The third last week of the AFL season gets underway on Friday night with a clash between last start winners Western Bulldogs and the luckless Magpies. On Saturday afternoon the Lions and Blues clash in a match that will have zero influence on the finals, while the Hawks are favoured to beat the Kangaroos and the Giants and Eagles clash in a crucial encounter that could have far-reaching consequences for a number of clubs.
Also on Saturday night is the Saints v Swans clash as well as a Power home game featuring Hawthorn’s round 20 conquerors Melbourne. Then on Sunday, there is somewhat of an irrelevant game to many AFL fans when the last placed Bombers play host to the battling Suns.
The Tigers and Cats go head-to-head in a match the Cats must win to be any chance of knocking off the first placed Hawks. Following on from that game is the final match of the round, played at Perth’s Domain Stadium, between Fremantle and Adelaide. The Crows have been on fire of late and should easily dispose of the lacklustre Dockers.
Friday, August 12, 7:50pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
Western Bulldogs have had a wretched run with injuries throughout the season and in this round 21 match, desperately need to knock off the Pies who are no hope of making the finals. The Dogs have a pretty good recent record over Collingwood and would be pretty confident of continuing their charge towards another finals appearance after last week’s brave win over North.
Collingwood may not be a shot at playing in the finals but they are a good chance of upsetting the Dogs, who have been one of the unluckiest teams in terms of injury this season. As no draw has occurred this season, this match shapes as one of those games that could realistically see both teams share the points.
The Bulldogs have named Matthew Suckling for Dale Morris. Collingwood has named Tyson Goldsack, Darcy Moore, Adam Oxley, Jordan De Goey and Tom Phillips.
Saturday, August 13, 1:45pm (AEST) @ Gabba
Brisbane’s season from hell hit an unthinkable new low last weekend when they were belted by the Crows by a season-high 138 points. Clearly short of answers, coach Justin Leppitsch conceded half of his players are not up to AFL standard, so where does the proud Brisbane club go from here? Well punters expect their downward spiral to continue over the next three weeks.
Carlton, like Brisbane, is no chance at featuring in September footy but at least the Blues are putting up a fight this year. The Blues have lost their last eight games but UBET punters expect that worrying trend to come to an immediate halt with victory over Brisbane.
Tom Cutler, Michael Close, Stefan Martin and Jarrad Jansen have been included by the Lions, while Liam Jones and David Cuningham are in for the Blues.
Saturday, August 13, 2:10pm (AEST) @ MCG
Hawthorn suffered its first defeat against Melbourne in 14 matches on the weekend, much to the shock of UBET customers. The loss to the Demons was probably one the three-time premiers of the last three years needed to have to make a genuine tilt at winning a fourth straight flag. The Hawks have a decent record against North and UBET punters like their chances of returning to the winner’s circle this weekend.
The Kangaroos lost a tight tussle with the Western Bulldogs on the weekend but still remain in contention to play finals footy. Only a series of seriously unfortunate events would see North miss out on a finals position. The Roos are favoured to finish in eighth position, which would pit them up against a team like the Cats, Eagles, Giants or Crows in the first week of the finals.
Hawthorn has rung in the changes after last weekend's loss, adding James Frawley, Liam Shiels, Paul Puopolo, Ryan Burton and Billy Hartung. Injuries have forced North to name Lachlan Hansen and Robin Nahas.
Saturday, August 13, 4:35pm (AEST) @ Spotless Stadium
After losing to Collingwood a few weeks ago, the Giants have won their last four matches against Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Richmond and Gold Coast. Last weekend’s win over the Suns was far from GWS’ best performance of the season but it did underline a number of things; the Giants can win ugly as well as pretty and they don’t ever take step back when the going gets tough.
West Coast is guaranteed a finals position but exactly where they finish probably won’t be determined until the final round of the AFL is complete. Last weekend the Eagles soared in what was technically an away game (yet played at their home ground) against Fremantle, winning The Derby by a whopping 46 points.
The in-form Giants have named Adam Kennedy, Dylan Shiel and Matthew Kennedy. West Coast have added Sam Butler in place of Jackson Nelson.
