Fearless 2015 Round 23: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads/grandads near and far.

I’m excited; it’s a great time of year to be in Australia. Footy finals which culminate in the Grand Final dreams and aspirations at all levels and across many codes. Bryan Adams to do the Grand Final might yet prove to be inspired…he CAN play live!

Who’s Your Choice? Stay tuned…
Fremantle, the Minor Premier, deserves respect and yet don’t seem to be the darlings of the market. With injury concerns over Brownlow Medal fancy Nat Fyfe, Walters and Ballantyne, the Dockers are well placed to advance to another Perth Final should they be victorious over the Swans. Having rested a few players in round 23, the Dockers may be fresher than expected and this might show on Saturday afternoon.

West Coast have rocketed up the ladder off the back of a stellar 2nd season under Coach Adam Simpson. The defensive stranglehold they apply across the whole ground has taken the footy world by storm. How will it lend itself to finals success? Has Nic Nat Noo matured into the ruckman everyone wanted him to be, easier said than done. Some things just take time. Assuming the mantle from Dean Cox has helped him mature no doubt as has relief from Old Caulfield/Port Melbourne’s Callum Sinclair and Scott Lycett. The midfield led by the maestro Priddis is deeper across the board and the impressive forward setup speaks for itself. The defence has managed to hold up too, regardless of the injury toll.

Hawthorn is probably the best side heading into September, largely because of its successes of the last 2 years. Losing Isaac Smith prior to a trip to Perth is not good but the Hawks are masters of filling voids. They are also the masters of the makeshift, fixing problems by genius moves such as sending Chip Frawley forward and developing a greater forward spread. In an even finals campaign, experience is going to be critical.

Sydney aren’t to be underestimated as experienced campaigners either. Losing co-captain Kieran Jack hurts as much as Luke Parker but like the Hawks, the Swans know where to cover their gaps. Tom Mitchell is finally getting his chance to prove his worth as is young gun Isaac Heeney. Can Buddy get back to his best? That is the Swans X-factor? If this happens watch out.

Richmond seem to have matured as a collective and are getting better service out of their lesser lights. Ty Vickery is a focal point of note and one of the most accurate goal kickers in the competition. Houli, Vlastuin, Grigg seem to have settled the defence as has the continued game time into Dylan Grimes. Of their injury list, only Reece Conca stands a chance of getting back. So depth is critical and the Tigers are ready to progress further into September.

The Bulldogs are the excitement machine of the finals. Playing without a recognised ruckman, the Dogs seemed to counter Todd Goldstein enough a fortnight ago with third man up. Bont, Stringer, Dahlhaus – these are all exciting players and everyone loves to watch them under Luke Beveridge.

Adelaide have the potential to shake things up in September. What the club has had to endure this year should not be endured by any club and probably will not ever be endured again. That Scott Camporeale has managed to re-focus the collective in the direction of September is remarkable and he deserves much consideration for the full time Crows coaching gig. Form has been good for the Crows but a wayward outing at the Cattery in the last round may yet have a negative impact. Time will tell.

North Melbourne stirred the pot in AFL land, by resting 9 players at the final game. This was only allowed, mind you, because the final eight had been settled. Coach Brad Scott, combative as usual, came out swinging in defence of his moves but what it did prove was that the Kangaroos do have the depth to potentially challenge deeper into September, even if it’s from the backmarkers position. Can they? Who knows. The Roos have deserved their crack at it by finishing a game clear in the 8. What becomes of that? Who knows? Will they spring a surprise and select Daniel Wells for his first game since round 2?

Let the games/mindgames/ducks and drakes begin…bring it on.

Round 23

Richmond hosted the Resting Roos at Etihad to kick off the final round. North rested 9 senior players and the media storm ensued was laughable. Tigers took 3 quarters to break free of the mock-up North side as it should when nearly full strength. Tigers by 41pts. Resting Roos Daw and Turner put their hands up for AFL Finals selection.

Adelaide made the trek to Geelong with one eye on hosting a home final the following week. Never underestimate the power of emotion! Geelong saying farewell to 3 champions was enough to prompt a send-off for the ages. Cats home by 39pts with both Stevie J’s on display and Stokes and Kelly giving great service.

Meanwhile at the Gabba, Australia Post proved its efficiency over the weekends by redirecting the kitchen utensil from the Gabba towards Optus Oval. Brisbane put a smile on Coach Leppa’s face with a meritorious 8pt win over the finals-bound Doggies. 20 degrees, @70% humidity and 38 goals in total. A draining day for all.

Freo’s colts got off to a flyer at the Adelaide Oval against the Power from Port. Freo’s Svengali Ross The Boss rested 11 due to finals freshening up and the Colts soon ran out of puff after qtr time. An 8 goal 2nd quarter by Port sent it to a 5 goal lead at the 1 /2. Port’s season ended wistfully after a 69pt win but what if???? 9th in 2015.

Carlton ended the season with a trip to the G to take on the reigning Premiers and say goodbye to stalwarts Carrazzo (194 games) and Ellard (63 games). The Hawks got a scare en-route to a comfortable 57pt win with Chicken Legs Smith buckling under the weight of fresh air in a bone-crunching tackle. Hawks finetuning for a flag-tilt.

The Saints headed far west to take on a West Coast Eagles team intent on securing a home final in Week 1 of the finals. The young Saints had won fans in 2015 and had shown positive signs for the future but had tired of late. However the Eagles were in no mood for any praise. A 95pt win and the Eagles are primed for September action.

Gold Coast headed south to the Harbour City for the battle of the red jumpers against the Swans. Yet the Suns wore their away strip which was predominantly white. Any confusion irrelevant, although the Swans did take 3 quarters to shake the Sunnyboys before they melted. Swans 8 goals in the last. Sam Reid, Cunningham 3.

Before a whopping crowd of under 9000 (…get a Melways/Satnav people!), the Demons finally, repeat, finally broke their Etihad hoodoo against the higher placed GWS. Young gun Hogan kicked 3, Vince and Jones got leather poisoning and Daniel Cross showed courage beyond the norm, carried off on a stretcher. Then a chairlift…

Without the customary fanfare associated with games between these two teams, Essendon and Collingwood closed the home and away season at the G. A wretched 2015 ends at the Hangar. For the 40000-crowd, the Bombers and indeed veteran Heath Hocking got some joy with a match winning goal within the last 90 seconds.

 

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