• We have been critical in the past about the finals system the AFL uses, although we have supported the format from the perspective of the minor premier opening with the club finishing fourth on the home-and-away ladder.

    Our doubts this year are mainly around the necessity of waiting two weeks for the finals to start, as instant gratification is one of our strengths.

    For the first round of finals for the Toyota 2019 AFL Premiership competition, that one versus four match will be the Geelong Cats versus the Collingwood Magpies.

    The early markets show the match as being a tight one, with Ladbrokes, amongst others, quoting the Cats at $1.67 to $2.10 for the Magpies.

    GWS versus Western Bulldogs is also a tight tip, as only 20 cents separates the quotes and surprisingly, the Dogs are favoured $1.80 to $2, despite the match being held in Sydney.

    The only of the four first finals games that seems to offer a clear favourite is the first Elimination final between West Coast Eagles and Essendon Bombers.

    The Bombers were outside the top eight for most of the season, first reaching the eighth rung in Round 17, and then hanging on for dear life.

    The price on the Eagles is currently $1.22, while the Bombers’ quote is $4.33. The two teams met in Round 14, with the Eagles emerging victorious by 35 points.

    That game saw West Coast displaying some impatience with its list, with four players demoted, while at the same time, Nathan Vardy and Willie Rioli were lost to suspension.

    The Eagles did seem aimless for much of the home-and-away season.

    It is true that they had a challenging schedule, but along the way, losses to Port, Sydney and Hawthorn were the sort of games a defending premier could reasonably be expected to win.

    The Eagles lost to Brisbane in the first round, which as it turned out, was more a signal that the Lions were better than they were the year previous.

    For West Coast to retain the premiership they need to shrug off the season closing losses to Richmond and Hawthorn and it is possible to suppose that Essendon is the ideal club with which to start, but while the Eagles were losing to Brisbane in Round 1, Essendon beat the Lions by 47 in Round 3.