By Shayne Hope in Melbourne
WHO PLAYS WHO IN AFL FINALS, WEEK THREE
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
First preliminary final
Melbourne v Geelong at Optus Stadium, 7.50pm (AEST)
Melbourne are chasing their first grand final appearance in 21 years as they seek to end the competition’s longest flag drought, which dates back to 1964. They face a tough ask against the Cats. Geelong disposed of GWS to charge into a seventh preliminary final of coach Chris Scott’s 11-season tenure, but lost Brandan Parfitt to a hamstring injury in the process. The two sides played out a thriller in round 23, when Max Gawn’s post-siren set kick sealed a one-point win for the Demons that decided the minor premiership – after they had trailed by 44 points during the third quarter.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Second preliminary final
Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval, 7.40pm (AEST)
The Power need no reminding they fell over at this stage last season, when they lost to eventual premiers Richmond by six points on their home deck, and will be out to make amends. They host a Bulldogs outfit that aiming to turn into real road warriors, having already travelled to Launceston and Brisbane for knockout finals. Three late goals gave Port a thrilling two-point win over the Dogs – and secured a home qualifying final, which they won against Geelong – when they last met at Marvel Stadium in round 23. The Bulldogs will be sweating on the fitness of skipper Marcus Bontempelli after he suffered a knee injury late in the tense one-point semi-final win over the Brisbane Lions. Livewire forward Cody Weightman (head knock) is also in doubt.