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2018 AFL Finals Series

International

2018 AFL Finals Series Bracket

Who takes the Premiership?

The 2018 AFL Finals Series is about to begin, to crown the best team in Australian Rules Football this year.

American football is just underway, but Aussie footy is wrapping up operations for the year. A total of 18 teams have already been narrowed down to eight, and the march to the 2018 AFL Grand Final on September 29th begins a few days from publication of this piece. For a season that began all the way back in March, this has been a long time coming.

2018 AFL Finals Series: How We Got Here

The defending 2017 premiers, Richmond, entered 2018 with expectations high for a repeat. One look at the 2018 ladder shows why: Richmond blew away the rest of the Australian Football League. With 72 points (18-4 record), they were the clear leaders of the group. Richmond did not quite go wire-to-wire, however, as the West Coast Eagles owned the top slot for a few weeks mid-season.

Ultimately, Richmond finished eight points clear of West Coast, the number two team in the 2018 AFL Finals Series bracket. The other top four teams were Collingwood and Hawthorn; neither made it to the Finals last season.

2017’s minor premiers, Adelaide, took a step back in 2018. The Crows were in Finals position up until week ten, but then a four-match losing streak dropped them behind their competition for good.

Other 2017 Finals teams not qualifying this season were Port Adelaide and Essendon. Like Adelaide, the Power and Bombers were near-misses, finishing with 48 points each, just four points out of position. In total, four teams with winning records, including North Melbourne, missed the Finals.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Carlton Blues, founding club and 16-time premiers, had their worst season in over 100 years. Some think it was worse than that. Their two wins spelled embarrassment when lined up against their 20 losses. In their season finale on August 25th, Carlton lost to Adelaide by a score of 165 (26.9) to 61 (8.13). This was the most lopsided defeat against the Crows, ending a wretched campaign.

2018 AFL Finals Series: The Bracket

2018 AFL Finals Series Bracket - Grand Final

2018 AFL Finals Series: Preliminary Finals

The defending premiers are gone and there will be no repeat in 2018. This is because the (1) Richmond Tigers lost in a rout to (3) Collingwood. The Magpies are off to the Grand Final for the first time since 2011, hoping to win for the first time since 2010. Collingwood’s margin of victory was 97 (15.7) to 58 (8.10).

This contest was out of reach for Richmond in the second quarter. Their leading player this year, Jordan de Goey, kicked four more goals en route to victory. Meanwhile, Jack Riewoldt wasn’t to blame, as he kicked five Richmond goals in the loss.

On the other side of the bracket, the Pies will meet the (2) West Coast Eagles. The Eagles last won the premiership in 2006, but were at the Grand Final as recently as 2015. In their preliminary final, this match was an even more ugly and lopsided one that Collingwood’s. The final score: West Coast 121 (18.13), Melbourne 55 (7.13).

Four Eagles kicked at least three goals: Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, Mark LeCras, and Jamie Cripps.

2018 AFL Finals Series: Semifinals

Yes, in Australian Football, the semifinals come before the preliminary finals. This is not news to Australians, but for Americans, it’s a logical leap. Just follow the bracket above, which is now a straight shot: the winners of the two matches advance to the Grand Final, essentially Australia’s Super Bowl.

(5) Melbourne upset (4) Hawthorn in the first semifinal in a rout, 104 (16.8) to 71 (10.11). The Hawks were only in the contest until about the second quarter, when the Demons slowly pulled away. Tom McDonald scored four goals for Melbourne. His Demons seek their first premiership since 1964.

(3) Collingwood disposed of (7) Greater Western Sydney in a close 69 (9.15) to 59 (9.5) match. All those behinds made the difference. Collingwood had the better of the play, but it was not until the fourth quarter that the Giants were put to bed. Jordan de Goey of Collingwood led all goal-scorers with three.

2018 AFL Finals Series: Elimination Finals/Qualifying Finals

(1) Richmond defeated (4) Hawthorn by a score of 95 (13.17) to 64 (9.10) at the MCG. Hawthorn led after the first quarter but it was all downhill from there.

(2) West Coast won the other qualifying final over (3) Collingwood, 86 (12.14) to 70 (10.10). The Magpies led by ten points after the third quarter, but the Eagles stormed back with five goals in the fourth to win the match.

(5) Melbourne sent (8) Geelong home after their 75 (10.15) to 46 (6.10) victory. It was 33-2 after the first quarter, and things hardly got better for the Cats. 46 points was Geelong’s lowest offensive output of the 2018 season.

In the second elimination final, (7) Greater Western Sydney upset (6) Sydney, 79 (10.19) to 30 (4.6). The Swans generated one of the worst offensive performances of 2018, kicking just four goals.

2018 AFL Finals Series: Team vs. Team Matchups, Elimination Finals/Qualifying Finals Round

(1) Richmond vs. (4) Hawthorn

Winner advances to Preliminary Finals; loser advances to Semifinals vs. 5/8 winner

Richmond and Hawthorn have never previously played one another in the AFL Finals Series.

In their only meeting of the season in Round 3, Richmond defeated Hawthorn, 102 (15.12) to 89 (13.11).

(5) Melbourne vs. (8) Geelong

Winner advances to Semifinals vs. 1/4 loser; loser is eliminated.

Melbourne lost both matches against Geelong. The first was in Round 1, 97 (14.13) to 94 (13.16). Round 18 was the second, and another close match, 100 (16.4) to 98 (14.14), ending on a kick as time had expired.

(6) Sydney vs. (7) Greater Western Sydney

Winner advances to Semifinals vs. 2/3 loser; loser is eliminated.

Sydney played GWS twice and won both. Round 3 was a 103 (16.7) to 87 (12.15) Swans victory, while Round 22 was a 80 (11.14) to 60 (8.12) win for Sydney.

(2) West Coast vs. (3) Collingwood

Winner advances to Preliminary Finals; loser advances to Semifinals vs. 6/7 winner

Collingwood and West Coast only met once, and the Eagles were victorious. The final score of their Round 17 match was 102 (15.12) to 67 (9.13). West Coast had not won at Collingwood in 23 years.

2018 AFL Finals Series: When to Watch

For Australian footy fans Down Under and abroad, these are some key dates and times for the 2018 AFL Finals Series.

Match Sydney Time (AEST) GMT New York Time (EDT)
Richmond vs. Hawthorn Sept 6, 7:20pm Sept 6, 9:20am Sept 6, 5:20am
Melbourne vs. Geelong Sept 7, 7:50pm Sept 7, 9:50am Sept 7, 5:50am
Sydney vs. GWS Sept 8, 4:20pm Sept 8, 6:20am Sept 8, 2:20am
West Coast vs. Collingwood Sept 8, 6:10pm Sept 8, 8:10am Sept 8, 4:10am
2018 AFL Grand Final Sept 29, 2:30pm Sept 29, 4:30am Sept 29, 12:30am

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