07/12/2023

Geelong plays Collingwood for a spot in the Preliminary Final.(Image: Geelong FC)

It’s September which means that we are in for finals football. Eight teams will be fighting to win the 2022 Premiership and it all begins this weekend.

Here are the five key storylines to look out for in the Qualifying and Elimination Finals.

Will the Tigers continue their form after the bye?

Richmond entered the pre-finals bye looking as good as any other team in the competition, winning its last four matches in a row which included a victory against its opposition, Brisbane.

The question is whether the Tigers can keep up their momentum as they prepare to face the Lions in an Elimination Final up at the Gabba. The winner will face the loser of Melbourne and Sydney.

Last time Richmond met Brisbane at the Gabba. Image (Richmond FC)

The Tigers have been viewed as one of the best seventh-placed teams in recent history with some experts giving them a chance to make a very competitive and deep run in September, but that doesn’t exclude the fact that one poor game has them done and dusted.

Richmond’s chances have been bolstered by the welcome return of arguably the greatest finals player of all time Dustin Martin. Martin is taking the position of the retiring Shane Edwards who has been omitted from the side.

Richmond seemingly has the upper hand against Brisbane when the sides meet at the Gabba, Brisbane has only won twice out of the last eleven contests at the ground against its opponents.

However, those two wins were the two most recent games at the Gabba between these sides, making for an exciting contest on Thursday night.

Lions introduce a debutant for must-win clash

In what is already set to be a massive matchup, the pressure for young Lion Darcy Wilmot is only going to be added, with the 18-year-old making his debut in the Elimination Final.

Wilmot was taken by the Lions with pick 16 in last year’s national draft and has finally done enough at state level to prove his worthiness to the Brisbane selectors.

Brisbane will introduce Wilmot with star midfielder Jarryd Lyons missing the do-or-die clash through injury, while young bull Cam Rayner was unsuccessful in challenging his one-game suspension.

In the Brisbane VFL side, Wilmot averaged 17.3 disposals as a rotational midfielder and taller forward option. Although, the Lions are still keeping their options open as to where they play Wilmot on Thursday.

Darcy Wilmot in the U18’s last season. Image (AFL)

More AFL/AFLW News

β€˜Finals is going to bring the best out of us’: Melbourne’s Jack Viney expecting a hot contest against the Swans

AFLW: Swans preparing for battle against Magpies, Montana Ham injury update

β€˜I feel like we’ve practised it a lot’: Pendlebury on the Magpies close finishes

Are the Swans a sleeper heading into September?

The Swans have gone completely under the radar when talking about genuine Premiership contenders this season.

Sydney finished just percentage away from hosting a Qualifying Final and is still guaranteed to host either a Semi or Preliminary Final in the coming weeks.

The Swans expect Tom Papley to be available after sustaining a concussion in their win against the Saints. Come game day, Papley would have served his 12-day concussion protocol and be eligible to play against the Demons.

A win is certainly within reach for the slept-on Swans.

The midfield of Callum Mills, Luke Parker and Chad Warner on their day can take it up to what is seemingly the best midfield in the comp and put the Demons under the pump.

Despite Melbourne’s recent dominant form, Sydney will certainly have confidence ahead of this contest given it defeated the reigning premiers at the MCG when it last met.

Sydney took the four points last time these sides met at the MCG. Image (AFL)

Can the young Pies continue their dream run?

Seven months ago, not many would have predicted that the 17th-placed Magpies would have won 11 straight games and finish in the top four this season.

Collingwood faces Geelong in what will be a blockbuster Saturday afternoon with the winner to host a Preliminary Final likely against an interstate opponent.

Since 2019, Geelong and Collingwood will meet in the finals for the third time in four years with the Pies winning in 2019 and the Cats victorious in 2020 at the Gabba.

The Pies always seem to find a way when there isn’t one, winning nine games by single digits. Although, they will need to find another gear this game as the Cats have defeated them in their last three meetings.

Collingwood will be tested under the experience of finals football, especially against a Geelong lineup that is as good as any recent Cats side in previous years.

Bulldogs were given a lifeline but will they use it?

It took right up until the final minute of the home and away season for the Western Bulldogs to sneak their way into September after Collingwood defeated Carlton by a single point.

The Dogs as a result will make the trip west and face a formidable Dockers side who haven’t seen the finals since 2015, so there is no doubt they will be hungry.

The Bulldogs are familiar with making a sensational finals run finishing in the bottom half of the eight, winning the Premiership in 2016 and finishing sixth last season again making the Grand Final.

There will be some big names missing for both sides on Saturday night, with the Dockers without their champion Nat Fyfe. While the Bulldogs will have to fill the void of Tom Liberatore who also misses this game.

Can the Bulldogs pull off a similar feat in 2022?

Nat Fyfe will unfortunately not partake in the Elimination Final. Image (Fremantle FC)

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