Headphones in. Volume up.
With Round 23 wrapping up over the weekend, the top eight has been locked in. Here’s your handy guide to week one of the AFL Finals.
In just ten days, footy fans right around the country will dive headfirst into four weeks of unscripted, unparalleled drama – and at the end of it, we come out the other side of the emotional rollercoaster with moments that are etched in history.
Will it be heartbreak or heroics for your team? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for certain – in September, it’s best to expect the unexpected. If you want to be there, cheering on your team to ultimate glory, here’s everything you need to know.
Elimination Final 1:
West Coast Eagles vs Essendon
Thursday 5 September @ Optus Stadium, Perth – 6.10pm (local time)
Elimination Final 2
GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs
Saturday 7 September @ Giants Stadium, Sydney – 3.20pm (local time)
Qualifying Final 2
Brisbane Lions vs Richmond
Saturday 7 September @ The Gabba, Brisbane – 7.25pm (local time)
It has now come down to the final eight, but if sporting history has taught us anything, it’s that from here on out it really is anyone’s game. Let’s take a look at the contenders.
With the top three all on the same points, it is a very healthy percentage – bolstered by some big wins throughout the season – that locked Geelong in as minor premiers. Hoping to go one better than their 2016 and 2017 finals efforts (and shake off their memories of 2018), is 2019 time for Geelong to shrug off their bridesmaid status and return to their ultimate glory days? With their list almost completely injury-free, after the week off it’ll be an in-form Cats side heading into week one of the finals. They take on the Magpies, who they haven’t faced in September since the 2011 Grand Final. A win earns them another week off, while a loss will see Geelong face the winner of West Coast and Essendon.
Round 1: Geelong (72) defeated Collingwood (65)
The roaring Brisbane Lions have to be happy with a top-two finish, especially considering the turnaround they’ve had in the last four years. From finishing 17th in both 2015 and 2016, 18th in 2017, and 15th in 2018, the second-place Lions must be brimming with confidence heading into September. Now the Lions return to the finals for the first time since 2009 on the back of a 27-point defeat to the Tigers that ended their nine-game winning streak. They’ll face the Tigers once again, but this time it’ll be on their home turf. With Lachie Neal earning a whopping 51-disposals, and the Lions good run with injury continuing, they head into the finals in great shape. A win earns them another week off, while a loss will see Brisbane face the winner of GWS and Bulldogs.
Round 23: Brisbane Lions (55) defeated by Richmond (82)
Richmond head into September off the back of a nine-game winning streak and with some pretty strong finals experience under their belts across the last two seasons (Premiers 2017, Preliminary Final 2018), but their injury woes have stacked up across the year – including Alex Rance, Jack Higgins. Toby Nankervis, and Sydney Stack. They had no problem getting the job done on Sunday afternoon though. Their defence was crucial in shutting down the Lions midfield, while Dustin Martin’s 21-disposal haul and Jack Riewoldt’s four-goal bag have them heading into the finals firing. Add that to captain Trent Cotchin’s solid return from three weeks out with a hamstring complaint and the Tigers will be extra confident to back things up against the Lions at the Gabba. A win earns them another week off, while a loss will see the Tigers face the winner of GWS and Bulldogs.
Round 23: Richmond (82) defeated Brisbane Lions (55)
While the Magpies will need to determine the extent of Darcy Moore’s hamstring injury before ruling him out, they can expect some big returns including Jordan DeGoey, Steele Sidebottom and Jaidyn Stephenson to bolster their lineup. The Pies come off a Friday night win again the Bombers, locking in a second chance and bolstering their confidence with a fourth win on the trot. With their edge in the ruck, and Geelong’s less than stellar recent finals performances, Collingwood should head into September ready and confident that they can go one further than their Runners Up result at the end of 2018. A win earns them another week off, while a loss will see Geelong face the winner of West Coast and Essendon.
