AFL Preview – Round 8

West Coast Eagles v Western Bulldogs

6.10pm (AWST), Friday, May 12 @ Domain Stadium

Teams: Liam Duggan should be in contention after being forced to withdraw from the Eagles’ Round 7 clash. Jake Stringer and Josh Dunkley are out injured for the Bulldogs, with Mitch Wallis and Tory Dickson shaping as replacements.

History: The Eagles have won 31 games to the Bulldogs’ 18, with 1 drawn. The Bulldogs won by 8 points in Round 11 last year and 47 points in the elimination final.

Form: West Coast are fourth with a 5-2 record, winning 2 straight over Fremantle and Port. The Bulldogs are fifth with a 5-2 record, bouncing back from their narrow loss to the Giants with a 5-point eclipse of the Tigers.

Stats: The Eagles boast a 19-1-5 record at home against the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have won 4 of their last 6 against the Eagles, but only 1 of their last 5 at Domain Stadium. The Eagles are 14-2 at Domain Stadium since the start of 2016. The Bulldogs are 5-4 outside Victoria since the start of last season.

Final Thoughts: The Eagles have copped their share of criticism already in 2017 but they’ve come out the other side impressively, culminating in a strong away over in-form Port. The Bulldogs are doing what they did last year: staying in contests through determination and grit, either going down gallantly or edging other teams out. This game will provide a huge boost for the winner with both sides in a logjam for second equal, but the Eagles’ home dominance makes them hard to back against.

Crow’s Tip: West Coast Eagles 1-24 @ $3.30

Hawthorn Hawks v Brisbane Lions

1.45pm (AEST), Saturday, May 13 @ University of Tasmania Stadium

Teams: Grant Birchall has been sidelined in a blow for the Hawks; Taylor Duryea or Bendan Whitecross will come in. Mitch Robinson is battling a foot injury, with Cedric Cox and Rohan Bewick in line to replace him in the Lions’ line-up.

History: The Hawks have won 16 games to the Lions’ 13, including a 48-point victory at the Gabba last season.

Form: The 2-5 Hawks are in 16th place, but they have bookended their woeful Round 6 loss to the Saints with victories over the Eagles and Demons. The 1-6 Lions are in last, with last week’s heavy defeat to the previously winless Swans their sixth in a row.

Stats: The Hawks have a 12-4 home advantage over the Lions, including a 6-1 record in Launceston. The Hawks have 7 straight against the Lions – all by 42-plus points. The Hawks’ Round 6 loss to the Saints ended a 19-match, 5-year winning streak at University of Tasmania Stadium. The Lions have won just 2 of 13 away games since the start of 2016.

Final Thoughts: Forget their shocking defeat to St Kilda for a second and the Hawks have turned their terrible start to 2017 around admirably. The Lions, meanwhile, slipped to last spot and seem destined to stay there for the rest of the season after playing the Swans into form. The Hawks will be determined to repay their Tassie fans after the Saints debacle.

Crow’s Tip: Hawthorn Hawks -41.5 @ $1.90

St Kilda Saints v Carlton Blues

2.10pm (AEST), Saturday, May 13 @ Etihad Stadium

Teams: Mav Weller pulled out of the Saints’ win last week but will be hoping to come straight back into the side, while Luke Dunstan looks like replacing the suspended Koby Stevens. David Cunningham is pushing for a Blues call-up after starring in the VFL last week.

History: Carlton have won 152 games to St Kilda’s 53, with 2 drawn. The Saints notched wins by 32 and 71 points in 2016.

Form: The 4-3 Saints have inched up to seventh spot thanks to their Friday night upset of the Giants in Round 7. The 3-4 Blues are in 13th after downing Collingwood last week.

Stats: The Saints have won 18 of their last 24 against the Blues, but the Blues have won 4 of the last 6. Each of the last 6 encounters between the clubs have been decided by 32 points or more. The Saints are 12-7 at Etihad since the start of last season (3-2 in 2017). The Blues are 3-5 at the venue since the start of 2016 (0-1 this year).

Final Thoughts: The Saints are on a real roll after winning four of their last five, and are starting to look like they can deliver on the promise they’ve shown in recent seasons and challenge for the finals. The Blues are a plucky bunch, but they’ve scored less points than any team in the league and may struggle against a Saints side that has piled them on in 2017.

