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AFL Preliminary Finals Preview

It's down to four in the AFL, and we have the tantalising draw of one established finals pair on one side, playing for the right to face the fresh, young franchise or a side devoid of Premiership glory since 1954. Bring it on!

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2016 AFL Preliminary Finals Preview by @aflratings / aflratings.com.au

Geelong v Sydney
Fri 23rd Sep 7:50pm AEST, 1050 BST
Melbourne Cricket Ground

#AFLCatsSwans

Geelong are well rested ahead of Friday’s Preliminary Final at the MCG, after finishing second on the AFL Ladder the Cats were fortunate enough to escape with a win in their first Final against the Hawks. Geelong have scored well this year but a season low 60pts against the Swans in Round 16 in Geelong is some cause for concern, with the additional out of Menzel due to injury the Cats could be left wanting on the scoreboard in what could now be a low-scoring game.

Sydney were at their best last week in the midfield keeping alive their chances of a third Premiership in just over a decade, if the Swans can control the midfield as they did against the Cats in Round 16 then they are a decent chance to advance to the Grand Final. Sydney are one of the best travelling teams in the AFL, Geelong lost their only game at the MCG this year to Collingwood in Round 9 with a -15 Contested Possession Differential.

The player to watch is no doubt Patrick Dangerfield, after 18 disposals in the first quarter the last time these teams met he was shut down with only 16 in the remaining three quarters. Look for Dangerfield to go forward at times, he is third on Geelong’s leading goals this year and with Menzel out he could drift forward more often to provide another avenue towards goal.

This is going to be a brutal contest, if the Cats are off early in this game then the Swans are every chance to cause a mini upset.

DFS Player to watch: Kieren Jack (Syd)

GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs
Sat 24th Sep 5:15pm AEST, 0815 BST
Spotless Stadium, Sydney

#AFLGiantsDogs

The Giants were outstanding in their first final two weeks ago beating the Swans around the ball and on the spread to host this Preliminary Final on Saturday at home, they certainly dispelled any theory of inexperience playing a part in their post-season success. Of the remaining four teams GWS are the highest scoring team with 107.4pts per game, they run into the Bulldogs that have conceded 66.2pts in their last six games. The Giants have been solid at Spotless Stadium in 2016, they easily accounted for the Bulldogs in Round 9 by 25pts and narrowly lost to West Coast in Round 21 by 1pt. Their heaviest defeat at home was against Collingwood by 32pts with a -13 contested possession differential, the Bulldogs are one of the best contested possession teams in the AFL.

The Bulldogs have been brilliant in their opening two finals especially being resilient after trailing early in both games eventually running over the top of both the Eagles & Hawks, scoring has been an issue for the Bulldogs all season averaging 84.4pts in the H&A Season but that has dramatically increased to 103.0pts in two finals. If the Bulldogs are going to challenge the Giants they are going to have to be at their defensive best again, they have conceded just 19.4 scoring shots to opposition teams this year whilst the Giants are one of the best hitting the scoreboard at 28.5 scoring shots per game.

The player to watch is Callan Ward, up against his former team he can be a barometer for the Giants especially with his tackling ability as suggested by his 11 tackles the last time these teams met.

The Bulldogs are primed for this game, with an 11 day break between the end of the H&A Season and consecutive eight-day breaks they will be as fresh as a seventh place team has ever been in a finals series. If the Giants can apply scoreboard pressure for most of the first half then it could be defining in the game result, the one thing that could unravel the Giants season is their over confidence and unnecessary risk taking throughout the game. If the Giants play to their ability as represented in their first final two weeks ago then they will likely advance to the Grand Final.

DFS Player to watch: Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

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