AFL under fire over preliminary final schedule as GWS dudded before Collingwood clash

The Giants only get six days before taking on Collingwood, while Carlton have eight days to prepare for Brisbane.

GWS and Collingwood players, pictured here in the AFL.
GWS only get six days before taking on Collingwood in the AFL preliminary final. Image: Getty

GWS fans are questioning the scheduling of the AFL semis and preliminary finals, which will result in the Giants only getting six days to prepare for a fully-fresh Collingwood side, while Carlton will have eight days before taking on Brisbane. The Giants advanced to a preliminary final showdown with Collingwood next week after blitzing Port Adelaide 13.15 (93) to 9.16 (70) on Saturday night.

The AFL later released the schedule for the preliminary finals, with Collingwood to battle GWS on Friday night, followed by Brisbane and Carlton in a Saturday evening twilight clash. Because GWS played Port Adelaide on Saturday night, they will only get a six-day turnaround.

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Carlton beat Melbourne on Friday night, meaning they will get eight days before taking on Brisbane. To make matters worse for the Giants, they couldn't fly home on Saturday night because of the curfew at Sydney Airport, meaning they had to wait until Sunday. That means they get even less time to rest and recover before flying to Melbourne to take on Collingwood.

AFL officials were reportedly considering putting Brisbane and Carlton on Friday night and Collingwood and GWS on Saturday, which would have given both the Blues and Giants a seven-day turnaround. But that move would have angered Collingwood because it would give them one day less to prepare for the grand final should they advance, compared to the winner of Brisbane and Carlton.

Because the Pies finished first at the end of the regular season, they were rightly given the preferential treatment of playing a Friday night prelim. The Giants came into the finals in seventh place, while the Lions were second and the Blues fifth.

Carlton and Brisbane, pictured here in the AFL finals.
Carlton and Brisbane will play their preliminary final on Saturday night. Image: Getty

Nevertheless, GWS fans were left fuming over the seemingly unfair situation. Many suggested the Giants and Power should have played on Friday night this week, and the Blues and Demons on Saturday night - which would have gone some way to solving the issue.

The decision to put the Lions and Blues on Saturday at 5.15pm (AEST) is also thought to be aimed at making it a blockbuster AFL/NRL doubleheader in Brisbane. The Broncos will take on the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on the same night at 7.50pm, meaning Brisbane sporting fans will get back-to-back preliminary finals to watch.

But as some angry fans pointed out, there's not much chance of fans being able to attend both matches in person because the AFL won't wrap up until after the NRL starts. The earlier start also allows Carlton to fly back to Melbourne that night to better prepare if they make the grand final.

GWS coach dismisses concerns about short turnaround

Despite the short turnaround, GWS coach Adam Kingsley reckons his side couldn't be better placed to challenge flag favourites Collingwood. "It's fair to say confidence is high within the group," he said after Saturday night's win.

Kingsley admitted he didn't dream of reaching the preliminary final in his first year as coach, especially when the Giants were languishing in 15th spot on the ladder after round 12 with just four wins. "I knew that we had really good footy in us and I felt like we could be a very good team," he said. "But you're saying, well, did I expect to make a prelim? No. Not this year anyway."

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Kingsley said the Giants aren't fazed about the fact Collingwood are well rested and haven't played since their qualifying final victory on September 7. "I look at it as though Collingwood have earnt the right, so I'm not all that fussed over it, to be fair," he said.

"They finished on top so they deserve an advantage, even if it is that. It feels a bit strange going into the grand final with one team potentially having an extra day.

"That would be where the query lies, that the winner of us will have an extra day leading in to the grand final. I'm not sure about that. But smarter people than me make those decisions."

AFL preliminary finals fixtures:

  • Collingwood v GWS - Friday 7.50pm, MCG

  • Brisbane v Carlton - Saturday 5.15pm, Gabba

with AAP

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