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AFL Finals preview - week 1

Finals time!! After the farce of Round 23, now it gets serious! As always, it's time to call upon the expertise of astute analysts at @AFLRatings.

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AFL Finals Week 1 preview, from AFLRatings.com.au , @aflratings

Now the real AFL season starts, we are playing for keeps now with the Finals beginning this weekend.

Two teams go home this weekend and two teams advance to a Preliminary Final, the last Top 4 team to miss out on a Grand Final berth after winning in week 1 of the AFL Finals was Adelaide back in 2006.

It's going to be brutal!

West Coast 2nd v Hawthorn 3rd
Venue: Domain Stadium, Perth
2015 Head to Head record: West Coast 0-1 Hawthorn 1-0
Weather Forecast: Rain, 11 Deg

The poor weather outlook is likely to make this a low scoring game, West Coast & Hawthorn are the Top 2 scoring teams in the AFL this year and both are ranked in the Top 4 defensively with the Hawks at No.1. These teams are evenly matched as represented in the betting for this game with the Hawks narrow favourite, Hawthorn are the only team to start favourite in all 22 H&A season games with a 16-6 record. The Hawks are a very good travelling team with a 7-2 record this year, West Coast have an equally good record at Domain Stadium in 2015 with a 10-2 record. This is a genuine coin flip, the experience of the Hawks will mean they hold no fears entering a stadium that will be completely one-sided but can the Eagles deal with the lack of Finals exposure in what will be a fierce contest.

Fremantle 1st v Sydney 4th
Venue: Domain Stadium, Perth
2015 Head to Head record: Fremantle 1-0 Sydney 0-1
Weather Forecast: Rain, 18 Deg

The Swans are massively up against it to record a win over the Dockers in what is likely to be another wet game in Perth within 24hrs, Sydney are without arguably three of their top five players in Kieran Jack, Lance Franklin & Luke Parker. Fremantle rested the majority of their players last week on a road trip and will be fully fresh to try and win a spot in to a home Preliminary Final in two weeks, they are the shortest price favourite of any team this week and are extremely good value. This is going to be a defensive type game with both teams capable of shutting games down, Fremantle have conceded fewer than 80pts in 15 games this season & Sydney 16 games this season. It is unlikely the Swans can pull off a shock win, especially without some of their key talent against what should be a ferocious Dockers team that has yet to win an AFL Premiership.

Western Bulldogs 6th v Adelaide 7th
Venue: MCG, Melbourne
2015 Head to Head record: Western Bulldogs 1-0 Adelaide 0-1
Weather Forecast: Cloudy, 14 Deg


Adelaide suffered their heaviest defeat of the season against the Bulldogs in Round 4, the Crows started the season in emphatic style with three straight wins but ran in to a steam train at Etihad Stadium losing by 57pts. The Bulldogs have a 1-1 record and Adelaide a 1-0 record this year at the MCG, both teams are ballistic in their ball movement with the Crows ranked no.2 with 55.6 Ave Inside 50s and the Bulldogs ranked No.5 with 54.4 Ave Inside 50s FOR in 2015. This could be as open a Final as we are going to see over the weekend, both are emerging teams with plenty to play but the team that can settle down the quickest should be able to hit the scoreboard quite often. Most of the late money will be for the Crows, but the Bulldogs have been underestimated all year as represented by their 7-5 record when starting as Underdog in 2015.

Richmond 5th v Nth Melbourne 8th
Venue: MCG, Melbourne
2015 Head to Head record: Richmond 1-1 Nth Melbourne 1-1
Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 24 Deg


This will be the biggest crowd of the weekend with over 80,000 expected at the MCG on Sunday, the expectations of both clubs are enormous with the loser needing to pack their bags for what will be a painful off-season. The pressure on both clubs to succeed could play a part within the game especially for Richmond who have been starved of ultimate success for 35 years, but the Tigers have matured this year in game and with crushing losses in the last two years of finals they should be ready to take the next step. Nth Melbourne are the sleeper of this year’s Finals series, with only two games at the MCG this year they will be confronted with an almighty Richmond fan presence hungry for a win. If the Tigers can control their nerves and remain focused they should be able to advance on to next week, defensively they are one of the better teams in the AFL this year and hold the longest active streak of not conceding 100pts in 15 straight games.

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