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2016 AFL Finals Series: Pumped Up Kicks

[lead align=”default”]Australia’s national sport began its postseason this week with the 2016 AFL Finals Series. Eight teams, one champion, a lot of kicking, and a big trophy.[/lead]

This is an American-based website, but if you have not seen Australian Rules Football before, it is a real spectacle. Four 20-minute quarters, a big field, and lots of running, catching, and kicking. It is a unique sport, as well as a uniquely interesting one, and a game that is so physically demanding that the competitors are in nothing short of peak condition.

It is also such a big deal in Australia that Victoria, the second-most populous state in the Commonwealth, made the day before a state holiday. If only America would do that for the day after the Super Bowl, we would be on to something, lest people celebrate the feast of Saint Monday.

He who kicks the best may get his team the premiership, and it may well be the defending champions Hawthorn.

We already know that the Western Bulldogs (14.15 (99)) are on their way to the semifinal, having defeated the West Coast Eagles (7.10 (52)). And then there were seven.

2016 AFL Finals Series: Bracket

2016 AFL Finals Series

Working your way to the Grand Final on October 1 will take at least two wins, but two lucky losers get the chance to play again. Four teams play for a bye to the preliminary finals, with the loser in an elimination game, while the other four play in elimination games from the start.

Three teams tied atop the ladder this season: the aforementioned Hawthorn, Sydney, and Geelong. All three clubs won 17 of their 22 games. In fact, all but one of the eight teams in the finals won at least 15 games.

One team to watch is the Greater Western Sydney Giants. GWS was founded in 2009, started play in 2012, and make their first finals appearance this year. They’ve already come farther than expected, so how much further can they go?

Of course, swarming over them all are the Hawks, trying to win their fourth straight championship. If they take the premiership, they will join Collingwood as the only teams to take four in a row.

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