Melbourne vs. Sydney Swans: Can ‘Buddy’ and the young Swans shock the reigning champs at the home of football?
The youthful Swans exceeded expectations last season in securing a finals berth, however, they bowed out in an elimination final loss to cross-town rivals GWS.
This year, Sydney produced a similarly-impressive regular-season campaign, cementing a second-chance finals finish. The question: Can they mix it with the best of the best when it matters most?
The Demons are the reigning premiers and had another dominant season in 2022, finishing second on the ladder at the conclusion of the home-and-away season, and play a fast, devastating brand of football.
John Longmire’s men will need monstrous performances from Lance Franklin, stars-in-the-making Callum Mills and Chad Warner, and will need their defence, led by veterans Dane Rampe and Jake Lloyd, to be extra stingy in order to get the job done.
Few are expecting the Swans to storm onto the MCG and claim victory to advance to a preliminary final, but if they do, the premiership outlook suddenly changes dramatically: Sydney can win it all, ranking as one of the favoured clubs at bet365 bonus NZ.
Brisbane Lions vs. Richmond: Can Brisbane put an end to their finals woes?
The Brisbane Lions are preparing to embark on their fourth consecutive AFL finals series. To the naked eye, this may seem like an impressive accomplishment. However, look a little closer at the outcomes of these recent finals participations, and the maroon, blue and gold problem is clear to see.
Over the course of the past three finals campaigns, throughout which the Lions have played a total of six games (five of which took place at The Gabba), they have won just one: against this week’s opponents, Richmond, in a 2020 qualifying final.
This season, the Lions once again claimed a top-four finish, but will they be able to ignite a successful finals campaign when they host the in-form Tigers at their so-called ‘fortress’?
Geelong vs. Collingwood: Has Collingwood’s close-game luck run out?
The Magpies have had an unbelievable season in senior coach Craig McRae’s debut campaign. Their ability to consistently perform near-perfectly in close games is a testament to their players and coaching staff, which includes ex-Richmond assistant Justin Leppitsch and former Carlton head coach Brendon Bolton.
This week, however, the hot Pies come up against the roaring Cats, who, it seems, were the last to topple Collingwood in a close encounter. Further, the stakes are raised now. Will the Pies be able to perform once again, this time on the biggest stage?
Fremantle vs. Western Bulldogs: Are the Dockers the real deal?
Dockers supporters have been largely starved of success since their team’s inception, but right now they can see more than a glimmer of hope.
Their young side has performed admirably in 2022, far exceeding expectations to secure a finals berth for the first time since the 2015 season, back when Ross Lyon was at the helm.
This time, however, under Justin Longmuir, the Dockers have a different taste about them. Unafraid to take the game on, this Fremantle side can do serious damage with ball in hand.
In front of what will surely be a raucous Optus Stadium crowd on Saturday night, the Bulldogs will need to bring their A-game on both sides of the ball if they’re to emerge victorious over the hope-filled Dockers.