AFL Finals week 2: Contenders battle to meet the flag favourite

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Rory Lobb of the Giants competes for the ball against Brodie Grundy of the Magpies in round 8 this year. 

By TAS MAVRIDIS, 

sport editor                                                                                                                                         

Collingwood will host GWS in a cut-throat semi final with the winner to face minor premier Richmond in the preliminary final the following Friday night.

Semi final: Collingwood vs GWS

Saturday, September 15, 7.25pm at the MCG

GWS are coming off a smashing win over cross-town rivals Sydney while Collingwood impressed for large parts of their loss in Perth against the West Coast Eagles.

Talking points

Clearance battle

The home side is ranked fourth for clearances with 37.7 on average per game, but will come up against the Giants who sit first for clearances with 39.6 per game.

With Adam Treloar better for the run in the qualifying final and Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom averaging four to five clearances a game, Collingwood will be hopeful that they receive first use of the footy.

With Brodie Grundy likely to dominate the ruck battle against Rory Lobb (Grundy is ranked second for hitouts compared to 16th for Lobb), the Giants will have their work cut out to stop the Magpie midfielders.

Home ground advantage

The Giants will are likely to face a hostile crowd at the ‘G, much like the one they faced in last year’s Preliminary Final against Richmond.

The home ground advantage the Tigers generated did overwhelm the Giants with the side seemingly unable to cope with the wall of noise against them.

On Saturday night they face a Collingwood side with a fan base that possesses the potential to offer a similar advantage.

With the crowd estimate sitting in between 60,000 and 70,000, a late ticket rush could push the crowd numbers up and give the Pies an advantage.

Key players

Brodie Grundy (Collingwood): All-Australian ruckman Grundy is ranked second in the league for hitouts with an average of 39 per match. On the other hand, his opponent Rory Lobb is ranked 16th with an average 20.3. However, Grundy’s ability at ground level (averaging 21 disposals and five tackles a game) will be crucial in getting the Pies over the line

Toby Greene (GWS): The small forward’s season has been interrupted by injury, but in his limited matches he has averaged two goals and 17 disposals a game. Greene has been in the media all week for his polarising marking style involving an outward kick, which will likely lead to a negative crowd response. Greene will be no stranger to receiving this reception and has the potential to feed off the crowd and rip the game away from Collingwood.

Prediction: GWS by 8 points.