Footy in September is here!
The favourite month of the AFL calendar is here. Footy in September, like Winter in Wonderland, like butter on toast, it's a match made in heaven. The two sides from Western Australia claimed both top and second spot, resulting in Fremantle Dockers achieving their first piece of silverware since their inclusion into the AFL competition back in 1995.
Qualifying Final 1:
Friday, 11 September (6:20 pm 8:20pm AEST), Domain Stadium West Coast (2) vs. Hawthorn (3)
West Coast (2) vs. Hawthorn (3)
Second-placed West Coast Eagles host the opening match of the finals series against the Hawks. The Eagles have turned their fortunes around incredibly, after missing out on finals footy last season, the 2006 Premiers turned the corner and grasped second spot with both hands. Back to back reigning champions Hawthorn Hawks will be hoping to be the first team to earn a treble of consecutive titles, the first since the Brisbane Lions achieved that fete (2001-03). The return of both Luke Breust and Cyril Rioli after a week off will be a major boost for the Hawks. Captain Luke Hodge may find himself lucky to play against the Eagles after his DUI incident but Hawks fans will be happy to see him run out at Domain Stadium.
2015 meeting: Round 19: West Coast Eagles 11.8 (74) def. by Hawthorn 13.10 (88)
Round 19: West Coast Eagles 11.8 (74) def. by Hawthorn 13.10 (88)
Qualifying Final 2:
Saturday, 12 September (1:20 pm 3:20pm AEST), Domain Stadium Fremantle (1) vs. Sydney Swans (4)
Fremantle (1) vs. Sydney Swans (4)
The Dockers will be sweating on the fitness of stars Hayden Ballantyne and Nat Fyfe heading into the game against the Sydney Swans but both are expected to play, as the Minor Premiers entertain the Sydney-siders on Saturday. The Swans limp into the finals with a string of injuries but if Bloods fans thought Kieran Jack's injury was a major worry, Buddy Franklin has been ruled out for their qualifying final against the Dockers due to mental illness. He also hasn't been given a return date and here at Inside Sport we wish him well.
Elimination Final 1:
Saturday, 12 September (7:20 pm AEST), MCG Western Bulldogs (6) vs. Adelaide (7)
Western Bulldogs (6) vs. Adelaide (7)
The first elimination match pits the Western Bulldogs against the Adelaide Crows. The Bulldogs will be participating in their first finals campaign since 2010 but cheers soon turned to panic for Dogs' fans after skipper Bob Murphy had an injury scare at training with no confirmation of his fitness heading into Saturday's match. The Adelaide Crows have had an emotional season, full of tremendous highs and devastating lows, but the "Pride of South Australia" will be chasing a spot for the second week of finals footy but they will be sweating on the fitness of All-Australian defender Brodie Smith.
Elimination Final 2:
Sunday, 13 September (3:20 pm AEST), MCG Richmond (5) vs. North Melbourne (8)
Richmond (5) vs. North Melbourne (8)
The Richmond Tigers will be hoping to achieve their first win in the finals for the first time since 2001 as they entertain North Melbourne. After conceding consecutive first round eliminations over the past two seasons Tigers fans will be hoping for the good times to come again. A possible return of Reece Conco has fans excited but the challenge will be whether the best 22 should be disrupted by a player who has only played 2 games this season for an important finals match, the most important for the club in more than a decade. North Melbourne will be happy see the return of Nick Dal Santo and Todd Goldstein but will be hoping for some luck from the footy gods as they sweat on Lindsay Thomas' foot injury.