AFL preview panel, finals week three

PREVIEW OF AFL FINALS MATCHES, WEEK THREE (ALL TIMES AEST):

FRIDAY, Sept 22

1st Preliminary Final

Adelaide v Geelong at Adelaide Oval, 7.50pm

Head to head: Adelaide 18 Geelong 23

Last clash: Round 18, 2017 – Crows 13.13 (91) bt Cats 10.10 (70) at Adelaide Oval

Finals Head to head: Adelaide 1 Geelong 0

Last final: 1997 Semi-final – Crows 11.10 (76) bt Cats 9.14 (68) at Football Park

Tab Sportsbet odds: Crows $1.42 Cats $3.00

William Hill: Crows $1.40 Cats $3.00

The Crows will have played one game in 26 days by the time Friday’s match kicks off, after they earned a weekend off with a comfortable 36-point qualifying final win over Greater Western Sydney. The Cats tuned up for their ninth preliminary final in the past 14 years with a 59-point belting of Sydney. Don Pyke took a novel approach to the long break, taking his men to the Gold Coast for a short training camp to freshen up away from the glare of the Adelaide media. The Crows have regained star midfielder Rory Sloane (appendix) for the clash but lost rebounding defender Brodie Smith to a serious knee injury and strong-marking forward Mitch McGovern to a hamstring strain suffered at training. Veteran tall Andy Otten earned a recall to replace McGovern. Geelong made two unforced changes with Nakia Cockatoo and Tom Lonergan replacing Zach Guthrie and James Parsons.

Key: Chris Scott’s decision to start Patrick Dangerfield in the goal square against the Swans proved a master stroke. The Brownlow medallist kicked four first-half goals and sent Sydney’s back line into disarray. The Crows won’t be surprised by the tactic but how Scott uses his superstar will be pivotal.

Tip: Crows by 10 points

SATURDAY, Sept 23

2nd Preliminary Final

Richmond v Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, 4.45pm

Head to head: Tigers 6 Giants 2

Last clash: Round 18, 2017 – Tigers 9.10 (64) bt Giants 6.9 (45) at the MCG

Finals Head to head: First finals meeting

Last final: First finals meeting

Tab Sportsbet: Tigers $1.55 Giants $2.50

William Hill: Tigers $1.58 Giants $2.40

The Tigers have had a long time to think about their preliminary final clash having earned a weekend off with a 51-point qualifying final thrashing of Geelong. Damien Hardwick’s team has been the talk of the town in Melbourne and the coach has encouraged his players to soak up the atmosphere. The Giants’ preparation has been a lot more low key after their comfortable semi-final win over West Coast. They covered the loss of Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and Shane Mumford (foot) well against the Eagles and must find a way once again. Steve Johnson finished strongly to bag six goals and retained his spot as Leon Cameron opted to name an unchanged team, as did the Tigers. Former Richmond fan favourite Brett Deledio will play his 250th AFL game and could be a key factor in shattering his former side’s premiership dream.

Key: Can the Tigers maintain their stifling pressure game? Hardwick’s men stormed into a preliminary final after they denied Geelong time and space. It has been their mantra all season and they’ll need to take it to another level to ensure the talented Giants’ midfielders don’t get on top.

Tip: Tigers by 14 points.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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