Greetings to all as we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday,
This week we have the first of a number of teams having a holiday as are we all on Monday, but it is now the time of year for clubs to have some serious decision making. With free agency descending and daily updates on the saga, tragedy, comedy of David Cloke’s public negotiating skills; clubs need to be able to work who will be with them or agin them in future seasons. The Cloke ‘n Boak situations where we are constantly getting new updates through the media doesn’t do much for either of them. Boak’s situation is probably unfortunate being in the Adelaide fishbowl and once Dangerfield was sorted he was next in line. But for the Pies who are usually good at shielding negotiations, the Cloke situation is beyond their control and the public forum appears to be the meeting room.
We have had the same situation over the last two years with Gazzagate and Scully-duggery, where I am sure decisions were made well before the seasons end but the façade maintained as Ablett and Scully plied their wares till the end. Something has to give here, I like the Primus attitude of commit or we don’t play you to Boak. Probably the right thing to do for Port who might be on the edge of finals contention but are not a premiership threat. What good does playing Travis Boak do for a club building its next premiership list if they know he is not going to be part of it? One could also argue what good is it for him to play knowing he won’t be there – interesting that he has succumbed to surgery now. For the Pies – they have no choice – Cloke, in form or not, is integral to their premiership challenge and they will have to manage the headline along the way. Could it derail them as some say the Malthouse saga last year did? It may or may not, but they will have deal with it – so far they have managed with aplomb.
In consultation with The Great Sage from the South – it is ultimately good for footy and we say “more please”. Cloke Snr should have more players on his books and keep the media scrum fed. In particular, we’d like to see more Pies – let him work with Pendles, Thomas, Sidebottom and Reid just for starters!
A look back at last week saw many tipsters in ruins, this one included. Predictions of Tiger letdown – unfounded, Freo standing up at home – blown away, a Blue recovery – feeling Blue (Pale that is), a walk in the park for Essendon – mugged, the Eagles soaring – shot down. The season is proving to be one out of the box – and possibly exposing much greater value than normal in selecting the underdogs. Bearing in mind though that Adelaide was favourite and the Tigers a toss of the coin. The great part of the season is that 15 teams give themselves a chance of making the finals, the unfortunate part is that it has been somewhat manufactured by the FIXture.
Now onto the this week’s pontifications
Players Re-signed, Fans resigned to..($3.00) vs Geelong ($1.48)
What promised to be one of the games of the season before Round 1 looks like a mismatch now. The Blues playing without passion or commitment and a few important players, the Cats are just biding their time and doing the minimum possible to keep in touch. The loser of this game probably loses any chance they have of making the top four. The injury toll at Carlton continues, whereas Geelong can just pop their key CHF off for a little operation and come straight back. Sounds like sour grapes (might be a bit), however young players at other clubs given the chance to play grasp it with both hands; at Carlton they lack the derring-do required to make an impact for themselves and the club. Form says the Cats should win this and even I can’t tip the Blues, however one would expect a red hot crack and with this in mind they are worth a nibble at around the $2.80 mark.
The Overloaded Wagon ($1.24) vs The Purple Force ($5.00)
The Tiggers are playing a great brand of footy to watch and we are all on board, mind you Freo crossed a threshold last week and kick over 10 goals. But it was only 12, they are Freo and playing away and on a big ground that does not suit rugby. Richmond to win, their odds might a fraction too short, but Freo are not a betting proposition.
Watch Gazza Run, Watch Gazza Kick, Watch Gazza Receive,… ($9.20) vs The Lemon Rinse Set ($1.11)
The Peroxide Cup – I’ll bet a few of those ex-Saints would love the life of a Gold Coast Sun. Unfortunately in this battle of the blondes one team spends too much time watching a little bald man play instead of try to make their own mark. Their best team efforts have been when Gazza is out of the team, meanwhile the Saints form is good even though some of their results have not been everything desired. Our sage is none too happy about having to concede that this Watters bloke might be OK. The sunshine boys will win a game this season and they have competed well in a couple of the games at Carrara so $10 might be worth a shekel, however St Kilda are certainly the selection.
Dive Bombers ($1.62) vs The New Adventurers ($2.56)
Interesting that Gladys Monfries is counselling Leroy on his diving antics – just not sure whether he can help him perfect the art. Mind you what a lily-livered, weak-kneed response from the MRP – a perfect opportunity to impose a meaningful sanction against a second offender instead saying Leroy “did not feign illegal contact”. What rubbish! Suspension might be too harsh – but a suspended sentence might break the habit. Meanwhile speaking of breaking habits – what a change for the Swannies. Have poleaxed two teams in succession at the SCG first Melbourne by 101 and then the Dogs by 92. We might not be back in the days of Edelsten, Capper and the unforgettable Leanne but it is a change from the usual grind ‘em down and win by 5. It could also be a change in approach with the acknowledgement of the potential importance of percentage at the end of the year. This should be an engrossing encounter with Essendon back in their beloved loungeroom and Sydney whose record there is about 50-50 which is excellent for an interstate club. Interestingly these clubs have only met at the venue 4 times with Essendon holding sway 3-1. The Bombers June Hoodoo is another concern and has me going for the upset – although a bounce back from the Kamikazes can be expected. Sydney to win a close encounter and good value at $2.50.
