The footy just keeps coming in Round 8, with nine games spread over five days of exciting action. West Coast’s clash with Collingwood in Perth shapes as the highlight of the round, while Greater Western Sydney host Richmond in another much-anticipated clash.
Read on for our full preview of all the action!
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AFL Tipping – Thursday July 23
Gold Coast Suns v Western Bulldogs
Venue: Metricon Stadium | Start: 7:40 PM
Gold Coast Suns – The Suns get a well-deserved opportunity in primetime and a win here would really make the football world stand up and take notice. Gold Coast has won four of seven matches this season and coach Stuart Dew has had his deal extended on the back of an exciting start to the 2020 campaign. Izak Rankine could relish the chance to star in front of the nation, the exciting forward kicking five goals in just two career matches. Last week’s win over Sydney was impressive but this looks much tougher and might be a bridge too far – for now.
Western Bulldogs – Luke Beveridge’s men bounced back well after a thrashing at the hands of Carlton, comfortably taking care of the Bombers in Round 7. That made it four wins in five for the Dogs, and young ruckman Tim English looks a star of the future. His battle with Jarrod Witts in this clash should prove fascinating. The Bulldogs bat too deep for the Suns in midfield, though, and Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Bailey Smith and Lachie Hunter are all in good touch. That difference should separate the two sides in this.
AFL Tipping – Friday July 24
GSW Giants v Richmond Tigers
Venue: Giants Stadium | Start: 7:50 PM
Greater Western Sydney Giants – Revenge will be on the minds of the Giants after the Tigers thumped them by 89 points in last season’s Grand Final. The signs are not encouraging for the Giants in 2020, either, and the club’s 3-4 start to the season is its worse since 2014. GWS has lost the inside 50 battle in every match it has played this season and while it is more than capable on home soil – the Giants have beaten Geelong, Collingwood and Hawthorn at home – major questions about the club still exist. Are they the real deal? A wounded Richmond are sure to provide some form of examination.
Richmond Tigers – Three wins in a row has Richmond’s season back on track but the club’s absentee list remains extensive, Josh Caddy (hamstring) the latest addition. Star midfielders Dion Prestia (ankle) and Trent Cotchin (hamstring) are still sidelined, while ruckman Toby Nankervis (ankle) and Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli (personal reasons) remain unavailable. The Tigers should get defender David Astbury (knee) back for this but against a fired-up Giants, they might just be missing one or two players too many. Don’t expect the Giants to finish ahead of Richmond this year, but the Tigers could just come up short here.
AFL Tipping – Saturday July 25
Nth Melbourne Kangaroos v Carlton Blues
Venue: Gabba | Start: 1:05 PM AEST
North Melbourne Kangaroos – The Kangaroos have dropped five in a row and the injury list is huge, adding insult to injury for coach Rhyce Shaw. Cam Zurhaar (calf) should at least come back for this, but Jack Ziebell will return to the sidelines with another hamstring injury. Watch updates on the fitness of Ben Cunnington, who is fighting a back complaint. History would suggest the Roos cannot win this without Cunnington, who they have not won a game without since 2015. It is an incredible stat in an incredibly disappointing period for the Kangaroos, and key forward Ben Brown is out of form.
Carlton Blues – Love what the Blues are doing at the minute and at their best, they are a very exciting side to watch, moving the ball quickly, taking the game on and having faith in their key forwards. Only Robbie Gray’s goal after the siren denied the Blues the huge scalp of the ladder leaders in Round 7 but one week earlier, a 52-point win over the Western Bulldogs was a huge statement. Defender Jacob Weitering is in outstanding form and another big man, Harry McKay, looks to be enjoying a breakout season. Four of Carlton’s seven games this season have been decided by three points or less but a repeat here would be very surprising. The Blues look good enough to win this fairly comfortably.
Sydney Swans v Hawthorn Hawks
Venue: SCG | Start: 3:35 PM AEST
Sydney Swans – Expect plenty of change at the selection table this week with Sam Reid (calf) and Lewis Melican (groin) both set to return. George Hewett (back) and Will Hayward (knee) are in some doubt, though, for a Swans side already missing the sidelined Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney. Those outs – and the fact Sydney played nine players under 21 in Round 7 – shows where the Swans are at in 2020. They face a side way down on form in this but it is still hard to see Sydney winning this, especially when you consider it has dropped 13 of its last 19 games at the SCG.
Hawthorn Hawks – The fixture list has not been kind to Hawthorn in 2020, facing a host of premiership fancies in the early rounds, but this is an ideal fixture for a side struggling in a big way. Three successive losses have changed the narrative around Hawthorn and the focus on the club’s future – and that of four-time premiership winning coach Alastair Clarkson – has been significant this week. The Hawks were hopeless against Melbourne but will return to winning ways at a venue they enjoy playing at. Hawthorn has won five of its last six matches at the SCG.
