Well, we’ve officially made it to some of the best, if not, greatest weeks of the year. We’ve spent our weekends watching between fingers in those close matches, giving our expert opinion on how each team is performing to anyone near us in the pub and letting the umpires know when we disagree with their call (as politely as we could be).
Now, it’s do or die for the four teams left in both the AFL and NRL finals series, win and you’re through to the ultimate shot at glory, lose and you’re out. The pubs will be packed, the group chats will be pinging, there really isn’t a better time to be at your local, according to us.
Ahead of the big weekend, we’ve taken a look at the teams left and in our expert opinion (a phrase used very loosely) and predicted our winners and losers.
The Pies have been the team to beat all season, even with a slight wobble towards the end of the season, they’ve proven time and time again their depth, their talent and their ability to fight back. With the addition of Nick Daicos to their roster for the prelim against GWS, we predict they’ll be too strong on the day, with a win sending them to the big dance to complete their stellar season.
Prediction: Through to the grand final.
What a season it’s been for the men in orange. Sinking to the lower rankings of the ladder by mid season, many had written their chances of finals off, but producing a significant streak of big wins in important games, they turned it around. They’ll need to pull out everything they have, if they’re to beat the juggernaut that is Collingwood, in front of the Pies home crowd.
Prediction: A respectable effort, but the Giants fall short.
The Lions dominated Port Adelaide in the semi-final, locking in a home preliminary in front of a very important home crowd. They’re one step away from the grand final that has eluded them in recent history, and they’ll need all guns firing against a rampant Carlton to get the job done. Charlie Cameron will be in full force (we’ll be ready to sing Take Me Home, Country Road at the top of our lungs).
Prediction: Too strong at home, through to the grand final.
A season that no one saw coming, least of all Carlton fans. At round 14, everyone was ready to cut them off, another disappointing season to add to the many that had come before. However, a steady streak turned it around, thanks to some coaching brilliance from Michael Voss, and here they are, their first finals campaign in 10 years, will the fairy tale continue through to the final test?
Prediction: Not to be a fairy tale finish, Lions too strong.
The number one team all year, the Panthers took their winning form into the first semi final against the Warriors. Dominating them 32-6, thanks to the likes of Brian To’o, Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards. Dealt a huge finals scare with Nathan Cleary sent to hospital after suffering a finger injury, the halfback was cleared of any damage and is set to take the field against the Storm on Friday night. Will the Panthers be able to go back to back this year? They’ll need a big win against the Storm to send them on their way.
Prediction: Through to the grand final.
The Storm has had an up and down season, with many fans still tasting the loss of the early departure from the finals series last year, thanks to the Canberra Raiders. But, this season they’ve taken a step up, finishing third on the ladder with a 16-8 win loss record. But the one win that’s evaded them all year, has been against the Panthers, the very team they’ll line up against on Friday. With the loss of Ryan Papynhouzen, just after they got him back, still in the backs of all Storm supporters minds, the Storm will have a point to prove that they have the talent in their current playing group.
Prediction: Panthers just too good, out of the finals.
Finishing in the number two spot, the Broncos have been a surprise package that many didn’t see coming. Finishing just outside of the top eight last year, in ninth position, it’s been a steady rise to the second spot on the ladder. If you ask Broncos fans, they saw it coming, but many are watching on in awe. The likes of Pat Carrigan, Adam Reynolds and Selwyn Cobbo will need to all be firing, to get them over the likes of the Warriors.
Prediction: Brisbane pull off the fairy tale finish to their season, through to the grand final.
New Zealand Warriors
We mentioned the Broncos rise up the ladder, but that pales in comparison to the Warriors. Finishing 15th on the ladder, they surprised the NRL world, by shifting into gear to take the 3rd spot in 2023. With the likes of Charnze Nicoll-Klockstad and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in fine form all year, this team will pull out all the stops this Saturday.
Prediction: Not to be a fairy tale finish, out of the finals.
Where can I watch all the AFL and NRL finals this weekend?
You already know, the best place to catch all the action this weekend, is at your local.
Friday 22 September
Collingwood vs GWS Giants, MCG, 7:50pm
Panthers vs Storm, Accor Stadium, 7:50pm
Saturday 23 September
Brisbane vs Carlton, Gabba, 5:15pm
Broncos vs Warriors, Suncorp Stadium, 7:50pm
Where can I watch footy finals near me? Find out here.