By the Thailand Tigers Australian Football Club
The start of September means all Australian rules fans start counting down to Asia’s best AFLparty, The Coffee Club 2019 AFL Grand Final Family Day on the 28th. The beginning of September also means the eight teams to make the finals all line up on week one of the series, hoping to be there in week four on the big stage for grand final day.
This year’s finals series kicks off on Thursday night in Perth where the reigning premiers West Coast take on Essendon who have had a terribly inconsistent year. The Bombers snuck into eighth place and have to make the trip west in a game you would think they would be huge underdogs. The West Coast have played with confidence most of the year on their home ground but suffered a major hiccup in the last home and away round, losing to Hawthorn and in turn costing themselves a spot in the top four. A pothole you don’t want to be hitting at the business end of the season. The Eagles will be the shortest priced team with the bookies in the four games this week, but what can the Bombers learn from Hawthorn two weeks ago? Can they implement it and cause a boilover? Or will the reigning premier be shocked into their premiership-winning form and mount a charge to go back-to-back? You never know in finals so be prepared for a fiery start to the series. For the loser, their season is over and the winner plays the loser of the Geelong v Collingwood final at the MCG.
Friday night’s game will be massive for two powerhouse Victorian teams. Geelong have to make the trek all the way to Melbourne for this game. You would think that vital experience on the ground where the last game of the year is played in front of a huge crowd would be invaluable, but some Geelong coaching staff and supporters have chosen to concentrate on why the game is not being played in front of 35,000 fans in Geelong. Either way, when you finish on top of the ladder with the best percentage, Geelong should have nothing to fear from any side. Collingwood have also had a consistent season and don’t seem to carrying any baggage from last year’s loss in the grand final after leading most of the day. Some might say their top four spot was a tad fortuitous after Hawthorn defeated the West Coast in the final home and away round, but you take your luck anywhere you can find it at this time of the year. The Magpie Army will rock The G for what will be a massive Friday night game. Hopefully the Bangkok-based Pie fans have recovered enough from their night out with Dane Swan to cheer their team on. If Geelong lose, the post-match entertainment from Chris Scott will be priceless for non-Geelong fans. Either way, this will be a real fair dinkum finals heavyweight bout. The loser will get a second chance (playing the winner of West Coast v Essendon) with the winner straight to a preliminary final. We can’t wait for it.
The rampaging Bulldogs make the trip to western Sydney to take on the Giants at the ground they famously beat them on to book their place in the 2016 Grand Final before going on to a famous drought-breaking win over the Swans. The Bulldogs have found some unbelievable form at the right end of the season and have been cutting defenses to pieces and posting high scores. These two teams played each other recently and the Bulldogs won comfortable putting on 12 second half goals to none. Think about that. The Giants are going to have to find something to bounce back and win and with the talent on their list, it would be unwise to write them off. It will be an intriguing contest and there is no week two for the loser of this one. The winner will play the loser of Brisbane v Richmond.
The final game of the first week of the finals series will see the 2017 premiers Richmond travel to Brisbane to take on the Lions. The Lions have no doubt been the Cinderella story of 2019, coming from 15th on the ladder in 2018 to finish second this year and in the process reviving their home ground’s moniker of “The Gabbatoir”. The Lions have never lost a final at The Gabba. Richmond have beaten the Lions in their last 13 meetings, including numerous times at The Gabba – but only once in the last four seasons. Will be an fascinating contest with both teams getting a good look at each other just two weeks ago in the final home and away round. It will be interesting to see what different match up and tactics both coaches try to employ. Will the fairy tale continue for the Lions on their home ground or will the premiership favourites and their finals experience prove too strong? The winner advances straight to a home ground preliminary final whilst the loser gets their second chance against the winner of GWS v Western Bulldogs.
What a first week of the finals series it will be and don’t forget to get in now and book your ticket to see the two best team play off on September 28.
From the Thailand Tigers Australian Football Club