N.JettaI/CJ.Bowes, B.Fiorini, N.Holman, D.MacPherson

Played 13: Melbourne 10 v Gold Coast 3

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2019: Gold Coast 9.6 (60) def by Melbourne 8.13 (61)

Final Thoughts: The last time these sides met, it was an absolute heart-stopper on the Gold Coast as the Dees snatched a last-gasp win. The Suns have come a long way since then and, despite last week’s loss to the Cats, are well-positioned to add to their three wins this season. They’ll have to do so without star young gun Matt Rowell, who will now miss the bulk of the season with a shoulder injury.
For the Dees, quite simply, they need to kick more goals. Ranked 17th in average points per game, Simon Goodwin’s side are struggling to hit the scoreboard. They may opt to welcome back Sam Weideman to work alongside Tom McDonald. Harley Bennell also impressed in a recent scratch match and could play his second game for the Dees.

Tip: H2H: Gold Coast @ $2.15

Essendon v North Melbourne @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 11th July, 19:40 (AEST)

EssendonNorth Melbourne
M.Hurley, C.Hooker, M.GleesonBJ.Macmillan, R.Tarrant, S.Atley
HBA.Saad, J.Ridley, C.McKennaHBJ.Pittard, J.Walker, K.Hayden
CB.Ham, A.McGrath, K.LangfordCJ.Polec, J.Simpkin, T.Dumont
HFD.Parish, J.Laverde, O.FantasiaHFS.Higgins, C.Zurhaar, B.Scott
FA.McDonald-Tipungwuti, S.McKernan, J.TownsendFT.Thomas, B.Brown, C.Taylor
FOLA.Phillips, D.Smith, D.ShielFOLT.Goldstein, L.McDonald, J.Anderson
I/CD.Zaharakis, W.Snelling, Z.Merrett, M.HibberdI/CP.Ahern, J.Mahony, T.Campbell, A.Hall


History: Played 158: Essendon 100 v North Melbourne 57 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 17, 2019: Essendon 12.14 (86) def North Melbourne 12.9 (81)

Final Thoughts: Essendon have the recent wood over North, having won the last four against their old rivals. It was the Dons also, 19 seasons ago, who sealed the greatest ever AFL comeback in their 2001 win over North, recently detailed in Palmerbet’s Top 10 Game Saver Classics. Riding high from their upset win over the Pies last week (the only underdog victory of Round 5), John Worsfold’s side welcome back Zach Merrett and (likely) Connor McKenna, but will miss the forward presence of Jake Stringer.

For North Melbourne, three losses on the trot has seen them move from a $2.40 top 8 hope with Palmerbet, now out to $5. North have many banged-up veterans, including the ultra-important Ben Cunnington (back), Shaun Higgins (knee) and Jack Ziebell (hamstring). Cunnington struggled last week, but if Ziebell can return it would give them a huge boost.

Tip: Line: Essendon -7.5 @ $1.90

Port Adelaide v GWS Giants @ Metricon Stadium

Sunday 12th July, 13:05 (AEST)

Port AdelaideGWS
R.Burton, T.McKenzie, D.HoustonBH.Shaw, L.Keeffe, A.Corr
HBH.Hartlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-JonesHBL.Whitfield, P.Davis, N.Haynes
CJ.Westhoff, O.Wines, K.AmonCH.Perryman, S.Coniglio, J.Kelly
HFB.Ebert, T.Marshall, C.RozeeHFT.Greene, J.Cameron, B.Daniels
FZ.Butters, C.Dixon, R.GrayFH.Himmelberg, J.Finlayson, T.Green
FOLS.Lycett, S.Powell-Pepper, T.BoakFOLS.Mumford, J.Hopper, Boer
I/C (from)S.Motlop, T.Rockliff, T.Clurey, K.Farrell, R.Bonner, S.Mayes, P.Ladhams, C.SutcliffeI/C (from)L.Ash, C.Ward, J.Hately, D.Lloyd, J.Caldwell, S.Jacobs, T.Sheridan, Z.Langdon

Played 10: Port Adelaide 4 v GWS 6.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 19, 2019: Port Adelaide 7.13 (55) def by GWS Giants 8.8 (56)

Final Thoughts: Prior to last weekend Port Adelaide were the AFL’s only unbeaten side, but they came crashing back down to earth with a 37-point loss to the Lions. And while it was a disappointing performance, there’s little reason for Ken Hinkley to raise alarm. He does, however, face the new premiership favourites in GWS – now into $5.50 with Palmerbet – in another tough encounter. Expect to see Ryan Burton return.

