Sal’s Tips: Finals Week 2

Happy Finals to All,

However all the action looks like it is off the ground with tonight’s disposal of Mark Harvey by the Purple Haze putting fuel on the coaching frenzy fire.  If reports are correct that Get Stuffed Lyon will be new Purple Wizard, then it should spark some frenzied activity with Melbourne, Footscray and Adelaide still going through “The Process” and the Saints just left asking the question “What Happened?”

Freo’s decisions on their coaches have usually been fairly decisive and this no different, I just question is their decisions on some of their personnel.  Overall though I reckon this was a pretty tough decision on Harvey, preliminary final the previous year and decimated by injuries this year.  Never had his best team on the park and from all reports battled with the medicos to get a better team out there.  Maybe he had to fight even harder in order to get a couple more results and keep the job, which with a full list and great home ground advantage is far from the worst in the AFL.  I suspect that Get Stuffed Lyon will be excited to be in charge of a team with Ryan Crowley – that will really bring ‘em through the turnstiles!

The other discussion through the week was around the various benefits or not of the “dreaded” number 4 draft selection as a result the Dees re-signing of the houlihanesque Cale Morton.  As pointed out there are a number of very good number 4 picks through time.  But of course that was not the point, the point was the hit or miss nature of the draft overall and as such some research was taken on to match Ces’ excellent retort to Livingston, Polak and Tambles.  Looking back through Top 10 draft picks, it is clear how much better the clubs are at getting this right.  Mitch Thorp (Pick 6, 2006) is the last top 10 pick not on an AFL List and the last one not to play a game being Luke Molan (Pick 9, 2001).  The question is how many top 10 picks get games on “potential” and are also given every chance to make the grade ahead of the lesser picks whose mistakes are under a sharper microscope?

But Y2K may not have brought the world to an end, but it was not a great one for the draft.  OK, so Reiwoldt, Kosi and Didak can all be considered very good players with outstanding careers.  Of the remaining 7 only Daniel Motlop “graces” the field, while the rest Livo, Andrew McDougall, Dylan Smith, Lawrence Angwin, Kayne Pettifer and Jordan McMahon had checkered careers at best.  As we go further back the success of the top 10 picks become less obvious although there are some years that are exceptional – in particular 1997 where the top 11 selections all played 100 games and 7 of in the 200 club including Brad Ottens and Luke Power.  So in retort I back down and would have to say that overall a top 10 pick does not guarantee a gilt edged player, let alone a champion, but as time has progressed top 10 selections have become more hit than miss.  All bodes well for the Ochre Shadows and Thai Boxers.

Last week as suggested the Swans were good value and were the only incorrect selection, although not all the games going to my script.  The premiership market though was shaken but not entirely stirred, the Pies have shortened into $2.04 with the perception of the “easy” side of the draw.  The Cats were the big movers though into $2.82, while Hawthorn have blown out the door to $19.50.  As an aside I happened to be watching the flag odds when Buddy went down – about 10 seconds the price went from $14 to $18 – betting exchanges provide the ultimate in realtime markets.  The Eagles moved out slightly to $18 the home final counting their favour this weekend.  The Blues and Bloods are at $30 and $34 respectively and any financial support should be considered “high risk”.

Onto this week’s matches


No Mates? ($1.49) vs Goodes Enough ($3.00)

An intriguing encounter – up front though if the Hawks do have a Buddy and he is fit then they will win.  However playing injured players in finals has been the undoing of many a team.  The Hawk defence was exposed last week as had been anticipated all year and the Bloods have a couple of tall targets that could exploit that again, in particular the very impressive Sam Reid.  The kid has hands down to his ankles!  The Hawk forwards could be suspect, especially with no Buddy or only running on 3 cylinders.  However that is where I expect Clarkson to extract some kind of rabbit from the hat, the obvious one to me is to make use Luke Hodge forward.  He got them back into the game in the 3rd quarter last week, albeit shortlived.

Once again a game to be won in the midfield and while Adam Goodes has been outstanding and his support cast excellent of late, I reckon Hawthorn as more brilliance and depth in there.  On the spaces of the G this is more important than how well you can lock down.  The other always overriding factor in the semi-finals is that of the 48 that have been played in this finals format only two have been won by the elimination final winners.  I expect a close game for a while but the Hawks to run away salute by 37 points.  Notwithstanding that the Bloods do represent some value to be considered if they were to get to last weeks $3.15.


The Others Out West ($1.49) vs Ratted ($3)

Great result for the Blues and Brett Ratten last week and does deserve whatever new offer is made.  Where as Woosha would be rapt with the goings on from his purple rivals which will take some of the media pressure away from his Eagles.  Both teams appear to be playing Ducks and Drakes with selection, West Coast have named Big Cox and Daniel Kerr but both must be under a cloud.  The Blues have promoted Zac Touhy for the unfortunate Gibbs, but Shaun Hampson has been named on emergency list.  For most of the year the Blues have gone in as named with Ratten not mucking around with structure too much in terms of promotion of emergencies.  It becomes a choice of strategy of trying to match the Forest or exploit the Blues advantage on the ground.  Either way I expect them to be very competitive noting also the great recent interstate record – mind you one must ask who they beat.

West Coast though played a fantastic game last week against the Pies and will go into this game brimming with confidence, they will also be confident after their win over the Blues in the loungeroom.  Robinson, Laidler and Duigan were all missing from that encounter as effectively was Jamison so there is some difference in personnel.  By the same token the elusiveness of some of the small forwards for West Coast really hurt the Blues on that day so the likes of Yarran and Joseph will need to be primed in defence.  The midfields will be critical where the teams are evenly matched, but the X factor is Nic Nat good in the air and on the ground not sure that Setanta can go with him but sure know he will try.  Judd might be a factor back at Subi and of course the Friar Murphy will work his heart out again.

This time though I will go against history and my head and reckon the Blues can extend the dream another week and prevail by 17 points.


On the track this week we are at the Heath where one of the great days of racing has been split with the time honoured Underwood Stakes being run this Saturday and the time honoured Rupert Clarke Stakes (formerly the time honoured Marlboro Cup) being run on Preliminary Final weekend.  It is a pretty strong nine race card, however the Underwood field highlights the dearth of genuine WFA gallopers with most of these preparing for a tilt at the major handicaps.  Thought Playing God was a great chance but is drawn in visitors stalls as is Heart of Dreams so the Underwood becomes a difficult proposition, this is a watch and learn race and go wide in the quaddy.  The Naturalism (Race 8) is probably the more important race with the very impressive December Draw requiring a victory to get into the cups and will then probably shorten into favourite for them both.  But keep your eye on Anudjuwan if he gets a run, ran nicely into 4th last week and is a Melbourne Cup hope if he can get in.  Alcopop put in a ripper to come 2ndin the DTCN.

Go the Mighty Blues

Cheers, Sal



  1. John Butler says:

    Sal, I so hope you’re right.

    But did you have to remind me about Lawrence Angwin?

  2. JB,

    Even the aforementioned Dylan Smith “graced’ the Navy Blues during the aptly named “Pagan Era”

  3. Sal – love your optimism. As Bakes called them, the Masterchef Blues. What will Ratten cook up this week?

    Eagles by 4 goals for mine, Swans in an upset by 1 point.

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