Crows and Swans the ones to beat, says Dunstall
THEY could have vastly different routes, but expect an Adelaide-Sydney grand final.
That's the opinion of four-time premiership Hawk Jason Dunstall, who has cast doubt on the credentials of the other major flag contenders.
The Crows head into the finals series as the minor premiers and therefore have a home qualifying final against GWS. Win that and they get a week off before a home preliminary final.
The Swans, meanwhile, face the prospect of winning three consecutive cut-throat finals just to make the big dance, starting with a home elimination final against Essendon.
"Adelaide don't have the best form line going in - it's not ideal losing your last two games," Dunstall said. "But I still think with the benefit of what should be two home finals in Adelaide, they should be able to make it.
"And Sydney is without doubt the form team of the competition. You know what you're going to get with them."
The Crows lost to the Swans in round 22 before being upstaged by West Coast in Perth.
"They only thing they are lacking at the moment is a bit of confidence," Dunstall said of the Crows.
"They need to get back on the winners' list. Assuming they can do that then I think they can get on a bit of a role in September."
The Crows kick off the finals series at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday, against the visiting Giants, who Dunstall says lack a defensive mindset.
"We know how much talent they've got," he said. "GWS is a great team when they've got the footy. When they are dictating they look fantastic.
"They're not a good team when they haven't got the footy. That's their biggest problem, they don't defend well.
"Against quality opposition they can be made to look an inferior side if they are not winning the ball.
"Too many of them are just out and out attacking players."
The Giants are ranked in the bottom six for tackles in 2017. Dunstall said the issue came back to draft time.
"They recruited so many talented young players ... the cream of the crop," he said.
"They are so used to being dominant ball players they are not used to defending and not having the football. I don't think it comes natural to a lot of them."
Dunstall said he believed Geelong was a little but "one dimensional", relying too heavily on Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood.
The Cats (second) play Richmond (third) in the other qualifying final on Friday night at the MCG.
The Tigers could yet be the dark horse, with Dunstall impressed by their speed and defensive nous, which is "second to none".
"And there's no reason to suggest it won't hold up in the finals," he said.
"They just need to win a final ... that will give them great belief, then they might be able to go forward."
Dunstall said Port Adelaide (fifth), which hosts West Coast on Saturday, "look as good as anyone, but they have consistently come up short against the good sides this year".
The finals: Thursday: Adelaide v GWS, 7.50pm; Friday: Geelong v Richmond, 7.50pm; Saturday: Sydney v Essendon, 4.20pm; Port Adelaide v West Coast, 7.50pm.