It's time for Week 2 of the 2017 AFL Finals with Sydney v Geelong and GWS v West Coast stealing the attention this weekend! Make sure to see what we think of the two games in our 2017 AFL Semi-Finals preview and betting tips.
Geelong Cats vs Sydney Swans (Friday, September 15th at 7:50pm AEST)
2017 Encounters: Geelong (61) v Swans (107)
Last 5: Cats 1, Swans 4
Like their finals campaign in 2014, the Cats are in danger of once being ousted from the finals in straight sets after a rough start to their 2017 AFL Finals. They struggled against the Tigers last week and now have a tough task against the rampaging Swans who look primed after a clinical performance against the Bombers to continue their quest for ultimate glory.
The Cats will have close to no confidence going into this game. Not only were they well below their best last week, they now have to face an opponent who they have lost the last three encounters by an average margin of 40 points - one of those losses was even at Simonds Stadium and one at the MCG. The Swans, meanwhile, have won 15 of their past 17 matches and seem to be hitting their best at exactly the right time.
While I think the Swans are definitely the better team - and in better form - the finals can often be about who has the healthiest list and no doubt this is where the Cats are struggling. They lost the very important Cam Guthrie last week, while Jake Kolodjashnij is also on the sidelines and although he might be relatively inexperienced, he has become a staple of the Cats structure. Joel Selwood, meanwhile, was clearly not at his best last week and while they will be hoping he will be better for the run, there is every chance he also pulls up sore. Whether Selwood is playing at 100% will be a very important factor against the Josh P Kennedy led midfield.
The Cats copped criticism for leaving Daniel Menzel out of the side last week and while it's hard to know if that was the right decision or not, we do know he is very likely to play this week. Geelong simply need more damaging goal kickers if they are any chance against a Swans' side who has the best defence of any team in the comp. This one looks like a very likely Swans victory and while I think they have the ability to crush most teams, this is a cut-throat final and will be highly competitive. Will be taking the Swans at the margin.
Tip: Sydney by 1-39 Point (Under 39.5) - $2.05 at CrownBet (3 units)
GWS Giants vs West Coast Eagles (Saturday, September 16th at 7:25pm AEST)
2017 Encounters: Giants (81) v Eagles (60); Giants (98) v Eagles (90)
Last 5: Giants 2, Eagles 3
It was looking more likely that this would be a clash between Port Adelaide and the Giants, but the Eagles stole one of the most memorable victories of the modern era when a Luke Shuey goal after the siren in extra time decided the riveting clash. Now they are full of confidence as they travel to Spotless Stadium to take on the Giants.
If I was told a month ago the Eagles would be playing the Giants at Spotless Stadium in a final I would have given them absolutely zero chance. But the Giants are looking very beatable at the moment. While they lost to arguably the best team in the comp in Adelaide last week, they really looked poor. They had no hunger, never looked dangerous moving the ball forward and overall seemed lost. We know their best football is far better than that, but their confidence will be at an all-time low - especially with news that Jeremy Cameron and Shane Mumford will both be on the sidelines. Of those two, Cameron is obviously the bigger loss and actually it could be argued that Mumford was starting to be a bit of a liability. With Cameron out, I think it's probably more likely they bring Dawson Simpson in as ruck, but there is a chance they change it up completely and just have Lobb ruck and play a smaller forward line. Regardless, Mummy was clearly struggling and this might be a blessing in disguise.
The Eagles played fearless football against the Power and some of their key guys really stood up - such as Jack Darling who finally played with the ferocity we always think he should be capable of. They quelled the influence of Port Adelaide's running game and did everything they could to stay in the game until it really mattered. They were, however, helped by some really poor goal kicking and ball usage inside 50 from Port Adelaide and actually lost the scoring shots by 12. That's a huge indictment and if they lose the scoring shots by anywhere near that this week, they will be out of the 2017 AFL Finals.
There are plenty of reasons you can like the Eagles to win this game, but most of those are more related to confidence and momentum. You can't take the victory away from them last week, but the fact is that they were beaten in most key areas against Port Adelaide. They also have an old and slow midfield and are coming up against a young and blisteringly quick midfield at Spotless Stadium. It would be a disaster for the Giants to go out in straight sets after being one kick away from the Grand Final last year. Not to mention all the expectations of a developing dynasty. I think the Giants should win this game easily and if they don't, there are clearly some real cultural or 'above the shoulder' problems at GWS. The Eagles will be happy with making it this far, but I don't think it's realistic they will go any further.
Tip: GWS Giants at the line (-15.5) - $1.92 at Ladbrokes (2 units)
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