Four Things: Dees Vs Bulldogs

We have our 2021 AFL Grand Finalists: Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

And the two teams got there via two of the most compelling preliminary final blowout victories you’ll ever see.

Foxfooty.com.au reviews the preliminary finals, highlighting how each game was won, the best and worst players, what the coaches thought and what’s next, both this month and in the off-season.

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FIRST PRELIMINARY FINAL

Melbourne defeated Geelong Cats by 83 points, 19.11 (125) to 6.6 (42).

How the game panned out

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Jeremy Cameron kicked the first goal of the game, but from then on things got bleak for the Cats in rapid time. Melbourne simply would not be denied, tearing Geelong’s defence to shreds and burning them with pace, racing out to a 27-point lead at quarter-time and not letting up. Geelong rallied in the second term with four goals, but it was matched by the Dees, who then put together a ridiculous, eight-goal third term in which captain Max Gawn put on one of the greatest finals performances you’re ever likely to see. There was simply nowhere to hide for Geelong who, despite recruiting more veteran talent in the off-season, were unable to even replicate last year’s grand final finish.

Best players

Max Gawn (Melbourne): Dees Gawn wild. There’s captain’s games — and then there’s the inspirational performance the Demons star produced against Geelong. He booted a career-high five goals — including four in the match-defining third quarter — from 19 disposals, six tackles, five clearances and 33 hit-outs. Three of his goals were majors that a 208cm, 108kg man had no right to produce.

Christian Petracca (Melbourne): If you weren’t convinced this guy was a superstar of the competition, surely you would be now. He was the No. 1 ranked player on the ground at half-time then had a blistering start to the third term that kickstarted Melbourne’s surge to a Grand Final. Ten of his 32 disposals led to Melbourne scores, including four goal assists and a goal himself. But it was how he won the footy that stood out, consistently willing himself to contests and attacking the ball with great ferocity.

Jack Viney (Melbourne): What a time for the former captain to produce his best game in three seasons. Viney set the tone for his side with 22 first-half disposals on his way to 34 for the game — the most of any player. He also had 16 contested possessions and nine clearances.

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Max Power! Gawn nails 5 goals in prelim | 01:15/amp-analytics">>/amp-ad">>

Worst players

Gary Rohan (Geelong): Another dirty finals night for the forward. Rohan was no disposals next to his name at half-time then was subbed out with a hamstring injury in the third term with just one kick to his name. He’s now failed to kick a goal in 12 of his past 23 finals, including in five of his past seven.

Jeremy Cameron (Geelong): The Cats sold the farm to bring in the star forward to help them win a flag. But Cameron was nowhere near it on Friday night, finishing with just four disposals. He kicked two goals, but one game in pure junk time. It did emerge via foxfooty.com.au on Saturday that Cameron was one of at least six Geelong players were ill in the two days leading up to the game, but ultimately Cameron put his hand up to play.

Gryan Miers (Geelong): He wasn’t the only Cats forward to have a bad night, but the 22-year-old struggled to have an impact on the game. He had 12 disposals and kicked a goal in the second term. But he went at just 40 per cent by foot and, most alarmingly, didn’t lay a tackle for the entire final.

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Melbourne Demons press conference | 12:23/amp-analytics">>

What the coaches said

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Simon Goodwin (Melbourne)

“It’s hard to put it into words what this means to our supporter group. The amount of messages and support and emails that’s coming through is unbelievable, and we hear about what’s taking place back in Melbourne and the support and our supporters are embracing the situation that we’re in, but ultimately we’d love them to be here, we’d love to be doing it in front of our home people.

“But what I want to make sure of they understand is that they should be really proud of their footy club, and really proud of their team. We feel their support and we are doing this for them. We want to make them so proud of their footy club, once and for all.

“... Clearly, we base our game around our contest and our ability to defend. But I think you saw tonight that there’s a potency in the way we attack.

“We’ve got an opportunity now to do something really special. We’ve earned that right. There’s a level of excitement and there’s a level of job to do and we’ll progress that way.”

Chris Scott (Geelong)

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“We’ve fallen short and it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but our club has over a long period of time found a way to recover from difficult situations.

“We’re in that situation again where we’ve got a choice to make: we can roll over or we can take the time we need to regroup.

“We were pretty battered towards the end of the season, not just the last couple of weeks but probably the six weeks leading into the finals series.

“There’s a few things that I won’t speak about tonight that will become clearer over the next few weeks, but suffice to say, I’m proud of the way our guys endured and we just completely ran out of steam by tonight.”

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Geelong Cats press conference | 15:24/amp-analytics">>

What’s next?

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For Melbourne, a chance at ending the longest active premiership drought in the game.

Regardless of the opposition, the Dees will go in deserved favourites given the supreme body of work they’ve put together and the downright frightening way in which they dismantled and destroyed the Cats.

They couldn’t be in better form heading into the biggest game of the year.

