Melbourne v Geelong, Optus Stadium, 5.50pm
Soon after the final siren sounded last Friday night, the discussion started. Geelong wouldn’t be able to get within a bull’s roar of Melbourne in the preliminary final. It made sense given minor premiers Melbourne would hit the clash full of beans after a week’s rest.
While the Cats weren’t overly impressive, they did what they had to opposed to GWS. And it was only a few weeks ago that they did kick eight goals in the second term against the Demons. Melbourne hadn’t conceded more than five at any other stage of 2021.
It is that effort — and we all know that Melbourne roared back to life after half-time — which will ensure Simon Goodwin and his players are on red alert. The return of Zach Tuohy last week was significant for Geelong, but so too is the fact the Demons not only finished on top of the table, they beat the Cats both times they met this season.
VERDICT: Melbourne by 12 points
Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs, Adelaide Oval, 5.40pm
How fit is Marcus Bontempelli? Looking at him limp to the boundary line late last Saturday night and his reaction after the Western Bulldogs sealed a pulsating win over Brisbane would suggest not very.
But a week is indeed a long time in football and the Bulldogs named their inspirational captain, who will be given every chance to get himself up for this preliminary final assignment. And so he should. Already without Cody Weightman (concussion), the Bulldogs need as many fit players as possible to cause an upset.
If Bontempelli does line up, what percentage will he be? It will be fascinating to see whether Luke Beveridge rolls the dice against a Port side that is healthy, fleet of foot and clearly advantaged by playing at home, albeit before a reduced crowd capacity.
VERDICT: Port Adelaide by 20 pointsMarket Market