AFL Preview: Finals Week 1
|Geelong Line -7.5 ($1.91)
Get the Gap 1 – Geelong +17.5 & Hawthorn +27.5 ($1.70)
The fiercest rivalry of this century will be set alight on the finals stage once more.
Geelong brings a seven game winning streak to September, and sharpened themselves up with a couple of big wins in the last two rounds, beating Melbourne by 111 points and Brisbane by 60. Prior to that, they produced a stirring comeback after a flat three quarters against Richmond to win by four points, and accounted for Essendon by 66 points. It was an easy run home.
By comparison, Hawthorn have somewhat limped into finals, beating Collingwood by a point in yet another last gasp victory in season 2016. Prior to that, they lost to West Coast without ever threatening, beating North Melbourne by 39 points, and lost to Melbourne by 29. They’ve only beaten once side in the top seven since Round 5.
Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood v Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis
The exploits of the Geelong big names have been well renowned through 2016, with both Dangerfield and Selwood named as the starting on-ballers in the All-Australian team off the back of explosive inside work and polished outside finishing, particularly in the forward half. The Hawthorn duo of Mitchell and Lewis have been more the steady-as-she-goes accumulators, and will rely on their years of finals experience to match wits with their counterparts.
Harry Taylor v Jack Gunston
It’s hard to know how much time these two will spend directly on each other given rotations and the way defences cover off for each other, but most attacking forays for the Hawks are going to involve Gunston at some level, and Taylor will be standing in the way at some point along the line.
DT Talk Player Prop Bets
The clash of week one is here and what a game it will be.
With Scott Selwood set to tag Sam Mitchell and Liam Shiels set to target Patrick Dangerfield, my attention has gone to Jordan Lewis ($5.75) to have the most disposals. He has had 30 and 35 touches in his last two games against the Cats and has been in hot form in recent weeks.
Luke Hodge is a finals expert. In the AFL Fantasy market he is paying $8 to lead all scorers and last year in the 2015 finals series, he averaged 119pts from his four games. Hodgey comes right at the pointy end of the year and hasn’t scored under 90 in his last four games leading into the finals. He’s set for another big one.
Even though he might cop some attention, look out for Dangerfield to have a truckload of handballs to win this market paying $4. He had a season high 25 on the Hawks in round 1 and hasn’t gone under 12 since round 9.
Stats That Matter
The two teams are split 5-5 in their last ten matches. Geelong won their only clash in 2016, back in Round 1, by 30 points. Prior to that Hawthorn had won four in a row by an average margin of 39 points.
Geelong is +16% POT in season 2016, ranked #2 in the AFL. They are three wins from four matches at the MCG this year, at +10% POT and 25% ATS, making it the weakest of their Victorian venues against Etihad (+14% POT and 40% ATS) and Simonds Stadium (+18% POT and 75% ATS). The Cats have failed to cover in the line in five of their last six finals.
Hawthorn is +6% POT this year. They are 32% ATS, ranked #17 in the league, and finished the season covering the line once in their last five matches. The Hawks won seven of 10 at the MCG in 2016, at -3% POT and 40% ATS. Hawthorn have covered the line in seven of their 10 finals in their 2013-15 premiership run. In the last four year, they are 10 wins from 11 MCG finals, at +36% POT and 64% ATS.
For those that have been suspecting Hawthorn are “finished” throughout 2016, their last month of football has given them plenty of fuel for that fire. The Hawks have been scrambling for most of the year, getting out of trouble on several occasions with last-gasp wins, but never really clicking into the higher gear we have come to expect based on the last few years.
Geelong have had their share of ups and down, and even jeopardized their top four chances a few times along the way with losses to the likes of Collingwood, Carlton and St Kilda. Those losses may still prove costly, given that if they had won just one of those matches, they would have finished on top of the ladder, and be playing GWS instead of Hawthorn, ceding home state advantage and in fact playing on the Hawks home ground.
The Cats, when right, can play an explosive type of football that the Hawks will struggle to cover, and if Geelong can keep the clamps on the Hawthorn small forward line-up of Rioli, Puopolo and Bruest, they have enough weaponry elsewhere to ensure victory.
The Hawks will be relying on their September record and experience, but it won’t be enough to overcome a better side this time.
How It’s Shaping Up
Geelong by 20 points
Total Game Score – Over 162.5 ($1.90)
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