THE MATCH-UPS FOR WEEK ONE OF THE AFL FINALS
FRIDAY, SEPT 11
2nd qualifying final
2-West Coast v 3-Hawthorn, Domain Stadium, 8.20pm AEST
Past 3 Meetings
Round 19, 2015 – Hawks 13.10 (88) bt Eagles 11.8 (74) at Domain Stadium
Round 12, 2014 – Hawks 19.9 (123) bt Eagles 12.7 (79) at York Park
Round 13, 2013 – Hawks 19.9 (123) bt Eagles 16.7 (103) at Etihad Stadium
William Hill: West Coast $2.12, Hawthorn $1.70
TAB: West Coast $2.15, Hawthorn $1.70
Hawthorn beat West Coast in Perth only a month ago but the Eagles didn’t have Nic Naitanui and it’s very likely the Hawks will be without speedster Isaac Smith. Expect Hawks captain Luke Hodge to come out breathing fire after his AFL suspension and now a drink-driving offence. It’s fair to say, he owes his club.
The Hawks start favourites just because they’re Hawthorn but the Eagles keep defying expectations and will fancy their chances.
SATURDAY, SEPT 12
1st qualifying final
1-Fremantle v 4-Sydney, Domain Stadium, 3.20pm AEST
Past 3 Meetings
Round 4, 2015 – Dockers 11.8 (74) bt Swans 8.12 (60) at Domain Stadium
Qualifying final, 2014 – Swans 13.15 (93) bt Dockers 10.9 (69) at Stadium Australia
Round 5, 2014 – Swans 13.14 (92) bt Dockers 11.9 (75) at SCG
William Hill: Fremantle $1.48, Sydney $2.70
TAB: Fremantle $1.48, Sydney $2.65
Fremantle deservedly start favourites as minor premiers even though their pre-finals form has been patchy. The Dockers at home in a final are formidable. Sydney will also be without Kieren Jack and Lance Franklin has looked out of sorts after returning from a back injury. If the Swans can pull this off it will be a mighty win.
The Dockers will regain a host of key players from the week off but it remains unclear how No.1 player Nat Fyfe is tracking with his groin injury.
2nd elimination final
6-Western Bulldogs v 7-Adelaide, MCG, 7.20pm AEST
Past 3 Meetings:
Round 4, 2015 – Bulldogs 18.17 (125) bt Crows 10.8 (68) at Etihad Stadium
Round 6, 2014 – Crows 13.14 (92) bt Bulldogs 12.11 (83) at Etihad Stadium
Round 21, 2013 – Bulldogs 20.11 (131) bt Crows 17.12 (114) at Etihad Stadium
William Hill: Western Bulldogs $1.80, Adelaide $2.00
TAB: Western Bulldogs $1.80, Adelaide $2.00
Will the Crows rue Saturday’s loss to Geelong, given it cost them a home final? And how much home-ground advantage do the Bulldogs lose because the game is at the MCG, not Etihad Stadium?
These two teams have exceeded expectations this year. No-one tipped the `Dogs to make the eight and Adelaide have been mighty since the tragic death of coach Phil Walsh. At their best, they have been superb to watch. And it’s the first final between these two teams since Adelaide beat the Bulldogs in the 1997 and `98 preliminary finals on the way to their two premierships.
SUNDAY, SEPT, 13
1st elimination final:
5-Richmond v 8-North Melbourne, MCG, 3.20pm AEST
Past 3 Meetings:
Round 23, 2015 – Tigers 16.12 (108) bt Kangaroos 10.7 (67) at Etihad Stadium
Round 6, 2015 – Kangaroos 16.13 (109) bt Tigers 10.14 (74) at Bellerive Oval
Round 12, 2014 – Kangaroos 17.14 (116) bt Tigers 13.10 (88) at Etihad Stadium
William Hill: Richmond $1.60, North Melbourne $2.30
TAB: Richmond $1.65, North Melbourne $2.25
This is the week-one final with the most at stake. It is Richmond’s third-straight elimination final and they must win for the season be considered a success. North rested a big group of players for Friday night’s loss to the Tigers and after making a preliminary final last season, they also need to keep progressing.
Richmond’s win on Friday night was about as significant as a pre-season game – in short, it wasn’t at all. The Tigers have had the better run to the finals but the `Roos are more than capable.