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Aussie Rules: A look ahead to next week

There is a busy week of sporting action to look forward to in the week ahead as both the AFL and NRL approach the business end of the season with finals on the horizon.

Geelong have gone clear at the top of the AFL ladder after beating Port Adelaide at the weekend while second-placed Melbourne slipped to defeat.

But it is still very tight with the minor premiership, top two, top four and top eight all to be decided. It will go right to the wire but round 20 could have a huge say in the final standings.

The NRL is also very tight. The Panthers continue to dominate the competition as they have a comfortable lead at the top of the ladder.

The minor premiership looks to be in the bag but there is plenty to sort out below them with the rounds ticking away. Round 20 looks to have all the makings of a cracker with some of the big guns going head-to-head.

There is lots to look forward to so let’s take a closer look at the week ahead.
 

Fremantle and Melbourne the highlight of round 20

Round 20 of the AFL gets underway with a great match-up between Fremantle and Melbourne at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

The Demons lost to the Western Bulldogs over the weekend and need a reaction in the west if they are to keep the pressure on Geelong at the top of the ladder. They are priced at 4/5 to win.

Freo had to settle for a very rare draw against Richmond last start but are well in the mix for a top-four finish. They lost to Sydney the last time they were on home soil and will be out for the four points. This one has all the makings of a classic with the Dockers priced at 51/50.

Elsewhere leaders Geelong will be out to make it 10 wins on the spin when they entertain a Western Bulldogs side that just turned over reigning premiers Melbourne.

The Bulldogs are into the eight and will be fighting for their lives to stay there so the Cats will have to be at their very best.

Richmond versus Brisbane on the Sunday is another exciting prospect. Richmond’s top-eight hopes  are dangling by a thread and they need to beat a Brisbane side that sit third on the ladder.

Collingwood against Port Adelaide could also be a belter. The Pies are pushing for the top four, while Port Adelaide are two wins away from the eight and nothing other than a surprise win at the MCG will do.

Sydney and Carlton have very winnable games against GWS and Adelaide respectively as they look to cement their places in finals.

St Kilda will attempt to keep their top-eight hopes alive by beating Hawthorn. To conclude round 20 the Gold Coast Titans will entertain West Coast Eagles, while Essendon will lock horns with North Melbourne.
 

Eels out to complete Panthers double

Parramatta are the only team to have beaten the Penrith Panthers this season and they will get the chance to complete the double when the two sides clash on Friday night.

It is a big ask though as the Eels have been up and down this season and have work to do to make the top eight and play finals. The Eels are priced at 1/7 to make the eight.

Manly Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters get round 20 underway on Thursday night. It is a huge game as Manly sit in ninth, the Roosters in eighth with both side locked on 20 points.

The Melbourne Storm’s losing streak is continuing and they need to stop the rot when they head to New Zealand to take on the Warriors on Friday night.

Saturday looks like being a super one with two games in particular standing out.

The Cronulla Sharks taking on South Sydney Rabbitohs is a mouthwatering prospect. Both of these sides have premiership ambitions and with finals fast approaching this game will test out their credentials.

The Brisbane Broncos are also flying and should consolidate their place in the top four with a win over the Wests Tigers. The third game on Saturday sees the Gold Coast Titans take on the Canberra Raiders, who need to win to keep alive their finals hopes.

The round is wrapped up on Sunday with the Newcastle Knights taking on the Canterbury Bulldogs, while North Queensland Cowboys face a tricky away trip against the Dragons.

The Cowboys are battling to finish second behind Penrith while the Dragons need the points to stay in touch with the top eight.

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