AFL preview: Round 18

With only a handful of rounds to go every point counts as the race to the finals heats up in the AFL.

Collingwood v West Coast

If West Coast are serious about giving this competition a real shake come September, they have to be able to flick the switch and put the inconsistent Pies to the sword this weekend. Fresh off a strong derby win over Fremantle, the eighth-placed Eagles need to mount a run of wins in order to cement their spot in the finals. They will be happy about returning to Etihad Stadium, a venue where they have tasted success four times from their past six attempts, as opposed to their opponents, who have lost six of their past seven at the venue.

The Pies are long odds to play finals footy this year but did get the better of Gold Coast last week. However, Nathan Buckley’s side will be without captain Scott Pendlebury this week and that loss will prove telling giving the strength of the Eagles midfield.

Prediction: West coast -6.5 @ $1.80

Essendon v North Melbourne

The Bombers were nothing short of brilliant as they dismantled fellow finals rival St Kilda by 61 points last week. John Worsfold’s side needs to keep the performances coming as the race for the finals truly heats up but there’s no excuse for failing to put struggling North Melbourne to the sword at the MCG.

Joe Danihur, Tom Bellchambers and Orazio Fantasia are all at the top of their game and they will look to cause the very inconsistent Kangaroos a world of pain.

North Melbourne are playing like a team without confidence right now and despite their strong record against the Dees, will be up against it across all four quarters.

Predictions: Essendon -30.5 @ $1.90

Richmond v GWS

Quite simply, Richmond need to keep winning to keep their top four aspirations alive, and GWS need to snap their three-game winless run if they’re any chance keeping their own top four hopes alive.

There’s so much on the line in this one and these two sides possess the ability and the talent to explode in attack. We’re expecting a big showing from Johnathon Patton and of course Jack Riewoldt which should also open up space for the speedy midfielders from both sides.

Prediction: Over 163.5 points @ $1.90

Sydney v St Kilda

Yes, they lost their first six matches of the season but the Sydney Swans are as far away from that team as possible right now. The Swans’ midfield trio of Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Kieran Jack are on absolute fire right now and defender Dane Rampe has locked things up at the back. And to top it all off ‘Buddy’ is playing the best footy we’ve seen him play in a Swans jersey.

Fresh off their 62-point mauling at the hands of Essendon last week, St Kilda are playing for their finals lives but it’s hard to see how this inconsistent outfit can hurt the high-flying Swans at the SCG. Sydney comfortably accounted for the Saints by 50 points back in round nine and they’re playing much better than that right now.

Prediction: Swans -27.5 points @ $1.90



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