Bad news Blues fans - Sydney are on the rebound this Saturday arvo. Carlton showed a bit in their seven-point loss to the Eagles in round 17, but taking on the Swans on their home patch will be a very tough assignment. Sydney, who were edged out by the Hawks last Friday night, have not lost consecutive games this season and should do it pretty comfortably against a Carlton said that has dropped its past five matches. Sydney will be without defender Zak Jones, who injured his ankle against Hawthorn, but we are backing them to win by at least 10 goals ($2.05 with Luxbet) and Lance Franklin to slot the first snagger at the SCG.
Gold Coast Suns v Fremantle Dockers
If wins were based on how long your injury list was, these two clubs would both be shoe-ins for the 2016 premiership. Freo got more bad news at the weekend when veteran Michael Barlow (shoulder) and Hayden Ballantyne (cheek bone) joined the casualty ward that already includes the likes of Michael Johnson, Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands. Gold Coast also have plenty of talent, like Gary Ablett, David Swallow and Dion Prestia, on the sidelines. The Suns are at home this Saturday afternoon, so we're on them to win by at least 16 points ($2.65) but are also backing Freo ball-magnet Lachie Neale to get at least 35 possessions ($2.80 with Sportsbet). He leads the AFL in disposals this season.
West Coast Eagles v Melbourne Demons
Melbourne were appalling against their bogey side, St Kilda, last week and face another hoodoo this Saturday arvo when they head to Perth. The Dees have not beaten West Coast at Subi since 2002 and, on the form they showed last week, breaking that 14-year drought is not going to happen in round 18. Other than a blip in round 12 against Adelaide, West Coast's home form has been outstanding this season and we reckon they'll brush the red and blue boys aside. Our money is on West Coast to win by at least 40 points, which is paying $2.08, and the Eagles to score at least 121 points ($2.50 with Sportsbet) - they've averaged 131 in their past seven games against the Dees.
Western Bulldogs v St Kilda Saints
The Bulldogs will be looking to cement their place in the top four at Docklands on Saturday night, while St Kilda are gunning for three wins in a row. Both of these teams play the Dome well, with the hard surface suiting their up-tempo styles. The Bullies will go into this one without Jake "The Package" Stringer, who injured his AC joint in last weekend's win over the Suns. When these two teams met in round two, the Dogs won by 57 points, but the damage shouldn't be that bad this time. We are going for the Bulldogs to lead at the end of every quarter ($2 with Sportsbet) and the first score of the game to be a Dogs goal ($3.20 with Unibet).
Geelong Cats v Adelaide Crows
This is the game of the round and Geelong have to make a statement after three poor performances in the past month. They lost to St Kilda, were flogged at home by Sydney and were unconvincing in their 17-point victory over Fremantle in round 17. When these two clashed at Adelaide Oval in round eight, the Cats won by 26 points but that was the last match the Crows lost, and they head into this one riding an eight-match winning streak. We reckon the Cats are vulnerable at Kardinia Park and are backing Adelaide to win, which is paying $2.35 with most corporates, and the first score of the third quarter to be a Crows goal ($3.50 with Luxbet). They've won 12 of their 16 premiership quarters this year.
Essendon Bombers v Brisbane Lions
Could Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch be out of a job by the end of the weekend? He will be the most nervous man in the AFL on Sunday arvo when his struggling Lions take on Essendon at Docklands. These two teams have only one win each this season, and the wooden spoon is on the line this weekend. Brissy were exceptionally poor in a 79-point defeat to GWS at the weekend while Essendon have shown plenty in the past two weeks with competitive losses to St Kilda and Richmond. We reckon the Bombers will get up at home and are going for an Essendon/Essendon half-time/full-time double, which is paying $1.90 with most bookies, and Joe Daniher to boot the first goal.
Hawthorn Hawks v Richmond Tigers
It’s all about Sam Mitchell at the home of footy on Sunday. The veteran Hawk will chalk up game No.300 against the Tigers this weekend, and should play a big part as his side marches towards the minor premiership. Hawthorn are a game clear on top of the ladder and should see off the Tigers this weekend. The three-times reigning premiers just know how to win – they’ve gotten over the line in four games this season by less than a kick and their five-point victory over Sydney in round 17 was further proof of that. Back the Hawks to score first and win, which is paying $1.75 with Unibet and Hawthorn to score at least 121 points ($2.70 with Sportsbet). They booted 136 when the sides last met in round seven.
Port Adelaide Power v Greater Western Sydney Giants
Fresh from claiming their first top-eight scalp of the season, Port have another chance to push towards an unlikely finals berth when they host GWS this Sunday. When these sides met in Canberra in round three, the Giants claimed an 86-point victory, but this clash at Adelaide Oval should be a whole lot closer. The ninth-placed Power are two wins outside the top eight and must get the job done on Sunday to keep the pressure on the clubs above them. Port forward Charlie Dixon is out of this clash with an ankle injury, and we think the Giants will be too good. We’re on a GWS/GWS half-time/full-time double ($1.91 with Unibet) and both teams to score at least 77 points ($1.80 with Bet365).