Saturday, August 13, 7:25pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
St Kilda may not be in contention to play finals footy, but they will want to continue what has been a pretty successful season. The Saints traditionally struggle against the Swans but over the last few weeks, upset after upset has filtered its way into each round and with the home ground advantage Nick Riewoldt’s troops are every chance of ambushing Buddy’s boys.
Melbourne showed anything is possible last week when they knocked off the premiers so Sydney needs to be on high alert for an old fashioned ambush. St Kilda was fantastic last week against Carlton but in saying that, the Swans weren’t half bad in destroying the Power by 67 points. The Swans are still a chance of securing the minor premiership but a loss to the Saints will put an end to that dream.
St Kilda's Luke Dunstan is out through injury, replaced by Paddy McCartin while the Swans are unchanged.
Saturday, August 13, 7:40pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
Port Adelaide may not be a chance of playing finals footy but many expect them to transfer their recent good form to the Adelaide Oval against the Demons. The Power have an incredible record over Melbourne and UBET punters are lining up for them to dispose of last-start winners the Dees. Port’s home record this season is pretty good, making them favourites for this clash.
The Demons achieved a rare feat last weekend, when they managed to somehow beat the high-flying Hawks by 29 points at the MCG. That was the Melbourne’s first win over Hawthorn in 14 attempts and their first in more than a decade. While there would be no shortage of confidence among Paul Roos’ team, they are still considered outsiders to back-up their efforts against Port.
Jesse Palmer, Matthew Lobbe and Cam O'Shea are the ins for Port. After last week's boilover win against the Hawks, the Dees have made just one forced change Sam Weideman (quad) is out with Jesse Hogan replacing him.
Sunday, August 14, 1:10pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
Essendon is enduring one of the toughest periods in the clubs 100+ year existence, having snared just one win in the season from hell. Last weekend the Dons were lapped by Geelong, eventually losing the match by 66 points. With matches coming up against the Bulldogs and Blues, this probably shapes as the Bombers’ best chance of notching a second win in 2016.
Gold Coast enjoyed a winning start to the year but quickly fell into a heap but more recently they have endured season-ending injuries to superstars Gary Ablett and Michael Rischitelli. Last weekend, the Suns were on fire against the Giants but left without any premiership points as they went down by a meagre eight points.
Mathew Stokes, Jake Long, Orazio Fantasia, Mason Redman, Kyle Langford, Will Hams and Jonathan Simpkin are in for Essendon. Adam Saad, Keegan Brooksby, Clay Cameron, Aaron Hall and Seb Tape have been named in an extended squad for the Suns.
Sunday, August 14, 3:20pm (AEST) @ MCG
Richmond desperately needs a win to save under-fire coach Damien Hardwick from the chopping block. Last weekend the Tigers players did their coach a favour, who re-signed before a ball was kicked in anger at the start of the year, when they beat old enemies Collingwood by 15 points.
Geelong has recently returned to the form it displayed at the start of the year. They have put a couple of upset losses behind them to record three straight wins and UBET punters expect them to increase the run to four this weekend. With superstar midfielders Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel running the show, UBET customers have every right to see the Cats salute.
Jake Kolodjashnij, Lincoln McCarthy, Shane Kersten, Darcy Lang and Tom Ruggles have been named in an extended Geelong squad. Ditto for Shane Edwards, Todd Elton, Ben Lennon and Kane Lambert for the Tigers.
Sunday, August 14, 4:40pm (AEST) @ Domain Stadium
Fremantle is performing poorly this year and last week’s 46-point loss to local rivals West Coast was basically a snapshot of their woeful season. The Dockers were not expected to beat the Eagles last weekend but their fans have every right to have expected a much more committed display than what was shown on Sunday afternoon.
Adelaide is probably one of, if not, the most in-form teams in the competition at the moment and the way in which the Crows ruthlessly dominated the lowly Lions at Adelaide Oval underpinned their premiership credentials. Adelaide smashed Brisbane by 138 points last week in what is a record margin for any team this season.
Nick Suban, Matt Taberner, Connor Blakely and Cameron Sutcliffe have all been included in an extended Fremantle squad. Scott Thompson, Harrison Wigg, Mitch McGovern and Jake Kelly have been included for the Crows.