Last week’s AFL finals matches epitomised the tone of the 2017 season as a whole. Teams that come out with an extra bit of sting have been able to defy the odds, and last week it was Geelong.
Scrutinised for not naming Daniel Menzel, criticised for poor coaching performance in yet another finals match; If there’s a coach who knows how to turn things around it’s Chris Scott, and he delivered.
While to many it’s a shock to see the Swans eliminated, it shouldn’t be a shock that the Cats came out and played to prove people wrong and make a statement.
Likewise, GWS who were appalling in scrappy conditions in the first week of the finals completely outclassed the Eagles to surge through to their second successive preliminary final.
History could see those results coming, but what does it envision this week?
Second preliminary final – Richmond v GWS (MCG)
There’s no other team who are still vying for the 2017 premiership that is more up and about than Richmond. They play like they have nothing to lose each week and it’s that style of footy that stands up in the finals.
In 2016, the two teams who took a week off heading into the preliminary final ended up losing. The Giants were victims of this last season so their response is one that may intrigue. However, this is the only thing that will be on the back of the Tiger faithful’s minds after winning the qualifying final.
It’s well known that Richmond’s finals record doesn’t stack up against the best, but the last grand final they won, they actually skipped the preliminary final.
Richmond has lost their past three preliminary finals, which dates back to 1975. In 2001, the Tigers were thumped by eventual premiers Brisbane by 68 points, but before that (in 1995), it was the Cats who embarrassed the Tigers to the tune of 89 points.
1971 and 1975 weren’t seasons that were friendly to the Tigers either, with preliminary final losses of 30 and 17 points respectively. They did win in 1973 however, but the margin was just seven points.
All in all, Richmond have lost their past three prelim finals and four of their past five. The crystal ball also notices that a major margin is on the cards if the Tigers are to lose, while if they win, it won’t be easy and it could come right down to the wire.
Not that there’s much history to refer to when deliberating on GWS’ chances in this game, but they have won two of their past three against Richmond and last year’s preliminary final curse is likely to strike again on the home side.
Sorry Richmond, maybe next year.
First preliminary final – Adelaide v Geelong (Adelaide Oval)
There is a lot of history to be broken down when looking at this highly-anticipated match-up.
The Crows for much of the season have been the best-performed team, while many will say the Cats are lucky to have gotten this far.
But regardless, anything can happen, even according to the past.
Adelaide, who are clearly the hot favourites going into the game, have lost their past four preliminary finals. Coming in 2012, 2006, 2005 and 2002, each of those losses were by an average of 14.8 points, while a 1993 preliminary final loss of just 11 points pinpoints how close Saturday night’s contest just may be.
Geelong hasn’t taken the easiest route to the prelim. A shock Qualifying final loss was, expectedly, backed up with a monstrous semi final display against the Swans. They now have to face the Crows just to get to the big dance.
This route isn’t unfamiliar with the Cats, who have had to endure this on four occasions in their history.
In fact, it has happened to the Cats three times since the current finals system has been in place.
In 2004, Geelong lost the qualifying final, won the semi final and were defeated in the preliminary by nine points.
The same thing happened in 2010, however this time it was a 41-point drubbing at the hands of Collingwood. 2013 saw the Cats go through the same route to end up losing to the Hawks by five points.
Maybe Geelong doesn’t like doing it the hard way?
While the Cats have won five of the past six head-to-heads against the Crows, these two sides have only ever played each other once in a final, with the Crows victorious by eight points in the 1997 semi final.
It’s safe to say history expects a thriller.