With a week off for all teams before finals which is something that I think is a disadvantage for those that finished top four but who are we to judge the brains trust of AFL house.
In what has been the most tightly contested seasons in recent memory with the final eight only decided in the last game of the year can we expect a very even finals series where anything can happen also?
In short the answer is no……
Teams making up the numbers
Are yet to beat a side in the top eight this season. Have a think about that a team that finished 5th and almost snuck into the top four has not beaten anyone that was positioned in the top eight throughout the season. It just shows the inequity of the AFL draw. The Power are a very exciting side to watch fast runner and highly skilled but have gone missing in some big games. Charlie Dixon has shown he can be one of the premier forwards in the comp and Chad Wingard along with Robbie Gray and Ollie Wines are some of the best midfielders come forwards going around. Scoring isn’t a problem for the Power but when other contenders have got hold of them they have capitulated. Best the Power can hope for is a home final in the first round and face the Eagles who have a great record against the Power. After that the task is monumental and if they get out of the elimination final week two it’s all over.
Have played some big games yet have had some shockers. For the Bombers to make the finals is a huge thing considering what the club has been through in the past few seasons and as a club it’s a wonderful thing. The changing of the guard has well and truly started at the Bombers with young guns Daniher and Merrett leading the charge. It will good for the club to play in the finals but have the unwanted task of taking on the Swans in Sydney. They pushed the Swans early in the year and where down right unlucky to have lost that game. If they can knock of the Swans they do the rest of the comp a big favour as the Swans are going to be hard to beat and no one will want to face them. The inexperienced Bombers won’t be making any big inroads this year, but the future looks bright.
Get to play their “Bunnies” in Port Adelaide in the first week of the finals and if they get past the Power they won’t go any further. The Eagles do not travel well and will spend the finals travelling so will not end well for them. The road past the Power does not get any easier and while they have some battle hardened players and are very efficient going forward they will struggle. The Eagles will be looking to next year, Nic Nat back in a few extra games under some of the kids belts. They have a strong core and a powerful forward line and will be around the top eight for the next few years but some changes need to me made if they want to be anything other than average.
Teams with half a chance.
Finishing second and taking apart the Giants in the process puts the Cats in good stead for the finals. If and it’s a big if they had both home games at skilled stadium you would expect the Cats to get two wins and make their way to the MCG for a grand final. Playing the Tigers in the first week at the MCG as it will hold a capacity Crowd of 90000 plus it takes any real advantage the Cats have in the first week of the finals. The Cats are still too reliant on Dangerfield and Selwood but do have plenty of class up forward when firing and they back six looks generally solid. To make it through to the big Dance the first week of finals almost becomes and elimination final against the Tigers, as the loser will most likely face the Swans in week two.
Almost made the also rans list. On paper they look near unbeatable but for the long periods in the second half of this season the Giants have looked second rate and flat. They face the horrible task of facing the Crows at home first up and will then get to face the winner of the Power and Eagles. The Giants should have these sides covered but then again will have to face the Cats or Tigers at either Skilled or the MCG in a preliminary final which is no easy task. They have the cattle to go deep with a huge forward line in Patten and Cameron, plus add in Greene then the midfield talent of Kelly, Shiel and company it’s hard to rule out any Giants side. A week off just may be the reenergise they need to get their finals pumping.
The big unknown! The Tiger train is full steam ahead but it’s Richmond…. they have been the most heart breaking side for fans for the past 30 years. So much rides on their defence make no mistake about it the Tigers are defensively one of the best in the AFL but have shown they can score at will when needed. The Tigers will not fear playing anyone and will relish having the games at the MCG if they get past the Cats in the first week. Rance is the key down back he is capable of stopping a train, Martin is getting more help around the midfield and if the Tigers forwards can produce then the Tigers can maybe just maybe deliver their fans and club to the promised land.
The fact that the Swans have created history by just making the finals is a testament to the club and the players. The big question is how deep can they go? The bookmakers have them equal second favourite with the Giants and they deserve to be. Since the opening six rounds they have the best record of all teams in the AFL. The Swans have been here for the past few seasons and out of all finals contenders have by far and away the most experience in finals and have blooded many kids this season that have taken the big step up. None seem to do it better than the Swans at playing that team defence and team game a selfless team. It would be a fool to not consider them as a major contender.
This leaves the one to beat
Besides maybe Sydney there is no more professional team than the Adelaide Crows in the AFL they finished top and are favourites to win the flag. They will have the Advantage of home ground throughout the finals and this should be enough to get them through to the grand final. It is the Crows to lose from here, they have winners across every line without having any real super stars as such they just break sides down and over run them. The Crouch brothers have had a season like few before them and have set a record for most possessions in a season for brothers. Add in the Rory’s and the Crows ever reliable back line and forward line and it’s hard to see them getting beaten.
It’s a pity we won’t probably won’t get a Crows vs Swans grand final unless games don’t go as planned they will meet in the preliminary final. This opens the door for Geelong or Richmond if they can get the home final in the Preliminary final you would back them to get to the Grand final from there.
Runner up Richmond