Richmond take on West Coast in a Round 14 blockbuster, while Carlton face old rivals Collingwood dreaming of a finals berth.
They are just two of eight exciting clashes in a mouth-watering round of football, with Brisbane and lowly Adelaide having the bye.
Read on for our full Round 14 preview!
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AFL Tipping – Thursday August 27
Hawthorn v Essendon
Adelaide Oval | 4.40 PM (AEST)
Hawthorn Hawks – The Hawks may have lost their last three, but they have been much-improved in fixtures at West Coast and Port Adelaide. Hawthorn was level with the Power at the final change last week, and could have pulled off a huge upset – with a very undermanned team – with a bit more polish. Those performances will encourage the Hawks ahead of this clash against their old rivals, Essendon. Jack Gunston (back) should return to the side, and James Frawley (thumb) will be in the mix, too. Midfielder James Worpel is enjoying a good run of form and Hawthorn has won nine of its last 12 against Essendon. Tom Mitchell enjoys playing the Bombers, averaging 35 disposals against them in the brown and gold. Hawks fans would love to end Essendon’s slim finals hopes with victory and they might just do it.
Essendon Bombers – This is a huge game for the Bombers, who need to win to keep their top-eight chances alive. Essendon was remarkably efficient against Richmond in Round 13, kicking 10 goals from just 24 entries inside 50. To put that figure into context, the Tigers, who won by two goals, kicked 10 from 66 entries! Essendon will win if they have a similar conversion rate in this match, which could see Joe Daniher return from a groin injury for his first match of 2020. Intrigued to watch Irving Mosquito in the next few weeks, given the exciting forward kicked two goals on debut against the Tigers. He could have easily been a Hawk, but they decided not to match Essendon’s bid in the 2018 AFL Draft. Essendon has won just one of its last seven matches – the Hawks have won just one of their last eight. Both sides are out of form and that means this could be very close. Perhaps the travel factor – Essendon played in humid conditions in Darwin on Saturday night – might be the difference?
Richmond v West Coast
Metricon Stadium | 7.10 PM (AEST)
Richmond Tigers – That the Tigers sit fifth and still haven’t properly clicked in 2020 is a great sign. Damien Hardwick’s men will be hoping to find top form pretty soon, but they have won seven of their past nine matches. Victory over the Eagles in a genuine blockbuster here would really boost the Tigers approaching the business end of the season, and there is no question that Richmond have the players to do it. Dustin Martin is in terrific form, but needs more help in midfield. The Tigers have been without Dion Prestia and Shane Edwards – first and second in the club’s best-and-fairest last year – for long chunks of the season. In some good news, though, Toby Nankervis (ankle) could return in this, while Bachar Houli made his comeback against Essendon in Round 13. Tom Lynch to kick two goals or more looks a great option in the exotic markets. Lynch has played against the Eagles eight times and booted at least two majors in every contest. The Tigers have won six in a row at Metricon Stadium, all by 33 points or more, and appear well-placed to continue their winning record at the venue in this clash.
West Coast Eagles – West Coast enters this match on the back of eight successive wins, meaning Adam Simpson’s side will be full of confidence. The last six of those wins have come at Optus Stadium, though, and the club’s injury list is starting to stack up. Elliot Yeo (groin) is the only star sidelined, but a host of depth players are also missing with injury worries, while Jack Redden (adductor) will face a test. West Coast did not fare too well in Queensland earlier this season, losing three in a row before bouncing back with wins over strugglers Sydney and Adelaide. The Eagles stuttered to a two-goal win over Greater Western Sydney last week and had defender Jeremy McGovern to thank for keeping the fast-finishing Giants at bay. Tim Kelly, Luke Shuey and Josh Kennedy were all quiet against the Giants and there is a feeling building that the Eagles are due for a loss.
