Finals Week 1 – Sal’s preview: Let the games begin!

Greetings All  and welcome to the Finals!


Will hold my fire for a week on my main topic for the week suffice to say the lack of leadership and indecisiveness at the AFL level has significant consequences at lower levels of competition.


Still struggling to fathom why a week off before finals.  All to do with Thursday night TV and nothing to do with the fans – the trials and tribulations of country supporters has been well documented.  There are finals being played right across the country at lower levels those clubs involved miss the chance to attend or even watch the game with their training commitments.  Prognosticators have to go early on selections without all teams announced and deadlines are harder to meet!


Thursday Night Footy sucks!


On to the priority pick discussion, giving priority selections is really putting lipstick on a pretty ugly pig.  The whole competition equalisation measures have been completely compromised by free agency, no further evidence required than the news of Tom Lynch’s defection to Richmond.  Providing poorly performing clubs extra selections is just a lottery ticket and takes years in development, forcing clubs to trade those picks for older players even more stupid.  How many clubs would trade their good 23-25 year old players for a lottery ticket, it would simply further load up the poor clubs with excess baggage.


The games are on and they need analysis!


The Apprentice ($1.46) vs The Master ($3.10)


Hardwick faces his mate and mentor across the coaches boxes in a game of chess.  The Tigers and Hawks are drilled in their own systems and methodologies – the fact they both reached the top four is an indicator of how important predictability and reliability are relative to pure talent.  The right combination of all three wins flags.  There have been rumblings of the Tigers numbers over the last four weeks compared to those from last year.  A massive difference though in motivation – in 2017 Richmond were fighting for a good barrier, this year it was assured.  Yes they have cruised in, can they flick the switch?  The Hawks have been like the Tiges of 2017 ramping it up to get themselves a shot at the champ.  Their ins are handy with both lists almost at full strength.  A key to beating the Tigers is occupying Rance and not allowing him to win cheap intercepts, just splitting the contest keeps the ball out of the Richmond forward line.  I am sure there will be an anti-Rance strategy just not sure the personnel can deliver.  At the other end Jack needs to be contained along with his manic mates, to me advantage Richmond.  It will all come down to the source and the Hawks match up pretty well especially with Mitchell.  Will be interesting to see if the two ruckman strategy will be telling, few clubs really expose the Tigers when the ruck work is left to Shaun Grigg.  Suspect that might be part of Clarko’s strategy.  The Hawks will certainly put up a great contest and Clarkson’s ability will make it tough for the Tigers – just concerned about the Hawthorn bottom end compared the evenness of the Richmond line up.  Going with Richmond by 23 points.


Gawn ($1.84) vs Abbott ($2.16)


Really we’d all like to say Abbott Gawn – but he is still hanging around!  Enough of the political commentary – this is the battle of the bluebloods.  Max’s Demons get a chance on the big stage – importantly their last two games have exorcised some demons.  The knock on their inability to beat the top sides has been blown away.  They get the skipper Viney back, must be some risk given the lack of game time he has had.  He and his mates will have their hands full against the powerhouse Geelong midfield.  Tomahawk was awesome in their comeback over Melbourne a few weeks ago, Ablett was even better winning possession at will and setting many of Tom’s goals.  Add Kelly, Dangerfield and Selwood to the mix and it is a mighty midfield.  Questions about the Cats remain in the ruck with a 3 game player and depth at either end of the ground.  The lack of finals experience and intensity could be an issue for the Demons but they will never get better without experiencing it.  Their ballistic play is great to watch, if they can balance it with sound defense when they need to plus ensure Ablett and/or Dangerfield are held in check they could get a second final.  So many of the Cats have been here before – expect that experience edge will help Geelong into a semi-final by 15 points.


East ($1.85) vs West ($2.16)


The Sydney teams take each other on in the twilight – another ordinary timeslot but does wonders for the news ratings.  Sydney need to have Buddy and Parker back in the team to really have chance.  Their forward line is completely dependent on Lance Franklin and completely impotent without him, then if only they could play him higher up the ground!  The Giants injury list is even longer, there are plenty marked available but lacking match fitness.  Which are the ones that the Maserati Driver takes a gamble with.  Suspect two of Greene, Deledio and Griffen comeback.  The SCG is the determining factor without team selections available.  The Swans have been horrible at home – suspect as they are implementing a style suited to win on bigger grounds.  GWS have generally been in better form just got overwhelmed by injuries – enough will be back for them to win by 13 points.


The Corporation ($1.66) vs The Carringbush ($2.48)


All the numbers stack for The Eagles especially with the return of Kennedy and Jetta, they have performed well despite the absence of both Natanui and Gaff.  The home ground advantage will be a real factor – or will it?  The Pies have been terrific all year, despite being racked by injuries their core players have performed brilliantly and those around the edge have stepped up.  Cox up forward has become a weapon and defenders such as Tom Langdon have filled the void left by injuries to key back men.  They have also been outstanding on the road – whilst they don’t travel often when they do they get the job done.  4-1 interstate this year and the loss by only two points, their win at the new stadium was in Round 23.  The Eagles are a different challenge compared to the Dockers, Bucks will need to find suitable counters to a set of the best big forwards and defenders in the competition.  They could get and advantage through weight of midfield numbers, the Eagles need more support for Shuey.  Sticking with West Coast by 12 points, but certainly cannot deny the Pies’ chances.


Friar Time


The drive for promotion is over with the Friars going down to Old Paradians last Sunday.  The Raiders were the more committed team early jumping out to a four goal lead going into the wind it would be all uphill from there.  Going a man down in the second didn’t help and despite a rousing comeback in the third to snatch the lead, Old Paradians kicked important goals late to seal the fate.  Some redemption available this week with the Reserves playing off in the Grand Final against the Unicorns at Coburg on Sunday.


Go Friars,


Cheers, Sal


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  1. John Butler says

    Sal, based on prior revealed form, I would expect it comes as somewhat of a surprise for the AFL to hear that football is played outside the metropolitan areas.


  2. Great wrap Sal.

    I like all the non-favourites this week. Cats, Hawks, Pies, GWS.

    Hawks and Pies are specials.

  3. “I’m shocked, shocked to find commercial sponsors, TV and the big end of town running VFL National. Round up the usual suspects. Set up a media event with furry animals and sick children.”
    I see the Big Suit has been getting Argentinian polo players into Australia on dodgy visas. Will the rule changes permit horses to increase the speed of the game? Whatever happened to Irish postmen and Gaelic footballers?
    Eagles by 5 (goals). “Why cain’t we get no respect”.

  4. Intriguing selection choices await several teams. Injured players have become available, but do you risk them?

    The old maxim was no. But has 2016 changed that?

  5. george smith says

    Speaking of betting odds, is it worth noting that Labor is $1.30, while Baz Luhrmann of Warringah and his friends are $3.20, just saying…

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