What a fantastic weekend of AFL Finals we were just witness to! The action continues this week with two massive semi finals, the first of which sees the Cats hosting the Giants from Optus Stadium on Friday night!
Check out our full preview and betting tips for the clash below and remember to head to our AFL Tips page for our betting tips on not only the other semi-final, but also the plethora of Brownlow content we have from the Bandit at the moment!
Semi-Final, Optus Stadium, Friday 3rd September 7.50pm (AEST)
The Giants recorded a thrilling upset win over their cross town rivals in the elimination final on the weekend while the Cats were disappointing on Friday night against the Power, setting up what should be an interesting clash between two teams who are yet to face off in a final despite a run of success over recent years.
Form, injuries, and a neutral ground all play second fiddle to the one news story in the lead up to this game, Toby Greene. The star Giants forward was best on ground in the win over the Swans but will be missing for any more potential Giants finals after he was suspended for three games for making conact with an umpire.
The loss of Greene is big, he has been without doubt their best player this season and without him, they have looked a little lost going forward at times. Jeremy Finlayson was on the outer heading into the finals series but he will likely come into the Giants forward line with the loss of Greene and he will have a massive role to play.
The Cats were disappointing against the Power in the opening finals game on Friday night. The absence of All-Australian defender Tom Stewart was especially prevelant, as the Power put up the second biggest score of the round on the back of 26 scoring shots. Their defence will need to be better this week if they want to make yet another prelim.
Zach Tuohy should come back into the side after recovering from a hamstring innjury, while Esava Ratugolea will also be knocking on the selection door after there were more than a few passengers in the Cats side on Friday night.
The Cats start as 16.5 point favourites for this clash, which is probably where I would have had the line if it was being played down at GMHBA. At Optus Stadium though, I think the true line here is more around the 8-10 mark. Sure, the Giants are without Toby Greene, but they had a fantastic 19 point win over the Cats in Geelong just four weeks ago, and Tom Stewart played in that game.
In fact, the Giants have won their last three in a row against Geelong, regardless of venue, by an average of 18.3 points. There's no Greene but I think the Giants are better suited to cover for his loss than they were earlier in the season when they also had a lot of other key players injured. I think they cover the 16.5 point line here.
When Greene was out earlier in the season, we saw Tim Taranto spend extended time in the foward line, playing Greene's role out of the square. He kicked four in the Giants win over the Tigers with Greene out of the line-up in Round 22, I expect him to be playing forward again on Friday night.
Taranto in the forward line and Tom Green out of the line-up opens up more opportunities in the midfield for the 2nd tier Giants midfielders like Harry Perryman. Perryman had 29 in the win over the Swans on the weekend, should be heavily in the mix again.
Joel Selwood missed out on 20 touches for the first time in five weeks in the loss to the Power. I don't think he bows out of this season without putting up a massive fight. Expect him to be big this week and pass 20 touches for the 16th time this season.
Taranto 2+ Goals
Perryman 20+ Disp.
Selwood 20+ Disp.
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