The Marina ($4.10) vs On with the Show ($1.31)
Certainly looks like the Port has been upgraded this year – but they are up against the Big Show that put on the main act last week. Mind you not sure how either of the vanquished should be rated, but you can only beat what you play. A sage opinion being that not enough credit was given to Port on their victory last week. I suspect though that Hawthorn will be much more positive than the Blues were at Moron Park and will control the game early and go on to win. Whilst not a line punter – the line will be interesting as I don’t think Port will roll over like the Roos.
Premiership Certainties 2013 ($10.00) vs Premiership Certainties 2012 ($1.10)
The two in form teams of the competition – with Dees coming of their inaugural victory of the season and Collingwood just rolling along. The ski resorts have scaled back their predictions for the season now that Melbourne are on the board. But why is this day reserved for these two teams – yes they have a historic rivalry – from 60 years ago! Then again the Demons often play out of their skins in this game – shame they couldn’t do it when over the last couple of months. Injuries have hit the Pies and now the loss of Pendlebury – to most clubs this would be a mortal blow – but the midfield depth that has been developed by Collingwood will make this a mere blip this week. Meritorious win by the Dees last week with the kind of scoreline Get Stuffed Lyon would love – however 8 goals won’t beat Collingwood.
As each team has their bye I will make some sweeping generalisations about their season so far and prospects beyond…
Dangermen – (Premiers $9.20, $1.05)
The Crows ave taken advantage of the softest draw in the competition and likely to perform well above the anticipated finish of 7th. Currently tracking to finish in the top 2 which makes them a premiership prospect. In my opinion though they would not really be a top 4 team except for the draw they have and might even be a week 2 loser in the finals.
Kings of the Jungle – ($760, $20)
Great effort to chop down the forest last week – there is talent there but it is young and lacks consistency. But it can produce results like last week when unexpected, tracking to their original prediction of 15th.
They Might be Giants – ($1000, $270)
But they are not yet – however the strategy of recruiting larger bodied players would seem to have more competitive that the Suns at the same stage. The question is whether they will have the same scope for improvement compared to the Beach Boys as they develop their AFL bodies. Only time will tell, but tracking to be one ahead of them after Round 23.
Boys Please – ($510, $11.50)
Hmmm – maybe the US should send in the drones to splinter the Kangaroo leadership? A lot of public work done by the young coach and a team that should perform more consistently. Thankfully we have heard the last of that mythical spirit. Mind you tracking for 12th is above my original expectations – soft finish to the season awaits.
Lumberjacked – ($6.60, $1.07)
Cut down by the Lions last was probably just a blip – they have covered their injuries with great aplomb. Many may not be convinced of their absolute quality, the home ground advantage should see them start the finals from pole position, well above my initial prediction of 6th.
Charlie’s Boys – ($610, $30)
Competitive in many games but as predicted lacking enough class and quality up forward to kick winning scores. I had them 12th and now I am predicting 13th. Vale Charlie Sutton – part of the Bulldog spirit and folklore – loved Bob Murphy’s article referring to themselves as Footscray players.
Group 1 Action
Getting pretty exciting as the Group 1 action and Black Caviar head off to England, but we still a few to negotiate in Brisbane. I didn’t get Quintessential here – but great get to Woody who nailed it for us on the Boys trip! As for Mental I can’t say anything! We have three big ones this week kicking off with the TJ Smith over 1600m for the babies. Sizzling has been doing exactly that and looks to have a mortgage on this race, but if you like some value the Sheik’s Academus has chased it home in the last two starts and by Lohnro might appreciate the extra trip.
The Queensland Derby is one of the more intriguing races I have looked at with form coming from SA, Vic, NSW, NZ and QLD. Quintessential could not have been more impressive last week, but has no favours from the barrier. Provided the track has a bottom I am happy to lump with Zabeelionaire to make it two derbies in a row – however I have respect for the Moody pair Brambles and Vatuvei (badly drawn), others of interest are the O’Donnell/Henderson managed New Zealander Red Shift and Robert Smerdon’s Westsouthwest.
Finally we have the jewel of Queensland racing the time-honored Stradbroke Handicap. I’d love to be on the Temple again but the handicapper might have him. If not for the barrier Shopaholic would be my selection and Sea Siren has dominated the Queensland sprints. However the Temple’s stablemate Spirit of Boom meets Sea Siren 5kgs better on weights for running 2.3 lengths 4th to her last start. At $23 great each way value – but remember punters, it’s only value if you win!
Go Blues, Go Friars and go the Spirit!