As 23 amazing, controversial and emotional weeks of AFL football have ended, and the top eight teams have been finally set in stone, although in the most uncertain of ways.
Essendon’s controversial booting out of the finals throwing the other teams into a tailspin as Carlton scraped their way past Port Adelaide by a point to put themselves into finals.
With the finals starting in only a matter of days, I preview and predict all of the upcoming finals games, and with my predictions I attempt to decide who might just win the 2013 AFL Premiership.
As with my attempt at the 2013 All-Australian Team, it is just my opinion and you can have yours by commenting.
QF 1: Hawks v Swans
After last week’s spectacular match, with the Hawks just coming up trumps by 12 points, the Swans are given another shot at the minor premiers.
With a list of Sydney’s stars out in that match, like Adam Goodes, Lewis Jetta, Kurt Tippet and Lewis Roberts-Thomson, the young Swans team grinded the game out well before the well-oiled Hawthorn outfit rolled over the top of them.
With a possibility of some of the Swans stars to come back, with Tippet certainly playing, and with the suspension of Franklin for a week after his high hit on Malceski, the Swans come in with a fair bit of confidence.
But you can’t keep a good team down, and the Hawks will show why they are the minor premiers, winning by 9 points in a close match, with Roughead and Mitchell proving the difference.
TIP: Hawks by 9.
QF 2: Cats v Dockers
Yet again Geelong has finished in the upper echelon of the ladder, and they have gained a home final for the first time at Simonds Stadium.
In a controversial decision, the Cats chances of winning straight into a preliminary final have risen as they have only lost one match at that venue since late 2007.
With Geelong only just creeping past the defiant Lions because of a controversial umpiring decision late in the game, they go into next week’s game with a little spot of worry, with the Cats playing against the best defence by far in the league in the purple haze of Fremantle.
But the Dockers succumbed to the charged up Saints, who won their last game of the year to farewell three champions.
That loss came with twelve players being rested though, so the Dockers will run onto the Geelong field with a possibility, considering the Cats only won by a point at the same ground against a team outside the eight the previous week.
I still think that the Cats will win though, but they will only just scrape past the defensive Fremantle outfit, with the Cats and Hawks looking set to clash in a mouth-watering grand final.
TIP: Cats by 11.
EF 1: Tigers v Blues
Since 2001, the Tiger fans have not witnessed a finals match. But now their long wait is over as Richmond hasn’t finished ninth again.
After an impressive season, they finished at fifth spot, with their resurgence stirring the Tigers cauldron up, with Jeep ads about their finals playoff for the first time in twelve years annoying everybody who isn’t a Tigers fan.
On the other hand, the Blues have just crept into the finals, with their thrilling comeback against the Power last week sending supporters into heart attacks, as the savage attack of Mick Malthouse was held back for a year, or maybe just a week.
I expect that 90,000 will see an epic match, with the Tigers winning by under a goal in a heart-stopping high scoring match that ends in an Aaron Edwards goal with under a minute to go.
That’s what elimination finals are meant to be like. That’s my imagination.
TIP: Richmond by 3.
EF 2: Magpies v Power
With the Pies up and down season finally ending with a finish at sixth spot, they’ll rue missed opportunities but look forward to what could be an exciting finals series.
A win against the brilliant Port Adelaide will see them win a semi-final against the Dockers.
I sense that Reid and Cloke will loom large as even the magic of Boak and Wingard won’t be able to hinder Pendlebury, Beams and Swan.
I say the Pies run out winners after a fast start by the resurgent Power, with Hinkley ready to win coach of the year. And Kochie can win an award too. Just as long as the Pies win.
TIP: Pies by 29.
SF 1: Swans v Tigers
With even more Jeep ads showing the Tigers win with an Edwards’s goal in the last minute, the whole football public will be sick of the ads, and desperately hope that the Swans end their misery.
With the Swans being mightily impressive twice against Hawthorn in two weeks, I expect the Swans to come out at ANZ Stadium and burn the Tigers off, goal by goal.
Even with some Jake King magic, the Swans will run home winners by 37 points in the end, with a Brandon Jack goal finishing the belligerent Tigers.
TIP: Swans by 37.
SF 2: Dockers v Magpies
My eyes cast back to 2007 for this one. In 2007 Collingwood toppled West Coast in extra time at Paterson’s Stadium to book a preliminary final spot against the Cats, who went on to win the flag.
This match could pan out just the same, with the defensive Dockers being outran by the Pies at the final stages, with a goal at the end sealing it for the Dockers.
This match will be known as one of the greats and the Pies will be left to rue miss chances again.
Watch out teams for 2014 when Collingwood come back fierce and sharp, ready to play like they did in 2010.
For Freo, they get to play Hawthorn. Game on.
TIP: Freo by 2.
PF 1: Hawks v Dockers
Hawthorn will be up and ready, with Franklin back and the Dockers tired and sore after a bruising encounter against the Pies.
But that won’t stop the Dockers, who will come out firing just like Adelaide did to Hawthorn last year. Except this time the defensive pressure of the Dockers will outlast the Hawks, who miss several shots at the end to go down in heartbreaking fashion.
The Dockers make their first grand final, but will their tired bodies be ready to win a first Premiership under Ross Lyon?
TIP: Fremantle by 7.
PF 2L: Cats v Swans
No Simonds Stadium final will be granted to Geelong this time, who face the impressive Swans, who somehow have all of their players in.
But that doesn’t stop Geelong, who races out early before a gutsy third quarter effort pulls the Swans back into the game.
In a grandstand finish in the Saturday afternoon rain at the ‘G, the Cats get a toe poke goal through Motlop, who is the finals hero for the Cats as they get two late goals to sink the impressive Swans.
It’s a Fremantle v Geelong grand final.
TIP: Cats by 15.
GF: Dockers v Cats
With the Cats grand final record still staying strong, the Dockers come out on a warm day with their tired players, ready to end the Cats glory run.
The Cats start off well though, and the Dockers are left to reign in an early margin, with the Dockers behind by only a goal at the main break.
But in the second half they come out and kill the Cats, whom despite a late charge in the dying minutes, can’t get past the unbreakable wall that is Fremantle’s defensive unit.
The Dockers win their first flag and Michael Barlow wins a Norm Smith Medal, winning by a vote ahead of Fyffe.
Ross Lyon finally has a Premiership cup and Geelong sink down the ladder again, losing their Premiership chances in an exhilarating grand final.
TIP: Freo by 21.
Norm Smith Medal: Michael Barlow (Fremantle)
Coach: Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)
Brownlow Medal: Gary Ablett Junior and Scott Pendlebury (GC and Collingwood)
Coleman Medal: Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)
My opinions were a bit far-fetched, but don’t be too harsh. Express your opinions in the comments. Thanks for reading.