As the AFL season reaches its climax, the preliminary finals promise high-octane action featuring the best four teams. Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney (GWS) are set to lock horns, while the Brisbane Lions prepare to host Carlton. These matchups not only offer a thrilling spectacle but also bring intriguing subplots and individual battles that could define the outcome.

Home TeamAway TeamGroundDate
Melbourne3.[71]Carlton2.25.37.511.7[73]Melbourne Cricket Ground
Port Adelaide4.[70]GWS Giants4.49.1111.1513.15[93]Adelaide Oval

The Magpies vs. The Giants: A Rivalry Renewed

Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard is free to play after a recent incident, and fans are buzzing about a potential showdown with GWS captain Toby Greene. The two have had their share of clashes, and a face-off in the preliminary final would be a sight to behold. Greene missed the 2019 preliminary final due to suspension and was absent in GWS’s loss earlier this year, adding more spice to this anticipated matchup.

But Greene isn’t the only threat in the Giants’ forward line. Jesse Hogan is having a career-best season, and the likes of Toby Bedford and Brent Daniels bring creativity and flair. Collingwood’s defense, led by Maynard and Darcy Moore, will have their hands full but are well-equipped to turn defense into attack swiftly.

The Magpies have been the team to beat this season, topping the table for most of the year. However, the Giants are on a hot streak, winning 11 of their last 13 games. Rookie coach Adam Kingsley has revitalized the team, and key players like Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio have been instrumental in their rise.

The Lions vs. The Blues: A Battle of Belief and Form

On the other side, the Brisbane Lions are in prime position, enjoying a 13-game winning streak at the Gabba. They face a resurgent Carlton side that has turned its fortunes around under coach Michael Voss. The Blues were under immense pressure mid-season but have since rallied, making it to the preliminary finals for the first time in 23 years.

Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh have been standout performers for Carlton, and their midfield prowess will be tested against the Lions’ Tom Mitchell and Tom Green. Brisbane’s forward line, featuring Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood, will be another area to watch, especially against Carlton’s strong defensive setup led by Jacob Weitering.

Both teams have their injury concerns. Brisbane’s Will Ashcroft is out for the season, while Carlton’s Harry McKay remains in health protocols. However, the Lions have the home advantage and a healthy list, making them slight favorites.

Tactical Nuances and Final Thoughts

Nick Daicos’ return for Collingwood could be a game-changer, given his vision and kicking ability. The Magpies will also need to contain the Giants’ Lachie Whitfield and Lachie Ash, who are crucial to their ball movement. For the Lions and the Blues, the midfield battle will be key, with both teams excelling in scores from stoppages.

As the preliminary finals approach, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Whether it’s the individual battles like Maynard vs. Greene or the overarching narratives like the Lions’ home advantage and Carlton’s resurgence, this weekend promises to deliver AFL at its finest. With grand final spots on the line, expect nothing less than fireworks on the field.