Three previews down and one to go for the first week of the 2018 AFL Finals series. If you want to go back and check out our previews for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon games we’ll leave the links just below. Alternatively, you can read on to check out our preview and betting tips for the massive clash between the West Coast Eagles and Collingwood Magpies from Optus Stadium this Saturday night starting at 8.10pm (AEST).
After three losses in a row in the middle of the season, West Coast were in danger of potentially dropping out of the top four, however, they held it together to win six of their next eight games and secure second spot on the ladder. The great finish to the season was much without come key players in Jack Darling, Josh Kennedy and Andrew Gaff who all missed multiple games through injury and suspension and of course the Eagles have been without Nic Naitanui for the majority of the season.
Thankfully for the Eagles, both Darling and Kennedy should be available for this game, giving them one of the most dynamic forward lines in the competition once again. The Eagles have not lost a game in 2018 when both key forwards have been in the line-up, and their three-game skid in the middle of the season was due to Darling missing all three and Kennedy missing two.
Jeremy Howe will be available for the Pies and should be the likely matchup for one of the key bigs, however, they are still pretty thin down back and could see first year player Jack Magden line up on the other. The Pies midfield has been strong once again in 2018. Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, Taylor Adams and Tom Phillips have been the catalyst for the Pies success along with one of the most dominant ruckman in the league in Brodie Grundy.
Grundy might not have as much of an impact in this game, however, as even though Naitanui remains on the sidelines, the Eagles still have two big and talented ruckman to combat Grundy. Both Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy should play for the Eagles, giving them an absolutely monstrous team and particularly a massive forward line when one of them rests up there. Collingwood just don’t have enough key defenders.
Injured midfielder Adam Treloar is an interesting prospect leading into this weekend’s clash. One of Collingwood’s most important players when fit, Treloar tore both hamstrings back in Round 14 and is a slight chance to be available for this game.
Regardless of whether or not Treloar plays, I think the game will definitely be won or lost in the West Coast forward line. There’s not a defence in the league that can stem the flow of Darling/Kennedy/Mark LeCras/Jamie Cripps when they are in full flight. The Collingwood defence will be pushed to the brink here and I’m not sure if they will be able to stop the Eagles scoring 100+.
I like the Eagles to cover the 10.5-point line here and set up a home preliminary final.
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