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AFL Finals Recap – Week 2

Adelaide and Collingwood progress to next round of Finals. Source: Instagram

Just because we had half the AFL action of last week doesn’t mean we had half of the excitement. Both Friday night and Saturday night saw tight finishes that ended the finals dreams for both Western Australian teams, with West Coast and Fremantle both going down by slim margins.

Adelaide certainly had their work cut out for them in the first final of the weekend. With a real possibility of crashing out in straight sets to a tough Fremantle unit, Brenton Sanderson’s men needed to lift – and they did.

It was fair to say that the Crows didn’t get their dream start. Chris Mayne booted the first two goals for the match within the first three minutes, and Michael Walters popped up for another six-pointer before Jason Porplyzia kicked Adelaide into action. Two costly Taylor Walker misses and a second from Docker Michael Walters saw the home side trailing by sixteen at the first change.

It was again Chris Mayne causing headaches for Brenton Sanderson with the start of the second, registering his third before it was once again Jason Porplyzia who put a halt to the Docker rhythm. Inaccuracy cost Adelaide a shot at the lead at the main break, with Graham Johncock and Richard Douglas both scoring two behinds for the quarter. Taylor Walker snared his first goal just before the siren, and Fremantle held a 13-point lead.

Something must have happened to Taylor Walker at half time, because he came out firing in the third. His second and third goals set the tone for the premiership quarter, with Matthew Wright and Kurt Tippett also goaling. Adelaide motored over Fremantle in the third, slamming on four goals to one. The three quarter time margin was five, but it really should have been more: the third and fourth behinds from Graham Johncock kept Fremantle closer than they should have been.

With the match perfectly poised for a tough final term, it was the men from WA who got the jump, booting the first two to take a seven-point lead within the first two minutes. Responses from Bernie Vince and Jason Porplyzia, a costly miss from Ryan Crowley and the fourth and fifth goals from Taylor Walker sealed the match with just minutes remaining. Michael Walters slotted a third, but it was too little, too late for Fremantle. Having held a 29-point lead in the second quarter, the Dockers went down by 10 points.

David Mundy was influential for the Dockers with 30 disposals, as were Chris Mayne and Michael Walters, each booting three. Matthew Pavlich, Fremantle’s X-factor, was uncharacteristically quiet, registering just one goal and ten disposals. Taylor Walker was best afield, his five goals single-handedly helping Adelaide to a preliminary final.

With the Crows’ spot in the preliminary finals booked, our attention turned to the Saturday night blockbuster. Just like Adelaide, Collingwood were beleaguered by key losses (captain Nick Maxwell suspended) and talk of a straight-sets loss. And in the first minutes of the match, West Coast were definitely outplaying the Magpies.

Jack Darling, Patrick McGinnity, Josh Hill and Daniel Kerr all goaled before Collingwood registered their first major by way of Harry O’Brien goal, but it was quickly chased by Scott Pendlebury and Darren Jolly six-pointers to leave the Magpies trailing by nine at quarter time.

Dane Swan narrowed the lead to three points in the first stages of the second term, but not another goal was registered (two misses from Josh Hill, and one from Daniel Kerr) until Eagle Josh Hill kicked true in the dying minutes, leaving the margin at 11 at the main break.

The third quarter was dominated by Collingwood from start to finish. Dale Thomas kicked three consecutive goals, and Jarryd Blair also popped up for his first before Jack Darling steadied the ship with a much-needed goal that left West Coast within ten points at the last change.

The Eagles needed a big start, and they certainly got it, with excitement machine Nic Naitanui booting the first, and Josh J. Kennedy snaring the second to begin the term. West Coast led by two, five minutes into the quarter. However, courtesy of a highly uncharacteristic kicking error from Eagle star Andrew Embley, Tyson Goldsack snatched the lead back, and was quickly follows by an important goal by Dane Swan. The Pies were wasteful for the rest of the match, with Dale Thomas, Andrew Krakouer and Sharrod Wellingham all registering minor scores, but it didn’t matter. The end margin was thirteen.

The Pies’ midfield dominated, led by Dane Swan (29 disposals, two goals), Scott Pendlebury (29 disposals, one goal) and Dayne Beams (30 disposals). For the Eagles, Daniel Kerr amassed 29 touches also, with Jack Darling and Josh Hill the only multiple goalkickers for West Coast.

And now the stage is set. With the Grand Final within striking distance for the final four, we have been given two of the most tantalising matches of the year. Sydney will play host to Collingwood at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, and, in a peculiar move, Hawthorn will take on Adelaide at 5:15pm on Saturday at the MCG, with the winners advancing that bit closer to the ultimate dream.

In all truthfulness, all four clubs deserve a Grand Final berth, but only two can play off on that one day in September.

Game on.

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