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AFL previews for the preliminary finals

Rory Sloane of the Crows should return from an appendix issue this weekend.
Rory Sloane of the Crows should return from an appendix issue this weekend. TRACEY NEARMY

TONIGHT

CROWS V CATS

First preliminary final

Adelaide Oval, 7.50pm (AEST)

Recent record: Adelaide 3 Geelong 7

Last time: R18 2017: Adelaide 13.13 (91) d Geelong 10.10 (70) at the Adelaide Oval

ADELAIDE is on the verge of making its first grand final in 19 years, having enjoyed a week off after its demolition job on GWS in the qualifying final. It's not going to be easy. Star onballer Rory Sloane (appendix) is set to return, but creative defender Brodie Smith (knee) and dangerous marking forward Mitch McGovern (hamstring) will be missed. But the Crows know how to fill holes. Their world was supposed to cave in when Patrick Dangerfield left. But up and stepped the Crouch Brothers, Matt and Brad, who took the honours over "Dangerwood" (Dangerfield and Joel Selwood) in round 18 - 61 disposals to 51 and 18 clearances to eight. Fullback Tom Lonergan (virus) makes a welcome return for the visitors, taking on the team No.1 for both scoring and marks inside 50m. And it may just have the flow-on effect of allowing the ever-cagey Harry Taylor to play forward - he booted five second-half goals last time - and in turn Dangerfield in the middle.

 

Dustin Martin during a Tigers training session.
Dustin Martin during a Tigers training session. TRACEY NEARMY

TOMORROW

TIGERS V GIANTS

Second preliminary final

MCG, 4.45pm

Recent record: Richmond 6 GWS 2

Last time: R18 2017: Richmond 9.10 (64) d GWS 6.9 (45) at the MCG

WHOEVER wins it will be a heck of a story - GWS making its first ever grand final, Richmond reaching its first premiership-decider since 1982. It's going to be an intriguing battle to find out. You've got the attacking run of the Giants versus the suffocating defence of the Tigers. The latter is made for finals football. Richmond has disappointed so many times before but it's riding a wave of emotion and momentum right now. It hasn't allowed an opponent to kick more than 12 goals in a match in two-and-a-half months. Its pressure is unsurpassed. And then there's the 90,000-plus fans who will cram into the 'G to cheer it on. The Tigers have won 10 of 12 matches at the venue this season. GWS has won one of 11 in total. Dustin Martin was a star last time, when the Tigers came back from 20 points down at quarter-time, with 31 possessions (17 of them contested) and 11 clearances. He is thriving on the biggest stage. At GWS, there's still injury concerns over Steve Johnson (knee), Brett Deledio (Achilles), Nick Haynes (knee) and Stephen Coniglio (illness).

Topics:  afl finals afl previews

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