And then, there were four.
Only Richmond, Geelong, Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney remain alive in the 2019 AFL season as they respectively fight it out for a spot in that one day in September.
The MCG is the stage where two massive Preliminary Finals will have all the thrills, spills and emotional roller coasters that only finals football can bring.
Win – a Grand Final berth awaits.
The anxious wait for getting a Grand Final ticket, wearing your team colours all week, and excitement of winning the flag is all there for you to enjoy in the week leading up to it.
Lose – Mad Monday, your players drown their sorrows at the Brownlow and you spend Grand Final week and day and the summer ahead bitter, jaded and twisted.
With the hope of finding you a winner, we preview this weekend’s Preliminary Finals.
It’s fair to say a lot has changed in the footy landscape since the Tigers and Cats last met.
Back in Round 12, Geelong was sitting comfortably on top of the ladder and thrashed a Richmond side missing the likes of Jack Riewoldt, Shai Bolton, David Astbury, Nathan Broad, Toby Nankervis, Kane Lambert and Jayden Short by 67 points.
The Tommahawk kicked four goals and Geelong’s second quarter in that match was arguably one of the best quarters put together by any team this season after Richmond lead at quarter time and the Cats were held goalless.
There most certainly won’t be a repeat of that come this Friday night in the preliminary final at the MCG.
Since that game in Round 12, Richmond comes off winning 10 matches on the trot after the mid-season bye and have found themselves to be the ones to beat this September.
The Cats have been consistent in their inconsistency since their bye after the Richmond game in a Loss-win-loss-win-loss-win form line and if the trends persist they can pencil in this week to be a loss.
To Geelong’s credit, they are coming off an excellent win over the West Coast Eagles last week.
Many had fancied the Eagles to win and for the Cats to go out in straight-sets but Geelong played some of the best footy we’ve not seen from them since they last played, well, Richmond.
With the likely prospect of Tom Hawkins missing the game through suspension, it removes the elephant (or big bird being a Tommahawk) for the Tigers defence, who have proven to still be quite strong despite All-Australian/Premiership player Alex Rance missing for the season.
On the other end of the ground, this will be the first time Geelong will come across the forward combination of Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch.
Lynch didn’t have the best night out when these two last met, but he’s now pretty seasoned to the big stage of 90k at the G, has excellent chemistry with Jack Riewoldt on the field and he’s kicked 30 goals since when the Tigers last met the Cats back in Round 12.
Some may think this could be a thrilling game, but I’m inclined to think that the scales will fall very much in favour of one side – Richmond.
The Tigers love playing a very fast flowing and attacking style of football, Geelong likes doing the opposite.
Since the bye, Richmond has been the number 1 team in turnovers which means they can quickly get back on the scoreboard if the Cats find any momentum on the ground.
If Tom Hawkins can’t play, a lot of attention will be on Esava Ratagolea which the likes of Dylan Grimes and Nathan Broad can make his life difficult.
The ghosts of last years unexpected preliminary final loss won’t come back to haunt Richmond.
They are men on a mission.
Something tells me Geelong had their Grand Final last week.
Expect the Tiges to win this and the 40+ makes for excellent value, especially if they can blitz it in the second half like they did when they beat Brisbane.
Get your sleeping bag and tent outside the Ticketek outlet Tiger Fans, because we think you’re going to another Grand Final.
They say to win the flag, you don’t need to be the best team all year, just be the best team at the right time of the year.
GWS are very much becoming that team if Collingwood doesn’t do anything about it on Saturday in their Preliminary Final clash at the MCG.
We are in for an absolute ripping game in this one.
It seems like GWS have found their mojo and the Pies have had a good rest after a solid win over the Cats in the qualifying final.
This is the third Preliminary Final for the GWS Giants in the space of four years.
With the amount of talent on their last, they’ve had their fair share of critics and would very much settle for third time lucky when it comes to making it to the last Saturday in September.
When the two sides last met back in Round 18 this year, the Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with a 47 point belting of the Magpies in a dominant first quarter which saw GWS kick eight goals to the Pies one.
The game was over from there on in.
It’s worth noting that Collingwood’s most recent win over the Giants was in the semi-final last year.
Collingwood was sensational and dominated against the Cats in the qualifying final despite a late surge from Geelong.
Missing Jordan De Geoy who has been in Germany having some form of radical surgery with the Lloyd Christmas type chance of playing in the Grand Final is a massive out for them.
Jamie Elliott will have to step up to the plate up forward and the ruck contest between Shane Mumford and Brodie Grundy will be vital.
If the Magpies can bring their risk-taking style of play they brought to the qualifying final against the Cats they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
However, if GWS get their mongrel on and Toby Greene plays – lookout.
If Greene can get to his very best (and worst in some cases) he could keep the Giants in the contest for four full quarters of football on his own
GWS also play a high-scoring brand of football and Collingwood haven’t had more than 10 goals kicked against them in their past five games.
Over the years, Preliminary Finals are known for delivering some all-time classics.
This game has all the makings of one.
With that in mind, GWS is a proud playing group and appear to be men with a point to prove this September.
They know the big-time preliminary final pressure as well as Collingwood do.
I’m willing to take the Giants head to head for an upset.
Not only is it great value head to head, but if you are a Richmond or Geelong member wanting to get a ticket to the Grand Final should you make it, you’ll hope the Giants get the job done therefore increasing your chances.
Sorry Pies fans, I’m expecting the underdogs in this one.