AFL Tipping – Friday August 28
Western Bulldogs v Geelong
Metricon Stadium | 7.50 PM (AEST)
Western Bulldogs – The Bulldogs are very hot and cold in 2020, with their best scintillating, but their worst perplexingly poor. Of the club’s six losses this season, five have been by four goals or more, but successive wins over Adelaide and Melbourne have Luke Beveridge’s men back inside the top eight. Toppling an in-form Geelong is a much tougher ask, but Lachie Hunter, Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Smith and Jack Macrae are all in good form. All of a sudden, the Bulldogs have forward options, with big man Aaron Naughton and small forward Mitch Wallis sure to cause the Cats some headaches. Will it be enough to defeat the Cats, though? Only the Bulldogs’ absolute best will beat Geelong, and while they are good enough, it is too difficult to tip against the Cats right now.
Geelong Cats – Geelong has the wood on the Bulldogs, even if the Dogs have won two of the last three, with the Cats triumphing in 16 of the last 19 battles. The Cats are on fire, winning four games in a row thanks to the best attack in the competition – superbly led by Tom Hawkins – and a consistent, reliable midfield. Patrick Dangerfield loves it against the Bulldogs, averaging 30.5 disposals and 2.1 goals per game against them as a Geelong player. The Cats are also enjoying playing at Metricon Stadium, winning their last three at the venue by an average of 57.33 points. Joel Selwood (soreness) could return for this, while Harry Taylor will, but Jack Steven (knee) might miss out. Don’t expect the Cats will have this all their own way, but they should prove good enough.
AFL Tipping – Saturday August 29
Port Adelaide v Sydney
Adelaide Oval | 1.45 PM (AEST)
Port Adelaide Power – Wasn’t impressed by the Power in last week’s 10-point win over a struggling and injury-depleted Hawthorn. Ken Hinkley’s men are more vulnerable than most when they turn the ball over in attack, something the Swans will look to exploit here. The good news for the Power is a pretty average day ended in a win and they still sit on top of the AFL ladder after 13 rounds, with 10 wins. Expect another win added to that column in this, with Port going for four successes in a row against the Swans. Those last three triumphs have come by an average winning margin of 32.6 points. Sydney has struggled to contain Ollie Wines in recent years, the midfield bull averaging 30 disposals per game in his last six outings against the Swans. Connor Rozee (heel) could return for Port Adelaide, while Ryan Burton (quad) and Todd Marshall (thumb) will be in the mix, too.
Sydney Swans – The Swans backed up a huge win over GWS with a very disappointing effort in Perth, kicking just two goals in a 31-point loss to Fremantle. Sydney’s injury problems are well documented, but it was great to see Josh Kennedy return against the Dockers, and the development of Oliver Florent, James Rowbottom and Nick Blakey has ensured this season has not been a total write-off. Sydney will bring effort in this clash, that seems a guarantee, but they are lacking the quality to produce a big upset.
Fremantle v Greater Western Sydney
Optus Stadium | 4.35 PM (AEST)
Fremantle Dockers – The Dockers would have won four matches in a row if it was not for Jack Newnes’ incredible after-the-siren goal in Round 12, Justin Longmuir’s men bouncing back from that heartbreaker with a solid win over Sydney. Fremantle has several players in terrific form, like defender Luke Ryan, youngsters Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong, and forward Matthew Taberner. Ryan is seemingly on the verge of All-Australian selection, while Taberner has kicked a goal in every single match he has played this season. The Dockers shocked GWS by four goals in Canberra last year, but are on home soil here. No side has conceded fewer points than Fremantle in 2020 and the Dockers are definitely good enough to win this.
Greater Western Sydney Giants – The Giants start Round 14 sitting 11th on the ladder and know that defeat here could be catastrophic to their finals chances. Callan Ward (finger) has been ruled out, while Phil Davis (knee) will miss out, too. The Giants finished well against West Coast last week but paid the price for a slow start. They certainly have the talent to win this, but you cannot tip the Giants with any confidence in 2020. GWS has a 0-4 record at Optus Stadium and faces a confident, in-form opponent in this.
Melbourne v St Kilda
TIO Traeger Park | 7.40 PM (AEST)
Melbourne Demons – The Demons came back to earth with a thud after a third-quarter fadeout against the Western Bulldogs. After three successive wins by more than 50 points, the Dees led the 2016 premiers by seven points at the main break, only to concede six successive goals – and the game – in a disappointing third term. All the Melbourne trademarks were there – poor ball use, a lack of presence in the forward 50, and a lack of support for Christian Petracca and Jack Viney. This now looms as a crucial game for the ninth-placed Melbourne, who will get captain Max Gawn back from a knee problem. Melbourne have beaten St Kilda just three times since 2006 but are more familiar with Alice Springs, having played there six times for a 2-4 record. This one is season-defining for Simon Goodwin’s men.
