Another mid-week round of footy is here, with a double-header getting Round 15 underway on Tuesday evening.
Six clubs might have the bye but there’s another double-header on Thursday, too, before Brisbane faces Collingwood in a Friday night blockbuster at the Gabba.
Read on for our full Round 15 preview!
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AFL Tipping – Tuesday, September 1
Hawthorn v Adelaide Crows
Adelaide Oval | 5:40 PM (AEST) (AEST)
Hawthorn Hawks – Hawthorn’s season went from bad to worse in Round 14, Alastair Clarkson’s men giving up a six-goal half-time lead to lose by 16 points against arch-rivals Essendon. The Hawks were smashed through the middle and had no answers for Bombers big man Joe Daniher, meaning the inclusion of key defender James Frawley (thumb) is a big boost. Frawley is one of three premiership players returning for the Hawks, alongside veteran Shaun Burgoyne and captain Ben Stratton. Jarman Impey and Mitch Lewis also come in, giving the Hawks a much-needed lift against the winless Crows. Hawthorn has won just once since Round 4 but should be too good for the Crows here. History is on Hawthorn’s side here, too, the brown and gold winning 10 of their last 11 against the Crows. Hawthorn also has a 4-0 record against Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval – a very impressive statistic.
Adelaide Crows – With games against GWS, Carlton and Richmond to come, this is winless Adelaide’s best chance of a victory in 2020. Not only do they face an out-of-form Hawthorn, the Crows get them on home soil. The additions of key defender Daniel Talia and midfielder Brad Crouch from knee and hamstring issues will help Adelaide in this. Is it enough to be the difference? Probably not. The Crows have the worst attack in the competition, and the worst defence. Hawthorn continue to perplex, but at its best has beaten Richmond and Brisbane, and the Hawks had Port Adelaide in trouble only a couple of weeks ago. That all points to a Hawthorn win.
West Coast Eagles v Essendon
Gabba | 8:10 PM (AEST) (AEST)
West Coast Eagles – The 2018 premiers came back to earth with a thud in Round 14, beaten by 27 points against Richmond, a result that ended the club’s eight-match winning streak. Six of those victories came in Perth and the Eagles will be concerned about a 2-4 record in Queensland this season. Adam Simpson’s side get a chance to respond here but will be without star forward Josh Kennedy, who misses due to concussion. Simpson made four changes, bringing in Oscar Allen, Jack Redden, Lewis Jetta and Jackson Nelson. West Coast won both meetings against the Bombers last season, including a 55-point thumping in the elimination final. Andrew Gaff averages 32 disposals in his last six matches against the Bombers, and in Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern, the Eagles have the tall defenders to keep Daniher under control.
Essendon Bombers – The Bombers enter this match full of confidence, having breathed life into their finals hopes in the stirring win over Hawthorn. While Daniher was central, taking nine marks and kicking three goals in the second half, midfielders Andrew McGrath and Zach Merrett were also fantastic. Essendon has three huge ins this week, too, with captain Dyson Heppell, defender Michael Hurley and ruckman Sam Draper all returning to the side. That trio definitely makes Essendon stronger in Cale Hooker’s 200th match for the club. It would not surprise to see the Bombers push the Eagles in this, but winning this is probably beyond them.
AFL Tipping – Wednesday, September 2
Richmond v Fremantle
Metricon Stadium | 7:10 PM (AEST)
Richmond Tigers -The Tigers are on song at the minute, with eight wins from their last 10 matches. The only two defeats? Away matches at GWS and Port Adelaide, with both losses coming by 12 points or less. That is good news for the Tigers, who should welcome back the likes of Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia, David Astbury and Dylan Grimes in the build-up to finals. Grimes injured his hamstring against West Coast in Round 14 and has been ruled out for this clash, leaving Richmond a little light in defence. The likes of Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin should ensure Richmond win the midfield battle, though, and with multiple goals in five of his last six matches, forward Tom Lynch is hitting his straps. Richmond has won its last three against Fremantle by an average winning margin of 66 points. The Tigers have also won their last seven at Metricon Stadium by an average of 51.7 points, and have a 4-0 record at the venue this season. That run will continue here.
Fremantle Dockers – The Dockers were never really in it against Greater Western Sydney in Round 14, a disappointing performance after four impressive weeks. Young sides will do that, though, and the challenge for Justin Longmuir is to ensure his team are competitive in this clash. The Dockers have not beaten Richmond since 2017 but have frustrated the Tigers in the last decade, with three of their four wins in this fixture since 2013 coming by four points or less. Fremantle forward Matt Taberner continues to impress in 2020. He has kicked at least one goal in every match he has played this season, and he has booted at least two in nine of his 13 matches. With Richmond missing Astbury and Grimes, Taberner will be licking his lips and looks a nice option in exotic bets.
