October 01, 2020 6 min read

AFL Finals Preview

Sunday the 22nd of March. The day the AFL season was put on hold due to the damning effects of COVID-19. After nearly 3 months of uncertainty surrounding the season, the AFL community had their prayers answered. Fans rejoiced as live footy was back. No more sitting around watching old replays, no more debating ex players’ ‘best 22’ and no more pointless re-drafts of previous years uploaded to social media. Finally, footy was back. Despite being the toughest season to date, comprising of football ‘hubs’, crowd-less stadiums and not contact team songs… we’ve made it to the finals! And here at SportsPower Geelong we’ve got you covered for all things finals footy. Find out all you need to know for the first week of finals footy right here!

 

First Qualifying Final: Power v Cats @ Adelaide Oval

Thursday October 1st, 7:40pm AEST

The 2020 AFL finals series is to be kicked off in a thrilling encounter, with the minor premiers in Port Adelaide hosting the Geelong Cats. It was only 7 weeks ago when Geelong served up Port Adelaide a belting to the tune of 60-points in what was a clinical performance. If he hadn’t already, Tom Hawkins took this night to prove to the rest of the competition that he’s arguably the premier key forward, with a dominant 6-goal performance. “The Little Master”, in Gary Ablett, will also look to cause the Power headaches in his ninth finals series after not being available for their previous matchup in round 12. However, Port Adelaide have clearly been the most consistent team across the season, sitting on top of the ladder for the entirety of the season. Their leaders in Travis Boak and Tom Jonas have been huge and will need to be on top of their game to gain victory this Thursday night.

Player Spotlight: Patrick Dangerfield

  • Finals footy is often won through wildcards. Dangerfield may be just that, with the typical midfielder proving to be an awkward matchup when playing forward. If “Danger” quickly finds his feet at Adelaide oval, alarm bells may start to ring in the Power coaching box.

Player Spotlight: Charlie Dixon

  • If Hawkins is the premier key forward of the competition, well then big Charlie isn’t far behind. The monstrous key forward is unstoppable one-on-one, recording the most contested marks this season. If Port are able to isolate Charlie within the forward 50, big Charlie may help himself to a finals bag.

KEY QUESTION:Will the ‘Tomahawk’ once again break the heart of Port Adelaide supporters, or will it be a hard-nosed Power midfield which flex their muscle?

 

SP Geelong Tip: Cats by 11

Second Qualifying Final: Lions v Tigers @ The Gabba

Friday October 2nd, 7:50pm AEST

The 2nd qualifying final provides a replay of the first week of 2019 finals, in which the Brisbane Lions were handed a 47-point hiding to the hands of the ever-reliable Richmond, eventually leading to a straight set finals exit for the Lions. However, Chris Fagan’s men haven’t put much of a foot wrong at all this season. All Australian stars Harris Andrews and Lachie Neale have been key pillars in their success, yet it has arguably been up and coming stars of the Lions which have powered them to a record of 14 wins and 3 losses. Jarryd Lyons, Zac Bailey, Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry have all played their part, whilst Eric Hipwood has managed to find some form for the most important part of the year. In their way of securing a home preliminary final stands the most successful team of recent times, with the Tigers winning 2 of the past 3 premierships. Whilst having the likes of stars Dustin Martin, Tom Lynch and Trent Cotchin a part of his lineup, coach Damian Hardwick will rather rely on their game style, based upon manic pressure and quick ball movement, to secure victory.

Player spotlight: Dustin Martin

  • Martin is known as the ‘big game’ player of the competition, already having won 2 Norm Smith medals. Once he gets going, he proves to be unstoppable, highlighted by his 6 goals against the Lions in last season’s qualifying final. He will be pivotal in Richmond’s aspirations of securing a spot in the Preliminary final.

Player spotlight: Charlie Cameron

  • The key to Brisbane’s success this Friday night may lie within Cameron. Booting 26 goals this season, Cameron proves to be a handful up forward for numerous opposition defenders. If Cameron is able to get off the leash, the livewire may provide some serious problems for the men in yellow and black.

KEY QUESTION:Will Brisbane hold their nerve and break a 15-game drought of losses against the Tigers, or will Richmond prove to be too strong?

SP Geelong Tip: Tigers by 17

 

Second Elimination Final: Saints v Bulldogs @ The Gabba

Saturday October 3rd, 4:40pm AEST

In what we tip to be the game of the round, St Kilda will host the Western Bulldogs in a do-or-die clash at The Gabba. The Bulldogs will enter this finals series in red hot form, winning 5 of their past 6 games. Their attacking brand of footy can carve up opponents when it’s on, however they have proven to be inconsistent from game to game. All Australians Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel will do their all to will their side to victory, whilst the return of Aaron Naughton from injury will prove to be a threat up forward. On the other hand, a consistent St. Kilda have earnt themselves their first final since 2011. The Saints have also used quick ball movement as their game-style, making for an interesting contest this Saturday night. Saints fans will be hoping their 2020 recruits in Zac Jones, Paddy Ryder and Dan Butler find their feet quickly, proving to be vital in their team success so far.

Player Spotlight: Marcus Bontempelli

  • “The Bont” is a proven big game player, starring in the 2016 finals series as a 20-year-old. The smooth-moving on baller possesses the talent to single handedly slice through the St. Kilda defence. Brett Ratten will be praying an in-form St. Kilda midfield keep the Bont at bay.

Player Spotlight: Jack Steele

  • Steel recently earnt his maiden All Australian jacket after impressing this season as tough on-baller. It may just be his defensive work which puts a stop to Bontempelli, however he will also look to punish the dogs the other way.

KEY QUESTION:Will it be another fairytale Bulldogs finish from 7th or will a fresh-faced Saints team be the Bulldogs of 2016?

SP Geelong Tip: Bulldogs by 5

First Elimination Final: Eagles v Magpies @ Optus Stadium

Saturday October 3rd, 8:10pm AEST

To complete week 1 of the finals series, West Coast will fly back to their fortress, aiming to put an end to the season of Collingwood – a team which travels typically well. There may not be a tougher task in footy than travelling to Perth to face a rampaging West Coast outfit, leaving many not giving Collingwood a chance this week. Despite being without star Elliot Yeo, the Eagles will use their familiar surroundings, in addition to their loyal fans in order to set the finals stage alight. In comparison, an in-form Collingwood defence will look to hush the home crowd, setting up the game for their stars in Pendlebury, Treloar and Adams to ruin the West Coast party.

Player Spotlight: Nic Naitanui

  • The All Australian ruckman will go toe-to-toe with another star ruckman of the competition in Brodie Grundy, potentially being a deciding matchup. If Nic Nat is able to give his midfield first class service, good luck to the Collingwood backline!

Player Spotlight: Jordan De Goey

  • De Goey nearly put the dagger into the hearts of Eagles fans in the 2018 grand final, displaying just how tough of a matchup he can be. Despite spending a long stint on the sidelines this season with injury, De Goey has the potential to be a dangerous weapon for the Pies.

KEY QUESTION:Will the Eagles sharpshooters take control, or will a stubborn Magpies defence keep an unlikely flag tilt alive?

SP Geelong Tip: Eagles by 35

Brad Edwards
Brad Edwards



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