A return to form in Week One of the AFL finals saw Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy boot four goals and dispel any doubt about his potential impact this September.

It’s said of many top footballers, but Eagle Josh Kennedy personifies the phrase ‘big game player’. The two-time Coleman Medalist booted four goals in last week’s elimination final against Essendon, despite a lacklustre run-in to the AFL finals series. Kennedy had kicked just five goals in the four preceding games but when his side needed him, he duly turned it on. And it’s a common thread throughout his career. Prior to last year’s finals series – where he would go on to taste the ultimate success with the Eagles – Kennedy missed the five games leading up to the qualifying final against Collingwood. But he went on to kick nine goals across three finals to play a pivotal role in West Coast’s first flag since 2006.

Kennedy’s brilliant start to the finals campaign moves him to an equal $3.75 favourite in Palmerbet’s ‘most goals’ finals special, alongside Tiger star Dustin Martin.

Crunching the numbers

Kennedy has played in 15 finals for the Eagles, kicking 36 goals – a strong return for a key forward in the modern game. On 11 of the 15 occasions he has kicked two or more goals, highlighting his consistency on the big stage. The continued rise of forward partner and fellow twin tower Jack Darling has also allowed Kennedy to flourish. While Darling may now demand the opposition’s best defender, Kennedy works deeper in the forward 50, to devastating effect.

The Cat challenge

Despite a poor result in the first week of the finals, Kennedy knows the distinct challenge Geelong presents. Back in round six – the only time the pair faced off in 2019 – the Cats saluted handsomely by 58 points. “They didn’t finish on top for no reason. They’ve got a quality midfield, they’ve got quality players,” Kennedy said this week. “We know it’s going to be game on and they’re a terrific side and it’s going to be a massive challenge for us to get over to the ‘G and play Geelong.” His Eagles side start that clash as $1.80 favourites with Palmerbet.

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