Thu, Sep 22, 10:22am by Jake Equid
After two fascinating cut-throat semi-finals we are left with only four clubs in the hunt for the holy grail. Preliminary Final weekend is known as the people’s weekend with a high percentage of the crowd made up of supporters of the competing clubs, whereas next week in the Grand Final there is a vast majority of corporate ticket holders which dilutes the crowd somewhat.
First up on Friday night at the home of football, the MCG we have the Cats hosting the minor-premiers, Sydney. The Swans got their finals campaign back on track in a bruising win against the Crows in which they suffered two crucial injuries. Geelong on the other hand have had the week off to rest and recuperate.
The following day, a club who has well and truly captured the imagination of the city of Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs bid to qualify for their first Grand Final since 1961. Their opponents, the Giants, are in just the fifth year of their existence but are in with a real chance of qualifying for their first Grand Final in their first finals campaign.
WATCH: Our Preview of the AFL Preliminary Finals
Here’s our best bets for the preliminary-finals:
Second Preliminary Final –Geelong v Sydney, MCG, Friday 23 September, 7:50pm
The Cats will run out onto the ground for just the second time in 27 days to face the Swans who got past the Crows comfortably albeit at a cost on the injury front.
The Swans were clearly out to make amends for their poor contested ball showing against the Giants in the Qualifying final. They came out firing in the opening term against the Crows, kicking seven goals to three and then held that margin for the night.
In the end the Swans ran out victorious by a comfortable 36 points but are now sweating on the fitness of their skipper Jarrad McVeigh, as well as Gary Rohan who was cleared of structural damage to his knee but is in severe doubt to play. In some much needed good news from the medical room, star big man Kurt Tippett is set to make a remarkable recovery less than two weeks after fracturing his jaw.
This is the first time the clubs have played at this venue since 1934. The last time these clubs played in a final was the 2005 Semi when Nick Davis kicked a miracle goal to end the Cats’ season with only 10 seconds on the clock – a loss that still breaks the hearts of the Geelong faithful. The Swans went on to win the Premiership that year.
The Cats would have been licking their lips watching on Saturday night as the Crows and Swans went at it in a brutal Semi-Final but should the Swans bring the same ferocity as they did in that contest then it is well and truly game on.
The Swans are coming into this one off just a six-day break but will draw inspiration from their 38-point win in Geelong in Round 16. I’m backing the Cats to be too good here in what should be an absolute classic.
BEST BET: Geelong to win: $1.65
First Preliminary Final – GWS v Western Bulldogs, Spotless Stadium, Saturday 24 September, 5:15pm
Don’t blink at any point during this game with two of the most exciting teams in the league going head-to-head for a spot in the Grand Final. No matter what the result, history will be made.
The Giants are favourites ($1.48) to progress to their first ever Grand Final in their first ever finals series. The Dogs opened up at similar odds to what they were at the same time last week ($2.65) but have now drifted slightly to $2.70. The line opened up at 12.5 and is now at 14.5.
The capacity of only 24,000 at the Giants home ground of Spotless Stadium means that the crowd will be the lowest seen for a preliminary final since the great war in 1917. It really is hard to see how the AFL came to this decision given their ‘fans first’ policy, there will be thousands of fans locked out.
Historically, the penultimate weekend hasn’t been kind to the Bulldogs, they’ve come up short seven times in a row in preliminary finals dating back to 1985. After what we saw on Friday though it’s hard not to be sucked in by their free-spirited play.
There is, of course, no historical millstone around the Giants and therefore, as you’d expect, not much pressure. In a big blow for the Giants, Steve Johnson will not be there on Saturday night after the ex-Cat was rubbed out for a hit on Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy earlier in the finals..
The amount of young talent on display here is astounding but the pick of the bunch for me will be the match-up between Stephen Coniglio and Marcus Bontempelli. Coniglio will no doubt be paying close attention to the Bont who has been outstanding this finals campaign. I’m backing the Dogs to win by a close margin in what could be the first of many finals between the clubs in the next decade.
BEST BET: Western Bulldogs to win: $2.70
AFL Preliminary Finals odds:
MULTI: Geelong and Western Bulldogs to win: $4.45
Stay tuned to australiangambling.com.au over the coming days for betting previews including best bets and video previews and as we continue to preview the AFL finals.
Odds sourced from Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing
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