The free agency period began at the end of October and ran through the first week of November. The first day was a busy one with five players heading to other clubs. The breakdown on the first day:
Just days after Stratton, Puopolo and Simpson decided to bow out, so did Port forward Justin Westhoff. He will see out the season. Westhoff, 33 and the father of four, is in second spot for games played with the Power. After Round 18, his game tally is 281. He said of his retirement and career, “I’m not getting any younger ... and it just seems to be the right time ... Having a young family, I don’t want to miss much more of what my kids are doing, so it just felt like the right time.
There is an old adage in footy that a team has to lose a few finals to win one. it proved true for Richmond as they lost their first ever final in 1916 - a semi-final against Carlton. They then lost their first Grand Final to Collingwood in 1919. They lost again to Carlton in 1920 in a semi-final, but since there were only four teams eligible at that time, they were still through to the Grand Final which they won. They have since gone on to win another 10 premierships.
This was supposed to be a one sided affair. The in-form Collingwood taking on the injury hit and sixth seeded Greater Western Sydney Giants with the result surely leading to a Richmond vs Collingwood Grand Final, to the delight of the AFL and Melburnians. The only problem with this narrative was that the Giants didn’t read the script.
In one of the biggest surprises in recent Preliminary Final history, GWS stunned the locals by first taking a big lead, then by defending grimly when a late Collingwood surge looked like taking the Magpies back to the Grand Final in consecutive seasons. The end result shows the Giants winning by just 4 points, but so much happened throughout this game. A frantic last quarter, that a crowd of mostly 70,000 strong Collingwood fans were left as empty shells in a roller coaster of a final.
The Greater Western Sydney Giants have advanced to a preliminary final against Collingwood after holding on for a three-point victory over a gallant Brisbane Lions on Saturday night. In one of the games of the season, there was something for everyone. There were 10 lead changes throughout the match, plenty of aggression from both teams and some overzealous umpiring that saw a total of 54 free kicks paid for the match.
The Giants burst out of the blocks kicking the first four goals of the game while displaying the same physical style of football that helped them to a big win over the Western Bulldogs just a week earlier.
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.
The West Coast Eagles unfurled their Premiership Flag at their first home game of the year and then completed the evening’s celebrations by punishing the Giants, with a clinical exhibition of effective forward play. It was a pleasing return to form for the home team after going down to Brisbane in the first game of the season and starting slowly in this contest.
Sydney Swans vs Greater Western Sydney Giants (SCG)
STATE OF PLAY:
Expect a fiery encounter as the cross-town rivals will leave nothing in the tank in this do or die elimination final. With the game being played at the SCG, you would usually think it was advantage Swans, but 2018 has been no cakewalk for Sydney when playing at home - where they in fact have a 5-6 record at a ground that in the past has been somewhat of a fortress.
Just 100 games into their existence, the Greater Western Sydney Giants are living up to their name – and the rest of the AFL competition must be seriously concerned. In the battle for Sydney supremacy at Spotless Stadium on Sunday, the Giants dismantled perennial finals contenders the Sydney Swans, ruining the Swans chance to go top of the ladder and giving them plenty to think about as the AFL moves into the second half of the regular season.