Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs – Second Semi-Final
Final score – Western Bulldogs 16.11 (107) defeat Hawthorn 12.12 (84)
Well what can I say? – I blew it AGAIN!
In my own defence, I DID say that tipping the Hawks to win was against my better judgement, and it seems that I was right.
Rarely do results come with such double-edged significance.
For the young victors, an emphatic coming out party. For the vanquished veterans, the end of one of the great runs in the game’s history.
The Hawks stole an early march, but midway through the second quarter they were being outgunned by the young Dogs, whose intensity and pressure around the contest was too much for the veteran Hawks to handle.
Marcus Bontempelli stood tall and was outstanding against a courageous Hawk Captain Luke Hodge, as were young guns Macrae, Smith, Dunkly, Picken, and Daniel. A preliminary final in Western Sydney awaits. The latest underdog battle for a club that has defied the odds throughout an incredible year.
For the veterans, some reflection of course, but hopefully some celebration at the outstanding achievements of this group of players – over the last 4 years they have accomplished a record that very few can lay claim to. It may be the end for this group, but if so, their contribution to not only their club but to the game, should not go unrewarded.
Sydney Swans v Adelaide Crows – First Semi-Final
Final score – Sydney 18.10 (118) defeat Adelaide 12.10 (82)
Phew! – THIS one I actually picked correctly. In the end it was a comfortable win for the Swans, but that’s what I call a Final – both sides committed to the tough physical challenge at hand.
At times it was almost brutal, with both sides receiving plenty of casualties in what was a bruising final at the SCG. Sydney lost Gary Rohan after he was stretchered from the field with what seemed to be a serious knee injury, and possibly Jarryd McVeigh who played on briefly despite limping off with a calf injury, while the injured list for the Crows included Jake Lever and Daniel Talia.
Sydney exploded out of the gates with a 7 goal first quarter which had the Crows immediately on the back foot against their 3 goals for the quarter. Rory Sloane looked at times to be a one-man army as Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker, Kieran Jack and Josh Kennedy battered the Adelaide midfield into submission, with Lance Franklin finding his range from the outset.
The second quarter was chaotic.
Adelaide matched Sydney for attack on the football but not on the scoresheet as the Swans extended the lead past six goals by the main break. But the main developing story was on the respective benches.
The Crows mounted a third-quarter comeback but struggled to get the margin any closer than 20 points.
Behinds from Mitch McGovern, Sloane, Josh Jenkins and Richard Douglas when the Crows were genuinely in need of majors, was followed by a Buddy Franklin bomb that all but extinguished any Adelaide hopes.
As the game went on, it was the big names: Kennedy (42 touches), Haneberry (31), Heeney (32), Franklin (four goals) who were all outstanding. Add in the work of the small forwards Papley (four goals) and McGlynn (three), and all told, they overwhelmed the visitors.
So after threatening all season, Adelaide’s campaign is over and the victors Sydney go on to play Geelong at the MCG next friday night.
Geelong Cats v Sydney Swans – Second preliminary final – Friday at the MCG
Both teams here have been the Premiership favorites pretty much all year – both had the fewest flaws out of all the teams for 2016, and it’s almost a pity that they will be meeting on the second last weekend in September instead of on the last!
Geelong will go in the favorites after having a week off to regroup following their close win over Hawthorn 2 weeks ago, and Sydney has several injury worries to contend with after their bruising match yesterday against Adelaide.
Jarryd McVeigh (calf), Gary Rohan (knee) will both be missing from the Swans lineup – Kurt Tippett (jaw) and Callum Mills (hamstring) are making noises about playing but almost certainly won’t, while Zak Jones (concussion) has yet to pass the requisite tests.
Having said that, Buddy Franklin might be living in Sydney these days, but he still does all his best work on the big stage, and he will be primed for a big one again come Friday night at the MCG that’s for sure.
Geelong would surely have been hoping for an Adelaide win on Saturday, after comfortably handling them twice this season. The only game between these two this year saw the Swans do it easily by 38 points at Skilled Stadium.
The Swans are going in as the underdogs, but that is just how they have always done their best work in finals.
My pick: Sydney Swans by 15pts
Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs – First preliminary final – Saturday at Spotless Stadium
What a great storyline for both teams, whichever goes into the Grand Final – GWS have never been an AFL Finals team until this year, and for the Doggies, it’s been a long time between drinks – 55 years to be exact since they last won a flag!
Both of these teams have made it through to the penultimate weekend of the season using the same formula – tough, hard running footy.
Neither side lacks confidence – GWS will have fresh legs and no real pressure going into this final, whereas the Bulldogs, although youthful and free-spirited as well, will only have a week to recover from a grueling match with the Hawks.
The Bulldogs will also surely feel the pressure from stalwart fans and members around the club who know only too well, that this a chance to come back from what many would see as years, if not decades in the AFL footy doldrums.
It’ll be an interesting final to say the least, and possibly the better of the 2 over the weekend in my book – both of these two teams have a lot to play for, and they will both be playing with the same ferociousness we’ve seen from them over the last few weeks I’m sure.
My pick: GWS by 22pts
Go Hard, Go Fast, and Good Luck to all Teams, and Bring It On!!