Round 17 in the AFL season officially kicks off this Thursday night with a very interesting clash between the Saints and Eagles from The Gabba at 7.10pm! As usual, we have a full preview and betting tips for the standalone Thursday night game below.
Gabba, 7.10pm (AEST)
The game is massive in the context of finals seeding with the Saints fighting to keep their spot in the top eight and the Eagles trying to jump into the top four to secure the all-important double chance.
The Saints looked like they were a lock to play finals this season before heartbreaking back to back losses to the Lions and Demons by a combined margin of just five points put their season in jeopardy. They bounced back in Round 16 to defeat the Hawks by 14 points and put their destiny back in their own hands.
St Kilda currently sit in 6th place but have a pack of trailing teams within one game of them, including Collingwood, GWS and the Western Bulldogs. They have two tough games to round out the season against the Eagles and Giants and one win through those two games should be enough to see them finish in the top eight given they have a pretty strong percentage.
Jack Steele has been one of the standout players in the AFL this season and currently sits in third place on our Brownlow Leaderboard. Steele relishes the roles on star midfielders and he will likely get the matchup on Tim Kelly or Luke Shuey on Thursday night. Made a mockery of big time midfielders in the likes of Patrick Cripps, Lachie Neale, Jack Macrae and Travis Boak earlier in the season and should have another big game here.
The Eagles did their damage throughout the middle of the season and are now in cruise control, having lost two of their last three games to the Tigers and Dogs. They still have a lot to play for, however, as they currently sit just two points behind the Tigers in fourth place and will be desperate to jump into the top four to secure the double chance.
The Eagles are battling some injuries at the moment but got star forward Josh Kennedy back from a concussion against the Dogs and the likes of Jake Waterman, Jack Petruccelle and Elliot Yeo look like they aren’t too far away.
Prop tip out of left-field here but one thing the Saints have not been great at this year is keeping their long kicks down the line away from the opposing teams key intercept marker. In their last three games before their win over the Hawks, the Saints allowed an average of 18.6 touches ad 7.3 marks to Michael Hurley, Harris Andrews and Steven May. Jeremy McGovern will be on the end of those long kicks this week.
Tough game to call here. The Eagles have a few out through injury but you still have to give them the slight advantage, which the bookies have done, starting them as a 4.5 point favourite. They have a lot on the line and it’s not out of the question for them to finish in the top four if they win their last two games given the Tigers have a tough matchup against Geelong on Friday night.
Like the Eagles to win this one in a pretty close game, should cover the small spread though.
Note: Since posting this article, the saints have firmed into favouritsm. We still like the Eagles nad will be happy to take the extra value on offer here.
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