Port Adelaide v St Kilda
Venue: Adelaide Oval | Start: 7:40 PM AEST
Port Adelaide Power – The Power return to South Australia with a superb 6-1 record that sees them sitting on top of the ladder. A home fixture against a St Kilda side with just one win at the Adelaide Oval – achieved on Monday night – should end in another win for Ken Hinkley’s side, who just pipped Carlton last week. Connor Rozee (heel) will face a late fitness test and Ryan Burton (quad) and Steven Motlop (ankle) seem set to miss out. The Power are flying, though, and in Charlie Dixon, have the joint leader in the race for the Coleman Medal. Ex-Power defender Dougal Howard could get the job on Dixon in what would be a fascinating battle.
St Kilda Saints – The Saints just did enough against the winless Adelaide Crows in Round 7 but there won’t be many punters across the country with much faith in Brett Ratten’s side. Two massive fadeouts in defeats to Fremantle and North Melbourne mean the jury is still out on the Saints, who are prone to falling asleep in patches. Dan Butler is in great form since crossing from Richmond but the Saints need a big game from him – and many others – if they are to reverse a very poor record against Port Adelaide. St Kilda has lost its last eight against the Power and were beaten by 70 points in China last year.
AFL Tipping – Sunday July 26
Adelaide Crows v Essendon Bombers
Venue: Adelaide Oval | Start: 1:05 PM AEST
Adelaide Crows – The Crows were far from disgraced against St Kilda in Round 7 and will take some heart from the display. Taylor Walker kicked three goals and young midfielder Ben Keays caught the eye, suggesting the Crows are gradually improving. The return of forward Darcy Fogarty (shoulder) could add to Adelaide’s claims here, but you could not back a side who has not won since August last year. Adelaide is bottom for a reason and Matthew Nicks’ search for his first win as head coach is likely to continue.
Essendon Bombers – The Bombers are a different side without Dylan Shiel (suspension) and Jake Stringer (ankle). Captain Dyson Heppell is out indefinitely, too, meaning that the club’s fast start to the season might fade out. The Bulldogs were far too good for Essendon last week, but having said that, the Crows are a very different proposition. Essendon has won its past two against the Crows and should return to the winners list here.
West Coast Eagles v Collingwood
Venue: Optus Stadium | Start: 3:35 PM AEST
West Coast Eagles – Like Richmond, the Eagles have won three in a row after a sluggish start to the season. The optimism is slowly building around Adam Simpson’s side but this is comfortably their hardest assignment since returning to winning ways. Captain Luke Shuey (hamstring) should be right to return for the Eagles, who famously beat the Magpies by five points in the 2018 Grand Final. Josh Kennedy appears back in form, booting 4.4 against the Dockers in a Western Derby success in Round 7, while Andrew Gaff, Elliot Yeo and Tim Kelly all won plenty of the football. Home ground advantage tips this in West Coast’s favour – just.
Collingwood Magpies – Collingwood are known as a good travelling side and are fresh off a good win at Optus Stadium, beating Geelong by 22 points at the venue in Round 7. Jordan De Goey kicked five goals in that win, though, and is sidelined for up to two months with a finger injury. It is a cruel blow for a Magpies side just starting to click. Collingwood has conceded five goals or less in five of its seven matches this season, and the battle between the Magpies’ back six and West Coast’s forwards should be fascinating, and decisive. Adam Treloar is averaging 33 disposals per game this season for the Magpies.
Melbourne Demons v Brisbane Lions
Venue: Metricon Stadium | Start: 6:10 PM AEST
Melbourne Demons – Melbourne’s Round 7 win over Hawthorn forced a re-think from many punters after Simon Goodwin’s side started the season in lacklustre fashion following an incredibly disappointing 2019. The win over the Hawks was full of good signs, mainly the intensity around the ball, the run and carry, the improved forward line cohesion and the continued excellence of ruckman Max Gawn and Christian Petracca. That Tom McDonald (eye) is no guarantee to return to the side speaks volumes for the roles Sam Weideman and – to a much lesser extent – Luke Jackson played against the Hawks. This is a far more difficult task, though.
Brisbane Lions – These are the games the Lions need to win if they are to finish in the top four and defender Harris Andrews, enjoying another superb season, looms as the key figure in this. If Andrews can intercept at will and cut off Melbourne’s flow between midfield and attack, the Lions will win. Five wins from six since the restart has Brisbane second on the ladder and the club’s win over the Giants in Round 7 was particularly impressive, given star midfielder Lachie Neale’s output was reduced. Four players kicked multiple goals, too, highlighting Brisbane’s versatility in attack. They look too good here.
AFL Tipping – Monday July 27
Fremantle Dockers v Geelong Cats
Venue: Optus Stadium | Start: 8:10 PM AEST
Fremantle Dockers – The Dockers kicked just one goal in the second half of another disappointing Western Derby against West Coast in Round 7 as they slipped to 2-5 for the season. Beating Geelong here looks beyond them, even if they won the same fixture by 34 points last season. Nat Fyfe (hamstring) is still a couple of weeks away from returning, a major blow given he averages 32 disposals and 1.5 goals in his last four outings against Geelong.
Geelong Cats – The Cats will be desperate to bounce back after defeat against Collingwood in Round 7. They will have to do it without Joel Selwood (hamstring), Gary Ablett (personal reasons) and Jordan Clark (shoulder), but should be boosted by the return of defender Tom Stewart. Geelong has never won at Optus Stadium but that should change here, especially if Mitch Duncan (hamstring) returns and Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins can fire.