After being heavily raided in the off-season two years in a row, you might expect the Lions to be a shambles with very few good players left. Yet somehow they look to have accumulated one of the strongest midfields in the country.
With two big finals on this week, it’s time to look at the stocks for this week.
In the AFL stock market, there are three categories: buy, hold and sell. If you’re a keen follower of the game and are looking to invest your time wisely for the second week of finals, check out my tips below.
Geelong versus West Coast
Geelong lost to Collingwood in a strange game overall last weekend, with violent ebbs and flows late in the game despite it being a one-sided contest.
West Coast beat a hapless Essendon team that was seeking a few months off, which tends to lead most people to tipping a soaring Eagle heading home to Perth with a win.
There’s something about the Geelong narrative that intrigues, however. In the qualifying final, many people were happy to jump on the bandwagon and blame the obvious late withdrawal of Rhys Stanley as the reason for the loss.
Chris Scott had to field many questions about the structural reshuffle that ultimately proved to be ineffective, however it feels as though this was the easy option, rather than the actual reason for the loss.
Jordan de Goey’s early injury for the Magpies removed the main attacking threat for Collingwood immediately.
Blicavs would’ve likely taken De Goey when playing as a deep forward, if not Jake Kolodjashnij, and the Collingwood star’s absence immediately removed the high-impact absence of Blicavs in the defensive 50, as many were blaming the loss on.
In fact, Jed Bews’ injury before the game left him clearly restricted against Jamie Elliott early on, and this had more of an effect.
Other than Elliott’s two goals, the rest of Collingwood’s regular forwards in Stephenson (one goal), Hoskin-Elliott (one goal) and Mihocek (two behinds) didn’t have much of an impact.
Ultimately, Geelong’s lack of direction when kicking the ball inside 50 is what cost them the match. Collingwood controlled the midfield battle for most of the match, however when the Cats found themselves on a potential game-winning run, they were careless with their ball use and kept feeding their opposition.
Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe combined for 22 marks, and the Magpies’ ability to get their wingers and forward flankers into the defensive half to control the ball in wide areas allowed them to maintain a semblance of control despite looking shaky.
All this talk about Geelong’s move with Stanley masked the clear deficiency, which creates an interesting scenario where Chris Scott and the Cats can simply focus on sharpening the attacking knives.
Playing as they did last week will result in a 40+ point loss at the hands of the best aerial defence in the competition. If the Cats can adjust, find some form in their midfield and, perhaps crucially, use Patrick Dangerfield as the Tigers did with Dustin Martin, Geelong will win this game.
Getting caught up in the popular narrative tends to blind predictions. The Cats are right in this.
Buy: Jake Kolodjashnij
It feels as though each remaining team has a defender that can claim to be the most underrated player in the competition, whether it be Dylan Grimes, Darcy Gardiner or Brad Sheppard to name a few.
Again, it appears as though we’ll be in for a contest that will be built on defensive strength, and Jake Kolodjashnij is as important to the Cats as any other defender is to their team.
A key reason for Geelong’s willingness to play Blicavs in the ruck at times can be attributed to Kolodjashnij’s strength in defence.
He can match up on any West Coast forward on Friday night and perform to a high standard, which will receive exactly zero recognition from anyone who doesn’t support Geelong.
According to AFL StatsPro, Kolodjashnij is rated elite for Spoils, Intercept Marks and One Percenters, while having a contested defensive loss percentage of just 17per cent.
The 24-year-old reads the play well, and uses his body excellently to move his opponent into a position that would be difficult to score from at the very least.
In terms of the ideal player to fit into any structure or gameplan, Kolodjashnij is one of Chris Scott’s favourites.
On Friday night, we’ll see Kolodjashnij matched up on Jack Darling at times, and he could be marking Liam Ryan or Jamie Cripps on other occasions.
While we will see, however, is a defining performance from Geelong’s number eight. It takes a while for these versatile and reliable defenders to receive the recognition they deserve, and this final could be the moment Kolodjashnij emerges.
Brisbane versus GWS
Buy: Straight Sets
Having written pieces on the Lions’ impending success during the 2018 season, the sudden rise up the ladder has been as enjoyable for me as for any of the club’s supporters.
A well-oiled machine, the inability to make the most of its chances left Brisbane vulnerable against one of the best teams we’ve seen in recent memory.
Luke Hodge played an outstanding game, but too many young kids just weren’t impactful enough.
The Giants, on the other hand, have been able to bring in the right number of star players and “switch on” at the right time.
The destruction of the Bulldogs was impressive, and the bullying nature of the performance against a young team was admirable, other than the actions of a particularly half-forward flanker.
The old cliché suggests finals are a different beast to the home-and-away season, which is why we can move on from the 22 rounds that saw us through 2019.
Brisbane was impressive in the first half of its game against Richmond, but the second half would’ve made for good viewing for GWS.
The Lions have left themselves opened to be bullied, much like the Bulldogs were. GWS’ defence is full of unassuming B+ grade players who will love to get into Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron as much as they can.
In attack, there are so many moving, agile parts that it’s difficult to imagine Brisbane being able to maintain its defensive integrity.
It will be plenty of fun to watch the two midfields go at each other and while GWS bats deeper, the top quality is even.
Jacob Hopper going head-to-head with Dayne Zorko will be worth a watch alone.
Brisbane will be well-prepared for GWS’ aggression, which assists the preparation.
The Lions have plenty of tough players themselves and could choose to go down a similar route.
One player stands out in this contest, however, after a poor elimination final.
Despite finishing with 22 disposals and three goals, Josh Kelly was far from influential against the Bulldogs.
This semi final is set up to be dominated by Kelly, while Brisbane focus too much on the pressure and opposition aggression.
We can’t forget GWS’ class and skill, simply because of last week’s gamestyle.
There’s a concern that this Brisbane team may become infatuated with a revenge narrative after last week’s performance, and this can work beautifully for a premiership contender like GWS.
Hold: Toby Greene
If we’re basing this purely on reputation and recent antics, we’re offloading Greene’s stocks immediately.
Greene’s report tally is well into the teens, and fines have obviously not been effective in stopping his actions.
Therefore we’ve reached a crossroads once again for a players just 25 years of age.
His coaches and teammates are “proud” of the way he plays, but his list of misdemeanors suggest he simply doesn’t know where the line is, or whether it exists.
As mentioned earlier, GWS’ aggression against the Bulldogs was admirable and impressive.
Greene’s actions were not.
He may have been fined, but watching replays and slow-motion video of what he did cause uproar with Dana White and the UFC.
Which is why this Brisbane game is so important for the 25-year-old.
Playing an excellent game and leading GWS to victory doesn’t absolve him of his past crimes.
In fact, a good performance in sport does that far too often, inexplicably masking many an issue.
It’s the way Toby Greene handles himself and approaches the opposition, that is the most important part of his game on Saturday night.
Greene is seen as a leader at the Giants, but he’s one more unsportsmanlike act away from being universally seen as an AFL thug – a moniker many opposition fans and players alike see of him.
It takes a long time to rebuild an image, particularly one that has been as tarnished with on and off-field indiscretions as Greene’s.
Let’s see how he plays against Brisbane.