And then there were six. Just a different six than most of us expected, with the Cats out, and Collingwood soundly defeated, which leaves Hawthorn out there sailing on clear water with little to care about. Experts claim you can take the cup to the engraver right now, but footy is a funny game. $1.62 for the flag is very short, and the Swans are coming.
Adelaide v Fremantle
This is tough to line up. Freo shocked much of the footy world in their brilliant victory against Geelong, but not all of it. They certainly didn’t shock their own, nor did they surprise those who follow the form closely. If you consider the Dockers' last three months they were likely to perform well against Geelong. To beat them franks the form. Can they maintain it? They look fit, they can sustain the necessary intensity, and once they have the footy they are using it very well. Pavlich has been at the centre of things all season, and those around him are now offering far more support, which makes the skipper very dangerous.
Adelaide hosts the match. This didn’t help them last Saturday afternoon and they are a player down on that, having lost Daniel Talia. They were suffocated by the pressure of the Swans, and never really established any momentum.
Freo match up well on Adelaide with the key defenders to handle Walker and Tippett. Dawson has considerable finals experience and showed terrific form against Geelong. They also have an advantage in the ruck. Neither side has a midfield advantage.
Both sides have limited finals experience, with some players having just one final under their belts. It could come down to who handles the occasion better.
In that case I’m more persuaded by Pavlich, Fyfe, Sandilands, Dawson and crew, than anything Adelaide can throw at them. I think it’s an even bet, but I reckon the Dockers can win, by 7 points.
Collingwood v West Coast
Like the Friday night match there is much to weigh up in trying to assess this contest.
First question: how good is Hawthorn? Yes, Hawthorn. If they are as good as people are saying then Collingwood's performance was not hopeless last Friday. Travis Cloke and Andrew Krakouer showed a fair bit, and although the Hawthorn midfield was relentlessly good, the Pies matched them for a long time.
Second question: how bad were the Kangaroos in Perth on Sunday afternoon? Because if they were as terrible as they looked, then West Coast's exhibition is not worth as much as you might think. Although, having said that, the Eagles will go into this match against Collingwood full of confidence.
Third question: how much of an advantage to Collingwood is the MCG?
Fourth question: Will the Eagles ruckmen and range of tall forwards be the key, or will the nippy Pies backline run rings around them?
Interestingly, the 'Pies had a big score kicked against them last week, and that could happen again. I just feel that Pendlebury, Swan and Beams will have too much class in the middle, and that Heath Shaw will be a factor. Perhaps a Worsfold tag is required?
Against that I reckon West Coast’s loss to Geelong in the preliminary final last year will act as sound preparation for this.
Very tough one to pick. I reckon the Eagles are a year off, which is why I’m sticking with the Pies. Collingwood by 14 points.