Round 1: Collingwood (65) defeated by Geelong (72)
Last year’s reigning Premiers West Coast probably didn’t think they’d be heading into this September looking down the barrel of an elimination final, but here we are. After blowing their chance to finish top four by losing their last two games – both they were expected to win – fans should expect a revved up West Coast to open this September’s finals series. They’ll be confident heading into a hometown clash against the depleted Bombers especially after beating them comfortably back in round 14. The Eagles would’ve been watching Grundy’s domination of Essendon ruckman Tom Bellchambers, and if Nic Naitanui returns for just his fourth game this year he could be the ultimate game-changer. If they lose, they’re out. A win sees West Coast face the loser of Geelong and Collingwood.
Round 14: West Coast (106) defeated Essendon (71)
While the Giants easily, and as expected, did away with the last-place Gold Coast last week, they’d lost their previous two games and head into the finals with some serious injury problems – not the confidence they’d like, but they will regain several much-needed stars to bolster their stocks. On return from a hamstring complaint, Jeremy Cameron scored a bag, locking in the Coleman Medal and adding some much-needed confidence to the GWS forward line. But it was only the previous week that GWS suffered a 61-point belting at the hands of their opponents, the Western Bulldogs. With the Dogs scoring the last 12 goals of the game, what will GWS put in place to lock down the fiery Bulldogs forward line? With a pretty decent home ground record and the need to silence their detractors, it’s going to be a big week for the GWS Giants. If they lose, they’re out. A win sees GWS face the loser of Brisbane and Richmond.
Round 22: GWS Giants (65) defeated by Western Bulldogs (126)
Timing is everything when it comes to September, and the Western Bulldogs have well and truly timed their road to finals with perfection. Having spent only four of the past 44 rounds in the top eight and sitting in 15th place as recently as round 14, it is a surprise to everyone that the Bulldogs have managed to lock in a 7th place finish. But they have been on a red-hot run, with seven wins from their past nine games – almost exactly mirroring their 2016 run, where six wins from their last nine Home and Away games, and a seventh-place finish saw them holding up the premiership cup. They head into their elimination final against GWS just two weeks after dismantling them by 61 points so would head into week one full of confidence. Could it be 2016 all over again? If they lose, they’re out. A win sees the Bulldogs face the loser of Brisbane and Richmond.
Western Bulldogs (126) defeated GWS Giants (65)
Holding on to eighth place, Essendon head into September with a depleted lineup and off the back of three losses from their past four games. But with some key players returning from injury – including Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Orazio Fantasia, and Jake Stringer – their lineup will be confidently bolstered, however, if they lose Michael Hurley from their backline again the pressure will really be on. They’re back in the eight for the first time since 2017, but face the huge task of knocking off the reigning premiers at home to progress to a semi-final. Even with some big ins, there is still a lot of work for Essendon to do if they want to score their first finals win in 15 years. Interestingly, Essendon has won all five of its previous finals against West Coast by an average margin of 46 points.
Round 14: Essendon (71) defeated by West Coast (106)
Elimination Final 1 –West Coast Eagles vs Essendon
Elimination Final 2 – GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs
Qualifying Final 2 – Brisbane Lions vs Richmond
I’m a competing club member. Do I still need to purchase a ticket for the finals? Yes, you will need to purchase tickets if you wish to attend. As a member of a club participating in the finals, you will receive priority access to purchase tickets before the general public for games in which your club competes. Have your membership barcode/s ready to go for the Competing Club Members Onsale.
Members who purchased their membership after Round 23 do not have access to purchase finals tickets via their club membership. These members will not be able to purchase tickets until they are made available to the general public. Please check with your club should you have any queries about your entitlements.
When purchasing your finals tickets via the Ticketmaster website, please ensure you select the Ticket Types within the same area for all Member Tickets and Additional Tickets (if available for that match) you are purchasing. You are unable to purchase tickets in different areas within the same transaction.
I am not a club member. When can I purchase tickets? Remaining tickets not sold during the member priority period will be made available to the general public to purchase. Transaction limits apply, and tickets are subject to availability.