Sal’s Tips: Penultimate Preliminary Round

Greetings to all!

The finals charade is over and once again the top 4 teams fight for their place in the Grand Final, whilst I lament the Blues defeat it is right that only rarely do we see one of the 5th to 8th ranked sides get through to the incorrectly monikered Preliminary Finals (Surely these are semi-finals, but be tough to change that convention!).  Much consternation over the non-decision with Walker in the goal square from Blues fans, what a bunch of rubbish.  Whilst the change in umpiring style through the game was odd, this did not advantage one team or the other.  But for that decision, Carlton fans would have been rioting in the streets if that free kick were to have been paid against Jamison to an Eagle.  There were many reasons Carlton lost last week – the umpiring was not one of them!  The main one simply being – finish Top 4 and get the home final.  That has always been the credo – and so it should be.  As for the Bloods – a game that really displayed the difference between 3rd and 6th.  Magnificent effort from Josh Kennedy!

Plenty has been said about Get Stuffed Lyon’s departure/defection/betrayal/abandonment from/of St Kilda.  He has made a business decision weighing up the offers on the table and probably looking at which is likely to be more successful.  In the long term it is difficult to disagree with him.  What is lamentable though is the condition he has left St Kilda’s list in.  This raises the question of the role that the coach should have in list management for a club?  Their primary role is to have the club compete for a premiership as Get Stuffed did, however he appears to have done with little regard for the development of the list and planning for who will be in the team once the premiership clock ticks past midnight.  The Saints are about to wake up early in the morning and the weather is looking rough!

Compare this with the Dogs, who were in many opinions also approaching the crucial hour.  Whilst in my opinion they were not really that close, at least they have continued to bring in players such as Dalhaus, Grant and the magnificently named Easton Wood (Isn’t it good?).  These players give balance to the list and having them allows the club to shorten the period till the “window” opens again.  My criticism of the Dogs is that they have still maintained too many players that are not “Premiership” players.  The Saints though on the other hand would appear to be a poisoned chalice right now, with that in mind an experienced “name” coach will be the better option with some very tough and unpopular decisions to make.  Along with some popular ones with respect to the likes of Clint Jones and Whacky Zacky!

Onto the games for this weekend


Six of the Best ($1.32) vs The Premonition ($4.00)

 This game I suspect might make everyone apart from the “Magpie Mob” crook in the guts – Buddy just went off early!  Having watched the Hawks closely over the last few weeks, their strength is clearly dependent on playing games on their own terms.  Playing 7 defenders and trusting that the extra space provided to their “Dynamic Duo” will overcome the opposition spare in defence.  All works OK, if the opposition allow that as Carlton and Sydney did – but completely fell apart against Geelong who made all the Hawthorn defenders accountable and trusted their own defenders to manage Buddy and Cyril.

Can’t see Collingwood let them play on those terms either!  Too much pressure will be applied all over the ground; this broke down the Hawthorn possession game last time and can’t see this being any different.  The Hawks touted Carlton’s midfield strength a few weeks ago; they always batted deeper in there.  But they don’t bat as deep a Collingwood who have the luxury of over 10 players in the team to rotate through the middle not including the ruckman!  The Hawks do possess some of the toughest nuts in the game with the likes of Lewis, Sewell and Hodge – but they also have plenty of others who can best be described as highly skilful finishers.  In comparison the Pies have a much more even spread of inside players capable of delivering the right result also on the outside.

As much as I would prefer a Hawk victory – for the good of mankind – I think the Pies are primed and will salute convincingly by 46 points.


Gazza’s Boys ($1.23) vs The Corporation ($5.20)

 A similar result I suspect here, however should Kerr and Priddis get the service from Big Cox and Nic Nat that they had last week then it might be interesting.  The concern I have here is that I suspect Kerr “got up” for last week but soreness and his injury will make this week difficult.  I suspect most of the Eagles will still be feeling last week’s encounter.  Overall the Cat midfield will have the better spread of high possession winners compared to West Coast whose midfielders aside from the aforementioned duo spend most of their time looking at the opposition.  This though does allow path for the ruckmen to add to the clearance team.  Geelong will need to reduce the clearance work of the Nic Nat in particular.

Up forward for the Eagles is where I reckon they will have challenges, they have gone with the forest again.  But I note that “The Frenchman” has been virtually unsighted in the finals and Nicoski does not appear to have an obvious match up.  Maybe Wojo, but the Cats tend to spread their exits from defence across the entire unit.  The Forest height will be a factor, but the ball is on the deck in most games of footy and Scarlett, Taylor and Lonergan are no slouches in the air.  Up the other end is the ace that could win Geelong the flag – the emergence of Trent West has allowed Ottens to spend more time in attack.  He is a quality forward in his own right, will have most defences worried with the ball coming in high and will attract a crowd which could work well creating space for the likes of Chappy and Johnson.

Cats to win in a canter by 53 points.



Speaking of cantering we gallop along with a quick preview of the fill in meeting at Caulfield this week.  Last week saw a fair run from Playing God, but Lion Tamer did that to the field proving that the Victoria Derby win was no wet-track wonder.  Great to see a Derby winner go on also, might stop the sooks from wanting to reduce the derby distance.  We also saw December Draw charge into Caulfield Cup favouritism, my recommendation is to have a look at those that followed that did not have to win that race to get it the cup.  I suspect they will present better value.

This week we do get to see a couple of the highly spruiked Sydney 3 year olds.  Smart Missile lines up against the older horses in the Rupert Clarke (Race 6) and is currently favourite – if he is the star they say he wins.  However provided the track is fair I like Woorim to be able to mow them down in the straight – but it is a race full of chances and quality.

Helmet is a bothersome conveyance with some bad manners, but when he gets it right he is very good.  He comes to Melbourne off a couple of losses and is $3.50 on the exchange to win the Guineas Prelude (Race 5).  If he behaves he wins, I reckon the $3.50 is good value and I think he can go on and take the Caulfield Guineas for the Sheikh.

The other important race is Race 4 over 2000m where Anudjawun goes on show and trial for the cups.  A lot has to go right to get a run, but this race could be the start and the opposition weaker than he has faced recently.  Not sure I would want to back him at the $4.60 on offer, but will be watching and hoping I might be accommodated at $6.50.

Hope you enjoy the Penultimate Week of the seasons – The Fans Day!


Cheers, Sal



  1. Great work Sal. Love your optimism about the Cats.

  2. Sal, the Hawks will win, this I know.

    Remember people are still referring to the 2008 Premiership as the one that the Hawks ‘stole’. This reference is because back then everyone was writing up the Cats and dismissing the Hawks. The Pies went into last year’s Prelim easily the strongest contender. They are not the same team at the same point this year. And the weight of hubris hangs heavier still. I know this, you know this, the Hawks know this and so do the Pies. Hawks by 34.

  3. Peter Flynn says:

    As an inside, yesterday I saw a Real Estate billboard spruiking this gun inner-city pad.

    The writer’s got excited. Instead of writing ‘This is the ultimate inner-city pad’, they’ve gone with, ‘This is the penultimate inner-city pad’.

    So where is the ultimate one?


    Nice preview Sal.

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