Tips » AFL Semi-Finals Preview by Graeme Kelly

AFL Semi-Finals Preview by Graeme Kelly

Geelong’s recent record in finals is a worry as the club prepares for Friday night’s first semi-final against West Coast at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

 

For the Cats have lost 10 of their 12 finals matches since the side’s 2011 Premiership victory.

 

Worse still Geelong is now facing the very real prospect of becoming the first minor premier to suffer two straight defeats – and elimination – in the 19 years this final eight has been in operation.

 

Although a late rush enabled Geelong to close to within 10 points of Collingwood last Friday night, the side certainly needs a major turnaround to succeed against West Coast.

 

Once again Patrick Dangerfield starred but captain Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett both seem to be feeling their age and were little help.

 

Added to that it is questionable whether players such as spearhead Tom Hawkins and Esava Ratugolea have been of much value but Zach Tuohy will add some bite to Geelong’s attack.

 

By contrast West Coast returned to something like 2018 premiership winning form in dumping Essendon at Optus Stadium in the first elimination final.

 

Full forward Josh Kennedy proved his fitness in a four goal performance while Luke Shuey, who also kicked four goals and had 32 possessions was, along with athletic ruckman Nic Naitanui, quite brilliant.

 

It is difficult to imagine the Cats coming anywhere near to countering Naitanui and, consequently, he should be the springboard for a consistent series of scoring opportunities.

 

Kennedy, Shuey and Jack Darling should be able to capitalise on this while captain Shannon Hurn and Jeremy McGovern can be relied on to limit the chances of Geelong’s attackers.

 

Furthermore it will be of no comfort for the Cats to realise that, even though based in Perth, the Eagles have won five of their last six matches at the MCG.

 

On face value Greater Western Sydney should be favourite to defeat Brisbane in the second semi-final on Saturday night.

 

The Giants, playing at home, defeated the Western Bulldogs by 58 points last Saturday and a few hours later the Lions went down by 47 points to Richmond.

 

Added to that controversial playmaker Toby Greene was treated leniently by the AFL tribunal when he was only fined, which meant he is cleared to play, for his attack on Marcus Bontempelli.

 

Greene, who had 20 possessions and kicked 3.1 last week, is always difficult to stop so he will be a problem for the Lions.

 

However, Brisbane’s effort against the Tigers was not as dismal as the 18.4 to 8.17 score line suggests.

 

Even in the first quarter, when they burst to the lead, the Lions were plagued by inaccurate kicking for goal, which continued for the rest of the match and was possibly a sign of nervousness.

 

The side was also the victim of a number of incorrect umpiring decisions at vital stages of the game.

 

As Chris Fagan – the No.1 Choice for Coach of the Year – says the Brisbane players will benefit from the experience.

 

“Richmond gave us a lesson in how to play finals footy and I am confident the players will be better for that,” Fagan says.

 

Also in the favour of the Lions is that the Giants have an ordinary record when playing away from home.

 

West Coast by 16pts

Brisbane Lions by 25pts