2019 AFL Grand Final – Sal’s Preview: Can Jack Bring Down The Giants?


Happy Grand Final to All,


What a frenetic season we have had and it should not come as a surprise that we have 3rd playing 6th in the big dance.  Season 2019 has been full of surprises and unpredictability.  For 16 teams they now look onto weeks coming with the view to how they fill the gaps and balance their teams.  The combatants this week do have balance in structure, enough talent forward, back and midfield with a suitable blend of youth and experience.  They are the key questions clubs need to ask themselves and answer objectively as they wheel and deal over the ensuing couple of weeks.


  • Is Geelong at the edge with their aging stars and do they have the talent in the youngsters to stay at the top?
  • Do the Pies really have the forward line to go all the way?
  • Brisbane have the same question – they can score heavily but do they have enough muscle up forward to win finals?
  • West Coast have the structure but is JK reaching the end quicker than expected?
  • Is the planned handover right for the Bombers or do we start the market on which round the truck overtakes the pharmacist?
  • Will Josh Bruce be the big bodied forward that Tom Boyd turned out not to be for the Dogs?  Will another year under the belt of Tim English make him one of the dominant ruckmen in the competition?


Then there are those that missed out.


  • Is Clarko’s top up and maintenance program really getting the closer to a premiership?
  • Should Kochie just butt out and leave Kenny to coach?  They gambled on kids who all made the team better.
  • Just too many questions about the Crows and who will be left?
  • Will Rhyce Shaw really refresh the Roos or will we just see more of the same?
  • Have Freo pulled the right lever on Get Stuffed Lyon?  How do the they replace Hill, Langdon and Sandilands?
  • Will Hannebery get back to being the A-Grader St Kilda are desperate for?
  • If the Swans get Joe and he and Buddy stay on the park, look out!
  • Is Eddie Betts the right fit for the Blues now?  Marketing an individual does not match marketing a successful team!
  • The Demons only have slightly less questions than the Crows!
  • How do the Suns change the culture and stop being a recruiting ground for the remainder of the competition.


For all those questions, there are many more but the most pressing ones are about the game this week and if the manufactured Giants can overcome the history of the Tigers?


The Lynch Mob ($1.42) vs Orange Crush ($3.35)


The Giants might be manufactured with some resemblance to Frankenstein but they have had plenty of club shaping experiences in their eight years: heartbreaking losses in finals, challenges in keeping their best players, injuries to their stars and last week even having the temerity to challenge City Hall in wake of Toby Greene’s suspension.  Whether they can match the Dogs winning four finals in a row is the one to be answered this week.  The Tigers have had almost everything align for them in the last couple of months: a dream fixture, healthy list and their best players finding form.  What has to be appreciated is that, in their tougher times earlier in the year, they blooded a number of players which has made them even better.


Looking at the match-ups for this game, the Giants have everything to match the Tigers – with one exception.  Up front Cameron, Himmelberg and Findlayson have the physical attributes to take on Grimes, Vlastuin, Astbury and co. Add Daniels and Greene and it is pretty formidable.  The key factor is that those tall forwards must compete both in the air and on the ground.  If the Tigers win clean ball from defence, it will put plenty of pressure on the Giants.  At the other end, who will be the key matchups for Lynch and Riewoldt?  Without Davis the Giant defence did a superb job against the Pie midgets – Richmond is a different challenge.  Again with likes of Haines, Davis and Taylor, they have the physical capability. Can they match the smarts and the talent?


The key ,of course, will be the battle in the middle and both sides are loaded up.  The key ingredient that none of the other Tiger opponents have had over the finals is a tagger to look after Dusty. Matt De Boer is probably the best in the business.  If he can nullify Martin, it will go a long way to sending the cup northward.  The exception is the rucks where the Tigers will have Nankervis and Soldo to stretch Mummy and whatever part-timers are thrown in.  Mummy’s last quarter against the Pies showed he might be well done but not completely cooked.  He was beaten soundly for most of the night, however the Hollywood couple “Dennis” Hopper and “Quentin” Taranto led the Giant midfield in winning contested ball and shutting down the Collingwood engine.  They will need that level of performance again and will be helped with the addition of Toby Greene.  A fully fit Coniglio would have helped the cause but he has pulled the right reign.  It will be a tough assignment up against the Tiger engine room led by Cotchin and Prestia.


There is another exception and that is in the coach’s box.  Dimma has the runs on the board plus a couple of aces – in particular ,Dustin Martin’s capability as a forward that few can match up on.  The Maserati Driver deserves a lot of credit for the planning and work to win last week when missing some of his stars, however that last quarter displayed the challenge he has had all season of being unable to have his team adapt when things are not going their way.  If the Tigers start well it might resemble 2017 pretty quickly.


