Australia

AFL finals: Full guide to the semi-final action

The Demons are one step closer to breaking the longest current premiership drought in the AFL, while the Power have set themselves up to play in their first grand final since 2007.

So who gets a shot to break Port Adelaide hearts and consign Ken Hinkley to another flagless year?

And who will get a chance to play the ultimate villain in extending Melbourne’s 56-year footy heartache?

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the AFL semi-finals.

Geelong v GWS Giants, Friday, Perth Stadium

To paraphrase a famous frog, it’s not easy being green, particularly when you throw an “e” on the end and precede it all with the name “Toby”.

Greater Western Sydney star Toby Greene’s moment of madness in deliberately running into umpire Matt Stevic during last week’s elimination final win over the Swans has overshadowed the lead-up to this do or die clash in the west, undermining what was a gutsy performance from the Giants.

Toby Greene will miss the clash with Geelong after being suspended.(

Getty Images: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

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On the flip side, Geelong comes into the game having put up arguably their worst performance of the season in a 43-point loss to Port Adelaide. Can they bounce back to book a preliminary final date with Melbourne?

What time is the match?

The game gets underway at 7:50pm AEST, which is 5:50pm in Perth, and 7:20pm in Adelaide and Darwin.

Who has the better form?

The Cats have now lost three out of their past four matches, including a 19-point loss to the Giants at Kardinia Park in Round 21.

And while they were up by 44 points at the 18-minute mark of the third quarter against premiership favourites Melbourne in Round 23, from that moment they have conceded 137 points while only scoring 46 themselves.

Should they lose this match, it will be the first time since May 2017 that the club has lost three matches in a row in a single season.

There is hope for Geelong fans though. While their week one finals record is notoriously bad — losing eight of their past nine matches — their semi-final record makes for better reading, winning four of their past five.

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For GWS, they head into the game having won five out of their past six matches, but with some concerns over their form at Perth Stadium.

In their six visits to the wild west in the past four seasons, the Giants have won just once, including a 31-point loss to the Dockers in Round 2 this year. 

What happened the last time they played?

In what was described as one of the greatest victories in GWS history, the travelling Giants took the slow bus down to Geelong and led at every change to take home a 19-point victory.

Sam Taylor was particularly dominant on Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins, limiting the veteran Cat to 10 disposals and one goal, as five of Geelong’s eight majors came through unconventional means — two goals to Jack Henry, and singles to fellow defenders Zach Tuohy, Mark Blicavs and Jake Kolodjashnij.

Jeremy Cameron screams and holds his right index finger up. Gary Rohan clenches his fist and runs towards Cameron
Jeremy Cameron will take on his old team for the first time after joining Geelong.(

AAP: Scott Barbour

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Crucially, however, former Giant turned Cat Jeremy Cameron was missing from that game with a hamstring injury, while the aforementioned umpire-charging-bull Greene was the dominant forward on the field with four goals.

Which key cogs are missing this time?

There is no bigger cog for the Giants than Greene.

Those four goals in Round 21 were accompanied by 16 disposals, including 12 contested possessions, and finding a player to replicate that sort of output will be difficult.

Brent Daniels (hamstring), Xavier O’Halloran (calf) and Tom Green (arm) will also be crucial omissions from that match, while key forward Jeremy Finlayson will miss again as he spends time with his newborn daughter in Queensland.

Two big names who didn’t play in that match should be right to go though, with spearhead Jesse Hogan back in the fold after an interrupted season, and former Cat Shane Mumford potentially backing up after a gruelling clash with Sydney.

A player in a striped singlet pumps his fist in celebration.
Mitch Duncan has returned for Geelong in the finals after missing several weeks with a knee injury.(

Getty: Darrian Traynor

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In the Cats camp, defender Tom Stewart will remain sorely missed with a foot injury.

His 22 touches against the Giants — his final match of the season — were a rare highlight in a tough night for the Cats, and his absence will be compounded by fellow defender Mark O’Connor being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

In better news, the Cats will likely welcome Zach Tuohy back into the fold after sitting out the past three games with a hamstring injury, while Mitch Duncan, Jeremy Cameron, Tom Atkins, Lachie Henderson, Gryan Miers and Isaac Smith all come in after missing that Giants clash in Round 19.  

Who wins?

Geelong looked awful against Port Adelaide — as in turn the TV off and walk away sort of awful — but a GWS team without Toby Greene just doesn’t have the same spark. The Cats will look to set up a redemption match against the all-conquering Demons.

Brisbane v Western Bulldogs, Saturday, Gabba

Like Port Adelaide before them, the Lions have the unique benefit of actually hosting a final at home in this crazy COVID world we live in.

It will be the last time Lions fans get to see their team live this season, as a date with the Power in Adelaide — preceded by a romantic serenade of an INXS love song by thousands of rabid Port fans — awaits the winner of this match.

What time is the match?

The game gets underway at 7:20pm AEST, which is 5:20pm in Perth, and 6:50pm in Adelaide and Darwin.

Who has the better form?

Brisbane’s 33-point loss to Melbourne in Adelaide last week was their first loss since the Hawks upset them at York Park in Round 20.

After that game, the Lions went on a quietly dominant little run, knocking off the Dockers by 64 points in Perth, before rolling Collingwood and West Coast at the Gabba by 85 and 38 points respectively.

A team of AFL players stand arm-in-arm as they wait at a packed ground for the start of a final.
The Brisbane Lions have lost just one match at the Gabba in 2021.(

AAP: Dave Hunt

)

The main factor, however, will be that sneaky home advantage that so few teams get to enjoy this year.

The Lions are on a nine-game winning streak at the Gabba and haven’t let any opponent get within four goals at the final siren during that run, including victories over fellow finalists Essendon, Port Adelaide, GWS and Geelong.

On the other side of the page, the Bulldogs arrested their three-game losing streak with their elimination final win over the finals-victory-allergic Bombers in Launceston, but their Gabba form is concerning, losing seven out of their past eight matches in Brisbane since 2010 — including the elimination final against St Kilda in 2020.

What happened the last time they played?

The Bulldogs started season 2021 with a bang, winning their first six matches of the year, including victory over the Lions in Ballarat in Round 4.

Leading at every change, a Jack Macrae master-class in the midfield, and a three goal, three behind cameo from Tim English in the forward line was enough to secure a 19-point win.

A Western Bulldogs AFL player smiles as he runs towards a teammate to congratulate him on kicking a goal.
Adam Treloar celebrates a Jack Macrae goal during the Round 4 clash against the Lions in Ballarat.(

AAP: James Ross

)

For the Lions, Daniel Rich was the major ball-winner on the field with 29 disposals, while Eric Hipwood made the greatest contribution on the scoreboard with two goals, one behind.

Which key cogs are missing this time?

The Lions arguably face the biggest injury questions, with Hipwood done for the season with a knee and his tall forward replacement Daniel McStay forced to sit out for a week with concussion.

From those who missed the match earlier in the year, Nakia Cockatoo looms as an X-factor that will provide another scoring option.

The Bulldogs come out of their clash with Essendon looking relatively healthy, with spearhead Josh Bruce (one goal, 12 disposals) the only big name from that earlier clash set to miss.

Who wins?

While the Bulldogs appear to have been back to their best against Essendon, it’s difficult to look past Brisbane’s stunning run of form at the Gabba.


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