It’s been an eventful week in the world of AFL but tonight, we can finally turn our attention to the footy once more.

Semi-Final 1 – Cats (#1) v Eagles (#5), Friday 13th September, 7:50pm, MCG

Discuss the Cats v Eagles right now in the Game Day thread

Last Four Games

Cats – WLWL
Win v Kangas by 55 points (Home)
Loss v Lions by 1 point (Away)
Loss v Blues by 68 points (Home)
Loss v Pies by 10 points (Home)

Eagles – WLLW
Win v Crows by 10 points (Home)
Loss v Tigers by 6 points (Away)
Loss v Hawks by 38 points (Home)
Win v Bombers by 55 points (Home)

Last Met Round 6, Sun 28 Apr, Cats defeated Eagles by 58 points

Cats – GONE FOR SEASON – Cunico / TEST – Guthrie, Rohan / UNAVAILABLE – Clark, Duncan, Fogarty
Eagles – GONE FOR SEASON – Ainsworth, Brander, Venables, Rioli / UNAVAILABLE – Allen

Key Stats from last week
Inside 50s – Cats +7 / Eagles +26
Contested Possessions – Cats +21 – Eagles +22
Tackles – Cats -22 / Eagles -2
Contested Marks – Cats +4 / Eagles +8
Disposal Efficiency – Cats 65.5% / Eagles 75.1%
Hit Outs – Cats -21 / Eagles +20
Centre Clearances – Cats +7 / Eagles +5
Marks Inside 50 – Cats -1 / Eagles +9

The BigFooty Take

Until the news dropped yesterday that Willie Rioli had been indefinitely suspended due to a drug testing issue every man and his dog were jumping on the Eagles – which is probably how Chris Scott would like it given the week he endured last week sooking about home ground advantage, and then compounding his petulance with a bizarre late selection change. Oh and that small matter of losing yet another qualifying final.

If the Cats didn’t have Patrick Dangerfield last week we think they would have lost by 10 goals plus. He single handedly dragged them back into the game when all seemed lost and for a few minutes towards the end it actually looked like the Cats might steal a game they had no right to be in at that point. But steal it they did not and now they find themselves staring down the barrel of a straight sets finals exit.

The Eagles did pretty much everything expected of them last week, easily beating the Bombers are an initial resistance. How will they respond to Rioli’s ban? Nigh on impossible to predict. It could strengthen their resolve or it could leave them depleted of energy and unable to match the Cats intensity. But these are the reigning Premiers. I highly doubt what’s happened this week will affect them very much.

A look at the stats and the most glaring of all the stats is the disposal efficiency. The Eagles were 10% better. Given in most games there is usually barely a 1-2% difference between teams that’s huge. The Eagles were a massive +9 in marks inside 50 last week and they will again look to exploit that advantage tonight. The Hit Outs will again be won by the Eagles – it’s almost a given. Despite having near identical centre clearance numbers the Eagles racked up 17 more inside 50s than the Cats did last week. Of course every opponent is different.

Our tip – Eagles by 25 points.

Semi-Final 2 – Lions (#2) v Giants (#6), Saturday 14th September, 7:25pm, Gabba

Discuss the Lions and Giants right now in the Preview thread

Last Four Games

Lions – WWLL
Win v Suns by 91 points (Home)
Win v Cats by 1 point (Home)
Loss v Tigers by 27 (Away)
Loss v Tigers by 47 (Home)

Giants – LLWW
Loss v Hawks by 56 points (Home)
Loss v Dogs by 61 points (Home)
Win v Suns by 72 points (Away)
Win v Dogs by 58 points (Home)

Last Met Round 16, July 7th, Lions won by 20 points

Lions – TEST – Joyce / UNAVAILABLE – Robinson
Giants – GONE FOR SEASON – Flynn, Patton, Ward / UNAVAILABLE – Deledio, Coniglio

Key Stats from last week’s games
Disposal Efficiency – Lions 71.8% / Giants 72.2%
Inside 50s – Lions +11 / Giants +39
Hit Outs – Lions -10 / Giants +8
Clearances – Lions +5 / Giants +12
Contested Possessions – Lions +13 / Giants +42
Tackles – Lions -22 / Giants -7

The BigFooty Take

Where to start on this one? Let’s start with the home team. The Lions were, let’s be brutal here, thrashed by the Tigers – on the scoreboard at least. If you watched the game you’d know the Lions were right with the Tigers until half time when the Tigers snuck out to an 11 point lead. From there it was seemingly one way traffic. But what if we told you the Lions only lost 5 statistical categories on the night – handballs (-6), tackles (-22), tackles inside 50 (-3) and bounces (-21!!!). If you hadn’t seem the scoreboard you could be mistaken for thinking the Lions had gotten home comfortably but it couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Put simply A) They couldn’t hit the side of a barn with their set shot kicking (8.17 in a final, come on) and B) When the Tigers got momentum the Lions had zero way to combat and stop it (see the -21 in the bounce category as evidence). Is that down to lack of finals experience? It certainly wasn’t down to lack of personnel. They have two players on their injury list.

What about the Giants? At one stage this year they were looking like they would finish top 2. Then injuries ripped them apart but a look at their current injury list suggests things are looking much much better at Giant Stadium. Last week we jokingly suggested perhaps they shouldn’t turn up, such was the groundswell of love for the Doggies. The Giants ripped the Dogs to pieces. Their attack on the footy – almost line in the sand type stuff. Toby Greene is one lucky SOB to be playing this week. How he is able to be found guilty (this time he plead guilty) and yet not miss matches is beyond us.

The Lions will be very glad this game is at home in front of their rabbid home crowd. Giants will be lucky to have 1000 fans in the stands so the 19th (or is that 23rd) man will play a role. Really torn on this one…. going to go with the Lions by 1 point.

Enjoy the action everyone.

Don’t follow any of the teams involved this weekend? You can still get bragging rights by getting your week 2 tips and crowd expectations in!