Finals Preview – Week 2: The Making of a Monster

Greetings All,


The incorrectly monickered Semi-Finals are upon us after a fantastic opening of the series.  However there is much clamouring for airspace on a few other matters.


I can understand concerns of many followers of the game regarding the creation of Frankenstein (aka GWS) after their demolition of the Swans last week.  Especially supporters of those middle tier of clubs that were stripped of some pretty handy draft picks through the building of the monster.  However was astounded to see complaints about them from a Hawthorn supporter.  Granted the Hawks became a monster without the direct engagement of HQ but they have been the recipients of some free kicks beyond those on the field.


The establishment of free agency has completely destroyed the notion of equalisation and the clubs already at the top of the tree have been virtually the only beneficiaries of the system, taking the cream of the free agents on offer leaving the scraps for everyone else.  The AFLPA get plenty right, on this and revenue sharing they are way off the mark!  To learn of O’Meara, Mitchell and even Tyrone making a beeline to Waverley was met by media types gushing about Hawthorn’s qualities and development programs.  Give me a spell!  Yes, they have made some great decisions in recent times and have made themselves a club of choice.  But development, there are few and far between successful players coming through the program since Cyril many years ago.


They have exploited the poor rules of the AFL better than anyone else, but from a position where not many others could compete.  They have made some great decisions over the last few year, but few other clubs were in the position to be able to.  They really only made one great decision and that a few years earlier in the appointment of Clarko – maybe even that decision is improved by some of the free kicks provided by the AFL with the timing of the building of Frankenstein.


So whilst it was a bit rich for a Hawk to sook about GWS – this also might be a bit rich from Blues supporter who watched on as they reaped the best from the competition in the 70s and 80s.


But the Blues are not playing this week so there should be some objective analysis in the preview!


Old Frankenstein ($1.59) vs The Rest of Melbourne ($2.66)


The Roos have somewhat destroyed the stats by winning consecutive semi-finals off an Elimination Final victory – and for all those Hawthorn despisers it provides great hope for the Dogs.  Their disembowelment of the Eagles last week was magnificent in its execution with every team member fulfilling their role, they will need to do that and then some against the Hawks.  How Hawthorn lost last week is something of a mystery, in control midway through the third then it all fell apart.  They will be smarting and expect little mercy to be shown to their opponents who have not beaten them in eight starts since 2010.


The MCG is a factor also, the Dogs did win all their games there during the season but there was only two.  The Hawks have built their game around winning on the G.  Somehow it will be a contradiction in styles with the Bulldogs playing their brand of hot contested footy, they need to be as clean as they can with the ball they win.  Caleb Daniel certainly helps in that area.  The Hawks simply sweat on the errors and don’t give the ball away till the members of the public return it from behind the goals.  Footscray are a more even side their bottom six players are probably better than the Hawk bottom six – however the Hawk top six are probably as good a top six as there has ever been and they win them finals.


From a match up perspective the undersized defence of the Bullies are well suited to the smaller Hawk forwards, at the other end the Dogs will have their work cut out to isolate their opponents.  The midfields are both strong but with differing styles.  Who will the tags be?  Does Shiels go to Bontempelli who has struggled with the clamps put on him or do they think Libba or Daniels are more damaging?  Who will Beveridge send to Sam Mitchell?  Like most finals it will come down to attitude and readiness for the contest.  Did Footscray achieve all they aspired to last week?  The Hawthorn reaction to the loss will be key – last year they put the Semi-Final away in quick time obliterating the Crows after their week one loss.  I suspect we might see something similar.  As much as I’d love the Dogs to prevail and believe they have some hope – the Hawks are September specialists, know how to bounce back and will prevail by 27 points.


Home not Homebush ($1.64) vs Boomer Busters ($2.48)


The bye gave everyone a rest but Sydney had been resting for the six weeks prior.  After the loss to Hawthorn they played vastly inferior competition winning a couple of close ones but then rollicking in 10 goal plus training runs for the other four.  Were they ripe for the picking?  To certain extent yes and they had the worst deal possible for finishing on top – playing the Giants on neutral territory.  In the context of a competitive lead in Adelaide’s is similar.  They were rolling the easybeats until Round 23 against the Eagles coughing up a top four finish, they demolished North last week in a final but North’s back half of the season really had them making up the numbers.  I am pretty certain Sydney will hit back hard, worried that Adelaide’s form might be not quite real.


Then there are the stats that tell you fibs – the “SCG holds no fears for the Crows” they have won four of their last five visits.  Or put another way, they have not won there since 2012!  Their SCG record is negligible at best and a possible concern as many of these players will have only played there once.  The stats don’t win games though – big forwards do and Buddy will want to show that last week was an aberration.  At the other end Walker, Jenkins and McGovern will cause problems and then there is Eddie!  Sydney’s defence though makes the SCG almost impenetrable.


Sydney’s biggest challenge though is inexperience with so many young players in the team – they may be better for the run last week but it is a mounting concern.  As is the loss of Tippett and Mills.  Naismith and Nankervis will have their work cut out against Jacobs, but the swap of Mills for Laidler hurts for both pace and poise.  Adelaide did finish only one win behind Sydney so their credentials are OK and on neutral ground I would probably pick them, but this is the fortress the Swans did not get to use last week and I suspect they will take advantage of it by 15 points this week.


Amateur Hour


Congratulations to the OGS on winning the D1 flag – they have been around the mark for a few years and got it done.  They looked the best side the Friars encountered all year.  At the top level this weekend Old Trinity take on Old Xavs – OT have set the pace but like the Hawks OX know how to get it done.


Horsing Around


Hope everyone cleaned up on Palentino – nice when you get one right – you’ll get nothing from me when I get it wrong!  No Group 1 event at Caulfield, they are making up for quality with quantity on a 10 race program.  The Naturalism (G3, 2000m, Qty) gets the winner a start in the Caulfield Cup, Tom Melbourne (13) is the favourite, however I am favouring the mares Real Love (4), Jameka (6) and Set Square (8).  The Group 1 is the George Main Stakes (G1, 1600m, WFA) at Randwick with Winx (8) to go around at Black Caviar odds.  Lots of chat about Tosen Stardom (1), but even DKWeir concedes this will not be his first Sydney winner, Hauraki (2) is mine for the Exacta.


Go Doggies,


Cheers, Sal


  1. ISal when Tom Melbourne led led into the last furlong and a half I hoped your selection was right I just needed a Ciaron Maher trained horse, Set Square, to finish strongly for a collect. Tom Melbourne ran out of Legs, though a Ciaron Maher horse did finish strongly, but it was Jameeka not Set Square !


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