Collingwood must replace a key midfielder once again – and their options include a bold gamble for a six-gamer.
Plus with three changes on the cards, who misses out at Brisbane?
The latest team news and our predicted 22s for the semi-finals in Team Tips!
Watch every match prior to the AFL grand final Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
SEMI-FINALS (All times AEST)
MELBOURNE v BRISBANE LIONS
Second Semi Final – Friday September 9, 7:50pm at the MCG
Demons’ predicted 22
B: M.Hibberd, S.May, J.Lever
HB: J.Hunt, H.Petty, C.Salem
C: J.Harmes, C.Oliver, E.Langdon
HF: K.Pickett, C.Petracca, A.Neal-Bullen
F: B.Fritsch, J.Melksham, M.Gawn
FOLL: L.Jackson, J.Viney, A.Brayshaw
I/C: C.Spargo, T.Rivers, T.Sparrow, B.Brown
Team Tips: How brave do the Demons need to be with their season on the line? In an ideal world Tom McDonald would have another week to rebuild fitness after his foot injury – he didn’t get the chance to play at VFL level, because Casey won straight through to a prelim, which will be played this weekend. If he’s ready, he could be what the Dees’ attack needs, because they looked quite a bit better with him in the line-up earlier this year. Having said that the Demons haven’t exactly struggled to score against Brisbane this season. Jake Melksham, who wasn’t great against Sydney, could make way if McDonald is ready to go but we suspect Simon Goodwin will be conservative. Christian Petracca is expected to play despite his fractured fibula and corked calf. The Demons say his injury has “really settled down” and “proven” he’s comfortable running around. Bayley Fritsch’s scans came back positive with the forward cleared of any damage to his knee. But Charlie Spargo remains in doubt and still can’t talk after an elbow to the throat. “He does have some bruising around his vocal chords, so that‘s something we like to keep a really close eye on…he’s been seeing a specialist every two days,” club doctor Laura Lallenec said.
Lions’ predicted 22
B: D.Gardiner, D.McStay, D.Rich
HB: B.Starcevich, H.Andrews, K.Coleman
C: Z.Bailey, J.Berry, H.McCluggage
HF: D.Zorko, E.Hipwood, C.Rayner
F: J.Payne, J.Daniher, C.Cameron
FOLL: D.Fort, L.Neale, M.Robinson
I/C: L.McCarthy, J.Prior, R.Mathieson, N.Answerth
IN: C.Rayner, D.Fort, N.Answerth
OUT: O.McInerney (injured), D.Robertson, D.Wilmot (both omitted)
Team Tips: The Lions overcame the loss of No.1 ruck Oscar McInerney early in their thrilling win over Richmond, but he’ll miss Friday night through the concussion protocols, meaning they must weigh up whether they need a direct swap or to stay small. With Max Gawn and Luke Jackson on the other side of the field, Darcy Fort is the obvious option – and has famously been used as the sub this year, so we know Chris Fagan likes having him available – allowing Dan McStay to return to his normal role after a successful cameo last Thursday night. But that could keep Jarryd Lyons out of the line-up after the veteran midfielder, who had played every game during his time at Brisbane before last week, missed through groin soreness. He played at VFL level and had 16 disposals. Making Lyons’ bid for a return even more difficult is Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth are now available after serving their suspensions. You’d suspect Rayner will slot back into the midfield – Dev Robertson performed admirably in almost a shutdown role on Dion Prestia and Trent Cotchin, but was the last man in – while Answerth should regain his spot, ably filled by first-gamer Darcy Wilmot. Alternatively Robertson could hold his spot if the Lions feel the need for a defensive midfielder, with Rhys Mathieson making way.
COLLINGWOOD v FREMANTLE
First Semi Final – Saturday September 10, 7:25pm at the MCG
Magpies’ predicted 22
B: B.Maynard, D.Moore, J.Howe
HB: N.Daicos, N.Murphy, J.Noble
C: S.Sidebottom, S.Pendlebury, J.Daicos
HF: J.Elliott, A.Johnson, B.McCreery
F: P.Lipinski, B.Mihocek, J.Ginnivan
FOLL: D.Cameron, J.De Goey, J.Crisp
I/C: I.Quaynor, N.Kreuger, W.Hoskin-Elliott, J.Carmichael
IN: N.Kreuger, J.Carmichael
OUT: T.Adams (injured), M.Cox (omitted)
Team Tips: You’d expect Craig McRae to back in a group that came ever-so-close to a home preliminary final, but there’s some intrigue here nonetheless. Jordan De Goey should play despite a shoulder concern, likewise Ash Johnson after copping a corked thigh. The big decision to be made regards a replacement for Taylor Adams after the veteran midfielder ruptured his groin (which hurts us to even write about). The cleanest option would be a straight swap for Fin Macrae, who played in Round 23 against Carlton, but McRae spoke glowingly of Nathan Kreuger post-game on Saturday. The ex-Cat was perhaps surprisingly named as the sub for the qualifying final and if the Magpies feel they have enough midfield depth, could go Kreuger for Adams. Then there’s Mason Cox, who didn’t even play 50 per cent of the game against the Cats, suggesting there’s something about his game they don’t trust right now. Could Josh Carmichael get the call-up along with Kreuger instead?
Dockers’ predicted 22
B: J.Aish, B.Cox, G.Logue
HB: H.Young, A.Pearce, L.Ryan
C: J.Clark, A.Brayshaw, B.Acres
HF: L.Schultz, S.Switkowski, H.Chapman
F: J.Amiss, R.Lobb, M.Walters
FOLL: S.Darcy, W.Brodie, C.Serong
I/C: D.Mundy, N.O’Driscoll, B.Walker, M.Frederick
Team Tips: How tall do the Dockers need to go, and who do they throw into a forward line that hasn’t exactly impressed in recent months? Jye Amiss was a surprise call-up but in his second AFL game more than held his own. Was it enough to hold off Matt Taberner? The 2020 and 2021 leading goalkicker kicked 2.2 from 13 disposals in the WAFL, but Justin Longmuir said post-game: “Jye played well, so I’m not sure his spot is up for grabs”. Griffin Logue was the worst-performing tall on Saturday night – he was named in defence last week but ended up playing forward, kicking a goal from a 50-metre penalty but having just eight disposals. Nat Fyfe won’t be considered until a preliminary final at the earliest while if the Dockers feel the need to play two rucks to contest Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox, Lloyd Meek will be in the mix.