Finals Contenders Face Off in Pivotal AFL Round 19 Clashes

Numerous AFL finals contenders will face off in round 19 as this round promises to be a bruising battle with the potential for upsets.

Essendon vs Sydney (Friday at Etihad Stadium)

The 11th place Bombers are just 2 games off the 4th place Swans with Essendon having roared back into finals contention with 4 wins out of 5. Sydney has a great winning streak on the line against Essendon but they have to travel to Melbourne for this clash. The return of Conor McKenna and Jake Stringer should buoy the Bombers while Heath Grundy is back for the Swans.

Sydney is a good team but their consistency has been iffy this year, the Bombers are fantastic when their attack is firing. Zach Merrett and Devon Smith have been the Bomber leaders and they should put together another all-Australian performance to lead them to a home win. Essendon by 19

Richmond vs Collingwood (Saturday at the MCG)

1st battles 3rd as Richmond looks to sweep Collingwood in the regular season at the MCG. Two of the AFL’s biggest clubs have put together solid seasons and both sides have won 4 out of 5. Darcy Moore returns but Jordan De Goey is out for the Pies. Jacob Townsend returns for the Tigers while Liam Baker debuts. If Collingwood wins it would likely be because of a memorable performance from ruck Brodie Grundy and their midfielders firing at their best, most notably Taylor Adams. Richmond has been the best and most balanced side in the competition though and have owned the MCG. Collingwood has a punchers chance but I’d expect the favorites to prevail. Richmond by 24

Geelong vs Brisbane Lions (Saturday in Geelong)

Brisbane has just 4 wins on the season but three of those have come in their last five games as the Lions are finally putting things together and look set to make a run next season. Geelong is in the thick of a finals fight and can ill afford a loss to a team already out of finals contention. The Lions return backline defenders Harris Andrews and Luke Hodge, while Lachie Fogart is the in for Geelong. Geelong has the better side and Tim Kelly and Patrick Dangerfield will help lift them over the finish line. Geelong by 14

GWS Giants vs St. Kilda (Saturday at Spotless Stadium)

These teams drew in round 5 and GWS would like to get a win in the rubber match to maintain their finals position. The Saints have actually won three of their last five and are in their best patch of the season while GWS has won 4 of 5. The Giants make just one change this week with Sam Taylor in, while the Saints drop Ed Phillips, Hunter Clark, Bailey Rice, and David Armitage, with Jack Lonie, Blake Acres, and Nick Coffield among the returnees. I’d expect the Saints to put up a fight but Lachie Whitfield and the Giants have the upperhand throughout the ground. Giants by 36

Gold Coast Suns vs Carlton (Saturday at Metricon Stadium)

Carlton will likely ensure the golden spoon with a loss here on the road at Metricon. The Suns thumped the Blues in R2 and Levi Casboult is among the outs as the Blues make five changes this week. The Suns swap in three new players with David Swallow returning. I’d expect the Suns to have more fight and fire here and get over the line. Suns by 42

Adelaide Crows vs Melbourne Demons (Saturday at the Adelaide Oval)

12th vs 7th on the ladder, this is one of the matches of the round. The Demons destroyed the Crows in round 2 but Adelaide has bounced back to remain on the edge of finals contention. Melbourne needs a win here and bring an unchanged side to Adelaide  while Tex Walker returns for the Crows. This match could truly go either way but at home the Crows should get their revenge with Matt Crouch leading the way. Crows by 30

North Melbourne vs West Coast (Sunday in Tasmania)

The Eagles have won their last three against North and after two straight losses the Kangaroos finals hopes are fading fast. West Coast has won three straight after a rough patch and are slight favorites in this match. Tasmania has been good for North though so this game could go either way in my estimation. I’d expect a close battle with Josh J. Kennedy outkicking Ben Brown and Andrew Gaff leading a solid Eagles midfield to the win. West Coast by 12

Western Bulldogs vs Port Adelaide Power (Sunday in Ballarat)

The Bulldogs lost to the Power in R13 and have not had a good season. Port is looking to stop a skid of 2 straight defeats and this game presents a great opportunity to do so. The return of Paddy Ryder and Steven Motlop should help them pull off a win as Luke Dahlhaus is out for the  Dogs and this is looking like a lost year for them. Port Adelaide by 44

Fremantle vs Hawthorn (Sunday at Optus Stadium)

Freo hasn’t been Hawthorn in four tries and despite being at home they should be at a disadvantage in this one against the finals contending Hawks. Jaeger O’Meara and Shaun Burgoyne returning is critical for their chances as Brownlow leader Tom Mitchell should put in another 30+ disposal game, feeding Luke Breust to secure the win. Hawthorn by 30

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