The final four teams of the 2021 AFL Premiership season are locked in and will do battle this weekend in the Preliminary Finals, for a spot in the Grand Final. After the Cats and the Bulldogs were victorious in the Semis, they, as well as the Demons and the Power, are all that remain in the hunt for the 2021 Premiership.
The Cats are through to their fifth Preliminary Final in six years, after defeating the GWS Giants 103 to 68 on Friday night. The Cats were essentially on the front foot from the get-go, with star forward Jeremy Cameron slotting the opening goal of the game, in his first clash with his former team.
The Cats led by 14 points at quarter time, 15 at half time and 32 points at three-quarter time. But the Giants aren’t a team to go down easily, they came back early in the last term with three quick goals in the first five minutes to cut the margin to just 20 points. But Geelong’s Tom Hawkins kicked three of his five goals to end out the quarter and secure their win.
Zach Touhy was again a star for the Cats, providing hard run all night and finishing with 31 disposals. For the Giants, it was Lachie Whitfield who was the standout, with 34 disposals and continuous effort all night long.
With a 35-point victory, the Cats head to a Preliminary Final against Melbourne on Friday night. The Demons will be fresh from their week off and raring to get the win and appear in the Grand Final for the first time since 2000, while the Cats will be hungry to feature in the Grand Final for the second year in a row, hoping for a different result – but they’ve got to get there first.
My tip for this game is the Demons; they’re determined and have the ability to go the distance and I doubt they’ll let Geelong stand in the way of that.
Saturday night’s game was everything a Semi Final should be – fast-paced, intense, close throughout and it came down to the wire. The Western Bulldogs earned their place in the Preliminary Final with a one-point win over the Brisbane Lions, 79 – 78.
At the first break in the game, it was the Lions who were in the lead by 11 points; come half time it was the Bulldogs up by a point, who then trailed by ten at three-quarter time. The Bulldogs also slotted three quick goals to start the last quarter before the Lions goaled through Tom Fullarton at the 17-minute mark.
From there it was pressure on pressure with two minutes left and scores level, Bailey Smith pushed hard down the field to manage a goal for the Bulldogs, after which, within a minute, previous Lions match-winner Zac Bailey put through a goal for his side, to level the scores once more. It was a crucial behind with from Bulldogs’ Laitham Vandermeer with his toe to the ball, that got them the win.
Jack Macrae was top tier for the Bulldogs, with 38 disposals and a goal at the end of the night, while the Lions’ Hugh McCluggage stood out with 28 disposals, a goal and two assists.
With the win, the Bulldogs now meet the Power at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. The Dogs will be without young gun, Cody Weightman who was subbed out of the Lions game with a concussion, and star captain Marcus Bontempelli sustained a minor knee injury late in the clash and will be tested later in the week for availability.
The Bulldogs in 2016 went all the way through to win the Premiership and will be eager to do the same. However, the Power last appeared in the big dance in 2004 and they’re well placed to make it once again, which is why they’re my pick to win this game.
IMAGE: Western Bulldogs’ Bailey Smith celebrated with this gesture, ‘Ice in my veins’ after kicking the Bulldogs’ last goal of the night. The celebrations references that of NBA star D’Angelo Russel, which is about being cool under pressure. PICTURE: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
This article was first published on 8 September 2021.