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The second preliminary final is upon us, as Collingwood host the GWS Giants on a Saturday evening at the MCG. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 4:35pm AEST.
This time two years ago, Collingwood had been bundled out of the AFL season courtesy of a nine-win, 13th placed campaign that had coach Nathan Buckley under serious scrutiny.
The Giants, for their part, were lining up on this ground against Richmond for a preliminary final that they would go on to lose. Tonight, fortunes have changed for both teams.
Collingwood has long shaken off their tumultuous 2017 and have gone onto featured in two finals series and a grand final, with a second grand final well within grasp if they conquer the under-pressure Giants.
It’s an opposition that have never progressed to a grand final – and an opposition that have seen their chances tonight begin to evaporate with a week of serious setbacks.
While they’ve looked superb in two wins so far in this finals series, the Giants confirmed that neither Brett Deledio or Stephen Congilio would be fit to play.
And then, they lost Lachie Whitfield to appendicitis.
And then, confirmation that Toby Greene’s ban for eye-gouging stood (after two appeals).
It’s been a rough week, evidently, but Leon Cameron’s men can take small comfort from the fact that they’ve defeated Collingwood three of the past five times they’ve played them – including at the MCG in early 2018.
That’s the optimistic view – given a more pessimistic view reveals they’ve never won a game with at least one of Greene or Whitfield in the starting 22.
Collingwood have a couple of woes of their own, with stars Jordan De Goey and Levi Greenwood ruled out, robbing them of the pair’s talents – and De Goey’s flair.
Apart from that, the Pies are relatively healthy heading into this cut-throat final, and given they’ve been extremely fortunate in having a week off after their first-up win, Collingwood will hold an advantage there, too.
Both sides have made two changes apiece. The Pies have replaced the De Goey and Greenwood duo with Ben Reid (playing his 150th game) and James Aish.
The Giants have replaced Whitfield and Greene – two enormous talents – with emerging youngster Ian Hill and former Pie Lachlan Keefe.
GWS are going to be up against a fierce crowd, a formidable opponent and the weight of pressure hanging over them after a disastrous week.
They’re the tipsters’ underdogs here, and that’s fair enough. The Giants are a very good team – and remain so even without some of their stars – but they are no doubt going to miss the talents of Greene and Whitfield especially.
Collingwood are going to be too much of a challenge for the fledging Giants, and will head through to their second consecutive grand final.
Collingwood by 21 points
Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 4:35pm AEST.
When: 4:35pm AEST
Where: MCG, Melbourne
TV: Seven Network, Kayo
Betting: Collingwood $1.30, GWS Giants $3.60
B John Noble, Jordan Roughead, Jeremy Howe
HB Jack Crisp, Darcy Moore, Brayden Maynard
C Tom Phillips, Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom
HF Josh Thomas, Brody Mihocek, Will Hoskin-Elliott
F Jamie Elliott, Ben Reid, Jaidyn Stephenson
FOL Brodie Grundy, Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams
I/C James Aish, Callum L. Brown, Chris Mayne, Rupert Wills
B Phil Davis, Heath Shaw, Sam Taylor
HB Aidan Corr, Nick Haynes, Adam Kennedy
C Tim Taranto, Josh Kelly, Jeremy Finlayson
HF Lachlan Keeffe, Harry Himmelberg, Harry Perryman
F Adam Tomlinson, Jeremy Cameron, Matt de Boer
FOL Shane Mumford, Daniel Lloyd, Jacob Hopper
I/C Zac Williams, Brent Daniels, Sam J. Reid, Ian Hill