St Kilda Saints – The Saints will take plenty of heart from their two-point loss at the Gabba in Round 13, a match which showed the Saints have what it takes to challenge the competition’s best sides. A first finals appearance since 2011 is within St Kilda’s grasp and these are the sorts of matches the Saints need to win if they are to finish in the top eight. Jack Steele has been in terrific form all season, while Zak Jones was good in Brisbane. Seb Ross restricted Brisbane star Lachie Neale in a tagging role, too, and he could be sent to Petracca or Viney. Expect better from Tim Membrey and Max King in this. The pair combined for just one goal against the Lions. St Kilda has won its past three against Melbourne, and 17 of the last 20 against the Demons. And while 15 of the last 16 matches have fallen in the 1-39 bracket, expect the Saints to emerge victorious here.
AFL Tipping – Sunday August 30
Carlton v Collingwood
Gabba | 3.35 PM (AEST)
Carlton Blues – Could this be the year for the Blues? Carlton has not featured in the finals since 2013 and probably needs to win three of its last five matches to break an unwanted drought. The Blues face a wounded, out-of-form Collingwood here, in what should be a terrific clash between two of the AFL’s biggest rivals. The Blues have won back-to-back games, against Fremantle and the Gold Coast, and were very sharp – apart from their goalkicking – against the Suns. Marc Murphy won plenty of the ball, while Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh and Will Setterfield all played well. Young key position players Harry McKay and Jacob Weitering continue to impress, too, and that will give the Blues confidence ahead of this clash. Carlton has struggled against Collingwood in recent years, winning just two of the past 12, but that could all change here.
Collingwood Magpies – The Magpies finally found a bit of rhythm in the second half of their win against North Melbourne in Round 13, but the last six weeks have not been pretty for Magpies fans. Wins over Sydney, Adelaide and North Melbourne – the three bottom sides – have only papered over the cracks evident in defeats to West Coast, Fremantle and Melbourne. The Magpies have not kicked more than 10 goals in a match since Round 3 and are badly missing the injured Jordan De Goey. Big man Brody Mihocek (concussion) should return for this, though, while midfield star Steele Sidebottom has returned to Victoria for the birth of his child. That means the Magpies are without De Goey, Sidebottom, Adam Treloar and Jeremy Howe, only heaping more pressure on Scott Pendlebury. The Collingwood star has had at least 20 disposals in his last 12 meetings against the Blues. Intriguingly, the last seven meetings between the Magpies and the Blues have all been decided by between 12 and 24 points.
Gold Coast v North Melbourne
Metricon Stadium | 6.10 PM (AEST)
Gold Coast Suns – The Suns look tired and desperate for the bye, and have now won just one of their past nine matches. Gold Coast kicked just four goals against Carlton and the scoreboard flattered them, the Blues kicking 7.18 to win by just 33 points when a 10-goal margin was on the cards. With so many young players, tiring during a season is to be expected, but Gold Coast must push past the ‘honourable defeats’ stage and this looks a very winnable fixture on paper. The Suns need much more from experienced players Lachie Weller, Hugh Greenwood and Brandon Ellis here, with all three quiet against the Blues. Gold Coast has won five of its past nine against North Melbourne, who have won just once since Round 2.
North Melbourne Kangaroos – North Melbourne’s injury list is bursting at the seams, with stars like Ben Cunnington (back) and Ben Brown (knee) joined on the sidelines by a host of young faces and depth players. Despite all that, there are enough signs to keep North fans encouraged, with youngsters Jy Simpkin and Luke Davies-Uniacke showing plenty. Jed Anderson and Trent Dumont are in good form, too, while young forward Nick Larkey looks a likely type. With a clean bill of health, the Kangaroos would win this match, but they are being forced to dig very deep at the moment. And while winning this would not surprise anyone, especially given Gold Coast’s run of form, it might just be beyond the Kangaroos.