As time ticks down to the first week of finals for 2023, I find myself fluctuating on what could and might happen from Thursday through to Saturday.
The Pies and the Dees is mouth-watering, particularly after their Queens/Kings Birthday clash that saw Melbourne get up. Melbourne’s best can match it with any team in the game, and the way they squeezed Collingwood on the MCG will be something Craig McRae will have spent hours thinking of ways to counter.
The Blues host the Swans after teasing their fans with the potential of this group for a couple of years. The Swans are probably lucky to be in September – not because they are not a good team, but because a couple of questionable results fell their way during the season. Still, they have yet to really play their absolute best footy, and whilst it is difficult to start doing that once finals hits, if they do, they could make a lot of noise.
Meanwhile, Carlton are the form team of the competition, having lost once in their last ten games, and that game was one that held no importance for them in terms of ladder position. They are a vastly different team than the one we saw over the first half of the season and look to have found their best form at the best time of the year.
The St Kilda v GWS game looks wonderful, on paper. The Saints have surprised everyone this year. Some highly paid experts labelled them a bottom-four team coming into the season, but they have unearthed talent, challenged existing stars to lift, and are playing like a team that believes they belong. And they do.
And then there is the Giants. Written off by most, their rally in the second half of the season has been nothing short of remarkable, as we have watched this cohort come together under Adam Kingsley to storm into the finals behind their captain, Toby Greene. And don’t label me a bandwagoner… I have been on the Greene machine when most of the footy public hated his guts. People cancelled memberahips here on the basis of me championing him. Now you see why some saw beyond the player who walked on the edge and sometimes slipped over it, huh? Welcome to the club.
The Lions look to remain unbeaten at home as they welcome Port Adelaide to the hostile territory known as the Gabba. Many look at 2020 as the year Brisbane let it get away, but this year they are positioned beautifully to have a massive tilt at the flag. With a home Preliminary Final up for grabs, they will be as hungry as I was while I was cooking tacos this evening… and sneaking bits of meat into my mouth when nobody was looking.
“Geez HB… you didn’t have many tacos.”
“Yeah, I’m trying to cut down.”
Yes, cutting down by eating the equivalent of two tacos whilst preparing them.
And finally, there is Port – long considered the side to beat as they amassed a huge win-streak during the year, knocking calls for Ken Hinkley’s resignation on the head before they started to gain traction. If the Gabba is a fast track, the elusive mids of Rozee and Butters could be in for a big one.
So many possibilities. So many stories. So much to cover.
Here are the Ten Things I am looking forward to from the first week of the finals.
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