Geelong v Sydney | Friday, September 23, 7.50pm (AEDT), MCG, Melbourne
The Cats appear to have the edge here after earning last weekend off with their qualifying win over Hawthorn while Sydney had two tough games in a row and face a six day turnaround.
Is this a clear advantage most think it is? Will the Cats hit the ground running, or will they take time to get up to the tempo of finals football?
The last time they met Geelong had trouble getting going and only managed a score of 9 goals 6, while the Swans lead by Buddy Franklin won easily.
Sydney’s defence will keep them in the game a long time and it will require a big game from Patrick Dangerfield and perhaps someone like Steven Motlop for the Cats to post a score.\
The Swans will probably have to do without backman Callum Mills and the speedy Gary Rohan, both injured during the finals campaign.
Ruck/forward Kurt Tippett will probably return to counter the Cats’ height and bulk.
As always, the ace in the pack is Buddy Franklin. How the Cats stop him is anyone’s guess, but of more concern is the form of Swans’ small forwards Isaac Heeney, Tom Papley and Ben McGlynn.
Geelong have tended to be too big in defence most weeks this season and may not be as nimble as Sydney’s smaller men.
The Swans to be the first Sydney team though to the Grand Final.
Unibet Odds: Geelong 1.65 Sydney 2.30
Las time they met: Rd.16, 2016 – Geelong 60 lost to Sydney 98
Line tip: Sydney +7.5
GWS v Western Bulldogs | Saturday, September 24, 5.15pm (AEDT), Spotless Stadium, Sydney
The future starts now. This is almost certainly the beginning of the next great rivalry in the AFL.
These two sides have the best young squads in the game and are set to dominate the competition for the next five years or so.
As good as the Bulldogs have been in the last fortnight, GWS were just as good or better when they chewed up and spat out the Swans in the qualifying final a fortnight ago.
The Bulldogs exposed the aging and slow Hawks midfield and once in possession, they easily moved the ball through the Hawk’s defence or outflanked them.
The Giants' midfield are a completely different proposition for the impressive young Bulldogs. GWS have the perfect mix of tough ball winners and speedy outside players to advance the ball.
Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel and Callan Ward were too tough for the normally invincible Swans midfielders and the speed of Tom Scully and Josh Kelly finished them off.
Certainly Caleb Daniel and Marcus Bontempelli will provide a formidable obstacle for the Giants.
The trouble for the Bulldogs is they don’t bat as deep as GWS and will be in a battle for the entire match.
Another serious challenge will be for the Bulldogs’ defence as they combat the tall Giants forward line.
Jeremy Cameron was at his best as he finally started to lead up, take marks and convert from his set shots.
Jonathon Patton has been in great form and is the perfect foil for Cameron.
The only downside for the Giants is the suspension of Steve Johnson.
They’ll miss his physical presence but coach Leon Cameron has good possible alternatives, with the most like-for-like replacement being Rhys Palmer.
This will be a ferocious prelim final with the Giants having an edge in most departments including home field advantage.
GWS to keep rolling towards a premiership.
Unibet Odds: GWS 1.45 Western Bulldogs 2.80
Last time they met: Rd.9, 2016 – GWS 98 def Western Bulldogs 73
Line tip: GWS -14.5
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