Two night-time MCG clashes are the scheduled AFL semifinals for 2018 as top 4 sides Hawthorn and Collingwood look to avoid upsets and reach the semifinals.
Hawthorn vs Melbourne (Friday at the MCG)
The bad news for Melbourne is they were destroyed by Hawthorn when these sides met in round 4, the good news is the Dees have been on a hot run of form lately and have every chance to get their revenge. Hawthorn lost their previous finals contest but they faced a tougher opponent, Richmond, than Melbourne faced when they beat Geelong, and the Hawks still have likely Brownlow winner Tom Mitchell along with a strong backline anchored by James Sicily and the ability to score up front through Luke Breust and Jack Gunston.
The Dees will focus their play through ruck Max Gawn and midfielder Clayton Oliver, and while they look comfortable scoring, their backline is likely a bit weaker than the Hawks. I expect a battle, not a blowout, with Melbourne’s Tom McDonald and Angus Brayshaw key at the front towards securing a win. The losses of Jager O’Meara and Ben Stratton to injury will cost the Hawks dearly. Melbourne by 13
Collingwood vs GWS Giants (Saturday at the MCG)
Despite GWS having the h2h win this season, Collingwood at home should be favored after a strong season. While Ryan Griffen returns for the Giants, they lose Josh Kelly, meaning a lot more will be expected of Dylan Shiel and Stephen Coniglio in his absence in the midfield. The Giants have a strong backline led by veteran Phil Davis, if they can contain Jordan De Goey and the rest of a young Pies forward line, it would give them the edge. However the Pies have risen to answer the bell at most points this season, with Brodie Grundy, Taylor Adams, and Steele Sidebottom joining captain Scott Pendlebury as key leaders. In the race for the prelim finals I’ll tip the superior side over the entire 2018 season. Collingwood by 24