AFL Finals Preview: Week 1

BY JEFFERIS

It’s been a pretty average year in the AFL. 2015 will probably be remembered more for what happened off the field than on the field. Between the tragic death of Adelaide coach Phil Walsh, the not so tragic loss of James Hird and Mick Malthouse, the continuing drugs saga in Essendon and Collingwood and the continuing crowd racism directed at superstar Goodsy, it seems the only ray of sunshine was from the 2 women’s AFL matches.

The build up for the finals will be more a test for the broadcasters than the players on the ground as they struggle to sell a narrative that anyone would give a shit about.

So… without further ado (just leant its not adieu – see, AFL can teach you something) on to the games.

West Coast v Hawks (Friday 8:20pm)

After the Eagles infamously built up the round 3 local derby with the slogan ‘the West is ours’ then lost the game by 30 points it seemed that they would be pretenders again this year. To the surprise of pretty much everyone in the east, the Eagles clocked up 2 strings of 6 wins, then a draw (Suns – not so good), loss (Hawks), then getting their revenge on the Dockers in round 20 with a 24 point victory. They’ve looked to be getting better as the year progressed with 3 wins in a row at the end of the season over top 8 teams which secured them 2nd place on the ladder under the Dockers.

After coming off back to back premiership wins the Hawks were favourite for a third. But with a win, loss, win, loss at the start of the season the Hawks seemed to be wavering. To counter they came out hard against North and received two suspensions to Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis.

Hodge. Excellent player. Sometimes idiot.
Hodge. Excellent player. Sometimes idiot.

A week later they lost to GWS and continued their win, loss pattern till St Kilda in round 10. After their bye in round 11 they have manage to only drop 2 of 12 to put them in third place.

The Game:

Easily the match of the round as this will be the grand final match up in a few weeks time. Yes I’m calling it but I have my reasons.

Hawks beat the Eagles in round 19 in Perth but the travel will again be hard on the Hawks. Running man Isaac Smith has been confirmed to start after a knee injury scare last week but will still find it hard to find space. Subiaco’s narrow ground will condense the play which will suit Nic Nac like always. This is a hard game to call so I won’t. All I’ll say is that get out of jail free card might come in handy.

Dockers v Swans (Saturday 1:20pm)

Thank god for the Dockers, they are easily to write up. They play boring football and lost 5 games. They were good at the start of the season, now they are not.

Sydney have had a hard season with Goodsy having to deal with racial abuse during multiple games. While he has handled it like an absolute superstar, it has taken its toll on him and the team. Sydney have also lost key players like Kieran Jack and this week Buddy Franklin.

No Buddy = No Win.
No Buddy = No Win.

The Game:

Sydney will struggle in this game mainly due to their injuries. With a full strength team they would give the Dockers a run for their money. It will be hard for them to travel with the air of uncertainty of injuries and health issues and a possible Goodes retirement.

Dockers will bore Sydney to a win.

Bulldogs v Crows (Saturday 7:20pm)

The Bulldogs have played an exciting year, surprising many to finish 6th. After beating the likes of Adelaide and Sydney in round 4 and 5 the perpetual ‘underdogs’ have been a crowd pleaser, making the average person yell ‘GO DOGGIES’ as they check the scores in the hope that they can knock off a few top 8 teams.

The Crows have been an under performing team in the last couple of years as they finish lower on the table as predicted at the start of the season. They have played well after the tragic loss of their coach but with the uncertainty around Dangerfield’s contract next year the crows will struggle to make it far in the finals.

It is a pretty tremendous head of hair.
It is a pretty tremendous head of hair.

The Game:

Everyone will be going for the DOGGIES and I’ll be happy to jump on the bandwagon. When your coach has a better mullet than the players on the field you know you’re onto a winner.

Tigers v Norths (Sunday 3:20pm)

It’s been a long road for the Tigers but they haven’t disappointed. Last year they managed to sneak into the top 8, building up hope in Tigerland that they can win a premiership only to once again disappoint their fans by losing in the first week to Adelaide. This year they have manage to build up hope again by beating Fremantle, Sydney and the Hawks. After the Hawks game supporters took to twitter in the belief they had it in the bag. The Tigers are an unpredictable bunch, being able to beat a top four side but also lose to a bottom four. They have matured this year and got some consistency in their game.

North. What can you say? The best of the middle of the road teams, beating Geelong and Port by 1 game. Still a bit of an inconsistent team, they have slipped a bit since last year in what could possibly be Boomer Harvey’s final season. Harvey has expressed a desire to win one last premiership before calling it a day but I suspect that wish will go unfulfilled just like so many other players.

The Game:

Tigers played North last week so I doubt much will change. North did rest an unusual amount of players last week but in a game that has a large mental component the Tigers will have an upper hand. Also, again North showed their inconsistency by blowing a halftime lead to lose by 41 points. Tigers should win, again building to hopes of Tigerland.

He said, ominously.

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