Collingwood Magpies v Melbourne Demons (Thursday Night)
Wet weather could play a key role in the first of the qualifying finals between Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG on Thursday night. At the time of writing (Tuesday evening) 1 to 4mm is forecast.
Despite Collingwood finishing at the top of the home and away ladder, their finish to the year has raised concerns among some commentators and supporters. However, there are clear excuses for their late-season struggles. Firstly, they had already secured a top 2 spot, and secondly, they had to deal with injuries to key players. They look set to regain all of their key players aside from young superstar Nick Daicos who has already been rule out – he is a sizeable loss but I don’t see it as catastrophic. The Pies will be hoping becomes available from week 2 onwards.
Melbourne has experimented with their forward line throughout the year, and face another change with the absence of Jake Melksham, who joins Harrison Petty on the side lines for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, the rest of Melbourne’s game appears to be in excellent shape – they have won seven of their last eight matches leading up to September and could be timing their run to perfection.
A strong case can be made for either team. Personally, I make Melbourne a slight favourite and there for suggesting backing them with at the line.
Carlton Blues v Sydney Swans (Friday Night)
The Carlton supporters will be out in force on Friday night to see their side return to finals action for the first time in quite some time.
After a horrible run of losses during the middle of the year the old dark navy blues came flying home with eight consecutive wins between rounds 16 and 23 to finish fifth on the AFL ladder.
The Swans also found their mojo at the back end of the year winning six of their last seven to qualify in eighth spot.
I favour the Blues in this. I think their contested game will hold them in good stead on a cold night at the MCG.
St Kilda Saints v Greater Western Sydney Giants (Saturday Afternoon)
The third of the MCG games takes place on Saturday afternoon as the Saints and Giants do battle in an elimination final.
There has been very good support for the Giants in the early betting markets following a strong finish to the year which included a dominant final round victory over Carlton. They sweat on the availability of gun defender Sam Taylor who is racing against the clock to recover from a hamstring tear. His ability to stop Max King could be crucial in deciding the result in this one. They also lose Toby Bedford to suspension (assuming they don’t appeal). Bedford is an underrated player who offers plenty of run across half forward.
The Saints have exceeded all expectations in 23 under returning coach Ross Lyon. The form from their last six rounds reads very solidly and their list is relatively fit heading into the do or die final.
I’m staying out of this one from a betting point of view. I understand the appeal for the Giants with the sort of footy they are playing, however winning finals on the road is not an easy feat.
Brisbane Lions v Port Adelaide Power (Saturday Night)
The first round of finals is rounded out on Saturday night at the Gabba.
Brisbane made it an undefeated season at home and secured a home final with a twelve point win over the Saints at the Gabba in round 24.
Amazingly they had just one player (Charlie Cameron) in the All Australian side announced last Wednesday night but perhaps that just indicates how even they have been across the board this year.
It was no surprise to see Port Adelaide young guns Connor Rozee and Zak Butters named in that side. Their class in the midfield has been crucial to the Powers success in 2023 and will need to be at or close to their best if Port are to travel to Brisbane and win on Saturday night. Whilst Brisbane’s midfield is far from weak, it certainly looks the area of their game in which Port will need to try and get on top of. The Power will be with out key forward Charlie Dixon and with out any genuine second key defender the Lions looks to have the upper hand at either end of the ground.
I think it’s going to take a pretty special effort from Port or a bad night in front of goals from Brisbane for the Power to win this one. All roads lead to the Lions for mine.
Staking Plan |
- 1 Unit Melbourne Line (+2.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
- 1.6 Units Multi @ $2.20
- Carlton v Sydney – Cartlon Win
- Brisbane v Port Adelaide – Brisbane Win