The first weekend of finals is done and dusted and now we can sink our teeth into the two semifinals. This is What to Watch For in Week 2 of the finals.
Can the Cats avoid another finals embarrassment?
He might be contracted until 2022, but if Geelong lose to West Coast in the first semifinal there will be some serious questions being asked of coach Chris Scott.
Since winning the 2011 Grand Final, in his first year at the Cats, Scott's record in September is a woeful 3-10. There have actually been three occasions where his side has crashed out of finals without winning a game. Are we about to see it happen for a fourth time?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly why Geelong has been so horrific in finals since 2012, but there are some seriously damning statistics.
The have been outscored 342-174 in first quarters, have only had a better kicking efficiency than their opponent twice and rank second worst of any finalist in the last eight years for scoring efficiency per entry inside 50.
Not only that but some of their star players perform significantly worse in finals. Tim Kelly (-27 percent), Tom Hawkins (-22 percent), Gary Ablett (-21 percent) and Tom Stewart (-16 percent) are all well down in ranking points during September play.
The shocker against Collingwood last Friday night has seen the bookmakers install West Coast as favourite for the semifinal. If Nic Naitanui continues his ruck dominance and the forward line remains on song, the Cats could be set for yet another finals loss.
But just remember this, 31 of the last 38 semifinals have been won by the team that finished the home and away season higher on the ladder...
Will Matt de Boer claim another huge scalp?
Matt de Boer is so unheralded that he might be able to walk down Melbourne's Bourke Street without being recognised in the AFL-mad city.
But while he flies under the radar, there's no doubt his growing standing as the game's premier midfield stopper.
The Fremantle reject -- can you believe the Dockers let him go for nothing at the end of 2016? -- was just about the Giants' best player in their commanding win against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday. The tagger completely nullified Brownlow Medal fancy Marcus Bontempelli, restricting him to just two disposals after halftime as GWS ran away with victory.
🎙️ Should Tom Hawkins have been given a BIGGER suspension? 🤔— footytips (@footytips) September 17, 2019
🎙️ The Lions squandered an opportunity to jag a flag 🧐
🎙️ Should Matt de Boer go to Brodie Grundy? 🤷
Ep. 27 of the @ESPNAusNZ #AFL podcast.
🎧 LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE ➡️ https://t.co/gNa4vGUeCU
It continued a brilliant season from de Boer, who has also successfully beaten midfield stars such as Zach Merrett, Patrick Cripps, Tim Kelly, Dustin Martin and Jaeger O'Meara this season.
Come Friday night, he'll surely be saddling up to Lions star Lachie Neale, who was one of the Lions' best during their loss to Richmond with 37 possessions and two goals.
Neale, one of the league's best clearance players, must find a way to conquer de Boer's close checking as the Lions are almost certainly unable to win without him at his best. Crucially, Brisbane will also be without reborn wingman Mitch Robinson, which not only hurts the team's midfield power, but also robs the team of an enforcer who would have no doubt enjoyed locking horns with de Boer to put the tagger off his game.
If de Boer can perform a similar job to the one he did against 'The Bont' then the Giants will have one foot in a preliminary final and the Lions will be on the way to a straight-sets exit.