Where and when: GMHBA Stadium, Saturday, March 30, 7.25pm AEDT
Last time they met: MCG, elimination final, 2018: Melbourne 10.15 (75) def Geelong 6.10 (46)
Kicking five unanswered goals in the opening term, the Demons recorded a finals victory for the first time in 12 seasons. Young spearhead Sam Weideman delivered a career-best game with three goals as the midfield led by Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw ran amok.
What it means for Geelong: Redemption for last year’s finals crushing. Following a night they were made to look slow with no avenues to goal, the Cats will be out to prove that last week’s win over Collingwood was more than just a flash in the pan.
What it means for Melbourne: Avoiding a 0-2 start. With co-captains Jack Viney and Nathan Jones well down on their usual output in last week’s loss to Port Adelaide, they’ll be keen to make amends and get the top-four hunt back to even pegging.
How Geelong wins: Taking Max Gawn out of the contest. Port Adelaide gave an insight last week with the Scott Lycett/Paddy Ryder combo and now the task will fall on Rhys Stanley and Esava Ratugolea. Limiting Gawn’s influence will ensure the midfield stars go hungry.
How Melbourne wins: Get its midfield game back up and running. From year’s elimination final to round one, the midfielder appeared a totally different unit. Port Adelaide completely ran the Demons off their feet
The stat: Patrick Dangerfield and Tim Kelly (17 each) attended the most centre bounces for Cats midfielders last week, while Joel Selwood (six) and Gary Ablett (one) were well below last year’s averages.
The match-up: Tom Hawkins v Steven May
Fresh off kicking his 500th career goal, Hawkins takes on Melbourne’s returning prized recruit. In the absence of Jake Lever, May is the Demons’ highest-ranked key defender in the AFL Player Ratings.
It’s a big week for: Max Gawn
Admitted last week he wasn’t able to stand up to what Lycett and Ryder delivered physically at the MCG. Now he meets Stanley after last year having the better of Geelong second-string big man Ryan Abbott in the elimination final.
Thommo’s Tip: Geelong by 6 points.
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