Finals Week 1 – Preview: It’s Showtime

Greetings All,

 

After an unnecessary delay the finals arrive with Thursday Nights putting pressure on scribes around the country. The make up of the finalists this year is worth pondering. Six of this weeks protagonists all enjoy a healthy home ground advantage through the season – letting them bank enough to get their spot in the eight. The question is do all of those teams get their on their merit or does that banking provide an unfair advantage?

 

In the past their has been a different mix of finalists with at least one of them being an MCG specialist – in the most recent times that has been Hawthorn. This year there is not nearly as much MCG experience among the combatants. Adelaide (2.5 wins from 3 games), Geelong (3 from 5), GWS (0 from 1), Sydney (2 from 4), Port Adelaide (1 from 2), West Coast (0 from 2) are all the teams that enjoy an advantage at home, Essendon prefer the Loungeroom but still went to the home of footy 7 times for 5 wins, the Tigers standout though with a 9-2 record. The Tigers should be at an advantage and no matter the result this week their second final will also be on home turf. What is different though is that the favourite for the flag Adelaide has shortened appreciably in the market, they are favoured to win two finals at Adelaide Oval if they win those then there is also a very good chance their opponent in the big dance will have similar experience on the MCG.

 

Is it better to have the home ground advantage or more experience at the Grand Final venue? Not sure about the answer, but the home ground advantage gives a much chance to find out!

 

Now let the games begin!

 

Sloane Down ($1.60) vs Stevie Jettisoned ($2.64)

 

What an intriguing contest, the Rory Sloane factor is huge for Adelaide. Will the Crouch brothers step up, they have improved steadily throughout the season removing some of the load Rory has had to carry. One of them though could get more attention which is something that they don’t usually have to deal with. Meanwhile the Giants pulled the move that they probably had to with Stevie, granted he can provide the match winner but with little or no defensive presence he has become a liability as the season has progressed. For the Giants to win they will need to address their pressure from the forward line, the Crows create so much off half back from Laird, Brown, Smith and Atkins if the Giants cannot curtail them there will simply too supply for Tex and his mates. The Adelaide forward line structurally presents challenges for the Giants with Walker, Jenkins and McGovern stretching the walls and Tom Lynch a more than handy fourth banana. While there has been the focus on Stevie, Mumford needs to step up also and negate the influence of Jacobs. The Giants are yet to play a bad final – although a pretty small sample. If they bring the intensity at which they played the series last year they can cause an upset as they certainly have the talent. However they have not been consistent enough this year and while Adelaide at home is not impenetrable it is a tough assignment – Crows by 26 points.

 

Domestic ($1.81) vs Wild ($2.20)

 

The clash of the felines has whet the appetite for finals footy in Melbourne with expectations of 95,000 plus to be there. Unfortunately there is likely to be some torrid weather turn up also, why did the Cats retire Jimmy? Geelong have fared well on the slow to heavy, there are personnel changes that may not have maintained that advantage. Boris was pretty handy in the wet too! Joel Selwood is there and he relishes the wet provided he has sufficiently recovered and Dangerfield can just play. The Tigers have excelled with their pace and pressure and might have the Cats defence covered in that area, the conditions might slow them down but they are the right size. How Rance handles Geelong’s tactics will have a great effect on the game – if Harry Taylor can occupy him again then the Tigers are in trouble. I expect Dimma to have something in place to counter that. This though could just come down to the Dusty vs Danger show, both are dynamic in the midfield with Martin’s distribution being of better quality. They can both go forward and be almost impossible to match up also. The satchel swingers are not quite right here, I reckon it is almost a 50-50 game. The weather has me just with Geelong by 5 points.

 

Owen Six ($1.22) vs Unhooked ($5.30)

 

After a horror start to the season the Swans fly into the finals as just about the team to beat and should be too good for the Bombers who look like they will be missing one of their key targets in Cale Hooker. The Swans may have only lost two games since that horror start, the Bombers were as close as anyone to beat them. Their pace worried the Swans and fine conditions predicted in Sydney won’t make them any slower. importantly there are no expectations on Essendon – win or lose this season has been nothing but a success for them. Playing with that freedom could make them a dangerous proposition, it also makes them vulnerable to a blow out. This is the more likely scenario with Sydney flexing their muscles and powering away to a 63 point victory.

 

Power ($1.50) vs Eagles ($2.96)

 

Adelaide hosts its second final on Saturday Night, not an encounter that has gripped Melbourne but is a very interesting game. As is well documented the Eagles are not happy travellers, however that only applies to the eastern seaboard – their record at Adelaide Oval is 5-1 and Port have not defeated them at the venue. They may have fallen into the finals, but they can certainly make a mark. What is worry is that Port did hand them a solid defeat in their last encounter at Subiaco and they might just be the better team. Ryder is likely to dominate the rucks and the Port midfield have West Coast covered for pace, although the experience of Mitchell and Priddis could work for the Eagles. The West Coast forwards may also be a challenge for Port who will not have the services of Tom Jonas. West Coast are good value, however going with star power the like of Ryder, Dixon, Gray and Wingard will be too much for the Eagles to handle. Port to take this one by 17 points.

 

Enjoy September

 

Cheers, Sal

 

Comments

  1. Marcus Holt says:

    Love those team names!!
    Domestic v Wild ! Carn the Domestics!

    Blackout v Bradbury for the last game perhaps?

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