If footy has taught us one thing, it is that anything can happen.
The Doggies’ 2016 win, the Tiger’s 2017 drought-breaker, the Pies 2018 upset prelim win – all examples of how the odds simply go out the window sometimes.
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So, with this, here is why each team in this year’s finals series can claim the flag.
Port Adelaide – Their game plan
Ken Hinkley’s boys have been elite this year and are looking scary heading into October after securing their first minor premiership since 2004.
They are playing electric footy and have quality men all over the ground who they can depend on.
Their game plan is the reason why they can, and should everything go well, will win the flag.
The key areas where they strive in all point to a set of tactics which should stack up very nicely in finals.
Port are first in average contested possessions, clearances, tackles and third for inside 50’s.
Their tenacity around the contest, their ability to attack and keep it in their fifty through forward pressure some could say has shades of 2017 Richmond.
And with the might of a bloodthirsty home crowd at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday behind them, the Power should be able to play their game and strive towards that elusive premiership cup.
"Of all the four finals (next week), I think this is the one that will be decided in the coaches box."@NathanBrown_07 takes a look at some of the changes Ken Hinkley needs to make in order to improve from the last time Geelong and Port Adelaide met. #9AFLSFS | Watch @channel9 pic.twitter.com/Fa7GVOFnnM
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) September 27, 2020
Brisbane Lions – The Gabba
The Lions have looked excellent value for the past two seasons under Chris Fagan.
And with the Grand Final having to move away from Victoria for the first time in AFL/VFL history, The Gabba was the best option for Gillon McLachlan.
If there is a perfect time for Brisbane to step up and win the flag, you would be hard pressed to find one better than this.
Lachie Neale is in the form of his life, the injured Harris Andrews is looking to be back in selection for week one, and their attack is looking as potent as ever.
Our Home, Finals Time 🏆
— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) September 25, 2020
It seems that the Lions biggest threat comes from within, as their goalkicking can be woeful and has cost them multiple times this season.
But if Brisbane use the weapon that they have been given in the form of The Gabba to overcome the Tigers, they will be clear favourites to go all the way.
And good luck to whoever stands in front of them.
Richmond – Their history
Richmond are, once again, looking mighty dangerous coming into finals.
The Punt Road outfit have won six-on-the-trot and are looking red hot, with stars Dion Prestia and Tom Lynch tipped to come back into the side in the next fortnight.
The fact remains that they are still the team to beat should any side want to win the flag.
Their run into finals this year has 2019 written all over it.
A slow start to the season with players going down to injury, youngsters having to plug the gaps, and then mounting a spirited run into finals where they tear the house down.
One year as premiers 🏆
What a day 💛 pic.twitter.com/8G2iu0nhmc
— Richmond FC 🐯🏆 (@Richmond_FC) September 27, 2020
And what a coincidence that their first opponent is the exact same as last year at the exact same venue.
They say that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, but when the Tigers are at their best, no studying of history can help their opponents.
Geelong – Their stars
In recent years, the Cats have underperformed in finals.
In 2018, it was an elimination final exit to the Demons, last year a defeat in a prelim final to the Tigers.
This year the Cats have been on fire for the most part. Coleman Medal winner Tom Hawkins has cemented himself as the top forward in the competition, and their midfield stars have been sublime.
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) September 24, 2020
However, Geelong need to be able to get some reward for both their effort and the amount of star-power they have on their list.
With Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor getting on in their careers, this might be their last good chance to have a run at a premiership.
With Hawkins still also not putting pen to paper on a new deal yet, could this be the last finals series that we see him in Cats colours?
If Geelong play with their effective over-possessive style to its capacity, then they have every chance of winning the big dance.
West Coast – Their experience
Despite a shaky tail end of the season, the Eagles have secured a home sudden-death final in Perth.
Their two-point loss to the Doggies in round 16 was dispiriting to say the least after going down to the Tigers two weeks earlier.
But against the Pies this week, the Eagles have their big guns back.
Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey and Jamie Cripps amongst others are all reportedly available for selection this week, with West Coast mostly back at full strength.
We've got some big names returning…
— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) September 23, 2020
Of course, losing Elliot Yeo for the season hurts, but the Eagles will be confident they can return to their perch of being genuine contenders.
Their 2018 premiership win should remind the team that they can win with their kick-mark game plan.
However, travelling interstate could present an obstacle for them, but if Adam Simpson’s side can utilise their experience and ability properly, they should overcome it and be in real contention.
St. Kilda – The underdog factor
St. Kilda fans rejoiced when they overcame the Giants at The Gabba to secure their first finals appearance since 2011.
Now comes the hard part for Brett Ratten and his boys – to win a final.
And for inspiration, they will look to their first week opponent in the Bulldogs and their 2016 premiership.
If they can snatch victory and get some momentum, it has been seen in the past that teams can be unstoppable.
The Saints have rampaged in 2020, and with Dan Butler, Jack Steele and others playing the best they ever have, there is no reason they cannot continue to kick on.
Their exciting game plan will bring another dimension to finals, and whoever must come up against them will have their work cut out for them.
If there is one thing that we have learnt throughout the year, it is not to doubt the Saints.
Western Bulldogs – Their 2016 finals
The Doggies had a fantastic finish to the year, winning three on the trot to clinch seventh spot on the ladder and book another finals appearance.
Most notably their win over the Eagles showed they have some fight and belief that they can match it with the best.
With Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Smith and others coming into form, they are a dangerous prospect.
Our finals journey starts here.
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) September 21, 2020
Luke Beveridge will obviously hark back to their inspirational 2016 Grand Final win, a flag which broke a 62-year drought.
That year they also finished seventh, knocking off the Eagles, Hawks, GWS and Sydney to win the competition, and they should have no doubt they can replicate that.
Nobody really expects them to be in contention this year, which makes the Dogs a threat in October.
Collingwood – The De Goey factor
The Pies have their backs up against the walls coming into this year’s finals campaign.
After a year plagued by injuries, Collingwood have somehow made it into October, and will not want to be a side just making up the numbers.
In their last few matches, the Pies have earned respect, narrowly losing to the Lions and the Power, and showing that, with a bit of tweaking, they could make an impact in finals.
Of course, the main gamechanger in the Collingwood ranks is none other than Jordan De Goey.
Despite his season being hampered by off-field controversy and injury, when De Goey has played he has looked lively.
Pies fans know too well that when De Goey is on, Collingwood look a different beast.
Jordan De Goey are you kidding?
— AFL (@AFL) September 29, 2018
Coupled with their midfield stars and their very solid defence, Nathan Buckley would be looking to go one better than he did in 2018 and take out the flag.