It's preliminary final week in the AFL! Many believe this to be the best week of football on the calendar, and I happen to agree. The Demons will take on the Cats in the first prelim on Friday night and as always, PuntingInDanger has you covered with a full preview and betting tips for the clash below.
Remember to check out our AFL Tips page for all of our preview and betting tips for both of the prelims and plenty more including our popular Brownlow Medal tracker!
Preliminary Final, Optus Stadium, Friday 10th September, 7.50pm (AEST)
The Demons will be looking to reach their first Grand Final since all the way back in 2000 when they went down to Essendon by 60 points. For the Cats, the preliminary final will feel like home, having made the penultimate week of the AFL in 11 of the last 17 seasons.
It was a dominant performance from the Cats on Friday night against the Giants. They went intot he game as 16.5 point favourites but looked the better side from start to finish, running out 35 points winners against a Giants outfit sans Toby Greene.
Tom Hawkins was best on ground in the win and while some speculated his potential availability for the prelim after a high hit on Lachie Whitfield, the MRP quickly waved away any possible sanctions. The Cats wil field a pretty strong side on Friday night, with only Mark O'Connor, Brandan Parfitt and Tom Stewart unavailable from their best 22.
The Demons were far too good for the Lions back in the first qualifying final. They ran out 33 point winners on the back of brilliant games from midfield trio Clayton Oliver, Christian Patracca and Max Gawn.
Melbourne have been the healthiest side all season and that won't change heading into preliminary final weekend. They have only three players on their injury list in Marty Hore, Aaron Nietschke and Adam Tomlinson, all of whom they have been without for the majority of the season. They are so stacked that club stalwart Nathan Jones is struggling to break into side at the moment.
The Dees start as 12.5 point favourites at Optus Stadium, which seems about right given their form at the moment. The Demons faced Geelong twice this season, once at the MCG and once down at GMHBA Stadium. They won both games by an average of 14.5 points, snapping a run of 18 games where they recorded just two wins against the Cats.
I'm finding it tought to split these teams at the 12.5 point line. The Demons look the more in-form side, but will the bright lights of the prelim final get in their heads? No Demons have experience in finals as big as this, while the Cats have practically lived in the prelim since the turn of the millenium.
I am leaning much more towads the unders here. Across their last five games, there has been an average total of just 137.4 points, and thats including an 80 point blowout in which the Cats scored 126 in 2019. Just can't see that happening again. I think this is a tight clash between the two best defences in the league this season.
Clayton Oliver has been one of the highest accumulators in the league this season, racking up an average of 31.7 touches per game. He had 33 in the Demons win over the Lions a few weeks ago, the 6th time in his last 8 games he has had 30+.
Mitch Duncan returned from injury in the qualifying final and had 33 touches in the loss to the Power. He had 22 against the Giants with Matt De Boer tagging him for portions of the game. I expect him to see more of it this week against the Demons.
Tom Hawkins was the Cats best player on Friday night, booting five goals in the win. He has kicked at least 2 goals in 17 of his 24 games this year and in his two games against the Demons, he averaged 3 per game.
Oliver 30+ Disp.
Duncan 25+ Disp.
Hawkins 2+ Goals
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