Four years on from a heart-stopping preliminary final in 2019, the Magpies and Giants will meet again at the MCG for a place in the Toyota 2023 AFL Grand Final.
The two clubs have taken contrasting routes to this point; the Pies have been the best team all year despite some wobbles late in the season, while finals wasn't on the Giants' radar before a stunning late run that has seen them win nine of 11 games.
Both clubs play an up-tempo, chaotic style of football that should ensure a high-paced showdown in front of another sell-out crowd at the MCG.
Collingwood v Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, 7.50pm AEST
NO LATE CHANGES
Collingwood: Jack Ginnivan
Greater Western Sydney: Xavier O’Halloran
Where and when: MCG, Friday September 22, 7.50pm AEST
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
The only meeting between the two sides this year was probably the lowest point of GWS's season, a 65-point thumping at the hands of the Magpies at the MCG. Without skipper Toby Greene, the Giants were smashed all over the ground by the Pies, who were led by an arguably career-best performance from ruckman Mason Cox. The American was one of seven multiple goalkickers for Collingwood and clunked nine marks to go with 19 disposals, while star Pies Nick Daicos, Tom Mitchell and Jordan De Goey all had more than 30 possessions. There was little to get excited about for the Giants, who left the MCG that Sunday afternoon looking anything but the premiership contender they are now.
THE STATS THAT MATTER
The Magpies will seek to replicate the advantage in scoring efficiency that ultimately set up their hard-fought qualifying final win over Melbourne. The Pies rattled on four goals to the Demons' one in an opening-quarter burst that proved the difference in the seven-point win at the MCG. Melbourne dominated time in forward half for the remainder of the game, but Collingwood generated 15 scoring shots from just 37 inside 50s, compared to the Demons' 18 shots from 69 inside 50s. The power of Darcy Moore (11 intercept possessions v Melb), Isaac Quaynor (nine) and Jeremy Howe (eight) will be key as the Pies seek to shut down the Giants' forward line of Toby Greene, Jesse Hogan and Jake Riccardi.
Greater Western Sydney
The power, toughness and dynamism of the Giants' midfield group was laid bare in a stunning 11-minute burst against Port Adelaide last week. From the three-minute mark of the second term to the 14th, the Giants turned a three-point deficit into a 28-point lead and they would have put the game to bed had they kicked straight late in the term. Led by Tom Green, Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio, Callan Ward and ruckman Kieren Briggs, the Giants demolished one of the best midfield groups in the competition. By half-time, the Giants were +17 in clearances, +18 in contested ball and +78 in disposals, with seven of their nine goals from the half coming from stoppage. Numbers like those show a glimpse of what GWS is capable of on the ball, meaning Collingwood's midfield will need to be on high alert.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR…
The spotlight was firmly focused on rugged Magpie defender Brayden Maynard for several days after his late hit that knocked out Angus Brayshaw in the opening minutes of the qualifying final. Maynard was eventually cleared of a three-game suspension during a marathon Tribunal hearing, but the pressure will return in spades on Friday night ahead of a likely match-up with superstar Giant Toby Greene. Maynard was clearly the best of the Pies' medium defensive options for Greene when they last met but there will be nowhere to hide in front of a packed MCG. It's just the sort of occasion he would usually relish, but has a rollercoaster of emotion taken a toll?
Greater Western Sydney
One man who wasn't part of the round nine meeting between the two sides could be the Giants' biggest player on Friday night - literally. Kieren Briggs has arguably been the best ruckman in the competition since returning to the senior side after that loss to the Magpies in May and looms as a major threat to Pies pair Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron. Briggs led a dominant Giants midfield group in their win over the Power and should he overcome a sore shoulder, looms as a major threat on Friday night.
Collingwood by four points. In a game set to be played at breakneck pace, the Pies' home crowd advantage and extra week of rest will be telling. The Giants will make them fight for every inch, though.