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Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Preliminary Finals


Collingwood v GWS, MCG, 5.50pm

Twelve months on from their narrow post-season miss at the SCG against Sydney, Collingwood have a golden opportunity to navigate a testing preliminary final assignment and earn the chance to achieve the ultimate.

However, it won’t be easy. Even with Nick Daicos returning to help offset the absence of a hamstrung Taylor Adams, the Magpies are going to be asked many questions throughout by a GWS side that not only has no quit, but seemingly no off-button. The Giants are able to maintain the rage for long periods in a match and when they have control, can be blisteringly effective.

Stephen Coniglio’s return from an eye injury sparked the Giants midfield against Port Adelaide and his experience, coupled with the undeniable brilliance of skipper Toby Greene, gives the visitors more than an outside hope of causing an upset. But how will GWS hold up before what is expected to be a hostile crowd in excess of 90,000?

VERDICT: Collingwood to win


Brisbane v Carlton, Gabba, 3.15pm

Unwavering self-belief or overall health of a group? Rarely are sides at this stage of the season afforded both. Through a Carlton lens, there is probably no right or wrong answer. They have done a mighty job to advance this far, especially with fitness concerns over key players.

If Sam Docherty and Blake Acres take their place, they’ll do so less than 100 per cent fit. And to be fair, inspirational captain Patrick Cripps is also sporting some war wounds. That is telling considering when Brisbane met Carlton earlier in the year, Josh Dunkley was able to do a number on last year’s Brownlow medallist.

The Lions have built gradually under Chris Fagan and will not get a better look at a grand final berth. They are rested and await the Blues at their Gabba fortress where they are 12-0 in 2023. And as we saw against Port Adelaide in week one of the finals, the Lions’ forward line is so very explosive.

VERDICT: Brisbane to win by 16 points or more

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