A joyious September to all,
Finally the AFL have got one right with the people’s bard Paul Kelly taking the stage as part of Grand Final Day. To me no one is more deserving of the honour of performing before the Grand Final, he immortalised our sporting cathedral in his 1987 single “Leaps and Bounds” and his music has reflected so much of Australian life and culture over his illustrious career. Temper Trap and Tim Rogers are not of my time, but going Aussie is a much safer choice from Vlad.
And they got another one right – or at least the MRP did. The squawking and wailing over Stevie J’s suspension was ridiculous, he clearly bumped an unsuspecting player off the ball – perhaps Hannebery went to ground easier than expected, but he certainly was not in anticipation of the collision. The rules have been pretty clear and enforced for a while now that such incidents will be punished. Then to read the hogwash from Martin Blake (who usually does better) about the unfairness of the carry over points – bah humbug! The carry over points are there as a stain on your record and Stevie J has a record – perhaps some non-deserving cause they were against Steven Baker, but that would dilute my argument. I too would love to watch Stevie J play, there is probably no other player I enjoy watching more. But the rules are the rules, under the Martin Blake argument surely Juddy should not have been suspended for the chicken wing because we all wanted to watch him. We can’t have it where some players are more equal than others – the whole system would be run by animals!
Should have come as no surprise last week to get them all correct except one and that being the team that has unfortunately let me down for much of the season. But there are four games to pontificate on this weekend:
Haughty Favourites ($1.34) vs Back Dawes ($3.85)
The Hawks went on their merry way last week with a pretty soft kill over a team with aspirations, meanwhile the Pies proved too strong for a determined Bomber outfit – a place in the top four will always be a great motivator. The odds have the Hawks as deserved favourites and if they are allowed to play their lovely kicking game with time and space they will win. But I doubt the Pies will allow them to play that game and it will be a much tighter contest in a game Collingwood probably must win to win the flag. Sure if they lose they will still be in the show, however I am not sure if Jolley is able to stay up for four finals and a week off would do him good. The cliché is that the game will be won in the midfield – however I beg to differ. Both sides have team defences relying on assistance from the group rather than having strong mano-e-mano players, I believe the edge will go to the side that does the best job of separating the opposition defenders and getting matchups like Cloke/Schoenmakers or Rioli/O’Brien and exploiting it. Based on numbers the Pies have more weapons, however on form I think the Hawks will be more likely to achieve this and I predict the Hawks to hold sway by 26 points. However the Pies will be very competitive and anything over $3.50 is well worth it.
Charddy Sippers ($1.67) vs Horse Tales ($2.44)
The Crows have been largely underrated with their efforts this year and justifiably so – with such a soft draw they were all going to make finals and with the improvement it has not taken much to make top 4. By the same token the Bloods did not have a strenuous draw until the home stretch where they have lost 3 out of 4. The loss of Grundy is a blow to Sydney, however as the Sage pointed out LRT is probably better equipped physically to deal with the big Adelaide forwards. The return of Reid is critical. Adelaide being at home are deserved favourites but I don’t think they are as good as Collingwood, Hawthorn or Geelong. My feeling is that Sydney can keep this ugly and close for a long time and ultimately reign by a mere 8 points.
What’s New …($1.34) vs Turning Purple ($3.85)
The Cats are into $8.40 for the flag, the odds should be much longer. They have spruiked their ability to win from outside the top 4 which means winning 4 games in a row – a feat they are yet to accomplish this season. If they do achieve it I am happy to let them lay claim to “The Greatest Team of All”. However, they will get their first 4 in a row this week over Freo. The loss of Stevie J is covered, though not completely, by the dearth of midfielders Geelong has. On the other hand, the loss of McPharlin is critical for Freo, who will find it hard to cover and contain both Hawkins and Podsiadly. The Freo record at the G is also poor despite them successfully strangling Richmond during the season, I am sure they will try and garrotte Geelong on Saturday, but I expect the Cats to escape and run away by about 51 points.
The Corporation ($1.24) vs Well, Well, Wells ($5.00)
The Eagles last week were particularly disappointing in my opinion – the ability to lock up fourth spot relinquished meekly in the first quarter. Yes the Hawks played well, but they were given free reign. But this game is in Perth where the Eagles are probably a 7-8 goal better side. The return of McKenzie is important to their defence. The Kangas got themselves a pass mark over GWS but that is all they needed to do, so little can be drawn from that form. I certainly give North some chance in the west and $5 is fair shopping, I suspect West Coast will eventually break them and run away convincing victors by 45 points.
It’s fillies day at Headquarters this week and a strong card at Warwick Farm with plenty of group racing and plenty of flesh stepping out preparing for greater glory later in Spring.
A well-credentialled field of mares line up in the Group 2 Let’s Elope (R4). Lady Melksham is fit a has taken all before her but the odds will be tight, I would prefer to follow the proven Group 1 winner Yosei. The 3 year olds charge down the Straight Six in the Group 2 Danehill with Rusambo shooting for 3 in a row, however he will have his work cut out against Psychic Mick and the filly Snitzerland who comes off a great win in Sydney at her previous start. I suspect the filly will be too hot, too good – but too short.
We then get to the highlight race of the day the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes – a race named after the great mare deserves a great field and this year we have one. Most of the field are well fancied in either the cups or Cox Plate markets, my leaning is to a successful return to the track of December Draw and remain undefeated at Flemington but there are many chances and a race to shape the season. The Group 3 Bobbie Lewis closes out the group racing in Melbourne with the return of Mosheen – best in the race but 59kg is a big ask in open company. If the outside of the straight is ‘on’ then Spirit of Boom is good value if the $21 holds up.
But for me for the season now, GO HAMMERS and Go the Spirit