GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 04: Joel Selwood of the Cats kicks during the round 22 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans at Simonds Stadium on August 4, 2017 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Finals week two: Previews and predictions

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Geelong v Sydney

MCG, Friday 7.50pm

The Cats finished equal first on points on the ladder this season, ending up second on percentage behind Adelaide. However, you would not know it going into the semi-final against Sydney this week.

Geelong is up against it this week, coming off a 51-point thumping at the hands of the Tigers and Chris Scott’s men now face the in-form Swans, who have won 15 of their past 17 matches. Not many are giving the Cats a chance of knocking off the Swans and expect them to go out in straight sets for the second time in four years.

On recent form, it is hard to disagree. To make matters worse, Sydney has the edge over Geelong, winning its past three matches against the hoops, by an average of 40 points. Geelong will also be without midfielder Cameron Guthrie who suffered a calf strain during last week’s loss to Richmond. However, mercurial forward Daniel Menzel will come back into the side following his shock axing in week one of the finals.

Talls Wylie Buzza and Rhys Stanley will also be considered given Harry Taylor could move back into defence due to Sydney’s tall forward line.

Sydney’s dominance over the Cats in recent times has been set up by fast starts. Both in last year’s preliminary final and in Round 20 this season, the Swans all but put the game to bed in the opening 20 minutes. Geelong will need to ensure they come firing out of the blocks early if they are any chance of causing an upset.

Star forward Lance Franklin is in brilliant form at the moment and even if he is well held by Tom Lonergan, like he was earlier this year, the Swans have goal kicking options everywhere.

Captain Josh Kennedy also has his onballers firing and the depth in the Swans’ midfield may also prove too much to handle for the Cats.

Geelong is unlikely to perform as badly as last week and leaders Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield will ensure the group respond. But even with a strong response, it is hard to see the Cats pulling off an upset against the most in-form, well drilled and polished team in the competition.

Tip: Sydney by 20 points

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