Fearless 2017 Finals Weeks Three and Four: The Best Four = The Last Four

ADELAIDE V GEELONG, RICHMOND V GWS GIANTS – PRELIMINARY FINALS

ADELAIDE V RICHMOND – GRAND FINAL MCG SATURDAY

After a wonderfully tight season, a disappointingly lopsided finals series saw a few things became apparent. There was only one close final, however, the two best sides made the Grand Final. Both made significant use of a home ground advantage. Richmond winning finals at the MCG became the hoodoo-breaker. Adelaide will rue the Grand Final loss, their MCG form had been good in 2017.

Geelong is a regular finalist but not quite a Grand Finalist. Maybe the trade to get Gazza Jnr back, albeit in tragic circumstances, is the masterstroke. Gazza might rue the timing, but it frees the Gold Coast Suns to live outside his substantial shadow. It might help the Suns in the long term. Gazza did all he could for them, but sometimes his influence appeared to be on the wane, despite winning a best and fairest for 2/3 of a season. Losing Steve Motlop to Port mightn’t be bad, despite his solid finals form, the door is now open for Lincoln McCarthy and the other small Cat forwards, Ablett included.

GWS keep learning about finals footy which, although painful for the past two years, will assist the long-term pursuit of success. Less players have sought to leave Western Sydney this year, allowing a greater stability for Leon Cameron to work with into 2018. The Mango and Charcoal army are on the cusp of greatness, despite losing the Big Mummy to retirement. The GWS certainly lasted longer into their Preliminary Final than Geelong did, but the Tigers were too good by 6 goals. Lessons of a lost MCG final might assist Cameron’s Giants in ways different to the Spotless loss to the Bulldogs in 2016.

Similar to the Bulldogs of 2016, the Tigers got the fairytale Grand Final win, demolishing all the mental demons that have existed since Kevin Bartlett had hair. Solid, dependable on-and-off field strategy saw the Tiger Army rebound from 13th to Premiers. Has anyone heard from Mick Molloy since? What about Mario from Doncaster? Gone are the days of truckloads of chookpoo being dumped at Punt Road and membership cards being microwaved. Gone is Mario’s Richmond “culture of death.”  Hilary’s Step etches its way into Tiger folklore, somewhere next to Ernst and Young’s Sports Management Practice. Now for 37 repeat screenings of the Grand Final for the faithful…one for every year since 1980 when KB kicked 7 and even handballed (I think!) as the Tigers last stormed to Premiership Glory.

And what of Adelaide? A great season goes ultimately unrewarded. If anyone had said Richmond would play Adelaide in the Grand Final in 2017, I would’ve suggested that Adelaide was more likely to make it of the two teams. The Crows are on the right track, but when many players underperform on the big day, the notion of glory dissipates. And so it becomes Don Pyke’s dilemma. Already Lever and Cameron have departed, but the Crows are better than just the two players. Losing a Grand Final left the Adelaide collective in a lonely place. However, motivation comes from many places and despair is one such place. Pyke has the players and needs to reset the focus. Whatever the source of motivation, it will be there to be drawn upon in due course. The late Adelaide Coach Phil Walsh set the team on a path that should bring success. McGovern will be back. Pyke will continue and is too smart and experienced to let the collective stray from the team goal…

***and what of the trading period? Much ado about nothing to be perfectly frank. The worth of players and draft picks debated ad nauseum…too many commentators, too many suppositions and theories espoused for many to come true. Jack Watts was treated unfairly as a scapegoat and nobody really could define what a destination club was and I, for one, couldn’t care less. Any of the 18 clubs is a destination if you get recruited! Well played Freo, snaring pick 2. Bold and intimidating! But a 2-page article in the paper at the end of the trade period would be enough. Way too much media!!

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