Crow’s Tip: St Kilda -27.5 @ $1.90

GWS Giants v Collingwood Magpies

4.35pm (AEST), Saturday, May 13 @ Spotless Stadium

Teams: The Giants have lost Adam Kennedy and Jacob Hopper to injury, but Lachie Whitfield and Sam Reid are available again. Daniel Wells will return for the Pies after being rested last week.

History: Collingwood have won all 5 of their matches against GWS, including a 32-point win in Sydney last year.

Form: The 5-2 Giants are in second spot, but their 5-match winning streak came to an end via a loss to the Saints last Friday. The 2-5 Magpies are struggling in 15th, with last week’s loss to the Blues heaps more pressure on coach Nathan Buckley.

Stats: The Magpies 3-0 against the Giants in Sydney. Four of the Magpies’ 5 wins have come by margins of 32 points or more. The Giants are 7-3 at Spotless since the start of 2016 (1-0 this year). The Magpies are 2-4 interstate since the start of last season.

Final Thoughts: The raging pre-season title favourites have proved they aren’t infallible, but the Giants nevertheless done a decent job sailing along in the top four despite a heavy injury toll. The Magpies just can’t get it together and look more likely to finish in the bottom four than return to the finals. GWS have another couple of absentees to cover for this week but should be able to ride their excellent record at Spotless to a big win.

Crow’s Tip: GWS Giants 40+ @ $2.18

Essendon Bombers v Geelong Cats

7.25pm (AEST), Saturday, May 13 @ MCG

Teams: Jobe Watson and Andy McGrath are set to return for the Bombers, with Ben McNiece also a strong chance. Lachie Henderson is still in doubt after being a late withdrawal for the Cats last week, while Joel Selwood will also need to pass a fitness test on his ankle.

History: The Bombers have won 113 games to the Cats’ 97, with 5 drawn. Geelong was by 30 and 66 points in the teams’ clashes last season.

Form: The 3-4 Bombers are in 12th position, losing their last 2 to Melbourne and Fremantle. The 5-2 Cats remain in third place despite upset losses to the Magpies and Suns in the past fortnight.

Stats: The Cats have won 12 of their last 13 – including the last 6 straight – against the Bombers, including 8 wins by 40+. The Bombers are 4-6 at the MCG since the start of 2016 (2-1 this year). The Cats are 5-3 at the venue during the same period (1-1 in 2017).

Final Thoughts: The Bombers are at an early crossroads – they need to keep chalking up regular wins to stay in touch with the finals contenders. The Cats, meanwhile, find themselves in a little bit of a hole after a rollicking start to the season; they’re equally desperate to get back on a winning track. There’s little question who the better team are, but with the Bombers getting some key players back and the Cats sweating on a couple of their stars it could be closer than expected.

Crow’s Tip: Geelong Cats 1-39 @ $2.16

Adelaide Crows v Melbourne Demons

7.10pm (ACST), Saturday, May 13 @ Adelaide Oval

Teams: Wayne Milera is set to return for the Crows, but Tom Lynch has to pass concussion tests. Alex Neal-Bullen and Dean Kent loom as inclusions for the Demons.

History: The Crows have won 23 games to the Demons’ 12, including a 22-point victory at the MCG last season.

Form: The Crows remain alone at the top of the table despite suffering their first loss of 2017 last weekend to the lowly Kangaroos. The 3-4 Demons slipped to 10th after sinking to a 3-point loss to the out-of-sorts Hawks last weekend.

Stats: The Crows hold a 14-4 advantage in home games against the Demons, including 8 of the last 9 Adelaide-hosted encounters. The Crows have won 4 of their last 5 against the Demons overall. Just 1 of the teams’ last 7 meetings was decided by less than 22 points. The Crows are 15-2 at Adelaide Oval since the start of 2016 (4-0 this season). The Demons are 3-4 interstate since the start of last season.

Final Thoughts: Few saw the Crows’ first loss of the season coming, but as the Kangaroos (who ironically ended Adelaide’s run) proved last season a long winning streak quickly can become an albatross around the neck. The Demons will be ruing last week’s lost opportunity, though they did show some spirit to come back and almost grab a win against the Hawks. Count on the Crows bouncing back emphatically, however, with their Adelaide Oval record the envy of every club in the competition.

