AFL ROUND 23
HAWTHORN v WESTERN BULLDOGS
The final Friday night game for the home and away season pits Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs two sides who won't play finals football and who will also be farewelling a couple legends.
Four time premiership player/captain and Norm Smith Medalist Luke Hodge plays his last game after a superb career. For the Dogs there own legend Bob Murphy runs out one last time with long term team mate Matty Boyd who also calls it quits.
As you can imagine both sides will be desperate to send out there heroes with a win. The Dogs have been desperately disappointing this season. Injuries haven't helped them and every week they have been making 2-3 changes and without a settled side they just never got going all season. There forward line is looking very average and doesn't look capable of kicking a big score. They will be without Stringer, Redpath, Cloke and Dixon up forward through injury and suspension.
The Hawks have been solid in the second of the season but they took a step back last week losing to Carlton. There were signs of fatigue kicking in for Hawthorn who have blooded a lot of players this year. The question is can they lift themselves one last time this season to send out Hodge on a winning note.
It's a tough game to call here but when looking at the sides you feel more confident in the Hawks kicking a winning score with Roughead, O'Brien, Breust and Puopolo.
Take the Hawks as outsiders to see Luke Hodge out a winner one last time.
COLLINGWOOD v MELBOURNE
Collingwood finishes a turbulent 2017 season when they play finals bound Melbourne on Saturday afternoon at the MCG.
The Dees all but confirmed a spot in the finals with a tough gritty win over the Lions. The Pies after flying out of the gates and kicking 6 goals in the first qtr against Geelong then proceeded to kick only 3 more goals foe the match. That performance sums up the Pies this year. They have shown glimpses and teased supporters and they always remain competitive but when push comes to shove they are simply not good enough.
The Demons won't want to be entering there first finals appearance in 11 years with a loss and every player will be looking to put in a big performance to consolidate there spot in the side for finals. Jesse Hogan made a welcome return last week and the six goals he kicked may well have been the difference between winning and losing. Jack Watts is back this week and played a huge game early in the year when the Dees beat the Pies.
Collingwood get a few handy players back in Brodie Grundy and Tyson Goldsack. Will this be Nathan Buckley last game as coach of Collingwood? When you look at the Pies in the last month they have shown signs of a team desperate for the finish line.
You have to go here with Melbourne they will have everything to play for and the Pies might be a little flat.
BRISBANE v NORTH MELBOURNE
Brisbane Lions host North Melbourne at the Gabba on Saturday afternoon in a battle that will determine this years wooden spoon.
The Lions were brave last week and took Melbourne all the way before going down by a couple goals. Chris Fagan has done a wonderful job in his first year and everyone involved in the club seems happy and playing accordingly. In the second half of the season they have won four games and in the last month lost by two goals to the Bulldogs and Demons. Contrast that to North who were competitive for most of the year and could have won more than 5 games but in the past month have really fallen away as injuries kick in and the coaching staff take a look at untried kids. Players like Mason Wood - Jarrod Waite have been put out to pasture. The last six games the Kangas have won one against Melbourne in Hobart and lost five by margins of 70 - 27 - 54 - 28 - 49.
The opening prices for this game were Brisbane slight fave at around 1.80 -1.85. That understandably got knocked off early doors. The market has continued to move on the back of North declaring that captain Jack Ziebell and ruck duo Todd Goldstein and Brayden Preuss are all unlikely to play. The Lions are now as short as 1.50 - 1.45 to win. The line is also moving with most of the -12.5 being snapped up.
The traffic is all for the Lions here and its easy to see why. We know they are desperate to keep there good recent form up and finish on a high. They don't have any major injury worries and add to the fact the Brisbane heat (expected 23 degrees) and a game starting at 2pm and things don't look great for North who might well be happy to finish last and receive the coveted first round pick in the National Draft.
Take the Lions here at the line they are playing well and North don't look interested.
Brisbane -12.54 at 1.90-4
GEELONG v GWS
Geelong are back home when they host GWS in what looms as huge last round fixture. The Giants can still finish top if they win here and Adelaide loses. The Cats can jump over GWS into second place with a win. So the stakes are very high here.
The Cats get some handy players back here in Hawkins, Blicavs and Parfitt. The Giants also gain some good inclusions in Rory Lobb and someone who knows every blade of grass down at the Cattery in Stevie Johnson.
The Cats as always have been formidable at home losing just the one game there and that was to the Swans three weeks back when guess who was missing? Paddy Dangerfield! Joel Selwood was also injured that game. The Cats simply play the narrow dimensions to perfection and opposition sides struggle to adjust.
The parochial crowd will be large and loud here and is always worth a few extra goals to the home side. That might be the difference in what you would imagine will be a tight game.
We will take Geelong to continue there strong form at home and win a tight game.
Geelong 1-393 at 2.46-3
PORT ADELAIDE v GOLD COAST
Port Adelaide get the chance to have a big win before the finals when they play the Gold Suns at home on Saturday night.
Everything points to this being a very one sided game and just when you think the Suns off field dramas couldn't get any worse the latest news that Gary Ablett was named to play and then pulled out two hours later suggests things are really bad. Team morale must be at all time low and the fact that Ablett will never play for the Suns again will be a blessing for them in the future. For this week it will just add more noise and concerns and you would expect Port to feast on the Suns carcass.
Take Port at the minus 50.5 and also have something on the game total over 173.5 as you would expect goals galore here and not a lot of defence.
Port Adelaide -50.53 at 1.92+2.76
Total Points Over 173.52 at 1.90-2
ESSENDON v FREMANTLE
Essendon have the great opportunity in the early game on Sunday to cement a place in this years finals with a win over the struggling Fremantle.
The Bombers have been good at piling on the points this year and you would expect them to do so again this week against a Dockers side who look shot and just want the season over. Freo conceded 155 points at home last week and 143 points the week before to the Swans in Sydney.
I can see Essendon really sticking the boots in here and Joe Daniher could really fill his boots here and have a day out.
Tipping up a big minus hasn't panned out well this year but hard to see anything but a big win here for the Bombers.
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI Grand Final +9 11 82% Finals Week Three -4.2 12 -35% Finals Week Two +0.42 11 4% Finals Week One +7.18 11 65% Round Twenty-Three -9.09 21 -43% Round Twenty-Two +9.47 16 59% Round Twenty-One +8.55 13 66% Round Twenty -8 17 -47% Round Nineteen -9.2 13 -71% Round Eighteen +3.01 15 20% Round Seventeen +9.88 16 62% Round Sixteen -4.05 15 -27% Round Fifteen +0.12 13 1% Round Fourteen -2.48 15 -17% Round Thirteen +1.93 5 39% Round Twelve -6.3 14 -45% Round Eleven -2.1 9 -23% Round Ten -5.26 10 -53% Round Nine +4 11 36% Round Eight +10.01 9 111% Round Seven -10.26 17 -60% Round Six -2.4 14 -17% Round Five -12.3 18 -68% Round Four -5.21 11 -47% Round Three -1.16 10 -12% Round Two -11 11 -100% Round One -0.27 6 -5% Total -29.71 345 -9%