Your guide to week one of the 2018 AFL finals

First qualifying final: MCG, Thursday September 6, 7.20pm AEST

Richmond v Hawthorn

Odds: Tigers $1.40 Hawks $3 (TAB)

Last time they met: Round three, Richmond 15.12 (102) d Hawthorn 13.11 (89) at the MCG.

For the Tigers, Jack Riewoldt booted four goals and Jason Castagna added three. Trent Cotchin had 31 disposals while Dustin Martin was relatively quiet, with 21 touches and a goal. Jarryd Roughead booted four for the Hawks and Luke Breust three, while Tom Mitchell had 42 disposals.

Selection issues: The Tigers expect Kane Lambert (ankle) and Dan Butler (ankle) to be in the frame; the Hawks will want James Frawley (back) on the field. James Sicily (scaphoid) has work to do.

Finals history: The two clubs have never met in a final.

The skinny: This pits mate against mate - Alastair Clarkson versus Damien Hardwick - with the Tigers hoping to emulate the Hawks' dominance of earlier this decade. If there is one team that can split the Tigers' defensive set up with excellent ball use, it's the Hawks. They have the kicking skills and nous to attack the Tigers through the corridor, and score "out the back" - tactics the Western Bulldogs and Essendon employed with success in recent weeks despite falling just short. Riewoldt and Martin have been in great touch, but Jack Gunston and Breust don't need many opportunities to impact the scoreboard for the Hawks.

Tip: Going for a boilover here, with the Hawks notching a two-point win.

Trent Cotchin fended off Jarman Impey when the Tigers and the Hawks met earlier this season. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Trent Cotchin fended off Jarman Impey when the Tigers and the Hawks met earlier this season. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Second qualifying final: Perth Stadium, Saturday September 8, 8.10pm AEST

West Coast v Collingwood

Odds: Eagles $1.65 Magpies $2.25 (TAB)

Last time they met: Round 17, West Coast 15.12 (102) d Collingwood 9.13 (67) at the MCG.

The Pies managed only three goals after half-time, while their opponents booted seven. The Pies had just three goalkickers - Jordan de Goey with four, Josh Thomas (three) and Brody Mihocek (two). Eagles talls Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling and small forward Willie Rioli each booted three.

Selection issues: The Eagles hope Kennedy (shin) will return; the Magpies are hopeful Adam Treloar (hamstrings) and Jeremy Howe (corked thigh) will be back. Tyson Goldsack (ACL) is also in the frame. Darcy Moore (hamstring) and Ben Reid (calf) have work to do.

Finals history: Played six. Magpies 4, Eagles 1, draw 1. Last time: Magpies won by 13 points in a 2012 semi-final at the MCG.

The skinny: The Magpies will benefit from having their first taste of the new Perth Stadium with a win over Fremantle. That the Eagles had three losses at home will also give the Pies confidence, as will the absence of the suspended Andrew Gaff. The Pies will need to negate the rebound of intercept king Jeremy McGovern but boast five goalkickers with at least 20 goals. The ruck battle between Brodie Grundy and Scott Lycett will be intriguing.

Tip: Provided Kennedy returns, it's hard to see the Magpies stopping a potent Eagles forward line.

Scott Lycett and Brodie Grundy's ruck battle will be an intriguing one. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Scott Lycett and Brodie Grundy's ruck battle will be an intriguing one. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

First elimination final: MCG, Friday September 7, 7.50pm AEST

Melbourne v Geelong

Odds: Demons $1.75 Cats $2.10 (TAB)

Last time they met: Round 18: Geelong 16.4 (100) d Melbourne 14.14 (98) at GMHBA Stadium. This was the second thriller between the clubs this season, this time Zach Tuohy's goal after the final siren securing victory after the Demons had led by 23 points at the final change. Tom Hawkins booted seven, while Tim Kelly and Gary Ablett found plenty of the ball, while Tom McDonald kicked four for the Demons. Clayton Oliver had 40 touches.

Selection issues: Demons' co-captain Jack Viney (toe) insists he will be fit for the first final; Dean Kent (shoulder) and Dom Tyson (wrist) face a nervous fortnight. For the Cats, Cam Guthrie (corkie) is expected to be fit, Esava Ratugolea returned from a broken leg in the VFL, Lincoln McCarthy also made a successful comeback but Rhys Stanley (calf) is unlikely.

Finals history: Played 7: Geelong 5, Melbourne 2. Last time: The Cats won by 55 points in a 2005 elimination final at the MCG.

The skinny: The Cats head into September care of a 133-point win over Fremantle and a 102-point crunching of Gold Coast. Is that too soft of a build up? As always, the question about the Cats is whether their bottom six players can have an impact. They can rely on Tom Hawkins, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood while Gary Ablett returns to finals for the first time in eight years. The Demons have ended a 12-year finals drought but two gut-wrenching losses to the Cats this year will ensure they have even greater motivation. Oliver is built for finals while Max Gawn can really make a name for himself.

Tip: Line-ball decision but we're banking on Ablett reinforcing why he wanted to return home. Cats by 5 points.

Tower of strength: In-form Geelong forward Tom Hawkins will be a big test for the Melbourne defence. Photo: AAP

Tower of strength: In-form Geelong forward Tom Hawkins will be a big test for the Melbourne defence. Photo: AAP

Second elimination final: SCG, Saturday September 8, 4.20pm

Sydney v Greater Western Sydney

Odds: Swans $1.70 Giants $2.15 (TAB)

Last time they met: Round 22: Sydney 11.14 (80) d Greater Western Sydney 8.12 (60) at Spotless Stadium. The Swans claimed successive wins over their cross-town rivals, the second thanks to a six-goal-to-one final term. Lance Franklin booted five for the Swans while Luke Parker had 33 touches and two goals. The Giants were led by Dylan Shiel, who had 33 disposals and a goal.

Selection issues: The Swans expect Franklin (groin) and Parker (groin) to be back while Dan Hannebery (corked thigh) will be fit. For the Giants, Phil Davis (hip), Toby Greene (hamstring) and Brett Deledio (calf) will need to prove their fitness.

Finals history: Played 1: GWS 1, Sydney 0. Giants won by 36 points in a 2016 qualifying final at ANZ Stadium.

The skinny: This clash will ensure significant airplay in a market the AFL is still fighting to have an imprint in. The Giants appeared in major trouble mid-season when they lost four straight but nine wins from their final 12 matches ensured a return to September (although they have dropped their last two). Rory Lobb will need to lift in the ruck while Jeremy Cameron must have a major impact. The Swans have won three of their past four, those wins against fellow finalists. Franklin averages more score involvements than anyone, and a speedy forward line feeds off him. Dan Hannebery, who does not appear to be happy at the club, will be keen to have one last great game - should it be his last before heading to a Melbourne-based club.

Tip: The Giants may be the most efficient side scoring from inside 50s but Franklin looms large. Swans by 11 points.