AFL Finals – Week 1 review

By Lim Detering

Week one of the AFL finals series threw up a number of upsets as three of the lower placed teams at the end of the regular season defeated their more fancied opponents to completely change the outlook of this year’s finals.

After Hawthorn beat Sydney as expected on Friday night, Fremantle defeated the higher placed Geelong at Simmonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon before Port Adelaide continued the trend by defeating Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday night.

On Sunday the round of upsets was completed as Carlton, who finished ninth after the regular season and only included in the finals after Essendon was suspended following the drugs saga, disposed of Richmond at the MCG.

The irony in all this was after making ninth spot on the ladder their own in recent seasons, Richmond still found a way to make it a curse after being defeated by the Blues.

The Queenslanders in the Hawthorn side had a far happier Friday night than Sydney as they booked their place in the preliminary final after defeating the Swans by 54 points.

The two Queenslanders featuring in the Hawks line-up, Brendan Whitecross and David Hale, were both influential in their win against the Swans.

Whitecross had 21 disposals and five tackles while Hale was superb as the backup ruckman to finish with two goals from his 16 disposals while also having 14 hitouts.

For Sydney, Jesse White was serviceable with 16 disposals and five marks but Kurt Tippett struggled to have an impact.

Tippett, who was returning from a hamstring injury, had a quiet night finishing with just eight disposals and two goals but was not the only Swan who had their colours lowered.

Fremantle’s upset win over Geelong saw one Queenslander taking the field in the form of Lee Spurr, who was returning after being rested against St Kilda.

Spurr was a crucial inclusion for the Dockers, as he amassed 29 disposals and took 10 marks, many of which were across the half-back line constantly thwarting Geelong’s forward entries.

Although Collingwood was eliminated from the finals following their shock loss to the Power, it was not from a lack of effort from the Queenslanders in the side.

Dayne Beams was Collingwood’s best, playing an instrumental role in the midfield as he racked up 29 touches, eight tackles and a goal to cap a fine game.

Josh Thomas was down on his usual statistical impact but still had 11 disposals and laid three tackles, while Lachlan Keeffe held down a key defensive post and finished with seven disposals.

The second elimination final on Sunday saw Queensland’s Tom Bell of Carlton defeat Richmond to advance into the second week of the finals.

Bell had a mixed afternoon, as he missed a couple of crucial shots at goal but also provided great spark with his physicality around the ground. Bell finished with 17 disposals and four tackles and will play a prominent part in Carlton’s quest to progress further in September.

At the conclusion of the first round of finals, Queensland’s number of 16 participants in the AFL finals has been whittled down to 10 with Collingwood and Richmond both eliminated.

There will still be plenty to cheer for in the second week though with Geelong taking on Port Adelaide at the MCG on Friday night and Sydney taking on Carlton on Saturday.

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