Sun, Sep 11, 11:45am by Head Editor
We didn’t have to wait long for the finals to produce its first astonishing surprise with the underdog, pardon the pun, Western Bulldogs producing a scintillating display to knock the Eagles out of the finals on their home ground.
The following night’s qualifying final will go down as one of the greatest in recent memory with two modern day rivals going toe-to-toe for 120 minutes before Isaac Smith had the chance to snatch the game from the Cats after the siren. He missed which means the Hawks now face the Dogs in a knock-out semi-final on Friday night.
On Saturday afternoon we saw the second upset of the weekend when the Giants stunned the Swans in the first ever Sydney Derby final. Jeremy Cameron booted three goals in five minutes during the third term to break the game open.
The only predictable match of the weekend played out just a few hours later when the Crows flexed some muscle to belt the Kangas in style on Saturday night and move on to meet the Swans.
We now move on to this weekend’s action and what a weekend we have in store. Two cut-throat semi-finals to be played at the two most historical venues in Australian sport. The MCG and the SCG.
An important note to remember when heading into the semi-final weekend is that although top-four clubs going out in straight sets has happened three times in the past two years it only happened twice in the 14 years before that.
With six teams remaining in the premiership race, here’s an early look at the odds for the semi-finals:
Second Semi Final –Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs
MCG – 7:50pm Friday 16 September
The Dogs will go in as rank-outsiders against the Hawks but that tag didn’t worry them a single bit against the Eagles last Thursday. The reigning-champs will have to pick themselves up and go again after one of the greatest and most exhausting finals in memory.
The head-to-head market sees the Hawks as heavy favourites at $1.45 mainly due to the historical trends of top-four clubs winning semi-finals with the Dogs at $2.83. I expect this to change as the week progresses.
The Dogs have the support of every non-competing team’s supporters this week for two reasons, firstly they play an attractive brand of football and secondly they have had to overcome more injuries than any other club this year. They made the Eagles look like they were running in concrete on Thursday and will need to bring that type of game again if they are to cause another upset.
There was a real sense of here we go again on Friday night when Isaac Smith lined up for goal after the siren but after he missed all of a sudden the outlook turned much more grey. Have the champs hit the end of the road or will they prove yet again that the long road to the Grand Final is not a problem?
First Semi Final –Sydney v Adelaide
SCG – 7:25pm Saturday 17 September
The Swans have history on their side when they face the Crows on Saturday but will have to lift after being swept off the park by their younger brother Giants. The Crows were the hunted against North but came out with flying colours to win by 62 points once again proving their offensive power.
Adelaide have won the admiration of the football world this year having now progressed to the semi-finals finals after losing their former coach Phil Walsh in tragic circumstances last year as well as their best player Patrick Dangerfield to Geelong.
As mentioned, history is on the Swans side as the last time a minor premier went out in straight sets was in 1983 when, under a top-five system, North Melbourne was belted in both the second semi-final (40 points) and the preliminary final (86 points). They’ll have to make the Grand Final to give Rising Star winner Callum Mills any chance of playing again this year after he went down with a with a hamstring injury in the first half.
AFL Semi Finals odds:
Stay tuned to www.australiangambling.lv over the coming days for betting previews including best bets and video previews and as we continue to preview the AFL finals.
Odds supplied by Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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