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  • Pete Roberts

Preliminary Final Review

Well, wasn't that disappointing. Possibly the least exciting Prelim weekend since 2018, with two teams basically not showing up for various reasons. Still, for Demons and Dogs fans it was bliss. Sets up for a cracking Grand Final battle.


Quick review before getting stuck into a couple of things to end the year.


Talking Points

  • Pre-game analysis is hard enough without having to guess which side will turn up. Or in Geelong's case, which side has a bout of illness go through the squad before the match. Fair to say both predictions weren't all that close this week.

  • Feel like the sub rule is a ticking time bomb, particularly in a tight grand final. Very hard to determine whether a player is genuinely injured. At some point there will be a serious controversy about a team injecting fresh legs into the game. Hopefully not in the big one.

  • Hoping the sun/shade issue at Optus Stadium isn't a big feature of Grand Final Day. It might be just late enough in the day that it's a non-factor, but some games this year have seen some players looking into the blaring sunlight up one end...

  • No matter what happens, how big will Round 1, 2022 become? A flag unveiling at a packed MCG or Marvel Stadium would be a fitting way to mark the return of fans back to the footy in Victoria. Worth making the grand final rematch the season opener?

Melbourne 125 def Geelong 42

Expected score: 106 v 38


What. Just. Happened.


The Demons ran absolutely rampant, against a Geelong side struck down by a virus to several players and a lack of leg speed that was brutally exploited in two of their three finals games.


Some of the numbers are extraordinary - a record 101 points from stoppage for Melbourne. The next best for the entire season by any side was under 80. Generally the Dees are more of a turnover-based scoring team, but they couldn't help win it at stoppages. Max Gawn played probably one of the best finals of a ruckman since Dean Cox used to tear games apart. Easily the highest rated player on the ground. The Preview had Rhys Stanley as our Player Under Pressure. Gawn proved to be too much for the whole side, unfortunately, not just Stanley.


By losing the territory battle so badly, the Geelong forwards never really got a chance. 30-18 Inside 50s in the first half. Game over. Six goals straight from Centre Bounce for Melbourne across four quarters.


Way back in the 2021 Season Preview we mentioned Geelong were absolutely "chips in" on this season. The real danger is their subsequent seasons now they haven't secured that elusive flag, despite being so successful for so long. With their list demographic, are they in danger of dropping off quickly, or will their track record of impeccable drafting and trading keep them coming back to September?


Western Bulldogs 116 def Port Adelaide 45

Expected score: 100 v 60


Don't care what anyone says. No one predicted this one.


Port Adelaide didn't come ready for the fight. It sounds simple, but the amount of fumbles, missed tackles and lack of accountability from Port was clear from the outset. Some teams get lucky and the opposition don't punish them fully. It wasn't the case here - the Bulldogs were absolutely lethal.


It was a little strange because the Dogs' pressure wasn't off the charts (only 174 in Q1). Port just couldn't keep hold of the ball, fumbling it back to them on a number of occasions. The end result was a +23 contested possession count, +9 clearance, +6 Inside 50s, obviously in favour of the Bulldogs. As good a demolition as you'll see.


The hard part is figuring out how much of it was Port allowing them to do it by not showing up, and how much it was the form of the Dogs. An absolute conundrum when looking ahead to the Grand Final.


Port Adelaide probably finished in their rightful spot, while the Dogs received a blessing in disguise by finishing fifth - they avoided an in-form Melbourne and got their confidence back against a tired Bombers side in Week 1 of the finals series. Back in form just at the right time after a flat end to the year.


Pleased to have Aaron Naughton as our player to watch. He probably could have ended up with four or five goals in the end, but he looked like recapturing the kind of form from earlier in the season. Will find it tougher against a Demons defence and is unlikely to get as many opportunities as last weekend, but he holds the key to their flag hopes if the midfielders can break even in two weeks' time.


Coming Up...


Check back in a week for a bit of fun before we publish our Grand Final Preview. With the week off before the big one, it's the perfect time to give you a bit of an insight into an AFL match review. Stay tuned.