AFL Tipping – Thursday, September 3
Sydney Swans v Melbourne
Cazaly’s Stadium | 4:40 PM (AEST)
Sydney Swans – Sydney could have easily folded after half-time at Port Adelaide in Round 14, the Swans, on the road, down by 32 points at the break against the ladder leaders. Instead, John Longmire’s side fought on and ended up winning the second half – an impressive effort that will give them some confidence. Josh Kennedy’s return helps the Swans and while they have won just two of their last 10 matches, they do have an outstanding record against Melbourne. The Swans have won 13 of the past 16 clashes in this fixture, and just one of the last nine meetings has been decided by less than 22 points. Sydney proved too good in this fixture last year, too, winning by 53 points, with six multiple goal-kickers. A close game would not surprise here.
Melbourne Demons – A gutsy win over St Kilda saw Melbourne return to the top eight but this is typically a dangerous time for the Demons, especially when finals football is on the horizon. The club’s last four matches come against sides currently out of the top eight but if the Demons take their eye off the ball, they will come unstuck, and you can’t begrudge punters for having trust issues with Simon Goodwin’s side. Christian Petracca’s outstanding season continued against the Saints, his four-goal haul setting up the win, while Steven May was terrific down back. With Sydney missing a genuine star forward, May could be very dangerous in this clash. Melbourne should win the first match in Cairns since Round 1, 2018, but stranger things have happened.
GWS Giants v Carlton
Metricon Stadium | 7:10 PM (AEST)
Greater Western Sydney Giants – The Giants needed to respond against Fremantle in Round 14 and did just that, comfortably winning by 38 points. The victory followed successive defeats in Western Australia and the Giants are still outside the top eight, but the manner of the Dockers win pleased coach Leon Cameron. Lachie Whitfield was brilliant, winning 31 disposals, while forwards Jeremy Cameron and second-gamer Jake Riccardi kicked four goals each. Riccardi looks a great find and took another 10 marks, to go with his nine-mark and two-goal debut. His form may make it tough for Jeremy Finlayson to work his way back into the side. GWS has a strong record against Carlton, winning six of the last seven, and of those six victories, five have been by 62 points or more. A repeat seems unlikely but the Giants – who have been a frustrating side for punters in 2020 – must win if they want to play finals football. And they should.
Carlton Blues – Carlton’s push for a finals berth hit a major roadblock in Round 14, with a goalless second half ending in a four-goal loss to Collingwood. The fade-out followed a regular theme of Carlton’s 2020 and it is a trend that means it is very hard to tip the Blues here. Carlton’s injury list is frustratingly long, too, with Charlie Curnow (knee), Mitch McGovern (hamstring), Matthew Kreuzer (foot), Nic Newman (knee) and Jack Silvagni (knee) all sidelined. Matthew Kennedy (quad) and Caleb Marchbank (soreness) could feature, so keep an eye on the team selections. Carlton has beaten GWS just once since 2013.
AFL Tipping – Friday, September 4
Brisbane Lions v Collingwood
Gabba | 7:50 PM (AEST)
Brisbane Lions – The bye came at a good time for the Lions, who fell over the line against North Melbourne (one-point win) and St Kilda (two-point win) in their two games before the break. Chris Fagan would have taken the opportunity to re-stock and re-evaluate, and the time off should see Daniel Rich (hamstring) return to the side. Small forward Lincoln McCarthy is suspended, though, and the Lions have had plenty of problems against the Magpies in recent years. Collingwood has won nine of the last 10 clashes, including the last six, and those six triumphs have been by an average winning margin of 39.1 points. The Magpies are far from full strength, though, and this is something Brisbane needs to take advantage of. The midfield battle should prove particularly interesting given Collingwood is missing Adam Treloar (hamstring) and Steele Sidebottom (personal reasons). If Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons and Hugh McCluggage can dominate in the middle, the Lions should win at home.
Collingwood Magpies – You have to hand it to the Pies, who have won four of their last five despite playing a pretty average brand of football. As the club’s injury list stacked up, so did the doubts about Nathan Buckley’s side, but Collingwood should get back Treloar, Sidebottom and Jordan De Goey (finger) for the finals. They look like making them, too, after a strong come-from-behind win against Carlton in Round 14. Josh Daicos has really emerged this season, while Taylor Adams and Scott Pendlebury are enjoying strong years. It is up forward where Collingwood has struggled, and the Magpies still have not kicked more than 10 goals in a game since Round 3. The pleasing thing about the win against the Blues was the many contributors, with Jaidyn Stephenson, Josh Thomas, Brody Mihocek and Mason Cox all kicking two goals. Mihocek averages 3.5 goals per game against the Lions and could be a good option to kick two or more goals here. Collingwood traditionally travels well and that means this should be a close one.