AFL Preliminary Finals Preview 2022 – Matches, Betting, Tips and Predictions

Just four teams remain in the Premiership hunt after last week’s semi-finals, and this weekend will see those sides fight it out for a spot in the Grand Final in what many view as the most exciting week of footy of the year. In this article, we’ll take a look at how last week’s two semis unfolded, before looking ahead to the preliminary finals set to take place this weekend.


AFL Semi-Finals Recap


Melbourne Demons vs Brisbane Lions

There was probably less anticipation than one would normally expect for a semi-final heading into this game. The Lions had just barely snuck through to the second week of finals against the Tigers in a game in which defence played little part, had lost 11 on the trot at the MCG, and were demolished to the tune of ten goals by the Demons just a couple of weeks earlier. And, trailing by 28 points just before half-time, the narrative appeared to be playing out exactly as expected. In the second half, however, the game was completely turned on its head, with the Lions booting six goals in the third quarter and five in the fourth while the Demons struggled to score. By three-quarter time the game was tied, but the Lions jumped out to a 20-point lead with just a few minutes to go, and though Melbourne kicked a couple of consecutive majors in the dying minutes to keep things interesting, Brisbane was able to keep them at bay to earn a famous win and a place in the preliminary finals.


Collingwood Magpies vs Fremantle Dockers

Having put together one of the most exciting seasons in recent memories and improved from 17th to fourth in coach Craig McRae’s first season, it would have seemed unfitting for the Magpies to be booted from the finals in straight sets. From the outset of their semi-final clash against the Dockers, it was clear they had no intention of that happening. The Pies burst out of the blocks with four goals to none in the first quarter, and though they extended their lead by just five points in the second, it could have been a lot more had they kicked straight. The game looked theirs for the taking, but the Dockers’ incredible comeback against the Bulldogs the week prior would no doubt have been front of mind for both sides. But while the home side again struggled to put away their opponents as a result of inaccuracy in front of goal in the third quarter, they still carried a 32-point lead into the final break. That margin remained for much of the final quarter, and while a couple of late goals to Fremantle meant the final margin was just 20 points, the win was in reality far more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.


AFL Preliminary Final 2022 Previews


Geelong Cats ($1.29) vs Brisbane Lions ($3.60)

September 16, 7.50pm @ MCG 

Incredibly, this will be the Cats’ 12th preliminary finals appearance in 16 years, making them one of the most consistently successful teams in the league’s history. In recent times, however, those preliminary finals haven’t gone quite to plan, with five of the last six ending with a loss. Question marks invariably surround their ability to go the extra step every year as a result, but this Geelong team is a different beast to that of years past. Having won 14 games on the trot they are the best team in the league and have been for months, and the age of their list, in which many criticisms of their Premiership chances earlier in the year were grounded, is now seen as a strength. Their experience is unmatched, and with their older stars still performing to a high level and complemented by plenty of more youthful talent, they are as well-rounded a side as there is in the league. 

The same can’t be said for the Lions, but at their best they are incredibly dangerous, and they showed why in a stunning second half against the Demons last weekend. Few have questioned their offensive capability, and their win against the Tigers and their second half last week was a good example of just how good they can be with ball in hand, but they have often struggled to stop sides scoring throughout the course of the year. 

Against Melbourne, they managed to get both sides of their game working, and the result was arguably their most impressive win in 18 years. If they can replicate that against the Cats, they won’t be the easybeats that many expect them to be.

History, however, is well and truly on the side of Geelong. Since way back in 2006 they have lost just four times to the Lions, winning 22 along the way, and all of those four wins have come at the Gabba. The MCG hoodoo which the Lions broke last week is a significant monkey off their back, but it doesn’t remove the fact that they have long struggled at the home of football, and against the best side in the league it’s easy to see that trend continuing.


Notable Stats and Trends

  • The Cats conceded the third least points in the league this year, while the Lions scored the second most.
  • In Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron, Geelong have two of the four most prolific goal scorers in the league in 2022.



Sydney Swans ($1.40) vs Collingwood Magpies ($2.90)

September 17, 4.45pm @ SCG

It’s hard to believe that, in the last two years, both of these teams have finished a season in the bottom three. For the Swans, that was two years ago, a year in which they won just five games and finished ahead of only North Melbourne and Adelaide. For Collingwood it was even more recently; they finished 17th just last year in a tumultuous season which ultimately saw Nathan Buckley move on as head coach. Fast forward to 2022, and these sides are preparing to match up in a preliminary final and with every chance of going all the way.

The Swans’ young and exciting team has barely put a foot wrong all year, but despite that they’ve had to dispel plenty of doubts surrounding their ability to go all the way; an inevitability for a team which has undergone such a rapid improvement. The Magpies have had their doubters too, but the wave of momentum which has seen them win such an inordinate amount of close games all season has had many giving them a chance of riding it all the way to Premiership glory.

Last weekend’s methodical win against the Dockers showed that they are not just an overperforming team which has lucked out in close games time and time again; they are a legitimately talented team, and every bit deserve their place in the preliminary finals. The Swans, however, are an extremely difficult team to beat on their home turf. They’ve lost just two games at the SCG all year, and the last of those was over four months ago. On top of that, they head into this game having won eight on the trot, and beat the Magpies comfortably at the SCG just a month ago. The script certainly points towards a Sydney victory, but the Magpies have proven all year that they can never be written off.


Notable Stats and Trends

  • Sydney and Collingwood both won 16 games in the home and away season, but the Swans ended with a percentage of 127.9% while the Magpies’ was just 104.3%.
  • The Swans have won five of their last seven games against the Magpies at the SCG.



AFL Finals Futures

Take a look at some of the latest AFL Finals futures odds:


Premiership Winner

Geelong Cats – $2.10

Sydney Swans – $2.90

Collingwood Magpies – $6.00

Brisbane Lions – $8.50


Norm Smith Medal

Jeremy Cameron – $10.00

Patrick Dangerfield – $12.00

Cameron Guthrie – $13.00

Callum Mills – $15.00

Luke Parker – $15.00

Tom Stewart – $15.00

Chad Warner – $18.00

Lachie Neale – $21.00

Tom Hawkins – $21.00

Isaac Heeney – $26.00


AFL Preliminary Final Tips


Geelong -21.5 @ $1.90

It’s a relatively big line for a preliminary final, particularly against a side which played as well as Brisbane did in the second half last week. The gap between these two teams, however, remains significant despite that result. Brisbane’s flaws may not have been evident during that 60-minute period, but in the first half they certainly were, as they were against the Tigers the week prior. The Cats are the most methodical team in the league, and find and exploit their opponent’s shortcomings as well as anyone. Brisbane might have periods of this game where they look dangerous, but it’s hard to imagine them being good enough for long enough to keep pace with the Cats.


Collingwood +17.5 @ $1.90

As mentioned, everything points to a Sydney victory in this game, and that may very well end up being the result. But Collingwood has proven capable of scrapping as well as anyone this year, and in what will be a tightly contested game on a small ground they won’t make things easy for the Swans. They have had a tendency this season to play to the level of their opponents – hence the plethora of close games in which they have been involved – and it would be no surprise to see this one decided by a single figure margin as well.  


 **Odds and lines quoted are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.