All games began like crackers and then the games’ end some results not predicted. Big casualties were Collingwood, Sydney, Geelong and Richmond. The Cats and Swans can at least fight to stay alive. Mad Monday for the Pies and the Tigers, hopefully enjoyable and without the need to set someone alight. It does appear that the odd instance does ruin Mad Monday’s reputation for the most who want to just let off steam after an arduous and disciplined campaign over the previous months.
Feel a bit sorry for Shane McGuinness the journo who copped Ross Lyon’s wrath. I understand that Ross has just come out of the pressure cooker of the final on opposition soil. If it was that he was going to ask the same question of Cats Coach Chris Scott, and it was the case then it sounded like a pretty fair question. Any club fires up for a final. If you don’t, the team is contributing to its own downfall.
Ross had the last laugh, once he had vented. The biggest winners of the weekend are Port and Carlton who now have nothing to lose and of course Fremantle who has just about written its ticket into the Grand Final off the back of a home Preliminary Final. I think as well as Carlton played, Sydney loom as Fremantle’s biggest challenge. But never underestimate a side coached by Mick Malthouse. I think the 2011 finals series/experience helped Carlton immensely in the 2nd half yesterday as did Mick’s experience. Funnily enough a lack of finals-playing experience didn’t seem to hinder Port too much.
Finally Paul Roos gets a gig coaching Melbourne. Is he the messiah? I daresay the initial impact will be interesting to watch in terms of membership numbers, players wanting to stay (ie Watts and Sylvia) and etc. A good successor might be the sealer – Melbourne’s list might not be as bad as it seems. I don’t think it’s worth a priority pick.
2013 FEARLESS FINALS WEEK 1: *A day for the provincial port towns & 9th
(* I don’t know why but I had a gut feeling that all games could’ve gone either way! Maybe I should’ve chanced the gutfeel at the TAB! All teams in the top four had their vulnerabilities, but the top four is better than the bottom four. )
QUALIFYING FINAL: MCG FRIDAY NIGHT – HAWTHORN V SYDNEY
A nail biting first half didn’t set the scene for what was to follow. The Buddy-less and Cyril-less Hawks set about plucking the injury-plagued Swans and shaking down the Sydney thunder from the sky. For most of 2013, Hawthorn had only its 2012 demons to overcome for it to succeed and now, courtesy of a rousing and relentless 2nd half that led to a 54 point win. An even effort across the board got the Hawks home smashing the Swans at the uncontested possession count. The Hawks now get the opportunity to treat any lingering injuries and have a week off. For the Swans, there is now a week to regroup and earn a shot at another Preliminary. Will Goodes be ready?
QUALIFYING FINAL: SIMONDS STADIUM SATURDAY – GEELONG V FREMANTLE
“Any team! Anywhere!” was the mantra Freo coach Ross Lyon preached upon news that the Cats would host their final at the Cattery. Ross’ combativeness spilled over into the after match press conference, having earlier witnessed Fremantle complete a remarkable victory in the provincial town of Geelong. Stephen Hill’s interchange run from bench to goal confirmed that Freo had sealed a home Prelim. Former Cat fan Michael Barlow led the Freo charge amassing possessions at will, ably assisted by the ruckman Sandilands, Spurr, Fyfe and the Pav. In the 2nd half the Cats got lost in the purple haze. Freo a win by 15pts and a home Prelim – the best result it has achieved since entering in the AFL some 19 years ago.
ELIMINATION FINAL: MCG SATURDAY NIGHT – COLLINGWOOD V PORT ADELAIDE
Treachery Eddie called it! Gotta take it one week at a time, most others would say. Magpie Prez Eddie McGuire thinking aloud about Semi Finals venues played into the motivation of Port’s young gun Chad Wingard and his teammates. How about some respect? Port had exorcised its demons that had haunted the club since 2007 by returning to the finals for the first time since that disastrous Grand Final. 1st year Port coach Ken Hinkley said it was all about taking the opportunity. Port Fitness Guru Darren Burgess had overseen a remarkable preseason where the club was able to finish games out strongly. And they did emphatically by 24pts. Collingwood coach Bucks was left to ponder what might’ve been over summer.
ELIMINATION FINAL: MCG SUNDAY – RICHMOND V CARLTON
After 232 games, AFL Finals say “Hello Newman!” Chris Newman finally gets a finals match ending a drought that no player dreams of when they start. The Tigers were back in September, like the Tigers of Old. Neither side showed nerves, which is always a positive for both clubs. Tigers led by 26pts at half time. The sign of a great onfield leader is that teammates buy in and the leader’s impact rubs off. Even an 80% C Judd had that, boaring in at will, inspiring his teammates to chip away at the lead and ultimately hit the front. Helped by Duigan, Gibbs, Murphy and beanpole ruck Warnock, the Blues scoffed at thoughts that they were not worthy of September and the Tigers will learn from this bitter pill. Ironically 9th beat the Tigers**. Blues by 20pts – a 52pt turnaround – and Sydney beckons as the Blues have nothing to fear. **2010, 2011 North finished 9th, 2012 St.Kilda – this 9th stigma is a bit of a beatup!