Guide to week one of AFL finals

AFL FINALS FIRST WEEKEND MATCH-UPS

2nd Elimination Final

6-West Coast v 7-Western Bulldogs – Thursday September 8, 8:10pm AEST (6:10pm local) at Domain Stadium

Meetings in 2016 – Western Bulldogs won only game

R11: Western Bulldogs 12.11 (83) def West Coast 11.9 (75) at Etihad Stadium

West Coast: 16-6, 130 per cent

One of the form teams of the competition, with eight wins in their last nine including interstate defeats of GWS and Adelaide. Showed against the Crows that Nic Naitanui’s absence doesn’t end their season.

Western Bulldogs: 15-7 115 per cent

The Bulldogs have found a way to keep the wins ticking over despite a ruinous injury toll, but succumbed to their worst loss of the season on Sunday to Fremantle. Will be underdogs when they return to the West in a fortnight, but aren’t without hope.

2nd Qualifying Final

2-Geelong v 3-Hawthorn – Friday September 9, 7:50pm AEST at MCG

Meetings in 2016 – Geelong won their only game

R1: Geelong 18.8 (116) def Hawthorn 12.14 (86) at MCG

Geelong – 17-5, 144 per cent

The Cats roar into the finals with seven straight wins and will relish a date with their arch-rivals, despite a poor record in September against Hawthorn. The Cats have just one AFL-era finals win in seven efforts against the Hawks.

Hawthorn – 17-5, 119 per cent

Pulled another rabbit out of the hat on Sunday to ensure a third-placed finish and avoid seventh position. The next-generation Hawks head to the MCG with the Kennett curse yesterday’s news.

1st Qualifying Final

1-Sydney v 4-GWS Giants – Saturday September 10, 3:20pm AEST at ANZ Stadium

Meetings in 2016 – 1 win each

R3: Sydney 14.9 (93) def GWS 10.8 (68) at SCG

R12: GWS 15.15 (105) def 9.9 (63) at Spotless Stadium

Sydney – 17-5, 151 per cent

The competition’s best side this season and have the minor premiership to prove it. Three of their losses have been by less than a goal but their biggest of the season came to their cross-town rivals and week one finals opponent.

GWS – 16-6, 143 per cent

A historic first final for the expansion side, and it’s a Sydney derby. Leon Cameron’s side have incredible firepower in front of goal but how they fare on the biggest stage is the question mark.

1st Elimination Final

5-Adelaide v 8-North Melbourne – Saturday September 10, 7:40pm AEST (7:10pm local) at Adelaide Oval

Meetings in 2016 – 1 win each

R1: North Melbourne 16.11 (107) def Adelaide 14.13 (97) at Etihad Stadium

R14: Adelaide 12.28 (100) def North Melbourne 10.7 (67) at Adelaide Oval

Adelaide: 16-6, 138 per cent

A round 23 hiccup cost them their top-two position but the Crows couldn’t have asked for an easier September opponent. Will enjoy Rory Sloane’s return and will start hot favourites against North.

North Melbourne: 12-10, 105 per cent

Might as well represent a finals bye, with nine straight losses against 2016 finalists. Looked shot in round 23 loss to GWS and there are morale questions with the forced retirement of club legends including Brent Harvey.

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