There is no lack of finals experience for either Geelong or Richmond with both sides contesting for the better part of the last decade. However, this will be only the third time to two will square off against each other in a Grand Final. The first time was 1931 when the Cats thrashed the Tigers. The Tigers turned the tables in 1967 with a narrow nine point victory.
Much maligned Carlton has held on grimly to defeat a fast-finishing Geelong by just two points at Kardinia Park on Saturday night – the Blues first win at Geelong’s home park since 1996. This continued a series of surprising results in this already unusual season. The star of the Carlton show was undoubtedly veteran Eddie Betts, with the plucky goal sneak not only kicking the game’s opening goal but bookending it with a game-saving tackle within the last minute of the match.
Carlton stunned the highly fancied Geelong by dominating the first quarter through some great work by star midfielder Patrick Cripps and emerging ruckman Marc Pittonet, with the aforementioned Eddie Betts chipping in with two goals. At quarter time the Blues led by 25 points after what was comfortably their most impressive quarter for the season to date.
The big three in Collingwood, Geelong and Greater Western Sydney all had wins over the weekend to strengthen their positions on the AFANA AFL Power Poll and put themselves in great shape as the season moves into round eight. The Magpies dominated Port Adelaide early in the Friday night game to cruise to victory, while Geelong was never threatened by a disappointing Essendon at the MCG on Sunday.
Thursday night saw Geelong continue its early season dominance with a stirring win over Adelaide, the upstart Brisbane Lions stormed home to defeat the vastly improved Port Adelaide and the Grand Final replay saw the Eagles once again victorious over a disappointing Collingwood.
Highly fancied Melbourne are yet to register a win after faltering against Essendon, the much maligned Gold Coast Suns won again, and Richmond added a couple more players to its ever increasing injury list in a big loss to an impressive Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium.
Melbourne Demons vs Geelong Cats (MCG)
State of Play:
This is a battle between two differing line-ups: the finals hardened Cats and the young enthusiastic Demons. After a disastrous end to 2017, Melbourne finished strongly this season to book their finals berth for the first time in 12 years. By contrast, Geelong has missed the finals only once in the same 12 year period. The contrast continues with the Cats playing two easy beats in Gold Coast and Fremantle to complete the minor round, winning both games by over 100 points each.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
The Eagles are still flying high, the Demons are red hot and the Kangaroos continue to defy the critics. These were the big stories of an enthralling round ten. The Giants once again couldn’t find a way to win while the Tigers, minus two of their playmakers who went off injured early, could. Collingwood won again to keep in touch with the pack while Adelaide had a shocker.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
Round eight gave the football public some classic matches, making a mockery of those in the media who have been complaining that the overall standard of the AFL is trending downward. It started with a brilliant contest between Hawthorn and Sydney at the MCG on Friday night with the Swans storming home to take the win after it looked like the Hawks had the game won.
Chris Kowald reporting fro AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
West Coast defeated a gallant Geelong in a game that will be remembered for its extraordinary changes in momentum and fortune. An epic game against Hawthorn, a six-day break and a trip on the road, seemed to have taken its toll on the Geelong midfielders. West Coast started with purpose with repeated pushes forward. After three entries into the attacking zone, Nic Naitanui scrambled the first goal from short range.
Geelong pulled off one of the upsets of the season in smashing the much fancied Sydney Swans by 59 points at the MCG on Friday night. The Cats turned around a disappointing loss to Richmond just a week before in dominating the Swans from the outset.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Jarrad Waite has left Carlton and signed with North Melbourne as a free agent. Waite, 31, was drafted by the Blues as a father-son selection in 2001 and debuted in 2003. Injury restricted him to 184 games in which he kicked 252 goals. He was named Carlton's best first year player in 2003 and ran third in the best and fairest in 2007. His father Vin played in Carlton's 1970 and 1972 Premierships. Waite opted to sign with North Melbourne for two years after Carlton only offered him a one year deal. Although several other clubs showed interest, North was the most serious. Carlton will not receive a compensation draft selection as Waite was an unrestricted free agent.