Fearless 2015; Finals Weeks 1 & 2: Sam, Snezana & Lana – it’s all too much!

Graham Cornes relishes in his status as being a big fish in a small pond. With due respect to the city of Adelaide which I love visiting, the Crows first coach was way out of line when suggesting, as a former North player, that North Melbourne’s resting of players in round 23 was one of the greatest unsporting acts in AFL history. I don’t know what he was smoking, but it was certainly referenced back to Adelaide’s potential to host an AFL final in the first week of the finals series. Well that was the theory. Funnily enough, it could’ve been the eventuality too, had Adelaide been good enough to beat Geelong at Geelong. This was because Brisbane surprised the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba that same day. Bias, Graham, is not the hallmark of great journalism. Adelaide has had much support through the greater football world through the tragic turn of events and it was well deserved, given how the Crows managed to wrestle grief, focus and ambition simultaneously to work their way into the finals. Graham and many observers over the border are very quick to throw stones in all directions.

Consider this. Brad Scott, an ex-pupil of the Mick Malthouse coaching school, where the theory was that you need 30 players fit and ready to win finals and ultimately the Premiership. This served Malthouse and Collingwood well in 2010. Fast forward five years and Brad Scott has done exactly that. Media reports and Champion Data stats indicated that North’s midfield was the most heavily worked in the whole competition. Courtesy of a Collingwood win over Geelong on the Friday night in round 22, the opportunity arises for the 8th placed team to get some rest into some overworked and ageing players. By virtue of this, some young guns get the opportunity to impress, notably 19-year-old Kayne Turner who kicked 3 goals and but for a concussion in the dying minutes of the round 23 game against Richmond that saw him stretchered off, would’ve been selected the following week for the finals. The same goes for Sudanese excitement machine Majak Daw, who potentially was playing for his career. Both players took full advantage of the opportunity presented. Brad Scott said his duty as coach was to prepare the players as best as possible for the finals series ahead.

Job done. Regardless of how the Roos go against the Eagles, Scott’s policy has been proven to be smart. Unsporting, hardly, the Roos did try to win the round 23 game in question. Boomer, Ziebell and Petrie did play so it wasn’t an inexperienced team that took the field. Other journalists have taken the Cornes argument also and run with it…but that’s the nature of opinions versus the job spec of the finals-bound coach.

Who would you believe? Does it matter?

FEARLESS 2015 FINALS WK 1 & 2 –

WK 1 WEST COAST v HAWTHORN – DOMAIN STADIUM FRIDAY NIGHT
The master took on the apprentice as Clarko’s Hawks flew way west to take on his apprentice Simmo’s Eagles. The washup was very simple. Despite leading by a point at qtr time, the Hawks were soon chasing tail, made to look slow and dominated by an enthusiastic Eagles outfit on their own dungheap. West Coast’s midfield got silver service from Nic Nat Noo and even minus ball magnet Priddis in the guts, Hutchings, Shuey, Rosa and Hurn picking up the possessions slack. Eagles, a week off, by 32pts.
WK 1 FREMANTLE v SYDNEY SWANS – DOMAIN STADIUM SATURDAY
A wayward Swans outfit may yet regret their forward thrusts in the first half. 2.11 at the main break and the Dockers had shot to a 21pt lead. 4.5 to 5.7 in the second half pushed the Swans to the edge of glory but to kick 7.18 in total is to commit hari-kari in AFL finals footy. Pressure packed finals footy, Freo relished the combining of small forwards Ballantyne and Walters for the first time in yonks and big Sandi repeatedly giving Fyfe and Neale first use. Swans Reid hammy woes a massive loss. Freo by 9pts.
WK 1 WESTERN BULLDOGS V ADELAIDE – MCG SATURDAY NIGHT
A shootout beckoned at the G as the Bulldogs triumphantly returned to finals footy with the first 3 goals. Adelaide celebrated their return to finals footy by absorbing that and taking the lead at qtr time by 9pts. Free flowing footy was what the 60000+ crowd got, hampered by Bulldogs inaccuracy. 32 scoring shots to 29 and the Dogs got overrun by a Crows side that looked more polished when the crunch came. Tex Walker and Eddie Betts led from the front as did Bulldog Tory Dickson. Crows 7pts.
WK 1 RICHMOND V NORTH MELBOURNE – MCG SUNDAY
The Tigers were well-placed to break their finals duck against the 8th placed Roos at a sun-drenched MCG. Richmond have got better this year no doubt..both clubs had gone to the coaches market at the same time. The only difference was that North had won finals and this confidence appeared when it mattered most as the clubs fought out the last qtr. The contentious resting of players had worked to North’s favour as the Roos outlasted the Tigers, making less mistakes. North home by 17pts.
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WK 2 HAWTHORN V ADELAIDE – MCG FRIDAY NIGHT
The return to the traditional Hawthorn outfit, from the Dingley Village Power Rangers away strip, signalled that the Hawks had come to play. And play they did! A 38pt lead at qtr time indicated that the ruthlessness and focus had returned after an off night in Perth. Whatever the Crows did in the first week went missing. Tex was well held by Chip Frawley who had been hounded by the media for his finals effort. Eddie Betts went goalless. The Crows’ great but tragic season ends in a 74pt loss.

WK 2 SYDNEY SWANS V NORTH MELBOURNE –ANZ STADIUM SATURDAY NIGHT
North Melbourne returned to ANZ Stadium exactly a year after being torched by the Swans in the 2014 Prelim. No Buddy, Captain Jack, young gun Parker and the versatile Reid, namely 4 of Sydney’s best 22. The Roos knew this and showed greater composure, despite herculean efforts of Kennedy, Rampe, Goodes and Tippett. Roos Gibson and Jacobs nullified Swans Jetta and Hannebery. Ziebell and Cunnington smashed into contests. Petrie and Rohan pure courage. Waite 3. Roos thru by 26pts.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Paul,
    I wrote on this website about Scott resting players, how I thought it was arrogant, like he expected North to win the premiership.
    Scott would argue against the arrogance.
    Turns out it was smart. I should apologise.
    Now we have to play West Coast away. They’re rested and uninjured.
    There is no harder test, aside from a grand final.
    It will be tough.
    The key point is rest. West Coast are well rested…

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