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View from Down Under: the Best Month of the Year Has Arrived and Punters are Spoiled for Choice

September is here, which means it’s time for the footy finals, with vital games in both the AFL and NRL this weekend.

In the AFL, the minor premier Adelaide Crows kick off the action Thursday with a qualifying final against emerging force the GWS Giants.

The Crows were runaway 56-point winners when the teams last met in March, but a lot has changed since then and GWS will be no pushover.

Despite some lackluster late-season form, both the Crows and Giants are considered genuine premiership contenders.

The Giants’ last regular-season match ended in a 44-point away loss to the Geelong Cats, while the Crows lost their last two games to the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles.

The Crows are $1.50 (-200) favorites to take the win in front of a home crowd, while GWS is not to be discounted at $2.60 (+160).

The Cats host Richmond and are tipped to end another hope-filled Tigers finals campaign. The Cats have history on their side, winning their last five encounters against the Melbourne club.

Geelong is paying $1.75 (-133) to continue that impressive record, but at $2.08 (+108), plenty of punters will be looking for Richmond to continue its season of surprises.

The Sydney Swans have a 5-0 head-to-head record against the Bombers dating back to 2011, but Essendon has proved it is capable of an upset.

The Swans are on just $1.20 (-500) to stay alive in the finals, while the $4.60 (+360) for the Bombers could be hard to pass up.

The Eagles have won five of their six games at the Adelaide Oval, including a victory over the Power in round 7 this season. But the Power repaid the compliment with a win in Perth in round 17.

The Power is the narrow favorite to advance at $1.45 (-222), with $2.75 (+175) for the Eagles.

The Sydney Roosters kick off the NRL finals when they host the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night.

Both teams ended the regular season with wins, albeit expensive ones. The Roosters survived a scare to scrape past the Gold Coast Titans, while the Broncos managed to hold off Queensland rivals the Cowboys.

The Broncos’ win came at the cost of a hamstring injury to skipper Darius Boyd, who is replaced at fullback by Kodi Nikorima, while veteran Benji Marshall moves to the halves.

Given third-place Brisbane’s woes, the fourth-place Roosters are the $1.60 (-167) favorites to take the win, with the Broncos on $2.35 (+135).

Minor premiers Melbourne hosts the resurgent Parramatta Eels, with the bulk of the money on another dominating Storm finals performance.

The Storm have lost just four games this season, while the Eels have put together one of their most impressive campaigns in recent years.

At $1.22 (-455), the Storm are heavy favorites to continue their march to the Grand Final, but $4.35 (+335) for the Eels could be worth a punt.

The Manly Sea Eagles are paying just $1.60 (-167) to beat Penrith at home a week after downing the Panthers 28-12. Penrith, which ended the regular season in seventh place, is at $2.35 (+135).

Defending champion Cronulla is expected to end the Cowboys’ season at home on Sunday, paying $1.35 (-286) for a win against $3.20 (+220) for a loss.