The Newsroom previews the preliminary finals of the AFL’s 2016 season including a Sydney derby.
Right now there are four teams left. By Saturday 9pm, there’ll be only two. Will the Western Bulldogs slay the Greater Western Sydney Giants? And can the Sydney Swans make it five grand final appearances in 12 years?
Sydney Swans v Geelong Cats
The Swans take on the Geelong Cats at the MCG on Friday night in the first preliminary final.
When they last played in round 16, the Swans made a mess of the Cats’ home deck. Star defenders Aliir Aliir and Dane Rampe choked the life out of the Cats’ forwards Mitch Clark and Tom Hawkins. Dean Towers thrived, proving a strong focal point in attack, off-setting Tom Lonergan’s efforts to silence Lance Franklin. Brownlow favourite Patrick Dangerfield covered a lot of grass early on, but didn’t last the full distance. Kieran Jack was the standout in his 200th game.
Geelong captain Joel Selwood will thrive on the cut-throat pressure and intensity of the game, and will depend on his brother Scott to tag the Swans’ contested ball king Josh (P) Kennedy out of the game.
GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs
In the second preliminary final, at Spotless Stadium on Saturday evening, the Bulldogs go toe-to-toe with the Giants. Expect a tough, fast affair with both young teams eager to burst onto the big stage of next week’s Grand Final.
Bulldogs’ coach Luke Beveridge, who has too often seen his team knocked out during preliminary finals after a great year, will be keen to make this one stick. Marcus Bontempelli was easily the best for the Bulldogs in their round nine clash with the Giants and will need to show that form again if his team are to progress. Jake Stringer returns from the Dogs’ reserves to keep Shaw and Zac Williams accountable.
The Giants have been nothing short of spectacular in 2016. Dylan Shiel looks like a future Brownlow Medal winner already, while Stephen Coniglio and Tom Scully have grown better with each game. In the previous clash with the Bulldogs, Heath Shaw put on a clinic from the half back line, collecting 36 kicks seemingly at ease, and may again play a key role for the Giants.
The Dogs are considered rank outsiders in this clash but the Giants would be ill-advised to consider them a push-over. As British-rock band Spoon sang: ‘’You got no fear of the underdog? That’s why you will not survive.’’ – Paul Robinson
Photo of the Swans preparing for a game from the Sydney Swans Facebook page.