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View from Down Under: the Countdown to the AFL and NRL Finals is On

August is here next week, which means that the days are getting longer, the weather is getting better – sometimes – and the footy finals are almost here.

There are six rounds remaining in the AFL season, and with just two wins separating third from 11th, there are plenty of classic “eight-point” games on the horizon.

The “eight-point” game is a term used to describe a game – normally toward the end of the season – when you lose a game to a rival club that sits so close to you on the ladder that it is vying for the same spot in the finals.

A win is worth four points in the AFL, so by winning a game like this, it’s really worth double.

This weekend’s “eight-pointer” comes up on Sunday, when the eighth-place Essendon Bombers take on the Western Bulldogs, who sit in 10th place on the ladder, despite winning last season’s Premiership.

The Bombers are $1.82 (-122) favorites, with the Dogs at $2 (+100), in what should be a tight affair in both the betting markets and on the field. The line is at just 1.5 points, and considering a goal is worth six points, that’s what you call a tight line.

In the NRL, a win is only worth two points, so there are a couple of “four-pointers” worth looking at.

The match of the round sees the third-place Broncos head south to the Olympic Stadium in Sydney on Friday night to face the seventh-place Eels. While both clubs are well-placed to be among the finals action, they’ll both have their sights set on a top-four finish, which comes with a “double-chance.”

The finals/playoffs system in both the NRL and the AFL is set up to give the teams that finish inside the top four the best chance of walking away with the ultimate prize. First plays fourth, and second plays third, in the qualifying finals, where the loser meets the winners of the fifth vs eighth and sixth vs seventh elimination finals.

Daniel Ricciardo will have one eye on how the big weekend of footy is playing out for his beloved West Coast Eagles from Hungary, where he is currently preparing for the 11th Formula One Grand Prix of the season.

The West Australian currently sits 37 points behind third-place Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in fourth place in the driver standings, which is a solid achievement.

The energetic 28-year-old won the second Grand Prix of his F1 career at this track, in 2014, and is considered a $501 (+50000) shot to win it again this year, but will be doing well to beat the Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton ($1.50 or -200) and Bottas ($15 or +1400), while Sebastian Vettel is assessed as a $3 (+200) chance.

Before Danny Ric hits the track in Hungary, we will know the two finalists in the Super Rugby competition, but we already know none of them will be from Australia.

The first semifinal takes place on Saturday afternoon in Christchurch, New Zealand, when the Crusaders host the Chiefs. Having won all 16 of their home playoff matches in their history, the $1.32 (-312) for the Christchurch-based outfit to make the final looks safe.

The second semifinal kicks off some eight hours later, in Johannesburg, South Africa, when the Lions are a $2.05 (or +105) outsider to beat another New Zealand franchise, the Hurricanes ($1.80 or -125).

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