Big Dees flaw ‘repetitious to the point of boring’; finals’ shock ‘most complete team’: Blowtorch

Melbourne and Port Adelaide face tough tasks in a bid to avoid the grim straight-sets exit.

Meanwhile, the Blues must find “a diffuser for the disrupter” and the Giants are “the most complete team” still in the race.

All four semi-final teams’ burning question ahead of the two games, as well as the Fox Footy commentary line-up in our ultimate weekly preview: The Blowtorch!

Watch every match of the 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo Sports. Join now and start streaming instantly >


‘Repetitious to point of boring!’ | 01:32

Melbourne v Carlton (First Semi-Final)

Friday September 15, 7.50pm at the MCG

How to watch on Fox Footy: From 7pm on Channel 504, hosted by Garry Lyon with Jonathan Brown, Nathan Buckley, Jordan Lewis, Kath Loughnan and Jon Ralph.

Demons’ burning question: Can they get more creative to finally fix their glaring flaw?

It’s the stone Melbourne just can’t shake out of its shoe, with the connection between its midfield brigade and forward line still far from its best. The Demons in the home and away season ranked 14th in the competition for both defensive 50 to inside 50 conversion (20%) and scores per inside 50 (41%). Against Collingwood, the Demons had a whopping 69 inside 50s – the equal fifth-most by any team this season – yet kicked just seven goals for the match. Club champion Garry Lyon told Fox Footy’s On The Couch: “It was a predictability about the way they went forward … It was repetitious to the point of boring. Predictability for opposition defences is manna from heaven. Unpredictability becomes a real issue for defence – and Melbourne didn’t produce anything from that.” Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis said if the Demons produce a similar output to the one they had against the Pies – as well as the last time they played the Demons, “they probably deserve to go out in straight sets”. Lewis added: They need to change the way they move to the ball … we’d like to see more creativity.” If they don’t, they could be the first AFL side ever to be knocked out in straight-sets in consecutive years – a slice of history this Demons list, which should be winning two or three premierships according to Cameron Mooney, wouldn’t want.

“We’ve built trust this year” | 11:33

Blues’ burning question: How will their forward line cope without Harry McKay and Jack Martin?

Well they were fine in Round 19 without them as Charlie Curnow kicked 10 goals! But that was against West Coast in the home and away season — not against the best defensive team of the past three years. And for the record, the Blues have struggled to score in their two games against Melbourne this season, managing just 15 goals from 92 inside 50s, with Curnow kicking just two of those majors. With Jack Silvagni not ready to play yet, the Blues are likely to include Matthew Kennedy and elevate Jesse Motlop from sub into the starting 22. Both would provide solid defensive pressure, but can they hit the scoreboard and curtail Melbourne’s top interceptor? Jake Lever had 12 intercepts in both matches against Carlton in Round 12 and 22 this season. Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna told Fox Footy’s AFL 360: “They need to find a man that can stop Jake Lever, because he’s going to cause all kinds of headaches for Michael Voss. They need to find a diffuser to play on the disrupter. Is it Kennedy? Is it another small? I don’t know what there options are, but if Charlie Curnow gets one-on-ones, he’ll be dangerous. But Lever will be referencing him all night.” Now they have a finals win under their belt, the expectations on the Blues will be less heightened on Friday night compared to the Demons, who’ll be under all the pressure.

Port lick wounds after Lions mauling | 02:01

Port Adelaide v GWS Giants (Second Semi-Final)

Saturday September 16, 7.40pm at Adelaide Oval

How to watch on Fox Footy: From 7pm on Channel 504, hosted by Sarah Jones, with Jason Dunstall, David King, Leigh Montagna, Mark Ricciuto, Eddie Betts and David Zita.

Power’s burning question: Can their veterans lift when it matters most?

A massive reason for optimism for the Power heading into the finals was their budding star-studded midfield — headlined by Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis — and how it could be the team’s biggest point of difference. But the reality is coach Ken Hinkley needs his most experienced on-ballers more than ever this weekend. Ollie Wines, the 2021 Brownlow Medallist, has been shifted to a wing this season, leading to his second-lowest clearance numbers in his career. But against the Lions, Wines had just 14 disposals and one inside 50. Travis Boak, somewhat surprisingly, started as the sub last week in a year where he‘s averaged a career-low 15.6 disposals (skewed due to three games starting as the sub). Dual premiership Kangaroo David King told Fox Footy’s AFL 360: “I think Ken has to wind the clock back and get Ollie Wines and Travis Boak in a room, sit down and say: ‘Are you going to allow the 2023 season to fritter away into nothing and give us nothing when we absolutely need you most?’ I think it’s a huge challenge on these guys. They’re having minimal impact, they’re getting pushed to the edges … Does Ken trust these guys anymore? I’d love to see Wines in at first bounce and Boak around the ball off half-forward.” A lift from the veteran duo would be a massive boost to the Power, who are desperate to avoid a straight-sets exit after winning 13 games in a row.

‘Orange Tsunami’ dumps Saints | 02:28

Giants’ burning question: Can they repeat their 2019 finals heroics?

There are some similarities about the Giants’ circumstances this year compared to four years ago. After thumping the Western Bulldogs in an elimination final, the Giants in 2019 travelled to Brisbane and pulled off a four-point semi-final win, setting up a prelim against Collingwood at the MCG. After accounting for St Kilda last week, the Giants travel to Adelaide to meet the Power, with the winner setting up a prelim against the Magpies. And they’re a big chance to beat the Power too. Since Round 12, the Giants are ranked first in the competition in the all-important points from turnover differential stat, while they’re also fourth for points from forward half and fifth for points from the defensive half. Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna told Fox Footy’s AFL 360: “The more research you do into the Giants, the more impressed you are with how they are tracking. Since Round 12, they are the most well-rounded, most complete team still in the finals race. Every facet of their game is going really well and they can get you in all different ways.” The asterisk around a Giants boilover, though, is their sole bad game in their amazing run during the back-end of the season was a 51-point loss to the Power in Round 22 … at Adelaide Oval.

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