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The 2021 AFL finals are underway, and will culminate in the 2021 AFL grand final on Saturday, September 25 at Optus Stadium.
Second qualifying final: Port Adelaide 12.14 (86) def. Geelong 5.13 (43)
Port Adelaide proved far too good for Geelong in the first match of the finals series, kicking clear in the second quarter and never really being challenged afterwards to claim a dominant 43-point win. Travis Boak and Ollie Wines were dominant in the middle, while Orazio Fantasia kicked four in his first game back from injury – only to be subbed in the last quarter with a knee concern.
The win gave Port their second consecutive preliminary final appearances, while also giving the Cats a sixth loss in eight qualifying finals under Chris Scott.
Second elimination final: Sydney Swans 10.13 (73) def. by GWS Giants 11.8 (74)
Greater Western Sydney made it three finals wins from three over their crosstown rivals after holding on for a thrilling one-point win in a match that will take some beating as the game of the finals. The Giants looked in control from the second quarter onwards and led by as much as 29 points in the second half, but a furious fightback – led by Isaac Heeney – saw the Swans get within a kick.
A string of untimely behinds at the end cruelled Sydney, however, allowing the Giants to hold on for an epic win.
First qualifying final: Melbourne 13.15 (93) def. Brisbane Lions 9.6 (60)
Melbourne looked every part the minor premiers and premiership favourites after dominating the Brisbane Lions with a defensive masterclass. Brisbane simply had no way to navigate the supreme defensive structure of the Demons and poor defensive work of their own saw the margin balloon out to 30 points at the main break.
A two-goal-to-none third quarter in Brisbane’s favour gave them life heading into the final stanza, but the Demons rediscovered their mojo and, in reality, were never troubled as they cruised to an inspiring win.
First elimination final: Western Bulldogs 13.7 (85) def. Essendon 4.12 (36)
The Dogs came into the finals with three straight losses, but bounced back emphatically with a thumping win over Essendon in the wet. After a tense first half that saw the Bulldogs lead by just three points, they blew the Bombers away in the second half by kicking eight goals to zero.
Essendon became the first team since Geelong in 1956 to go goalless in the second half of a final and saw their finals winless streak extend into yet another year.
Second semi-final: Geelong Cats vs GWS Giants
Geelong bounced back from their horror show in the qualifying final with a solid 35-point win over Greater Western Sydney. After a fairly lacklustre opening half, the Cats kicked five unanswered in the third quarter to open up a commanding 38-point lead.
The Giants tried to stage a furious fourth-quarter comeback and did enough to make Geelong nervous, but the hill was always to steep to climb.
First semi-final: Brisbane Lions 11.12 (78) def. by Western Bulldogs 11.13 (79)
The Western Bulldogs qualified for their first preliminary final since 2016’s premiership triumph after scoring a thrilling one-point win over Brisbane. Trailing by ten at three-quarter time, the vaunted Dogs midfield stood up and powered them to victory in one of the games of the season.
The Lions were left to rue a second straight-sets exit in three seasons.
First preliminary final: Melbourne 19.11 (125) def. Geelong Cats 6.6 (42)
Melbourne embarrassed their age-old rivals with an 83-point demolition of Geelong in an laughably one-sided preliminary final. Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney were dominant in the midfield, Max Gawn played the best game of his career and kicked five goals – two of them being extraordinary unruckmanlike.
Second preliminary final: Port Adelaide 6.9 (45) def. by Western Bulldogs 17.14 (116)
It was another absolute bloodbath in the second preliminary final, with the Western Bulldogs kicking the first five goals of the game inside ten minutes to send Port Adelaide into their shells, before romping away to a 71-point win. Just about all of the Bulldogs’ vaunted midfielders had blinders, with Port left to wonder how such a promising season could end so badly.
Grand final: Melbourne 21.14 (140) def. Western Bulldogs 10.6 (66)
An incredible second-half tidal wave saw Melbourne erase a 19-point third quarter deficit and romp home to an astonishing 74-point win. The victory ended a club record 57-year premiership drought.