Crow’s Tip: Adelaide Crows by 40-59 @ $4.20

Richmond Tigers v Fremantle Dockers

1.10pm (AEST), Sunday, May 14 @ MCG

Teams: Toby Nankervis is a certainty to be recalled by Richmond, with Ivan Soldo or Todd Elton to make way. Danyle Pearce, Nick Suban and Griffin Logue are in the mix for Fremantle after strong WAFL showings last weekend.

History: The Tigers have won 18 games to the Dockers’ 15, including a 38-point win in Perth last season.

Form: The 5-2 Tigers have dropped to sixth after consecutive losses to the Crows and Bulldogs. The 4-3 Dockers are in ninth spot, returning to the winner’s circle via a 37-point win over the Bombers last week.

Stats: The Tigers have a 10-5 record against the Dockers at home. The Tigers have won 3 of their last 5 against the Dockers, but they have not won back-to-back games in the rivalry since 2010-11. The teams’ last 8 encounters were decided by 1-39 margins. The Tigers are 11-7 at the MCG since the start of last season (4-0 in 2017). The Dockers are 2-10 away from Perth since the start of 2016 (1-1 this season).

Final Thoughts: The Tigers have had their confidence rattled by consecutive losses to big-name teams, though there was significant improvement in their narrow loss to the Dogs. The Dockers continue to stay in the finals mix and a win here would be an enormous boost to their prospects, but they are yet to prove their ability to win away from Perth consistently. Nankervis is a big in for the Tigers and they should get the spoils in a hard-fought contest.

Crow’s Tip: Richmond Tigers 1-39 @ $2.16

Gold Coast Suns v Port Adelaide Power

1.15pm (AEST), Sunday, May 14 @ Jiangwan Sports Stadium

Teams: The Suns are unlikely to change up their winning side much, but Rory Thompson is in the frame for a comeback. Brett Eddy, Angus Monfries and Jimmy Toumpas are pushing for recalls after starring at SANFL level.

History: Port Adelaide have won 6 of their 7 games against Gold Coast, including a 23-point win at Metricon Stadium late last season.

Form: The Suns have risen to 11th with a 3-4 record on the back of their upset over Geelong. The 4-3 Power are in seventh, with their 2-game winning run ended by a 10-point home loss to the Eagles in Round 7.

Stats: The Power have won 6 straight against the Suns. The last 5 matches between the sides were decided by 1-39 margins. The Suns are 2-12 away from the Gold Coast since the start of 2016 (1-2 this season). The Power are 8-5 away from Adelaide since the start of last season (2-1 in 2017).

Final Thoughts: The AFL heads to Singapore for this historic clash, which throws an element of the unknown into an already intriguing match-up. The Suns are slowly proving they are a force to be reckon with as Gary Ablett regains top form, while Port have enjoyed a strong campaign so far but are licking their wounds after a home defeat. The Suns’ poor away record is a concern but they look a good option with a big start.

Crow’s Tip: Gold Coast Suns +20.5 @ $1.95

North Melbourne Kangaroos v Sydney Swans

4.40pm (AEST), Sunday, May 14 @ Etihad Stadium

Teams: Jarrad Waite has been suspended, leaving Taylor Garner as his logical replacement as he returns from injury. Gary Rohan and Kurt Tippett should be available for the Swans.

History: The Swans have won 85 games to the Kangaroos’ 73, with 1 drawn. The Swans won by 26 points in Sydney and 9 points in Hobart last season.

Form: The 14th-placed Kangaroos have won 2 straight after losing their first 5, beating the Suns and Crows. The 1-6 Swans are in second-last, notching their first win of the season in Round 7 against the Lions. The Swans are 8-8 away since the start of last season (0-3 in 2017). The Kangaroos are 9-8 at Etihad Stadium since the start of 2016 (1-3 this year).

Stats: The Swans have won 11 of their last 13 against the Kangaroos, including the last 3 at Etihad Stadium. The last 4 games between the clubs were decided by 26 points or less.

Final Thoughts: The Kangaroos have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround after their 0-5 start, while the Swans finally enjoyed some relief by grabbing their first of the year – and it was a big one. The Kangaroos will be battle-hardened after their impressive last fortnight, but Waite’s absence is huge. The Swans will be able to smell an opportunity to make something of their season with a win here, and they have the big guns on hand to make it two in a row.

Crow’s Tip: Sydney Swans 1-39 @ $2.70

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