The Giants are now two wins on the bounce and, despite an early season slip-up, look to have finally hit their straps in 2020. Yet they’re only just inside the top 8, and need to bank more early wins in this topsy-turvy season. Former co-captain Callan Ward remains a 50/50 chance to return.

Tip: Total Points: Under 126.5 @ $1.90

Richmond v Sydney @ Gabba

Sunday 12th July, 15:35 (AEST)

N.Broad, D.Grimes, N.BaltaBC.O’Riordan, D.Rampe, J.Lloyd
HBJ.Short, N.Vlastuin, L.BakerHBC.Mills, J.Dawson, R.Clarke
CK.McIntosh, J.Graham, J.CaddyCD.Stephens, L.Parker, O.Florent
HFJ.Aarts, D.Rioli, J.CastagnaHFG.Hewett, I.Heeney, N.Blakey
FD.Martin, T.Lynch, J.RiewoldtFS.Gray, W.Hayward, T.Papley
FOLI.Soldo, M.Pickett, K.LambertFOLH.McLean, J.Rowbottom, J.Kennedy
I/C (from)J.Higgins, R.Garthwaite, D.Eggmolesse-Smith, M.Chol, R.Collier-Dawkins, C.Coleman-Jones, J.Ross, S.BoltonI/C (from)R.Stoddart, H.Cunningham, J.McInerney, A.Aliir, J.Bell, R.Fox, L.Taylor, C.Warner

Played 196: Richmond 108 v Sydney 87 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 5, 2019: Richmond 13.11 (89) def Sydney 10.7 (67)

Final Thoughts: Undoubtedly the evacuation of Victorian clubs into northern states has impacted the Tigers most, with premiership stars Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli – whose partners are expecting or recently given birth, respectively – remaining in Melbourne. That, plus injuries to Trent Cotchin (hamstring), Dion Prestia (ankle) and Toby Nankervis (ankle), have severely hampered Damien Hardwick’s side. Further, Tom Lynch is in a race against the clock to be fit for this Gabba clash. Expect many ins, including the likes of Ivan Soldo, Jack Graham, Marlion Pickett, Jack Ross, Shai Bolton and Sydney Stack.

The Swans were disappointing against the Eagles last week and against a fully fit Richmond side would normally be given little chance. But their build-up has been far less hampered this week, and John Longmire’s young side may just take advantage. The Sydney coach has already announced that exciting duo Chad Warner and Dylan Stephens will make their senior debuts on Sunday afternoon.

Tip:  Margin: Sydney by 1-39 @ $2.40

Carlton v Western Bulldogs @ Metricon Stadium

Sunday 12th July, 18:45 (AEST)

CarltonWestern Bulldogs
S.Docherty, L.Jones, L.PlowmanBB.Williams, A.Keath, C.Daniel
HBT.Williamson, J.Weitering, S.Petrevski-SetonHBJ.Johannisen, Z.Cordy, E.Wood
CJ.Newnes, P.Cripps, M.MurphyCE.Richards, M.Bontempelli, J.Macrae
HFS.Walsh, L.Casboult, M.GibbonsHFB.Dale, J.Schache, T.McLean
FW.Setterfield, J.Martin, E.BettsFM.Wallis, J.Bruce, R.West
FOLM.PIttonet, D.Cunningham, E.CurnowFOLT.English, T.Liberatore, B.Smith
I/C (from)K.Simpson, H.McKay, M.McGovern, M.Kennedy, Z.Fisher, S.Philp, C.Polson, C.MooreI/C (from)M.Suckling, L.Hunter, L.Butler, L.Vandermeer, P.Lipinski, C.Porter, J.Sweet, R.Gardner

Played 148: Carlton 88 v Western Bulldogs 56 (4 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 13, 2019: Carlton 15.10 (100) def by Western Bulldogs 15.13 (103).

Final Thoughts: The Dogs were electric in their win over North Melbourne last weekend and, with three wins on the bounce, have shortened into $1.57 (in from $2.25) top 8 hopes. However they look likely to miss Lin Jong (ankle syndesmosis), Bailey Smith (concussion) and Laitham Vandermeer (concussion) for this one. Lachie Hunter is back after a four-week suspension.

The Blues, by contrast, could welcome back both Zac Fisher and Jack Silvagni. Since the season re-start in Round 2, the average margin in Carlton’s four games is less than a goal. They’re rarely out of a clash but conversely, they’re liable to give up a winning lead. It’s for that reason I’m using the Game Saver token in this clash.

Tip: H2H: Carlton @2.55