AFL semi-final weekend sees the Cats looking to avoid a straight sets exit against the Eagles, as Brisbane host GWS seeking a first finals win in 10 years.
Friday 13th September, 19:50 (AEST)
|J. Kolodjashnij, M. Blicavs, J. Henry||B||T. Barrass, W. Schofield, B. Sheppard|
|HB||M.O’Connor, H. Taylor, T. Stewart||HB||S. Hurn, J. McGovern, L. Jetta|
|C||C. Guthrie, P. Dangerfield, J. Selwood||C||J. Redden, E. Yeo, A. Gaff|
|HF||G. Ablett, E. Ratugolea, T. Atkins||HF||J. Cripps, J. Darling, C. Masten|
|F||L. Dahlhaus, T. Hawkins, G. Miers||F||J. Petruccelle, J. Kennedy, L. Ryan|
|FOL||R. Stanley, B. Parfitt, T. Kelly||FOL||N. Naitanui, L. Shuey, D. Sheed|
|I/C||Z. Tuohy, S. Menegola, Q. Narkle, J. Bews||I/C||J. Waterman, T. Hickey, J. Nelson, M. Hutchings|
History: Played 52: Geelong 25 v West Coast 26 (1 draw).
Last Meeting: AFL Round 6, 2019: Geelong 15.14 (104) defeated West Coast 7.4 (46) at GMHBA Stadium.
It’s all becoming disappointingly familiar for Cats fans. In losing to the Pies last week, Geelong suffered it’s third straight year of week-one finals defeats. And while finishing atop the AFL ladder has afforded them the lifeline of a double chance, the loss sees them up against a dangerous West Coast side on the hunt for back-to-back flags. Should they lose, Geelong would be the first minor premiers since 1983 to go out in straight sets – a record under-fire coach Chris Scott is (naturally) desperate to avoid.
And while they’ll take some solace in the fact they easily accounted for the Eagles by 58 points in their only meeting this year, the fact is that finals footy is becoming a problem for the Cats. Having lost 10 of their last 13 September games, they have lost confidence on the big stage. A week, as they say, is a long time in footy however. And at the MCG on Friday night, they have their biggest chance to prove the growing doubters wrong. Scott will almost certainly pick Rhys Stanley after a self-confessed blunder against Collingwood, while he will need to account for the injured Mitch Duncan and Gary Rohan.
West Coast focus
West Coast go into this one conversely chock full of confidence after an easy win against Essendon in last week’s elimination final. Possessing the fast-flowing, elite kicking that has the capacity to bring down any side, Adam Simpson’s side will also take confidence in their recent form at the MCG, which has netted them five wins in their last six. Their only loss was in round 22 against Richmond, in arguably the game of the season.
While Geelong is one of the AFL’s best defensive sides, they’ll be stretched to their limits this week. In twin towers Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling, plus ground-ball guns in Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan, the Eagles possess the league’s most potent forward line. And having accumulated 67 inside-50s last week over Essendon, similar numbers would almost certainly see them progressing to another preliminary final. On a selection front, the Eagles don’t appear to have any injury concerns and could recall exciting young gun Oscar Allen.
UPDATE: Willie Rioli’s shock suspension sees young gun Jack Petruccelle take his place in the 22.
Saturday 14th September, 19:25 (AEST)
|L. Hodge, H. Andrews, M. Adams||B||P. Davis, A. Corr, A. Kennedy|
|HB||A. Witherden, D. Gardiner, D. Rich||HB||H. Shaw, S. Taylor, N. Haynes|
|C||D. Zorko, J. Berry, Z. Bailey||C||L. Whitfield, J. Hopper, J. Finlayson|
|HF||C. Cameron, E. Hipwood, H. McCluggage||HF||J. Kelly, J. Cameron, B. Daniels|
|F||O. McInerney, D. McStay, C. Rayner||F||A. Tomlinson, H. Himmelberg, M.de Boer|
|FOL||S. Martin, L. Neale, J. Lyons||FOL||S. Mumford, H. Perryman, T. Greene|
|I/C||A. Christensen, L. McCarthy, N. Robertson, N. Answerth||I/C||Z. Williams, T. Taranto, S. Reid, D. Lloyd|
History: Played 9: Brisbane 3 v GWS 6.
Last Meeting: AFL Round 16, 2019: GWS 11.8 (74) lost to Brisbane 14.10 (94) at Giants Stadium.
The Lions started hot in their first final in a decade last week, but were overrun by a clinical Richmond outfit. At home again this week, they start as deserved $1.62 favourites against the Giants. Chris Fagan will know his side (which contained 14 players in their first ever final) will be better for the run. He’ll also take confidence in the fact one of their season-defining wins was a round 16 victory at Giants Stadium. If they are to avoid a straight sets exit, however, they’ll need to improve drastically in front of goal. The Lions wasted several key chances against Richmond and were duly punished. They returned 1.7 from within 40 metres of goal – a diabolical set shot performance. Expect a fired-up Charlie Cameron with a point to prove in front of the Lions faithful.
While Fagan has ruled out wholesale changes after the loss to Richmond, he will likely need to bring in a replacement for midfielder Mitch Robinson, who injured his hamstring in the defeat.
The Giants will be thanking their lucky stars that gun forward Toby Greene is available to play against Brisbane, after a highly questionable off the ball incident last weekend. Greene, alongside Jeremy Cameron and Jeremy Finlayson, make up one of the AFL’s most potent forward lines, and will be causing Fagan his biggest headache in the lead-up to Saturday night. The Giants were excellent in their dismantling of the in-form Dogs in last week’s elimination final. But consistency has been one of their biggest stumbling blocks this season. If they can bring the same heat, they’re a huge chance of making another preliminary final. If they don’t, the contested ball winners for the Lions – led by ball magnet Lachie Neale – will chew them up.
At the selection table, the Giants won’t have injured star Stephen Coniglio to select until next week at best, while veteran Brett Deledio’s injured calf means Adam Tomlinson will almost certainly make his way back into the 22.