The satchel swingers have this wrong at the moment – the Giants are very well matched up against the Tigers and do have the ability to win this game.  To do so, they will need to execute successfully in most of the areas covered above, in particular the midfield.  Only a couple will favour the Tiges.  Another major hurdle is that they have never beaten Richmond at the ‘G’.  On the balance of probabilities, it the Tigers kicking away at the end to win by 23 points.  Just remember the balance of probabilities has failed most of the year.


Norm Smith – Shane Edwards

First Goal – Harry Himmelberg


Pulling a Swifty


Not a great week for the VRC with Taylor Swift pulling out of her Melbourne Cup appearance less than a week after it was announced.  They were on the front foot refunding tickets to those just coming to see Tay Tay – not sure they are worthy!  Paying to see her perform two numbers and, in all likelihood, in Milli Vanilli style also.  Crazy stuff –just like the VRC. Perhaps they could market the event actually as a racing carnival!  Friday night racing kicks off this week at the Valley with a Group 1 sprint, followed by big events in Sydney on Saturday and then Caulfield on Sunday.


We got Avilius up in Sydney last week, while Begood Toya Mother was good to punters, but not this one at Caulfield.


Friday Night


Moonee Valley


Race 7 – Moir Stakes (G1, 1000m, WFA)


What a ripping field for this year’s edition with a full complement to greet the judge.  Nature Strip (5) is again the key runner, JMac couldn’t restrain him last start so expect he will be given full bore.  Should get the lead from the inside draw, expect Ball of Muscle (1) to be close to the scene.  Can Nature Strip (5) hold on for the last 100m?  I expect he just might this time.  If he doesn’t Sunlight (11) will be right there and if they really go too hard, expect Bons Away (8) to be finishing over the top.  The Bostonian (3) has never raced over the distance, has never lost first up and must have a chance.  Could have easily missed the winner here.


Selections – 5-8-11-3






Race 7 – The Golden Rose (G1, 1400m, 3yo Set Weights)


A million dollar race with prize money down to tenth but only 8 showing up!  Quality vs quantity?  No doubt about the quality.  Gai’s undefeated Yao Dash (8) will run in Gai style and lead them up and could pinch it if there is not much pressure.  Expecting that $1M will create some pressure which should set it up for Castelvecchio (1) to be able to launch into the finish.  He will have to get past GSOB’s Bivouac (2) who is racing in great form but stretching out to the 7 furlongs for the first time.  Yes Yes Yes (4) will strip fitter after an excellent return last start.


Selections – 1-4-2-8






Race 7 – Underwood Stakes (G1, 1800m, WFA)


Beating Mystic Journey is pretty good form and if Gatting (7) can run to that level there is no reason he can’t win this.  The caveat being whether some of the vanquished in that race have much greater improvement to turn the tables – it would have to be much greater. Homesman (8) is the only other last start winner in the race, won this last year, dominated the Feehan but is drawn poorly.  Kenedna (13) was beaten in that race and has drawn well with a good second up record.  Hartnell (1) is ultra-consistent and the closest to Gatting (7) of this lot.  Looking for signs of improvement from Yucatan (9), Humidor (4) and Gailo Chop (2).


Selections – 13-7-1-8


A Sunday Quaddie


Opening up blue taking all the Godolphin team plus a couple more.  Taking a few in the big one and could easily miss.  The sprint is pretty tough but only taking a few, then closing skinny in the last hoping we are still alive.


Leg 1 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10

Leg 2 – 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 13

Leg 3 – 2, 9, 11, 13

Leg 4 – 7, 17


288 Combinations will return 10.4% of dividend with a $30 investment.


Go the Orange!


Cheers, Sal



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  1. Sal, a great set of questions for the other 16 clubs! Much there for them to ponder. Love the Tay Tay angle – fancy the possibility that it just might be pushed as a racing carnival! Now, who’d have thunk it? As for ‘the balance of probabilities’, a good each way hedge.

  2. What a complex article. The only item not covered was how will my niece’s netball team go on Saturday or how her brother’s marbles match will finish ?

  3. So long and thanks for all the fish again in 2019 Sal. Your analytical mind is all the news I need to know about the weekend’s games.
    With a good start the Giants will win this. Tigers looked very vulnerable in both finals but their opponents wilted under the relentless pressure of Dimma’s men. Reckon the Giants are made of sterner stuff. But if the Giants are stage struck early and the Hardmen are 4 in front it’s shut the gate as you say. GWS by 10 pts for me.

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