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For a long stretch of time the semi-finals were the AFL’s annual foregone conclusion as the qualifying final losers invariably were a class above the elimination final winners.
That has all changed in recent years however, as from 2014 onwards we’ve seen an even split in these match-ups, with teams from the lower half of the eight winning through to prelims four times out of eight.
When it comes to tipping this week’s matches, I feel there’s a strong chance we’ll see an even split again.
Melbourne look like a serious threat to upset Hawthorn and send them home in straight sets on Friday night.
It’s not that the Demons have been the better team this year or even have a great recent record against the Hawks, but they just seemed poised to go to the next level – and the Hawks don’t.
Teams can sometimes coast by in the home-and-away season but finals always reveals who really has the most muscle, and I suspect that Melbourne is that team this week.
As for the Saturday match, Collingwood look a strong chance to get through to the preliminary finals on the back of a win over GWS.
While the Giants have the talent to beat anybody, the combination of needing to travel to the MCG as well as concerns over the availability of Josh Kelly are just too much for me to tip them.
Collingwood meanwhile played excellently last week only to be narrowly denied by an also very impressive West Coast side – I think they’ll back up well, and win.
Both match-ups look exciting on paper; fingers crossed the games live up to expectation. Collingwood’s intensity across the ground should be too much for GWS, but no result this weekend would surprise me.
The Hawks are the worst team left in the finals race, while the Dees might well be the second best, and it doesn’t come any more cut and dried than that.
The first week of finals were defined by pressure, and both of these sides delivered on it, but Melbourne were brutal in their attacks on man and ball – Geelong couldn’t withstand it, and neither will Hawthorn be able to. Melbourne by 43 points.
Collingwood vs GWS might be the toughest match to call of the finals series so far. The Pies are at home, but off a brutal game and a Perth trip, while the Giants produced the sort of football against Sydney that suggested they had more to come this September.
GWS appears to have regained their balance between attack and defence, but Collingwood have had too good of a season to bow out in straight sets from a top three position. That sort of intangible might just be enough. Collingwood by four points.
Simply, the Demons are playing slightly better footy than the Hawks right now.
The Giants look a great side on paper, but they have a tendency to fall short of their best at crucial moments, while at every stage this year the Magpies have exceeded expectations. Collingwood to grind out a narrow win.
|Round 16||Josh E||Adrian P||Cam R||TomC||The Crowd|
|HAW vs MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL|
|COL vs GWS||COL||COL||COL||COL||GWS|