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Footy Finals Preview

Footy Finals Preview

Fremantle: Finishing atop the AFL ladder proves Freo have been the best team all year, but their form of late has been less than convincing, with one win and three losses in the last month. Ross Lyon is a mastermind though, and if he can lose games and still finish first, he probably will. A lot of questions surround the Dockers’ finals journey: was it wise to rest half the team in the last round? Will Nat Fyfe be fit? Is their form on the decline or have they just been cruising at 75%? I still think they’re a massive chance, and will take a super performance from either Hawthorn, or their cross-town rivals West Coast, to beat them.
Key player: Nat Fyfe
Prediction: Preliminary final loss

West Coast: Although finishing second, the Eagles are the real unknown of this year’s premiership race. They’ve certainly played some unbelievable footy this year, especially with their personnel shortage in defence. Will Schofield has been a revelation down back, but West Coast’s ability to defend from the forward line and in the midfield has been the key to their great season. They lost to the Hawks not long ago, but that was without star ruckman Nic Naitanui, and his back-up, Callum Sinclair. With either of those two in the team (especially Nic Nat) they are a much more dangerous prospect. West Coast are almost unbeatable on their home soil, but their quality away from home may not quite be enough.
Key player: Mark Le Cras
Prediction: Runners Up

Hawthorn: Still the flag favourites, despite finishing third. But you’d have to be silly not to pick them, right? Probably, but here’s why they might not make it three flags in a row: Richmond. I’m not saying Richmond will beat the Hawks and knock them out of the premiership race, but if teams watch the Tigers’ win over Hawthorn in round 18 and learn from it (as Port Adelaide did), they will realise that putting manic pressure on the Hawks and negating their ‘bubble’ is the way to beat the reigning premiers. However, the Hawks, if they make it to the first Saturday in October, should be too strong on the MCG.
Key player: Jarryd Roughead
Prediction: Premiers

Sydney: If you listen to the media, the Swans are just about the only team in the eight who can’t win the flag, even though they finished in the top four once again. A straight sets exit does loom, however, with key players such as Kieren Jack, Luke Parker, and Nick Smith all injured. Sydney’s finals hopes seem to depend on million-dollar-man Buddy Franklin’s fitness, both physically and mentally. If he stays out, they go out. Simple as that.
Key player: Dan Hannebery
Prediction: Semi final loss

Richmond: Dustin Fletcher was the only player in the AFL in 2015 to have lost to Richmond in a final. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s how long it’s been since they won a final. Can the Tigers break their finals curse this year? I think so. They should be too good for North Melbourne on the MCG in week one, but then the big test will come when they have to travel for their semi final. Their midfield is class, with the types of Cotchin, Deledio, Martin, Ellis and Miles all rotating through, but the concern is their bottom six.
Key Player: Brett Deledio
Prediction: Preliminary final loss

Western Bulldogs: The feel good story of 2015. A team many predicted would struggle through this season, the Bulldogs have proved just about everyone wrong. They AFL might have already decided the Doggies’ fate, though, in denying them a home final at Etihad Stadium. They lost just 2 games under the roof this year, and won 12. Skipper Bob Murphy was rightly disgusted at the AFL when they scheduled the Elimination final against Adelaide at the MCG, and it is clear why. As such, the Bulldogs’ finals journey might be a short one this year.
Key player: Jake ‘The Package’ Stringer.
Prediction: Elimination final loss

Adelaide: The other feel good story of 2015. After tragically losing their coach midway through the season, Adelaide could have fallen off the radar and seen 2015 slip by without a finals berth. Credit to the players, caretaker coach Scott Camporeale, and coaching adviser John Worsfold, they have taken the proverbial bull by horns, and turned this season into a potential success. Their form recently as been great, beating highly rated teams such as West Coast and Richmond. The question is whether they can take their stellar form into the finals.
Key player: Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker
Prediction: Semi final loss

Kangaroos: The real outsiders for the flag, are Kangaroos just making up the eight? Perhaps, but as we saw in 2014, if they can hit form at the right time, they can beat plenty of good teams. Keep in mind they defeated Fremantle just three weeks ago. Can’t see them going too far though, I don’t think they’re going as well as last year, and they seem to lack the A-grade class across the board that the real contenders have.
Key player: Todd Goldstein
Prediction: Elimination final loss

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