Preliminary Finals Recap
Second Preliminary Final.
Final Score – Sydney Swans 15.7 (97) def Geelong Cats 8.12 (60)
Well, as far as Preliminary Finals go, you don’t get much more one-sided than that. Sydney just about had this game wrapped up after the 20 minute mark of the first quarter, with a fiery blitz that all but knocked the stuffing out of a lacklustre Geelong side.
The Swans were too slick in tight, too decisive in the open and too ferocious whenever they lost possession. Buddy Franklin had a massive first quarter and helped the Swans maul Geelong with seven goals to nil.
Geelong’s intensity was lacking and for the most part, too much was left for too few to do – Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel and Patrick Dangerfield dominated the individual stats sheet but were never more than bit-parts in an under-achieving Geelong side.
A Geelong fightback in the third quarter was quickly subdued by a fired-up Sydney team, who marched into the Grand Final next week, albeit with several key injuries which must be a worry for them.
Defender Aliir Aliir has a knee injury following an awkward fall, Co-captain Jarryd McVeigh was out of this weekends game with a calf injury but says he’ll be right to play, and Rising Star winner Callum Mills will also try to stake his claim for a Grand final recall as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
First Preliminary Final.
Final Score – Western Bulldogs 13.11 (89) def GWS 12.11 (83)
As predicted, this was a thrilling final with both sides equally determined to get into next weekends Grand Final – a first for GWS and the first in 55 years for the Bulldogs. In the end it was the Doggies that prevailed in a tight, absorbing contest that ebbed and flowed for all four quarters.
The defining moments in the final quarter will live in the memories of Dogs fans for generations, with one of Australian football’s greatest droughts on the cusp of being broken.
Jason Johannisen, Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore and Liam Picken rose above the manic pressure and desperation in the last quarter and forced their team over the line. When the match was to be won, it was a handful of key Bulldogs that won it.
The Giants boasted a game-high lead of 14 points after booting the first two goals of the final term, but it proved to be not enough, with a resolute Bulldogs side fighting back to gain the upper hand by 5pts at the final siren.
The siren sounded with the ball in the hands of Bulldogs forward Tory Dickson, who hit the post as the visitors prevailed, giving the Bulldogs a 6pt win as they go into next weeks Grand Final for the first time since 1961 – to be sure, they will likely have the backing of almost every neutral supporter in the country at the MCG next Saturday.
AFL Grand Final – Saturday October 1st
The Swans’ consistency over the past 20 years has been phenomenal. Since reaching the 1996 grand final, their first appearance in a premiership play-off since 1945, the Swans have reached finals 18 times in 21 seasons.
Saturday’s Grand final will be Sydney’s third in the past five seasons and their fifth in the past 12 seasons, surpassing Geelong’s four grand finals over the same period, and equal with Hawthorn.
The Western Bulldogs haven’t reached a grand final since their loss in 1961 to Hawthorn. They’ve played in only two in their history, their first in 1954 against Melbourne delivering the club’s one and only premiership.
The two teams have met only once this season, the Bulldogs winning a thrilling four-point victory over Sydney at the SCG in round 15 thanks to a last-minute goal from Jason Johanissen.
The Western Bulldogs will be an overwhelming sentimental favorite having won just the one premiership. They have also beaten Sydney, albeit narrowly, their last two starts.
But the Swans have been slightly better-performed this season, are more dependable in all circumstances and have pound-for-pound, the more talented team.
That should translate into a third AFL premiership over the last 12 seasons on the big day that matters most.
My tip to win the 2016 AFL Grand Final: Sydney Swans by 20pts
Go Hard, Go Fast, and Good Luck to both Teams, and Bring On the Grand Final!!
Also, huge thanks to the AFL, and ALL teams for another thrilling season of football – next year can’t come fast enough! 🙂