A magical comeback, a total obliteration, and two cracking contests were the highlights of an exhilarating first round of the AFL finals series. Yes, the plot is thickening.
On Saturday night, Brisbane robbed Carlton of their first finals win in eight years at the ‘Gabba. Trailing by 30 points during the last quarter, Brisbane scored back-to-back goals to come from behind and win one of the most electrifying finals games in recent years. Brisbane forwards Jonathon Brown and Daniel Bradshaw kicked nine goals between them, and along with the midfield class of Simon Black, produced some of the most exciting football for the season.
An undermanned Essendon were no match for an impressive Adelaide who annihilated their opposition to the tune of 96 points on Friday night. Adelaide’s potent forward line is functioning better than any other team in the competition. Five goals to Jason Porplyzia, four to Kurt Tippett and three each to Brett Burton and Chris Knights ensured Adelaide a semi-final clash with Collingwood next week.
As they have done throughout the whole home and away season, St Kilda and Geelong have shown why they are such forces to be reckoned. Both teams won convincingly on the weekend, with St Kilda defeating Collingwood by 28 points and Geelong defeating the Western Bulldogs by 11 points. Their respective victories mean that they both have a week off and advance straight through to the preliminary finals in a fortnight.
St Kilda proved to the football world they can win anywhere, anytime and anyhow. Led by inspirational captain Nick Riewoldt, who booted five crucial goals, they outclassed a disappointing Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday afternoon. The Magpies failed to get their hands on the ball at crucial opportunities with St Kilda dominating possession for the entire game.
Geelong played their best football for quite some time, instigated by their rock solid defence at the MCG on Saturday afternoon. The defence trio of Matthew Scarlett, Darren Milburn and Corey Enright denied the Western Bulldogs any easy avenues to goal and were able to launch many scoring opportunities themselve
Geelong and St Kilda might be resting up this weekend, but rest certainly won’t be on the agenda for the four teams vieing to play them in the preliminary finals.
On Friday night, Brisbane will travel down to the MCG and take on a Western Bulldogs side that will be desperate to make amends after their loss to Geelong. While Brisbane produced one of the most amazing finals comebacks against Carlton, the Dogs will hang on till the end. They have winners all across the ground and Brisbane can’t rely on Brown and Bradshaw to win them games off their own boots every week. With injury clouds also hanging over Brisbane, the Western Bulldogs should win comfortably.
Collingwood play Adelaide on Saturday night, and while Adelaide’s forward line is the most dangerous in the competition at the moment, they haven’t been able to win when it counted in recent finals. Collingwood have had an outstanding year and have been so consistent, but I think Adelaide, away from home, will beat them in a close tussle in what should hopefully be one of the games of the season.
Ben Waterworth is a first-year Journalism student at La Trobe University. He is writing about the AFL finals for upstart.