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Finals Week 1 in Review – Pies, Lions earn week off as Swans, Saints sent packing

Week one of the 2023 AFL Finals Series saw Collingwood and Brisbane earn a week off with impressive wins, while Sydney and St Kilda’s seasons were ended.

Pies prevail in low-scoring thriller

Favourites all week to win the first qualifying final, Collingwood lengthened as some poor Melbourne weather rolled in on Thursday afternoon as the Dees came in. At the first bounce, it was even Stevens at $1.90. While a low-scoring clash was expected with the total points line set at 150.5, the final score of 60-53 saw that figure fall well short as a late Melbourne charge wasn’t enough to overcome the Pies. No player dominated the stats sheet with Bobby Hill the only player to kick more than two goals, while Clayton Oliver was the only player to record more than 30 disposals ($1.74 pre-match). The win unsurprisingly saw Craig McRae’s side shorten into premiership favourites, from $3.50 into $2.45.

For Melbourne, though, it’s a different story. Squandering opportunities during a match in which they dominated the inside-50 count, the Dees are now staring down the barrel of a straight-sets exit for a second straight AFL season. The loss saw them lengthen from $3.70 to $7.00 in the flag market.

Lesser lights help Carlton break decade-long drought

They never do it the easy way. But in the end, Carlton fans walked out of the MCG on Friday night having seen their side win a first final in 10 years. The Blues ($1.46) survived an almighty scare from the Swans ($2.65) in another pulsating, low-scoring match at the home of footy. And with stars Charlie Curnow and Patrick Cripps well held throughout, it was some of the lesser lights who got it done when it mattered. Jack Martin bobbed up for two crucial goals ($6.00 pre-match) while a surprise packet in Matt Cottrell did the same ($23). Michael Voss’ men face an unbelievably tough run to what would be a fairytale grand final (currently $5.50 to get there with Palmerbet). If they upset Melbourne this week, the Blues would then travel to Brisbane for a shot at the Lions in perhaps the AFL’s most difficult road trip.

Giants too good, emerge as dark horse

Is this the start of a dream September run by GWS? It’s not out of the equation. The Giants were simply too good for the Saints at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, prevailing as solid $1.55 favourites despite being away from home. Tom Green was enormous for the men in orange, racking up 35 disposals ($2.25 pre-game) in another huge effort in the engine room while Jake Riccardi bagged a game-high three goals ($4.75). It sets up a date against Port Adelaide next week, who are by no means setting the world alight at present. A win there would set up an AFL preliminary final against Collingwood at the MCG, the same venue the Giants beat the Pies in 2019 to reach the grand final. Stranger things have happened.

Joe bags five as Lions brush aside Port

While the first two finals ended in single-figure margins, the next two saw comprehensive winners. None more so than Brisbane’s 48-point dismantling of Port Adelaide. While the Power ($2.60) fought back in the third term, the Lions ($1.50) kicked six unanswered goals to run away with it to earn both a week off and a home preliminary final. And it was Joe Daniher — the only player to kick more than three goals across the weekend of AFL Finals action — who starred. The left-footer finished with five, delivering $11 to punters who backed the big forward to star. The result leaves Port coach Ken Hinkley asking serious questions of his side’s ability to go deep this September.

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