Here’s your AFL Finals Schedule for week one… all times are local!
THURSDAY, September 5
First elimination final
West Coast v Essendon at Optus Stadium, 6.10pm
Last clash: R14 – Eagles 14.22 (106) bt Bombers 11.5 (71)
Last final: 2002 EF – Bombers 17.9 (111) bt Eagles 11.12 (78) at Marvel Stadium
Saturday night’s disastrous home loss to Hawthorn stopped the Eagles dead in their tracks and cost them the double chance. They should still be too strong for the Bombers, who have lost three of their past four and have not enjoyed a settled side for the past three weeks. Essendon will regain several stars, while West Coast will sweat on star ruckman Nic Naitanui.
Tip: Eagles by 20 points
FRIDAY, September 6
First qualifying final
Geelong v Collingwood at the MCG, 7.50pm
Last clash: R1 – Cats 10.12 (72) bt Magpies 9.11 (65) at the MCG
Last final: 2011 GF – Cats 18.11 (119) bt Magpies 12.9 (81) at the MCG
The Cats have not won two in a row since the mid-season bye but secured the minor premiership with Saturday’s big win over Carlton. The Magpies are on a four-game winning streak and are set to regain forwards Jordan De Goey (hamstring) and Jaidyn Stephenson (gambling suspension). While the Magpies went agonisingly close to last year’s flag, the Cats are 3-9 in finals since their 2011 grand final win.
Tip: Magpies by 10 points
SATURDAY, September 7
Second elimination final
GWS v Western Bulldogs at Giants Stadium, 3.20pm
Last clash: R22 – Bulldogs 19,12 (126) bt Giants 9.11 (65) at Giants Stadium
Last final: 2016 PF – Bulldogs 13.11 (89) bt Giants 12.11 (83)
The Bulldogs are on a tear, winning four of the past five, and it’s only a fortnight since they dismantled GWS. There are strong echoes of 2016. While the Giants dispatched Gold Coast as expected, they lost their previous two games and have endured significant injury problems. They would regain several stars and GWS need them.
Tip: Bulldogs by 30 points
Second qualifying final
Brisbane v Richmond at the Gabba, 7.25pm
Last clash: R23 – Tigers 12.10 (82) bt Lions 8.7 (55) at the MCG.
Last final: 2001 PF – Lions 20.16 (136) bt Tigers 10.8 (68) at The Gabba
Sunday’s win over the Lions means Richmond take a nine-game winning streak into September. The Lions also had won nine in a row before running into the Tigers’ brick wall. While the Lions have home-ground advantage and were not disgraced on Sunday, they are unproven under finals pressure. Richmond have plenty to prove after last year’s preliminary final disaster.
Tip: Tigers by 15 points