Friday, September 13
Geelong vs West Coast
7:50pm AEST, MCG
The Cats weren’t able to put an end to their recent poor finals record, or their recent poor post-bye record, going down to the Pies on Friday night by 10 points. That margin probably flatters them, because they never really looked like winning. Nothing at all really went to plan; the late call to drop Rhys Stanley in favour of midfielder Sam Menegola seemed a dubious decision pre-game, and didn’t seem great post-game either. And when a player looks to have hurt himself 30 seconds before the bounce of the ball, as happened with Jed Bews, you know it’s not your night.
Fortunately Bews was fine to play, but the omens weren’t great for Geelong. A domineering performance by Patrick Dangerfield, who got his team within striking distance in the second half, was about all the Cats could take pride in. They need to move on quickly, because this week they face the reigning champs in a knockout semi-final, and the Cats really don’t want that poor finals record to continue. There are going to be some serious challenges, with Mitch Duncan and Gary Rohan ruled out of the clash and a few other Cats feeling sore from Friday night’s loss to the Pies. Not to mention the threat that West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui poses if Geelong can’t find a suitable matchup for him. Rhys Stanley should get first crack, but if Stanley can’t curb his influence then the Cats are in big trouble; Naitanui wasn’t necessarily dominant around the ground against the Bombers, but his tap work was phenomenal and gave the West Coast midfield a clear advantage. You’d expect Elliot Yeo to go head-to-head with Dangerfield, while the Eagles might look to Mark Hutchings to subdue Tim Kelly.
Outside of the midfield, the two teams match up fairly well; the Cats have a strong defence to match the West Coast forwards, while the Eagles defenders will have their hands full with Tom Hawkins and company, though that’s the important part: Hawkins needs the other guys to perform, otherwise Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barass will leave their man and intercept all night.
I can see a few areas where the Eagles might have an advantage, but other than the Dangerfield factor, not too many where Geelong come up trumps (although, the last minute Willie Rioli suspension might mess with the Eagles’ mental state). I’m not writing the Cats off by any means, but I think they’re going to have their work cut out in this one and I’m tipping they might just be out in straight sets. It would be a cruel way to end a season that has been so promising, but I get a feeling the Eagles will be too good in this one.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $2.10 (TopBetta)
Saturday, September 14
Brisbane vs GWS Giants
7:25pm AEST, The Gabba
The Lions will be disappointed they weren’t able to capitalise on their first-quarter opportunities on Saturday night; if they had been able to put some scoreboard pressure on the Tigers the game might have turned in a completely different direction. It wasn’t to be, but they get another crack this Saturday night when they host the Giants, who are full of confidence after smashing the in-form Dogs in Saturday’s elimination final. GWS played tough, relentless football, which admittedly crossed the line at times, but it unsettled their opponent and was the catalyst for their big win.
You wouldn’t expect some of the borderline tactics to work again this week when all eyes will be on them, but what we can expect is that the Giants will again come out to play hard and tough football. The Lions will be ready for that, and with slightly more experienced bodies should be able to cope better than the Dogs did, though losing enforcer Mitch Robinson to a hamstring injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. They’ll need to be better with their forward fifty entries than they were against the Tigers, and they’ll also need to tidy up their defensive work, but I don’t think that will be too much of an issue for them. They’re a young team in terms of finals experience, but they’ve got enough cool heads around the place to keep everything in check.
The Giants have got close to the best team they’ve had all year out on the field at the moment, and last week showed they’re in good touch. The loss of Brett Deledio hurts, but that just means the ever-reliable Adam Tomlinson is back into the team after his shock omission last week. The Giants are going to be mighty difficult for the Lions to beat, but I reckon the home crowd will play a part and help the Lions over the line in a really tight four-quarter battle — I’m going with Brisbane to get up by a goal.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.66 (BetFair)
Best Bets of the Round
West Coast to win @ $2.10 (TopBetta)