Three down, one to go. The Eagles will host the Magpies in the 1st elimination final to close out Week 1 in the AFL Finals series on Saturday night. It will be a rematch of the classic 2018 Grand Final and tensions will be high as the Magpies look to get revenge. As usual, we have a preview and betting tips for the clash below.
Remember, we will be providing a dedicated preview and betting tips for every single game in the AFL Finals, so make sure you check out our dedicated AFL Betting Tips page for more content regularly.
Optus Stadium, Saturday 8.10pm (AEST)
The Eagles have won eight of their last 10 games so it might sound strange to say that they limped into the AFL Finals. They battled a myriad of injuries late in the season and to win their last game but ultimately it wasn’t enough to secure the top four position that they were hunting. Their last four games won’t instil much confidence heading into the finals. Even though three of them were wins, they each came by a margin of 15 points against the Bombers, Saints and Kangaroos.
Mark Hutchings, Lewis Jetta, Josh Kennedy, Jeremy McGovern, Jack Redden, Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo are amongst the injury concerns for the Eagles heading into the finals. Most of them will likely play, but what type of shape will they be in and how much of a detriment to the team will their injuries be?
In the wake of injuries to midfielders in Jack Redden, Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey, it’s been Andrew Gaff that has picked up the slack, averaging 26.14 touches per game over the last seven games. He also has a dominant record against the Pies, racking up 31 disposals per game in his last three matchups.
The Magpies are the only team in the finals who are coming off a loss. They had a chance to jump into the top six and avoid a matchup with the Eagles but ultimately couldn’t get the job done in the final round of the home and away season against the Power. They went down by 16 points on Monday night football in a gallant effort.
The Pies are also battling some injuries and selection issue, most notably the likes of Jeremy Howe, Steele Sidebottom, Ben Reid and Tom Phillips, who will all miss this week. Brayden Sier and Chris Mayne will both need to pass fitness tests to play this week.
If the Pies are to be any chance at all in this game, Brodie Grundy needs to be massive going forward and stemming the flow of the All-Australian ruckman Nic Naitanui. Grundy averages 16 touches a game in his last four against the Pies and had 18 on Monday night against the Power.
At full strength, I think the Eagles are way to strong for the Magpies, but both teams ae battling injuries which could result in a bit of a scrappy, close game. The last four games the Eagles have been involved in have resulted in an average margin of just 11.75 points. For the Pies, that number in their last three games is just 15.3.
This has the making of a true 2018 Grand Final repeat, one that keeps us on the edge of our seats until the dying minutes.
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