2017 AFL finals series: Week 2 preview

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By , mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

Tagged:
 , , ,

2 Have your say

    After a relatively disappointing first week of the finals series blighted by blowout results and an extra-time thriller in Adelaide, the AFL finals series enters knock-out mode.

    The Geelong Cats and GWS Giants are both facing the prospect of straight-sets finals exits in this weekend’s semi-final matches.

    The Cats face recent bogey team the Sydney Swans in what is a rematch of last year’s preliminary final, where Chris Scott’s men were found wanting, while the Giants will also look to keep their premiership hopes alive when it welcomes the West Coast Eagles to Sydney for the second time in a month.

    The winners of these respective preliminary finals will then face the Adelaide Crows and Richmond next week, as we approach the business and exciting end of what has been a crazy and intriguing AFL season so far.

    Here is your full preview of the two semi-final matches this weekend.

    [2] Geelong Cats versus [6] Sydney Swans
    Friday, September 15
    7:50pm
    Melbourne Cricket Ground

    This season: Sydney Swans 16.11 (107) defeated Geelong Cats 8.13 (61), Simonds Stadium, Round 20.

    Last meeting in a final: Sydney Swans 15.7 (97) defeated Geelong Cats 8.12 (60), second preliminary final, 2016, MCG.

    The premiership hopes of both the Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans go on the line in what could loom as another lopsided final this Friday night.

    The Cats’ recent poor finals record continued when it lost to Richmond by 51 points last Friday night, the club seemingly failing to lift for what was Patrick Dangerfield’s 200th AFL game.

    While poor kicking from the Tigers kept the Cats in the game for the first three quarters, it was the way Chris Scott’s men capitulated in the final quarter that has many concerned about their title prospects.

    Joel Selwood Geelong Cats AFL 2017

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    It was their seventh defeat in nine finals matches dating back to 2012, and has left them facing yet another embarrassing straight-sets exit from the finals, especially with their opponents, the Sydney Swans, having won 15 of their past 17 games since starting the season 0-6.

    This includes their only regular season meeting, in which the Swans put the cleaners through the Cats with a 46-point win at Simonds Stadium, and their elimination final thrashing of Essendon at the SCG last Saturday night.

    It was the most complete performance of the season by John Longmire’s men, and their good recent record against the Cats will see them enter Friday night’s MCG semi-final as warm favourites.

    It will be the first time in a while in which the elimination final winner will enter its semi-final against the qualifying final loser as the favourite, and rightly so.

    The prospect of facing the Adelaide Crows at the Oval next week also holds no fears for the Swans, who won by three points when the two sides met last month in what was being billed as a potential grand final preview.

    Unfortunately, because of how the finals draw has unfolded, it is now impossible for the two sides to meet on the final day of September.

    On the flipside, if the Cats win, the preliminary final will, for the second year in a row, pit the regular season’s two best performed teams against each other at the wrong time of the year.

    Last year, the Cats were famously mauled by the Swans in the preliminary final, with a seven-goals-to-none opening quarter setting up the red-and-white’s night as they went on to advance to their fifth grand final since 2005.

    It will now remain to be seen whether Chris Scott’s men have learnt their lesson, nearly twelve months on, or whether the Swans can continue their dominant recent record against the Cats and keep their flag hopes alive.

    For the winner: a trip to the Adelaide Oval to face the Crows next Friday night.

    For the loser: season over.

    Prediction: Sydney Swans by 25 points.

    [4] GWS Giants versus [8] West Coast Eagles
    Saturday, September 16
    7:25pm
    Spotless Stadium

    This season: GWS Giants 14.14 (98) defeated West Coast Eagles 14.6 (90), Round 10, Domain Stadium; GWS Giants 12.9 (81) defeated West Coast Eagles 9.6 (60), Round 22, Spotless Stadium.

    Last meeting in a final: N/A

    As if being savaged in the media after a dismal qualifying final loss to the Adelaide Crows at the Oval wasn’t enough, losing two of their most important players for their semi-final showdown against the Eagles could prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the GWS Giants’ rollercoaster 2017 season.

    Leading goalkicker Jeremy Cameron and ruckman Shane Mumford have both been ruled out for the rest of the season after both struggled through the match against the Crows, with the former failing to feature after half-time.

    Knowing that injuries has sabotaged their season, the Giants’ reserves side contested a scratch match against their Crows counterparts at Football Park the following morning, and that would’ve given coach Leon Cameron some food for thought as to who will come into the side this week.

    After being dropped for the qualifying final, Steve Johnson performed solidly, as did first-year player Tim Taranto and Ryan Griffen, who had been sidelined since Round 3 due to a serious ankle injury.

    Josh Kelly GWS Giants AFL 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Their opponents, the West Coast Eagles, are still buzzing after their thrilling extra-time win over Port Adelaide at the Oval last Saturday night, which has kept their season alive in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

    The finals hopes of Adam Simpson’s men had appeared shot when they lost to the Giants in their most recent meeting at Spotless Stadium in Round 22, but a sudden turn of events has gained them a rematch against the western Sydneysiders this Saturday night.

    Their prayers were first answered when Melbourne lost to Collingwood on the Saturday of Round 23, which then opened the door for the Eagles to snatch a finals berth from the Dees if they defeated the Crows by a sufficient margin.

    That they did, with Lewis Jetta and Jack Darling kicking the two goals that were required to see them accrue enough percentage to overtake the Dees on the ladder.

    After ending Port Adelaide’s season in extra time last Saturday night, this week the Eagles hit the road again to face the Giants, a side they have lost to twice this season including by eight points at home earlier this season.

    It will be a departure from normal convention, whereby the Eagles and Fremantle play most (if not all) of their home games every second week during the regular season.

    Because of this, the Eagles will need to make the most of their time in Perth before they fly out to Sydney, very likely on Thursday afternoon.

    They will then acclimatise to the conditions in the Harbour City ahead of Saturday night’s clash, where the winner will then face Richmond in the second preliminary final at the MCG next Saturday night.

    That preliminary final will very likely start before 5:15pm, with the early finish set to allow either the Giants or Eagles to be back in their home cities by midnight.

    But first thing’s first – can the Giants overcome a worsening injury toll, or will the Eagles conjure yet another memorable win on the road?

    For the winner: a trip to the MCG to face Richmond in a preliminary final.

    For the loser: season over, and an off-season of soul searching.

    Prediction: GWS Giants by 14 points.

    This crunching tackle is the most viewed Club Roar video of all time! It's in the running to win a share of $10,000.
    Watch the full video here