13/04/2024

Fremantle can cause a bit of history with a win on Saturday. (Image: AFL)

After one of the most exciting weekends of finals in AFL history, the semi finals have a lot to live up to.

Both match-ups will be highly contested, with the qualifying final losers out for redemption, while the elimination final winners will be seeking to cause major upsets.

The Inner Sanctum has selected the three things to look out for this weekend.

Heated Demons defence from last outing

Controversy surrounded the last meeting between Melbourne and Brisbane after Lions captain Dayne Zorko appeared to make a hurtful comment towards Demon Harrison Petty.

It was evident that the Demons defence were not going to take this lightly, and it is expected to be in the heads of all Melbourne players this Friday night also, pointing towards an exciting and fiery contest.

Harrison Petty has been one of the Demons biggest risers this season. (Image: Melbourne FC)

Last week, Melbourne was beaten by a quality Sydney line-up missing an opportunity to host a Preliminary final. This is now their second and last chance to advance to the prelims, but the Lions will not make things easy.

The Demons’ coaching and support staff will all be keeping a close eye on superstar Christian Petracca after it was revealed he had a hairline fracture in his fibula. However, club officials assured that he will play in this massive contest.

The equation is simple: it’s a win or go home scenario. The winner returns to the MCG next Friday night to face the minor premiers Geelong for a spot in the Grand Final.

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Fremantle’s MCG finals woes

While Fremantle has only been in the competition for less than 30 years, it has been frequently starved of finals success, particularly at the MCG.

The Dockers have only ever won one single game at the venue in September in club history. However, in a positive light, they have won five games Victoria this year, which includes their only trip to the MCG where they beat the Demons.

Fremantle has a nice record on the road this season. (Image: AFL)

What has been a significant standout for Fremantle in 2022 is its midfield work.

Andy Brayshaw, Caleb Serong and Will Brodie as a starting centre bounce trio is a fantastic foundation on top of the depth the Dockers have developed in the middle of the ground.

Collingwood has been rattled with multiple ‘potential’ injuries this week, not only in the midfield, but around the ground as well.

Darcy Moore left training early on Thursday, Jordan De Goey has constantly been under an injury cloud, and Taylor Adams unfortunately tore his groin against Geelong last week.

Fremantle’s record at the ‘G in past finals will likely be brought up during the week, but in both dressing rooms it goes out the window. Finals is a different game.

Bianco earns finals debut

It has been a hard fought season for the young Pie, but Trent Bianco will make his mark on finals football for the first time in his career.

The 20-year-old has played 20 games in his two years on the Collingwood list, and will have never played in a game like he is set to on Saturday night.

Trent Bianco plays his first final on Saturday. (Image: Collingwood FC)

Bianco’s stats at AFL level don’t quite reflect the impact he has on his teammates. Despite averaging just 11.5 disposals, in his 20 career games it is evident he has a strong on-field presence for a player of his age and experience.

This season in particular at VFL level, Bianco has absolutely proved his worth. From defence, he has been steadily notching up consecutive 20 or more disposal games, including a 36 possession game against North Melbourne.

Bianco is set to be the only inclusion for the Pies as he takes the spot of the injured Adams. Nathan Kreuger played just a few minutes of the last quarter against the Cats and is in the mix to be the medical sub again this week.

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