Mick Malthouse: Finals Week Two Preview
Mick Malthouse has joined the William Hill team in 2017 and Mick’s Picks will be a weekly article throughout the season.
The Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney game last week was decided in the midfield. The Adelaide midfield spread the ball very effectively so they had far more supply, and were able to put plenty of pressure on the GWS backline. It didn’t matter how talented the Giants forward line was because they just couldn’t get the ball down there.
I’ve seen Richmond play a couple of times live recently and have been very impressed with their ability to generate pressure on the opposition. Geelong had no free movement or free space, and Richmond were able to catch them napping defensively on several occasions. They didn’t put them away until the final quarter but the Tigers were always in control.
Essendon were simply outmuscled by the Swans. We will dive into the Swans in more detail later but they are a mature, disciplined side that are obviously still hurting from last year’s Grand Final loss and playing in a relentless manner. I thought the Bombers may have been able to trouble them with pace but they were smashed in close and just couldn’t get their hands on the football.
I picked Port to win in a close one and they had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, but weren’t able to. They simply couldn’t defend when the time came to do so and that is something they have struggled with all year. Their record against final eight sides all year was awful and they have plenty to work on over the summer.
Finals Week Two Tips
|Geelong v Sydney (Fri 19:50)||Sydney 1-39 ($1.90)|
|GWS v West Coast (Sat 19:25)||GWS 1-39 ($2.00)|
Geelong v Sydney
Geelong is in the unique position of hosting a home final against an interstate side and being a huge underdog. It isn’t hard to see why given Sydney’s form of late and the record of the two clubs when playing against each other. Geelong has lost five of their last six against Sydney, most recently an eight goal hiding at Simonds Stadium in Round 20 this year.
The Swans come into this game with almost a full list and a settled side. The Cats on the other hand have admitted they made a mistake dropping Daniel Menzel and other changes are to be expected as well.
The game will be decided in the middle. Patrick Dangerfield will have to play a blinder and the Cats will need Joel Selwood at something close to his best to be any chance. The Sydney midfield has far more depth with the likes of Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery and the young guns in Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley running through there.
Rain – and some is forecast – will play into Sydney’s hands. The Swans would like a tough, inside contest and Geelong like to play with time and space. The Cats best period in the game against Richmond last week came when the rain stopped and they will be hoping it doesn’t come this week.
The bright spot for the Cats is that Tom Lonergan – one of the bravest footballers I’ve ever seen play – has a good record against Lance Franklin. Unfortunately for Geelong though Sydney has shown the ability to win when Buddy doesn’t play well, with players like Sam Reid and Callum Sinclair having had much improved seasons.
Ultimately, the Swans are a far more even side than Geelong. The Cats are almost totally dependent on Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood and that dependency is exposed in Finals. I expect Sydney to get the job done here.
GWS v West Coast
This game could go either way. Leading into the finals GWS looked to be near their best form but they fell away so quickly last week against Adelaide. West Coast on the other hand only fell in to the eight but they are playing now as well as they have played all year.
This ground doesn’t hold any fears for West Coast who have won two of their three visits to Western Sydney. They come into this game full of confidence having beaten Adelaide and then Port Adelaide, and while three weeks of travelling in a row could catch up with them next week, the bye week prior to the finals should ensure they remain in reasonable nick for this game.
GWS have issues with Shane Mumford and Jeremy Cameron getting injured last week and neither will be back this year. I think the Giants should resist the temptation to pick Steve Johnson, in finals football you need to go with players who are in-form and Johnson’s lack of defensive pressure will be well and truly exposed if they do pick him.
The Giants will like the fact they get to play on a quick track with mostly clear weather forecast. Their strength is their running game and if they can get that going they have the ability to score quickly. On the other hand they need to be able to defend. That means keeping Josh Kennedy subdued. Kennedy had a down week last week – albeit kicking a vital goal – but he rarely plays two bad games in a row. West Coast struggled to score for extended periods last week with Kennedy down but still managed to win; they won’t be able to get away with that against the Giants.
Like the other Semi Final, I believe this game will be won in the midfield. If Matt Priddis, Sam Mitchell and Luke Shuey get the early initiative, West Coast will be very hard to beat. On the other hand, if the Giants can win their share of inside football they should be able to exploit the Eagles with their pace. I give the home team the edge, narrowly.
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The Wolf’s AFL Tips: Finals Week 2
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