Our standalone previews for the first week of the AFL Finals series continues today as we take a look at the massive game between Melbourne and Geelong from the MCG on Friday night. The two teams lock horns starting from 7.50pm and we have a full preview and betting tips for the game below.
After a patch in the middle of the season that saw them lose three games in a row to the Magpies, Power and Saints, the Demons bounced back to finish the year winning six of their last eight games. Great wins over West Coast and GWS to end the season ensured that the Demons would play at the MCG in this first elimination final but the horror loss to the Saints earlier in the year probably stopped them from being in the top four.
Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw have been the catalyst for the impressive Melbourne season. Oliver looks on track to win his second Melbourne B&F in a row while Brayshaw has been fantastic off half back and in the midfield in his 4th year in the league. Melbourne have played an extremely aggressive style of play throughout the season so far, maintaining the second highest percentage behind only Richmond.
Geelong scraped into the top eight just four points above four teams in North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Essendon and Adelaide who all finished with 48 points. An absolutely stellar season from Tom Hawkins was a big factor in the Cats success this season while their defence has been dominant. They have allowed the fewest points per game of any team in the AFL this year which should create an interesting contrast between attack and defence against Melbourne.
The ruck position has been a bit of a problem for the Cats throughout the year. Rhys Stanley has had to do the job for the majority of the season but in the last few games of the season we saw Ryan Abbott come into the side. He’ll be massively important this weekend as he goes up against the premier ruckman in the competition in Max Gawn, who has had a dominant season becoming the first player in AFL history to reach 1000 hit-outs in a season. Gawn scored 138 against the Cats earlier in the year and finished the home and away season with scores of 111 and 120. Even if the Demons are outplayed here I think he still racks up over 40 hit-outs and covers his fantasy line.
The two teams have had some high scoring games in the past few years. Total scores throughout their past five games have been 202, 199, 203, 191 and 198. In those five games, Geelong have captured wins in the last four. However, the most recent two, both played in 2018, came at combined winning margin of just 5 points and both finished with kicks after the siren to decide the fate of the game.
Max Gawn missed a shot directly in front from 20m out to hand Geelong the win back in Round 1 while it was Zach Touhy that was the hero when the two sides met in Round 18, kicking truly after the siren from 40m out to give the Cats another tight victory. With finals intensity thrown into what is already a fierce rivalry, this one is bound to be another close game, which is why the line currently sits at just 4.5 points in favour of the Demons.
The Cats have had the wood over the Demons in recent times whether at GMHBA Stadium or at the MCG. They’ll want to bounce back after a tough loss to Richmond in the first final at the MCG last year and their key players have been playing on another level of late, particularly Patrick Dangerfield, who has racked up fantasy scores of 128, 126, 115 and 158 in his last four games. There’s also the return to finals footy at the MCG for Gary Ablett, who is arguably one of the best players at the home of football in history. In 58 games at the MCG, Ablett averages an astonishing 27.88 disposals per game and the little master has a 11-6 record with the Cats in finals football.
I think the cream rises to the top for the Cats here and they pull out a historic win to break the hearts of Melbourne fans one more time. Get on the Cats to win at Sportsbet.
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