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The Roar’s AFL expert tips and predictions: Semi-finals

The Roar's AFL expert tips and predictions: Semi-finals

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It’s well and truly the business end of the season.

Win, and you can start daring to dream of premiership success. Lose, and it’s a long summer ahead.

That summer began for both the Sydney Swans and Essendon last weekend, with the Swans falling narrowly short against their crosstown rivals and the Bombers copping a hiding in the wet.

But the focus now shifts to the uninspiring qualifying final losers in Geelong and Brisbane. Will they go out in straight sets?

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Let’s get tipping.

Stirling Coates

Geelong, Western Bulldogs

For the sixth time since 2013, we’re watching the Cats play a semi-final having lost a qualifying final the weekend before.

The last time they won in the first week, they got absolutely smacked in the preliminary final – so maybe it’s better this way?

Still, you have wonder how much more success Geelong could have had under Chris Scott had they not continually taken the long way through September.

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Fortunately, however, they come up against a Greater Western Sydney side who won’t just be without their barometer in Toby Greene, but would have been heavily distracted by his protracted ordeal at the tribunal.

The Giants have won three in a row against the Cats, but those three games were very spaced out; Round 4 in 2019, Round 1 in 2020 and Round 21 of this year. Throw in a second meeting each season and you’re almost certainly looking at a three-three split over the same time.

As Cam Rose noted in his piece yesterday too, the Giants only won one quarter against the Swans last week and, really, it was only a 12-minute burst in that decisive second quarter that did it.

The Cats are a more seasoned opponent who won’t let their guard down so freely and should be able to rebound with a comfortable win.

Jeremy Cameron of the Cats celebrates a goal

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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The prognosis isn’t as good for the other qualifying final loser.

Brisbane looked flat as a tack against Melbourne and, were it not for a Herculean effort from Lachie Neale, would have been absolutely belted.

The manner in which the rest of their midfield just simply wasn’t up for the fight would be cause for massive concern on Chris Fagan’s part.

Coming up against one of the deepest-batting midfields in the Dogs, they can’t afford to produce a similar effort.

Unfortunately, Daniel McStay going down robs them of an opportunity to expose the Bulldogs down back. The Dogs defence simply wasn’t troubled by the one-tall strategy of Essendon in the elimination final and it’s hard to see the story being any different with just Joe Daniher.

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The Lions have it in them to get back into form and win this, but the Dogs are one of the best non-top four sides in recent history and I think they’ll win again.

Dem Panopoulos

Geelong, Western Bulldogs

Finals tipping probably needs a head over heart approach for the neutral.

The first week was telling, particularly with the top two teams really furthering their respective premiership cases.

It leaves us with two fun semi-finals this weekend to see which teams, which is all we really wanted.

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The Cats were horrific against Port Adelaide while the Giants clung on against Sydney. For Geelong, Tom Stewart is clearly a huge absence, but more for his efficient offensive capabilities than his intercepting, which the team can cover. GWS will miss Toby Greene, although he can count himself lucky with how his tribunal hearing played out.

We know that the severely undermanned Giants pulled off the upset of the season in Geelong in the closing stages of the home-and-away season, but finals are a different beast.

Patrick Dangerfield is playing hurt but has two four-goal hauls in his last three semi-finals, while GWS has traditionally struggled with the pace and dryness in Perth. Barring any unexpected changes to availability, Geelong should do enough to avoid a straight sets exit.

Brisbane and the Bulldogs is extremely interesting for a number of reasons. We’ve got the team that likes to possess the ball the least and be direct by foot, against the team that has monopolised the ball for much of the season.

The Lions were outgunned against Melbourne, and Daniel McStay’s absence hurts considering he was the best way they were covering Hipwood. Given the Bulldogs have strengthened their defence, they match up quite well.

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The Bulldogs have a terrible record in Brisbane, losing seven of their last eight games at the Gabba, but team selection is going to be crucial in this one; they need a ruckman in to help bolster their attack.

If you asked me last week, the straight sets team was coming out of the loser of Power/Cats, contingent on the Swans getting through.

This week, it could be the start of another magical Bulldog run after horrific form to end the season.

Liam Salter

Geelong, Brisbane

All of a sudden, we’ve reached September and the semi-finals. Crazy.

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I’m quite chuffed with my three correct tips last week, though it’s unbelievable just how closely matched both clashes are this week.

The weekend begins where the season is going to end; Perth’s Optus Stadium – although I’m quite dubious about the premiership chances of both Geelong and the Giants.

Beyond the Cats’ customary qualifying final loss, there is no single fact more important to this match as the absence of Toby Greene. The enigmatic star will be a huge loss, in terms of talent and passion, with a particularly idiotic incident wiping him out for the remainder of September.

GWS have the form behind them – last weekend’s superb win showcased their deep talent and was their fifth in succession. Geelong have lost three of their last four, and their considerable talent is being questioned after lacklustre performances in their loss to Port – looking at Patrick Dangerfield here.

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats looks on with blood on his face

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

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Another worry for the Cats is their loss to the Giants a couple of weeks ago, their third in a row in this rivalry.

Greene is no doubt a significant out, much more so than Tom Stewart. GWS have done it before without Toby – just look at their 2019 finals run – and they’re certainly a chance, but gut feel is that Geelong will be desperate to bounce back, and pure desperation will overcome the Giants’ ambition.

The weekend’s second game is coming from the Sunshine State, with Brisbane hosting the Bulldogs. The Dogs had a comfortable win over the Bombers last weekend, whereas the Lions fell flat in an awful performance. There are pros here for the Lions; the biggest being back at a venue where they’ve only lost once this season.

It’s plainly obvious this game will be won in the midfield. Lachie Neale aside, the Lions’ struggled badly against the Dees, which is not a good sign when coming against the powerful group led by Marcus Bontempelli.

Midfield aside, Joe Daniher and Charlie Cameron will be the most important duo on the ground for Brisbane. No Daniel McStay or Eric Hipwood means they’ll be needing something special to compete offensively, so Daniher and Cameron’s talents become essential.

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The Bulldogs were deserved premiership favourites at stages this season, and they’re going to throw absolutely everything at the Lions. I’ve seriously thought about tipping them, but much like Geelong, the Lions will be desperate to win. Like Friday’s game, I’m going to back the club gunning to bounce back from a loss. A genuine home ground advantage helps, too.

Semi-finals Stirling Dem Liam Crowd
GEE vs GWS GEE GEE GEE ?
BL vs WB WB WB BL ?
Last week 2 2 3 2
Total 123 122 126 126



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