Finals Week 1 – Sal’s Preview: Finally we get there….

Greetings All,


After a highly competitive season we reach the finals.  An intriguing series it is – the top four teams well deserving of their positions as they certainly have been the most consistent all year, what makes this series most interesting is that all have their flaws and who can best cover them or exploit them likely to be the difference.  The Pies rolled out on top but were scored heavily against late in the season, injuries to Daicos and Moore a factor perhaps also some relaxation once a top two finish was locked in.  Did the big win over the Bombers get them back on track or hide the cracks?  Brisbane have been unbeaten at home and look to have a well-balanced line up, they look to have everything going for them, but the MCG still lurks as a stumbling block.  If all goes to plan, they only have to play there in the main event.  Port have been astonishing all year really given their shaky defence, it was exposed late in the season, but they closed out well with three wins.  In reality they also are challenged up forward and in the ruck, however their midfield brigade are brilliant and could take them all the way.  The Demons have reached the finals at their peak, Goodwin has shuffled the magnets to get the right mix and look primed to get their chance at the G.  Some concern up forward with the loss of Petty and Melksham but Fritsch returning covers some of that.  Expect the bottom four to help with revenue but highly doubtful to make a serious impact but all capable of pulling off surprises.  The Blues and Giants bring the best form, but they have been playing elimination finals for the last eight weeks already.


Last years opening was incredible – what’s in store!


Noble Rot (49%) vs Cry me a Rivers (51%)


What a prize awaits the winner of the Collingwood-Melbourne clash?  Hope preliminary final and most likely against an interstate club.  The Dees got themselves to the top of the form ladder in the last game while the Pies have been the form team all year, does the splutter over the last few weeks matter?  The forward line has been a challenge for both teams through the year, the Pies probably have their preferred line up this week adding Howe to the mix provides a bit of X-Factor.  The issue is they need to deal with May and Lever the Pies must not allow to get their intercept game going.  At the other end Melbourne bring back Tom McDonald to provide the contest they were hoping to have from Petty, with van Rooyen and Fritsch they also have extra target for the Pies defence to deal with.  They will need to ensure the Collingwood defence is not able to start the run and rebound for which they have been so good at most of the year.


It will really be in the middle that matters.  The strategy to negate Gawn is interesting playing two genuine ruckmen.  It has worked effectively with the second ruckman dominating when up against the part timer, but on occasions also left the Pies with a non-contributor.  Collingwood without Nick Daicos gives Melbourne the advantage in the midfield.  The likes of Mitchell, Adams and Crisp will be very competitive with the former pair comfortable if the conditions get messy, but collectively they lack the dash of the Demons.  The key player for the Pies in there will be De Goey was terrific in last year’s finals and a tough match up, not discounting Pendlebury spending time in there also.  Just think Viney, Oliver, Petracca and their support cast will run too deep and get Melbnourne into a Preliminary final by 16 points.


Who’s the Voss? (77%) vs The Gulden Boy (23%)


The Blues and Swans both have handy recent records, however the Carlton record is significantly better when taking the opposition into consideration.  They have defeated four of the other finalists in their last seven games, the last Sydney defeated GWS a few weeks ago, the last win over a finalist prior to that was in round 11 over the Blues.  Then again you can only beat who is put in front of you.  With the return of Cripps to the lineup the Blues midfield looks to have enough fire power to provide Curnow and McKay opportunities to contest and get them into next week.  Sydney have struggled to defend the G in their last four visits.   The Swans forward line has become a bit less predictable without Buddy but Weitering has led a miserly lot recently.


The caveat around all this is finals experience Sydney have plenty of it with every player having at least one final under their belt.  The Blues only have four players having played finals before and two of them Hewett and Newman were for Sydney!  Longmire will certainly have some tricks to play against the inexperience of Voss, however the Blues have most in their favour and should prevail by 34 points.


Thanks for the Membreys (37%) vs Toby or not Toby (62%)


Despite everyone’s concern about the Saint’s form they have held their place in the eight all season, while GWS were the third club to drag themselves up from 15th to win a place in the eight.  The concern being how good that form is given their last win over a finals team was back in round 13 over Sydney.  GWS only have to go back to Round 24 over the Blues.  These two are pretty evenly matched but with contrasting game styles St Kilda playing to the coach’s style and slow, high possession, keepings off game.  GWS have evolved under Kingsley and have the midfield running hard together as they swarm the ball forward.  Reckon that style is more successful for finals, the keepings off game doesn’t really work under the pressure finals with so much more contested possession.  Where the Saints could get an advantage is if Sam Taylor does not come up, King or Membrey are likely to get a mismatch and the opportunity to be the difference.  At the other end Toby Greene gets back into finals footy, has led superbly this year and will be a tough match up.  The venue is a challenge for both teams with only three games played there this year between both of them, reckon it suits the Giants game better but they need to contend with 75,000 rabid Saints.  Reckon the Giants get it done in a tight tussle by 10 points.


Fagan’s Lot (78%) vs Holler for a Marshall (22%)


The Lions team looks better balanced than any of the other finalists, they are up against Port Adelaide who have an over loaded midfield but a defence that rates twelfth in the competition.  They get Marshall back to add firepower up forward, however the continued absence of Charlie Dixon is an issue.  While Rozee, Butters, Horne-Francis and co have been outstanding the ruck for Port has been a challenge as they have tried to manage Scott Lycett.  As good as they are Neale, Dunkley, McCluggage, Bailey are no slouches either.  Port probably need to win that battle 60-40 to have chance given the porous nature of their defence.  Add the magnificent home record of the Lions, reckon it will be a bridge too far as the Lions get home by 41 points and put the road to the Grand Final via the Gabba.


Friar Time


It was always season over the Friars and unfortunately one without any silverware as the thirds went down by 10 points to Mazenod.  A great year from the lads and look forward to a few of them making an impact in higher teams in 2024.


Track Time


It’s back to the Valley this week for the Feehan Stakes which does not have Group One status but the ticket into the Cox Plate for the winner sees plenty having a crack.  It’s not a meeting that has too many picks but it has plenty coming back as they chase riches further down the line.  We see the return of the undefeated Steparty (R5, #4) in a good race for the 3yo, reckon it will be good form race to follow.  Charm Stone (R6, #1) looks very good but might too short, reckon Mollyknickers (R6, #6)might come up at fair value for the Moody-Nolen firm.  The cup winner Gold Trip (R7, #1) makes his return and is one to watch as is Giga Kick (R8, #1) who will be at a short price.  Big field in the Feehan with the undefeated Globe (R9, #11) heading the market, prefer Tuvalu (R9, #1) who proven at the level.




Another success, but not much return – better than not getting them.  This week we will trust that Giga Kick can get us home.


Leg 1 – 1, 3, 7, 8, 11

Leg 2 – 1

Leg 3 – 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13

Leg 4 – 10, 11, 12

Represents 90 combinations, a $30 investment return 33.33% of the dividend.


Go Blues, Go Giga Kick


Cheers, Sal



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