The AFL Finals series heads into week 3 with a top of the table clash between hosts and first placed Adelaide and the visiting second placed Geelong.
Adelaide: Rory Laird, Daniel Talia, Luke Brown; Jake Kelly, Kyle Hartigan, David Mackay; Brodie Smith, Brad Crouch, Rory Atkins; Tom Lynch, Taylor Walker, Charlie Cameron; Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Mitch McGovern; Sam Jacobs, Richard Douglas, Matt Crouch.
Geelong: Tom Stewart, Tom Lonergan, Jed Bews; Zach Tuohy, Lachie Henderson, Jake Kolodjashnij; Andrew Mackie, Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs; Jordan Murdoch, Harry Taylor, Steven Motlop; Brandan Parfitt, Tom Hawkins, James Parsons; Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Cameron Guthrie.
There have been 41 games between these two sides, with the Cats picking up 23 wins to the Crows 18 victories. They last met in Round 18 this year where Adelaide scored a 21 point win, ending a 5 game losing streak to the Cats.
Adelaide started their season against Greater Western Sydney in what was expected to be an entertaining and top quality match, but the Crows blew them off the park, winning by 8 goals. Adelaide then beat the Hawks by 4 goals and the Power by 17 points. They then dished out back-to-back hidings with very similar score lines; 153-88 against Essendon and 153-86 against the Suns. Their run continued in Round 6 with a belting of Richmond by 76 points before they came crashing to earth with back-to-back heavy losses against the Roos 145-86 and Melbourne 107-66. They bounced back with an 80 point thrashing of the Lions before flogging the Dockers by 100 in Round 10. They fell to Geelong by 22 points the following week before hammering the Saints by 57 points. The Crows have been a little shaky after the bye, losing to Hawthorn by 14 before beating lowly Carlton by 2 goals. The Crows have since stepped up their game, belting defending premiers the Western Bulldogs by 59 points, then they hammered Melbourne by 46, won the clash of the top sides by 21 points against Geelong before picking up a draw with the Magpies. The Crows then hammered neighbours Port 130-46 and then ran up a 123-80 win over the Bombers. They rounded out the year with a pair of losses to Sydney, by 3 points, and the Eagles, by 29 points. In the opening week of finals footy though, the Crows strangled the life out of the Giants attack, winning 84-48.
Geelong started 2017 in strong form, beating Fremantle by 7 goals at Subiaco. They came from well behind after three quarters to beat the Roos by 1 point in Round 2. The following week they beat the Dees by 29. They then annihilated Hawthorn 134-48 before toppling St Kilda by 38 in Round 5, to remain undefeated after 5 rounds. They have since lost their last three games, to Collingwood by 29 points and surprisingly, to the Suns by 25, before going down to the Bombers by 17. They bounced back in the best possible way by beating the defending champion Bulldogs side by 23 points before pipping Port Adelaide by 2 minors. In Round 11 the Cats beat the Crows by 22 points in a top of the table clash before taking a bye. After the bye, Geelong lost to the Eagles by 13 points before beating the Dockers last week by 2 points. In Round 15 Geelong had a 68 point all draw with GWS before they hammered the Lions 163-78. After the Cats snuck home by 3 points against Hawthorn, they lost to the Crows by 21 in a battle for first place. Geelong hammered the Blues 123-58 before copping a 46 point hiding at the hands of Sydney. Geelong beat Richmond by 14 points and then Collingwood by 11 points before rounding out the regular season with a dominant 103-59 win over the Giants. The Cats lost their opening finals game to Richmond by 51 points, but bounced back in emphatic fashion, decimating a hapless Sydney 98-39.
Defensively – Both sides were masterful in defence in their most recent finals matches. Whether they can back that up in this Grand Final qualifier will be the big question.
Adelaide have been near unstoppable all year, especially on home soil. They will be favourites here, however the Cats were brilliant last week and should not be written off.