GEELONG is the $3 premiership favourite at Sportsbet.com.au after its heart-stopping two-point win over Hawthorn on Friday night at the MCG.
The Cats tightened in from the $3.75 on offer prior to Friday night’s match as a result.
Triple premiership Hawk Isaac Smith had a kick after the siren to win the match for his team, but could only manage a behind, condemning his side to a second qualifying final loss in as many years.
Hawthorn went out to the fourth line of betting as a consequence at the $7.50 quote.
The Cats survived a frantic last minute of play to progress through to the preliminary final, and coach Chris Scott said he was powerless inside the box in the latter stages of the game.
“It was just the team that could take their moment when it really counted that was going to prevail,” Scott said.
“Not much you can do about it from the coaches’ box in the last 30 seconds, but we celebrated pretty well I think.”
The win also moved Geelong to the $1.45 price to make the 2016 Grand Final.
For the second straight year the Hawks will be forced to go the long way around if they are to win a record-equalling fourth premiership in a row.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was “disappointed but philosophical” after the match, saying his team will take heart from their 2015 success.
“We’ve got to move on pretty quickly, we’ll get ourselves ready. Last year we went across to the west and got annihilated by West Coast (in a qualifying final) and we were able to bounce back strongly and we’re just going to have to do the same sort of thing,” Clarkson said.
“There were some positive things about the way that we played tonight and we came up against a really good opponent.
“But we just couldn’t nail the opportunities when we had them and we had plenty in the second half of the game in particular.”
The Hawks play the Western Bulldogs on Friday night to determine who will travel to Sydney to face the GWS Giants.
Hawthorn is the $1.45 favourite to progress through to their sixth straight preliminary final.
Longmire thankful his Swans earned the double chance
FORMER premiership favourite Sydney is now the $6.50 outsiders for the flag at WilliamHill.com.au after losing to the GWS Giants by 36-points on Saturday afternoon.
The minor premiers trailed by just two-points heading into the second half, but were blown away by a team playing in their first-ever final.
The Swans now have the task of overcoming a white-hot Adelaide in next week’s do-or-die semi-final, but Sydney coach John Longmire is just happy his team is still in the hunt.
“The good thing is we’ve earned the double chance and we get another go next week,” Longmire said.
“We get to look at what we didn’t do that well tonight and be able to try and remedy it, and that’s the advantage of getting in the top four, you get that extra chance and we get another crack at it next week.”
The Swans will most likely be without Rising Star-winner Callum Mills and Kurt Tippett, who both suffered injuries in the disappointing loss.
Sydney’s Saturday opponent, the Adelaide Crows, are flying after their demolition job of North Melbourne.
The Crows rebounded emphatically after their shock final round loss to West Coast, smashing the Kangaroos from the opening bounce to record a 62-point win.
Despite being arguably the most impressive side of the opening week of finals, the Crows are one of only two sides in double figures for the premiership at $13.
Adelaide coach Don Pyke said his side did exactly what they needed to do.
“I was really proud of the guys tonight,” Pyke said.
“I thought they responded the way good sides do.
“I think it started with our effort around the ball — our contest work — and our workrate away from there.
“They were the two things we were lacking the last time we played and there was a real focus on that over the two-week break we had (to prepare) … and to the guys’ credit they responded the way I thought they would.”
Sydney host Adelaide on Saturday night and go in as the $1.47 favourites to meet Geelong in the preliminary final.
2016 Premiership odds:
Odds provided by WilliamHill.com.au
Western Bulldogs $13