AFL Finals Week One Preview

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West Coast ($1.21) v Essendon ($4.25) – Thursday 8.10pm AEST

The first game of the finals series sees fifth-placed West Coast play host to the eighth-placed Bombers. Last time the Eagles hosted a Thursday night elimination final was back in 2016 where they ran into the eventual premiers, the Western Bulldogs. After losing to the Hawks at home in round 23, the Eagles gave up their chance of making the top four and now must win four elimination games on the trot to win back-to-back flags. The likely inclusion of star ruckman Nic Naitanui will give the home side a huge boost. Meanwhile, the Bombers have limped into the finals though will fancy their chances in the west with the likes of Stringer, Dyson Heppell and Orazio Fantasia near certainties to return after injuries hampered them in the last month of the season back. John Worsfold’s men will be looking to end their 15-year drought of winning a final (longest active streak in the competition) when Thursday night comes around. If you believe they can, be sure to check out the best sports betting sites for the best available odds.

Geelong ($1.72) v Collingwood ($2.10) – Friday 7.50pm AEST

First-placed Geelong will ‘host’ the fourth-placed Magpies in a Friday night blockbuster at the MCG. Geelong has been the standout team all year as they have been dominant across all facets of the game. At the end of the season they finished as the No.1 ranked defence ahead of their opposition this Friday in Collingwood. Their stars like Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkins, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood will be hoping to turn their past finals mishaps around and book a home preliminary final with a victory against last year’s grand finalists. Their opponents, Collingwood, will welcome back several key names for the first qualifying final in Jordan De Goey, Steele Sidebottom and Jaidyn Stephenson. The Pies forward line will be causing Geelong’s defence coach Matthew Scarlett headaches with Brody Mihocek in scintillating form and the return of the stars mentioned the likes of Tom Stewart and Mark Blicavs will have their hands full. In recent times, the Cats have had the wood over the Pies winning their last three encounters. 90,000 people await both teams Friday night in what is shaping up to be a classic finals game.         

GWS ($2.05) v Western Bulldogs ($1.77) – Saturday 3.20pm AEST

These two sides recently met in round 22 at the same venue with the Dogs emerging victorious by 61 points but with some big names back for the Giants you’d expect the game to be closer this time around. The Giants had an inconsistent second half of the season and with many important players sidelined through injury they struggled. However, there are no excuses this time of year and Leon Cameron’s men know there aren’t any second chances for the loser this week. On the flipside, the Western Bulldogs have been one of the in-form teams of the competition since the mid-season bye as they have played their best footy at the right time of the year. Their midfield of Josh Dunkley, Jackson Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli and Lachie Hunter has been firing in every department and will fancy their chance against the Stephen Coniglio-less Giants midfield. The ‘Bont’ is almost certain to get heavily tagged by Giants’ Matt de Boer in what will be the match-up to keep an eye out for.     

Brisbane ($2.20) v Richmond ($1.65) – Saturday 7.25pm AEST

The sold out Gabba will be pumping come first bounce on Saturday night as the Tigers come to town. It’s been 10 years since the Lions have featured in finals and with a top four finish they have secured the very important double chance. Brisbane coach Chris Fagan will take confidence from his side’s 27-point loss to the Tigers at the MCG in round 23 as they fought their way back into the contest in the second half. A fact that the Lions would know they have lost their last 13 meetings with Richmond and will be looking to end that streak in front of a sold out Gabba crowd. A big matchup to look out for is Harris Andrews v Tom Lynch as the 2019 All Australian fullback will have his hands full with Lynch hitting form at the right time of year. Richmond haven’t played anywhere else besides the cold and wet MCG the past two months, so the expected 25 degree weather and hostile Brisbane crowd will put them to the test. If they get a win up in Brisbane and book a home preliminary final at the MCG, good luck to the rest of the competition.   

 

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