The second week of the AFL finals series saw both week one losers bounce back with emphatic sudden-death victories. Geelong Cats were in no mood to celebrate Sydney Swans star Jarrad McVeigh in his 300th game, while GWS Giants reminded everyone what they are capable of by demolishing West Coast Eagles.
Cats spoil McVeigh’s 300th to bring the curtains down on Swans’ amazing 2017 ride
Geelong has shown some finals fight under Chris Scott by posting a 59-point win over a limp Sydney outfit on Friday night at the MCG. Scott came into this game with a finals record that stood at 2-7 since 2012. Patrick Dangerfield was the star of the show – kicking four first-half goals as the Cats were able to play the game on their terms thanks to a few different setups.
Both sides took their time to get into the game after a bit of rain from earlier in the day took some adjusting to on ground level. This time the Cats were able to get some spark up forward, with midfield maestro Patrick Dangerfield playing as a full-forward sitting deep inside 50.
Sydney had no proper matchups for Dangerfield – Callum Mills, Dane Rampe and even occasional swingman Sam Reid as a second defender couldn’t limit the reigning Brownlow Medal winner’s impact whenever the ball went near him. After landing several crucial blows by halftime, Dangerfield moved into the midfield for the second half.
Geelong were tactically different this week, making sure they had control of the ball as often as they possibly could. Using the ball sensibly paid off, as players such as centre half-back Lachie Henderson, Harry Taylor and Zach Tuohy constantly started the Cats’ drives up the field.
Both Taylor and Henderson did a fantastic job to keep Swans superstar Lance Franklin quiet, with the retiring Tom Lonergan a late withdrawal. It proved to be a blessing in disguise as ‘Buddy’ went goalless.
Despite only having Dangerfield in midfield for the second half, Geelong had key contributors for the whole game. Mitch Duncan continued his strong 2017 form, while Sam Menegola and Scott Selwood were much better this week providing some grunt around the ball to bully the Swans’ usually dominant midfield. And young small-forward Darcy Lang played his best game for Geelong in his brief career.
Sydney didn’t have too many players who could be happy with themselves with this team effort. Dan Hannebery and Kieran Jack were trying contributors for the Swans, but they didn’t have any helpers and were continually beaten around the contest inside.
The Swans would be bitterly disappointed to go out in this fashion after making history coming from 0-6 to make the finals. Geelong now have a daunting away preliminary final to Adelaide on Friday night to gear up for.
Giants delight to set up Deledio grudge match
Greater Western Sydney Giants were convincing 67-point winners on Saturday night at Spotless Stadium to extinguish West Coast Eagles’ campaign.
This game was played in better conditions than the Friday night elimination final, and as a result both sides were able to play some moving football. The Giants got off to a quick start in the first quarter, led by Stephen Coniglio in midfield and Tony Greene across half-forward.
The Giants were able to get on top of the Eagles in the clearances, with the retiring Matt Priddis looking slow compared to the faster GWS midfielders, as Giants midfielders Dylan Shiel and Lachie Whitfield made themselves dangerous on the outside with plenty of run and carry, after the good work of Callan Ward and Coniglio inside helped set the tone for the night.
Despite Jeremy McGovern standing tall in defence, the Eagles had no answer to slow down the Giants’ quick ball movement through the centre of the ground. Veteran Steve Johnson made the most of his recall, showing plenty of energy hunting the ball across half-forward and even managing to get on the end of a few himself as he killed off this game early in the third quarter.
It was a harrowing exit for the Eagles after the emotion of last week’s extra-time win over Port Adelaide, certainly not the way champion trio Matt Priddis, Sam Mitchell and Drew Petrie deserved to go out.
The last fortnight sums up the Eagles’ year perfectly – widely inconsistent week-to-week. The Giants, on the other hand, responded perfectly to show everyone what they are capable of as a strong running side after being written off in the wake of their big loss to the Crows.
The Giants now play away to Richmond in what will be a testing preliminary final on Saturday evening, a match that will double as high-profile recruit Brett Deledio’s first game against his former side. The scene couldn’t be set any better to potentially start a new rivalry in the AFL.