YOUR WEEKLY LOOK AT LAST WEEKENDS ROUND OF AFL FOOTBALL
AFL football continued to deliver compelling storylines in the second week of the finals series. Two teams from outside the top four—Carlton and the GWS Giants—have advanced to the penultimate week of the 2023 campaign.
CARLTON 11.7.(73) defeated Melbourne 9.17.(71)
The Carlton Football Club secured a berth in the second Preliminary Final after snatching a heart-stopping victory over the Melbourne Demons last Friday evening.
In front of an incredible crowd of 96,412 at the MCG, Carlton came from behind at every interval to snatch the lead with just 56 seconds remaining, defeating the Demons by two points. Despite losing Harry McKay to injury and Jack Martin to suspension, the Blues persevered and found a way to win.
Blake Acres kicked the match-winner for Carlton after securing a contested mark at the top of the goal square and converting the opportunity.
Sam Walsh, Carlton’s number one draft pick in 2018, put on a brilliant display, racking up 34 possessions.
Key contributors for the Blues in their semi-final win included Skipper Patrick Cripps, Nic Newman, Tom De Koning, Jacob Weitering, and Adam Saad.
For the Melbourne Demons, defenders Steven May and Clayton Oliver led the way, with Jack Viney and Christian Petracca also among their best. Second-generation forward Joel Smith kicked a match-high three goals for the losing side.
GWS GIANTS 13.15 (93) defeated Port Adelaide 9.16 (70)
Port Adelaide found themselves eliminated after a brilliant performance by the “Orange Tsunami” at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
After a high-scoring first term, the GWS Giants took control of the game, setting up their win in the second quarter. The Giants overwhelmed the Power with their quick and skillful ball movement.
This marks Greater Western Sydney’s impressive debut campaign under first-year coach and former Power premiership player Adam Kingsley, who led the team to a 23-point victory.
Halftime statistics indicated GWS’s dominance in uncontested possessions, overall disposals, and clearances.
For Greater Western Sydney, Stephen Coniglio and Callum Ward were outstanding, while Kieran Briggs stood out as the best big man on the field.
For Port Adelaide, Jason Horne-Francis provided valuable support around the ball, while Dan Houston consistently drove the team forward. Willie Rioli displayed creativity in attack, and Zak Butters, along with perhaps outgoing Travis Boak, worked tirelessly against the odds.
Post-game, the Power’s outgoing skipper Tom Jonas was carried from the ground.
Preliminary Final Previews
Friday, 22 September – First Preliminary Final
Collingwood vs the GWS GIANTS, MCG, 7:50pm AEST
As impressive as the Giants were, they now need to find a way to get over the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG in what is expected to be another 90,000 crowd at the venue.
The Magpies are expected to select Nick Daicos after he injured himself late in the minor round, adding to an already dynamic Collingwood outfit.
There have plenty of experience in big finals with five-time Copeland Medallist (Collingwood best and fairest) Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom both members of the 2010 premiership side.
Darcy Moore has proved to be an outstanding leader in defence and there is a couple of game breakers up forward in Bobby Hill and Jamie Elliott.
If the GWS Giants can bring the same pace, flare, and intensity as they delivered against Port, this contest is expected to make this cracker.
Captain Tony Greene is a key player in this Giants team’s chances, as it Jesse Hogan, while Tom Green will happily pay the $2000 fine assigned for his striking charge, to be playing in this block buster.
Saturday, 23 September – Second Preliminary Final
Brisbane Lions vs Carlton, Gabba, 5:15pm AEST
Brisbane should be primed and ready to go for this clash, as they have enjoyed a week’s rest and extra preparation at home, while Carlton will travel now for the first time in this major round series, having enjoyed wins against Sydney and Melbourne at the “G”.
Except for long term injury recipient Will Ashcroft, and former Hawks (and Central District) premiership player Jack Gunston who will need to past tests on his MCL, the Lions a brimming and ready to go.
Their general down back Harris Andrews has a big job of Charlie Curnow and needs to ensure he doesn’t get off the leash.
They have a top class midfield, which included Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale, Hugh McCluggage, Dane Zorko and Josh Dunkley, while up forward Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood are complimented by Charlie Cameron, Bordertown lad Lincoln McCarthy and Zac Bailey in attack.
Carlton should have Harry McKay back from his concussion protocols, while Jack Martin has also served his one match suspension. They should be automatic recalls if fit.
As has been mentioned numerous times previously Brisbane are currently undefeated this year at the Gabba, but Michael Voss have the Blues playing relentless football, and he would love an upset win against his former club.