AFL Round 22: The Richie Benaud round

Welcome to the Penultimate Round

Round 22 descends upon us with a multitude of permutations possible to shape the finals, including the possibility of a Carlton – Collingwood Elimination Final.  In Bruce speak “What a delicious fortnight confronts us” – but it is only the entrée to what September will bring.

Of course there are vagaries and one that I wrote of earlier in the season after gripping finale to the EPL season that went down to the 90th minute as all games are staged concurrently.  Next week there is a distinct possibility that Carlton and Fremantle will be battling for eighth position at different times, at least their games should be played simultaneously.  In this case the Blues will know their exact equation to win their place, meanwhile I imagine Saints will be torn between the delight in denying Carlton and the rapture in denying Get Stuffed Lyon.  A similar situation could also occur between with the Collingwood and West Coast encounters.  Mind you as has been covered here and everywhere there are many more inadequacies and imbalances in AFL fixturing.

Sat down to dinner with the Princess on Saturday Night with a 100% record and checked the scores early in the first quarter – Pies by 4 goals, Adelaide by 6 and easy results the next day – I could already savour the flavour of my burger.  Then lo and behold the Kangas and Lions took the food from my table!  7 not a bad result – but what about the round we have this week.


9th Again? ($1.70) vs Vale Merv ($2.42)

Sad news for footy fans and the Bombers in particular with the death of Merv Neagle.  As a Carlton fan he was never one of my favourites – good Essendon players never were.  And Merv was a very good and tough footballer who won a flag with the Dons and then went to Sydney where he was cut down by injury but was highly respected as leader at that club.  And he gave plenty back to grass roots footy playing and coaching at a variety of clubs all over rural Australia.  Can the Bombers lift and play in his spirit?  Meanwhile the Tigers remain a mathematical possibility to finish ninth, so they are playing for more than pride!  Last week the Bombers were poor, but like Carlton in the previous encounter a key defender was lost early and he is not there this week.  Meanwhile their coach speaks disassociatively of the playing group saying “they” have a great leader, he really is made of Teflon.  But they do have a great captain and I expect him not to allow such a performance as last week, his Dad played with Nerv Neagle so that will add a bit more.  I reckon Essendon genuinely have more to play for and expect them to make a bold statement against the Tiggers.  The $2.40 on offer is good value and I still can’t fathom Richmond being odds-on.


Muddy Watters ($1.02) vs Greene with Envy ($34)

Saints have been better than many expected this year, however their own fans are disappointed and that is probably what really counts.  Meanwhile in the Orange corner much has been made of the Izzy Foreal form, but I am more taken with the efforts of Toby Greene.  A local lad who played cricket with the heir has had me paying close attention, but everybody should be watching him now.  To think at the start of last season he was only on the edge of the Under 18 competition, now the shame is that he is ineligible for the rising star award.  Anyway he will rack up another 30, but the Saints will win.


Oh Michaelangelo ($2.32) vs Go Muzza ($1.74)

Good to the great Kevin “Bulldog” Murray on the sidelines celebrating the Lions stirring victory over the Crows – no doubt Vossy is building a pretty good team, they just lack consistency but have taken some good scalps on the way.  On the other hand Port Adelaide looked promising but it all appears to be falling apart since the Giant upset.  Boak and Logan are good ins, but I am selecting Brisbane mostly through trust.  Nevertheless in Adelaide for the last time in 2012 might put a fire in the Port camp so $2.40 would make a fair bet – but not with mine.


Mummy’s Boys ($2.06) vs Rumour Has It ($1.92)

So what is it with Buddy?  Will he play? If not, why not?  And what about all the other questions of the Hawks – Mitchell, Rioli, Gibson.  Meanwhile Mummy provides the service to a very good Sydney outfit playing at home.  This game has a real finals sting to it with Sydney virtually able to lock in a top 2 finish with a win and the Hawks the same.  I am giving the edge to Sydney mainly based around the stability of their team and so many doubts on key Hawks.  Also their home ground advantage is strong, despite Hawthorn winning at the venue last year their previous success there was in 2003.  Sydney a good value proposition at $2.10.


The Corporation ($1.74) vs The Travelling Band ($2.30)

Almost a playoff for a top 4 position – a critical game for both teams but especially West Coast they must win this to have any chance of snaring that prized position.  Whereas the happy travelling Pies (even if they don’t do it much) probably get a second crack next week.  However if I compare the relative health of the lists I am swayed to the home team, in reality after a horrendous run early in the year they are probably only missing Nicoski and Le Cras from their best 22.  The Pies do get back Swan and Johnson, but lose the skipper and their prime ruckman.  The rucks at Collingwood appears are a real issue to me – they had no answer to Goldstein last week, maybe Jolly is sore and tired but there will be four finals to get through.  Won’t be easier this week for Wood confronting Big Cox and Nic Nat.  West Coast are my selection, but it is folly to discount any travelling Collingwood team so the $2.30 is fair value.


Hunting Over ($21.00) vs The Bus is Loading ($1.04)

The Blue’s last encounter with a new team was supposed to be a percentage booster – in the end a comfortable 65 point margin over GWS was attained but not the kind of result anticipated in the terraces.  The Suns have put Karmichael Hunt out to pasture – what a good season he has put together and this should give hope to Izzy.  This is a danger game for Carlton – the Suns have run a number of teams very close this season at Carrara including Geelong, North and Freo.  However it is a game they should win, but that needs to be first priority and any percentage build is a bonus.


Back to the Pivot ($1.03) vs Adios Son ($27.00)

The Cats return to their boutique venue to host the Dogs who are preparing to farewell Addison and Gilbee – their plight this season can be judged by their odds for this game which more like odds for the Suns or Giants.


Hard to Swallow ($1.46) vs Herman’s Hermits ($3.10)

I am reminded of DJKs theory on fishing here “10% brains and 95% muscle and the rest is just good luck”!  To me this game is more about attitude and motivation over and above any of the skill and tactical battles that will be fought.  North secured their place in the eight last week, I am sure they would like to keep winning and ensure their first final is in Melbourne.  However for Freo this is almost life and death – a win will only give other sides a mathematical chance of taking their place next week.  Their motivation to win this game will be significant which is why they are prepared to take the risk with Pav.  He can have next week off against the Dees if they win.  Both teams are almost at full strength, my selection for the game is North due to the home ground and the Pav question.  But the odds are ridiculous and for a team with as much to play for as Freo $3.00 is way over the odds.


September Snow ($7.60) vs Sando Storm ($1.14)

With the wintery blasts still hitting the Alps those skiing Dees can have great September on the piste – my own Princess is even forsaking Brad Green’s last game to head to the high country!  But this is the last home assignment against the tumultuous Crows.  Last week was a great learning experience for Sanderson and how they all come out will be interesting, but 2 wins should lock them into 2nd spot and home finals all the way through.


Is it Spring Racing?

The Valley is the venue this week – but another week of watching.  Of that meeting Rusambo (2)  takes my interest in race 5 – was fancied for the 2YO classics early in the year but could not breakthrough.  Has broken maiden status now and could be a player in the 3YO races in the early spring.  However the meeting really worth watching is in Sydney with the Warwick Stakes where we see cup and plate hopefuls such as Polish Knight, Lights of Heaven and Secret Admirer.  But another week to keep the powder dry(ish).


Go Blues, Go Friars and Go Hammers

Cheers, Sal

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