2018 AFL Round 21 Betting Preview: Odds, Game Trends, Week Analysis

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2018

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 03: Debutant, Ryan Abbott of the Cats and Shaun Grigg of the Tigers compete in a ruck contest during the 2018 AFL round 20 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 03, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images

Three rounds remain in the AFL season, and with 12 teams still alive in the Premiership race there are several important games this week. However, Saturday's contest between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats is a season-defining one.

It's always a big game when the Hawks meet the Cats, but with Geelong sitting just one win behind their rivals and one victory outside the eight, this one has some extra meaning and could decide each club's fortunes in 2018.

Both sides are coming off nailbiting finishes last week. Gary Ablett had the chance to win the game for Geelong in the dying minutes of last Friday's encounter against the reigning Premiers, but when his shot sailed wide he and his teammates were left wondering what could have been.

It was a different story for the Hawks, who held on for a four-point win over the Essendon Bombers at the MCG that saw them move up to fifth position on the ladder.

Alistair Clarkson's men triumphed by a single point when these sides last met in the second round, a win that snapped a four-game winning streak by the Cats.

Geelong are a $1.66 AUD betting favorite for a crucial win that will go a long way to securing them a third straight finals campaign while the Hawks are out at $2.20, according to AustralianGambling.

As soon as that contest finishes up at the MCG, all eyes will turn to the Adelaide Oval for the seventh-placed Port Adelaide Power's match against the second-placed West Coast Eagles.

Port's top-four hopes took a massive hit last week when they fell just three points short of their cross-town rival the Adelaide Crows, while the Eagles belted their in-state rivals, the Fremantle Dockers, by 58 points.

Ken Hinkley's side are just one win inside the top eight and can't afford to drop this one at home in the lead-up to September, while West Coast's victory last week came at a huge cost.

Star Eagles midfielder Andrew Gaff was handed an eight-match suspension by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night for an off the ball hit on Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw.

The suspension is equal to the longest in league history; his teammates are $2.65 outsiders to win without him, while Port are in at $1.49.

The 11th placed Essendon Bombers ($1.19) and the 10th placed North Melbourne Kangaroos ($1.30) are both heavily favoured to keep their finals chances alive with wins over the St Kilda Saints ($4.75) and Western Bulldogs ($3.55), respectively, while the shortest priced favourite of the round are the Richmond Tigers, who are at the incredibly short odds of $1.01 to defeat the Gold Coast Suns ($17).

The other Queensland side, the Brisbane Lions ($3.66), meet the Collingwood Magpies ($1.29) at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, while the Greater Western Sydney Giants ($1.40) and the Melbourne Demons ($1.37) are favoured to continue their march toward a top-four finish with wins over the Adelaide Crows ($2.95) and the Sydney Swans ($3.10), respectively.