The Cats, meanwhile, will be left to ponder what next after their off-season recruiting spree failed to get them a flag in 2021, let alone another grand final appearance.

Crunch list calls will need to be made and the Cats will have to regroup for what could be their last decent crack at a flag for some time judging by the age of their veterans.

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Power outage! Dogs to face Dees in GF | 02:43/amp-analytics">>/amp-ad">>

SECOND PRELIMINARY FINAL

Western Bulldogs defeated Port Adelaide by 71 points, 17.14 (116) to 6.9 (45)

How the game panned out

About 15 minutes into the match, the result was virtually sealed. The Dogs kicked the first five goals of the match to get out to a 30-point buffer and never looked back. It was a scoring tsunami from the Dogs and didn’t let up in the second term either as they added another five goals to their tally. Port Adelaide dominated for parts of the third term but simply couldn’t convert it on the scoreboard, which dashed any hopes of a miracle comeback. So strong in the contested possession count all year, the Power finished the night -30 in the stat. For the Dogs, a spluttering end to the home and away season has been more than rectified with an almighty resurgence to win three straight finals.

Best players

Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs): As good a finals series as you could hope for from any player, let alone one aged 20. Four goals on Saturday night to go with 23 disposals and nine score involvements. It follows a match-winning performance against the Brisbane Lions last week with three goals. He has thrived from the moment he stepped onto the AFL stage, but has gone to a new level in September. You get the feeling he’ll love nothing more than the chance to dominate on the biggest stage of all.

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Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide): He and the Port Adelaide midfield went missing in the first quarter, with Wines finishing with four touches, but one of the Brownlow Medal favourites couldn’t have done much more after the first break, finishing with 38 disposals, one goal and six score involvements on a night where scores were hard to come by.

Mitch Hannan (Western Bulldogs): He may’ve just had the 14 disposals, but as a forward that’s no small feat. Half of them were score involvements, with Hannan kicking three goals and setting up another in an absolutely brilliant display. He has struggled to put his best footy together consistently in 2021, but is doing it at the perfect time.

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Powerless: Ferocious Dogs out work Port | 01:14/amp-analytics">>

Worst players

Orazio Fantasia (Port Adelaide): Coming off a superb Qualifying Final performance in which he sent the Adelaide Oval crowd into meltdown, Fantasia had just six touches and one behind on Saturday night, a far, far cry from what was expected from him given the form he’d been displaying in the lead-up. Injury may’ve been a slight concern heading in, but the stats are grim.

Steven Motlop (Port Adelaide): Not a great night for the Port Adelaide small brigade, with Motlop joining Fantasia in registering just the six disposals. The goalkicking guns complimenting the tall forwards have been a tremendous strength for the Power in 2021 and they were virtually nowhere to be found on Saturday night.

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Willem Drew (Port Adelaide): He’s had such a consistent season and still finished with eight tackles, but Drew’s eight disposals left a lot to be desired, even though to be fair he wasn’t the only one lacking in the guts.

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Western Bulldogs Press Conference | 04:12/amp-analytics">>

What the coaches said

Luke Beveridge (Western Bulldogs)

“A lot went right. Our contest inside then definitely forward of it was unbelievable.

“Our players were just superb. The collision footy our players were prepared to play was outrageously good.

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“The start of our third quarter wasn’t flash, a few things crept in … so you never feel comfortable.

“We were well aware at half-time that we still had a hell of a lot more work to do, but that aside what an incredible night for our footy club.”

Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)

“We had what we needed, we had the build-up we wanted and we came out and got blown off the park very early.

“They put us enormous pressure around the ball, they put it forward, they turned it into goals and when we had to start chasing everything because it was a prelim final, there was no tomorrow. You have to start to go for stuff, which probably turns the game into probably as big a disaster as it was by the end of it.

“It’s probably not the perfect time for me to talk too much about what happened early because when you get to this stage of the year in a prelim final, there are so many emotions that are going on.

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“What you need, what you want and what you hope and wish for at the end of tonight, we got nowhere near what that was. So it probably needs a bit of time to digest and think clearly through it.

“But we have no excuses, no reasons that were outside of our control.”

i-amphtml-sizer">>/amp-img">>Port Adelaide Power Press Conference | 04:02/amp-analytics">>

What’s next?

The Western Bulldogs prepare for its second grand final appearance in six years, with Luke Beveridge’s side once again to enter as underdogs against a Melbourne side in almighty form.

For Port Adelaide, Ken Hinkley will have to pour over the tape and have some heart-to-heart discussions with his leaders to understand just how it went so wrong.

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Virtually everything that could go right for the Power did go right heading into the Preliminary Final, but yet again they’re left two wins shy of the ultimate prize.

Source : https://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/afl-finals-2021-trade-news-preliminary-finals-reviewed-press-conferences-melbourne-vs-western-bulldogs-grand-final/news-story/ac5321ee2047c5696bd386ac06202d70

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