AFL Finals: week 1 review

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Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media

In what ended up a relatively straightforward affair, the Richmond Tigers disposed of Hawthorn comfortably in a 31-point victory in Thursday night’s first qualifying final played at the MCG in front of 91,446 spectators.

The win was a fitting tribute to last year’s Brownlow Medalist, Dustin Martin, who was playing his 200th AFL game, and what a sensational performance he put in. Martin finished with 29 possessions, 10 clearances, five inside 50s and one of the all-time great finals goals.

Richmond’s campaign for back-to-back premierships is off to a great start, with no injuries and the team now afforded a weekend off before their preliminary final in two weeks’ time. Hawthorn will have their second chance next week and Alistair Clarkson will need to rally his troops if they are to go deeper into this finals’ series.

RICHMOND     2.2       5.7     10.13   13.17 (95)

HAWTHORN   2.3       3.5      5.8       9.10 (64)

GOALS

Richmond: McIntosh 3, Rioli 3, Caddy 2, Martin, Prestia, Higgins, Edwards, Graham

Hawthorn: Roughead 3, Shiels, Nash, Impey, Mitchell, Breust, Smith

BEST

Richmond: Martin, Prestia, Cotchin, Rioli, Lambert, Grimes, Grigg

Hawthorn: O’Meara, Mitchell, Shiels, Smith, Henderson, Sicily 

Official crowd: 91,446

After arguably 12 years in the wilderness, with some horror stories hopefully now forgotten, the Melbourne Demons prevailed in a convincing 29-point win over a lacklustre Geelong in the first elimination final played at the MCG on Friday night. It seemed as if the words of co-captain, Jack Viney, were still ringing in his teammates’ ears, reminding them that the Cats’ experience would count for nothing.

Melbourne’s immense pressure looked to trouble Geelong from the first bounce, the Demons scoring the opening five goals of the match, with Geelong held goalless at quarter time. If it wasn’t for Melbourne’s poor kicking at goal, the result would have been even uglier for Geelong.

The Demons now march into a semi-final match against Hawthorn at the MCG next weekend, and Geelong will be marching back to the Cattery with their tales between their legs and a lot to think about this off-season.

MELBOURNE      5.3          5.9          6.13        10.15 (75)
GEELONG            0.2          2.4          3.8          6.10 (46)

GOALS

Melbourne: Weideman 3, Harmes, Gawn, Melksham, T.McDonald, Jones, Hannan, Neal-Bullen
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Kelly, Tuohy, Murdoch, Duncan

BEST 

Melbourne: Weideman, Harmes, Brayshaw, T.McDonald, Gawn, Viney, vandenBerg
Geelong: Dangerfield, J.Selwood, Ablett, Bews, Tuohy

Official crowd: 91,767

In Saturday afternoon’s second elimination final, we saw a more mature GWS outfit, beyond the hype, effortlessly beat the Sydney Swans by 49-points at the SCG. The Giants displayed four quarters of intense physical pressure, both with and without the ball. Sydney went goalless in the third term and had only scored two goals deep into the fourth quarter.

The most intriguing part of the game was Giants’ defender Phil Davis keeping All-Australian captain, Lance Franklin, unable to kick a goal or have his customary influence on the game.

Sydney will not take any further part in the finals’ series, and GWS will go into next weekend’s semi-final match against Collingwood at the MCG. The Giants will be anxious to hear the medical report on superstar player, Josh Kelly, who took no part in the second half due to a knee injury. However, if the second half is anything to go by, the team showed they can still make an impact in the finals’ series without Kelly.

SYDNEY                                           1.4    2.4      2.6      4.6 (30)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY       2.3    4.7    7.11    10.19 (79)

GOALS

Sydney: Papley 2, Parker, Ronke
Giants: Greene 3, Cameron 2, Himmelberg 2, Coniglio, de Boer, Ward

BEST

Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Heeny, Cunningham
Giants: Davis, Whitfield, Greene, Coniglio, Himmelberg, Ward, Haynes

Official crowd: 40,350

In what was perhaps the best game of the finals’ round to watch, West Coast came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Collingwood by 16-points. Both teams were valiant in this second qualifying final, with the score changing hands throughout the entire game. Two final-quarter goals from West Coast spearhead, Josh Kennedy, helped the Eagles break the shackles and edge ahead when it mattered.

The match was the first AFL final held at Perth’s Optus Stadium, and with a crowd of nearly 60,000, it was the largest attendance in Western Australian AFL history. The noise from the crowd added to the electric atmosphere, and was perhaps the motivational force behind West Coast’s final quarter surge.

Collingwood still have their second chance , and their job will be to bring the same intensity to the MCG next week against Melbourne. West Coast have next weekend off and will look forward to a home preliminary final.

WEST COAST           3.3     6.7    7.11   12.14     (86)
COLLINGWOOD     
1.3     7.4     9.9     10.10     (70)

GOALS

West Coast: Ryan 2, Darling 2, Kennedy 2, Vardy, Jetta, Sheed, Cripps, Rioli, Redden
Collingwood: Adams 2, De Goey 2, Mihocek 2, Stephenson, Thomas, Varcoe, Mayne

BEST

West Coast: Yeo, McGovern, Ryan, Jetta, Sheed, Redden
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Adams, Grundy, Goldsack, Treloar, Mihocek

Official crowd: 59,585

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