Finals Week 3 – Sal’s Preview: Vale the Captain and the Cowboy


Greetings All,


The footy world was saddened with the news last Saturday of the passing of Ronald Dale Barassi.  Legend is almost not enough to describe the great man; he was a genuine visionary of the game.  He foresaw the nationalisation of the game, colluded with an opposition coach for the 50 metre square (probably 50 yards then), he was always looking forward.  He took over clubs that were in the doldrums their finishing positions on the ladder they year prior were Carlton (10th in 1964), North (12th in 1972),  Melbourne (9th in 1980) and Sydney (Bottom 15th in 1992).  A couple he took to premiership glory, the others he set on the path to success and professionalism. The naming of the premiership cup in honour is entirely appropriate given he lifted it ten times himself.  Is that enough?


What about something else visionary?  This weekend the LA Kings and Arizona Coyotes bring the NHL Global Series to Melbourne for a preseason hit out.  What if the AFL introduce the Barassi Global Series and take the preseason beyond this country to locations afar.  There are leagues all around the world playing the game and the Australian diaspora is spread far and wide, it would be great if those fans could get closer contact with the game.  Yes, it’s been done before but usually post season apart from the Port’s foray into China.  Playing preseason might lack the gravitas of playing for premiership points but teams will be looking at new talent and refining their plans.


The following day the news came of Kevin “Cowboy” Neale’s death.  One of the great characters of the game and proficient at both ends of the ground.  One of the Saints premiership heroes a key factor in the win with five goals.



In Good Nick (71%) vs The Maserati (29%)


Once the Giants got through their early years they have been very competitive against the Magpies, in fact ahead on the ledger discounting the first three years.  They have played two finals against each other winning one each and both by small margins.  Their most recent clash saw a big win for Collingwood but GWS has improved significantly to be the most in form team remaining in the finals.  The Pies form is the big unknown, statistically they are off compared to early in the year.  What we don’t know is how much they relaxed toward the end of the season and exactly how much influence Nick Daicos’ absence has affected the team.  If they play their best this will be a ripping contest, if not then the Giants will roll into their second grand final.


Collingwood a great starters and blew Melbourne away going around the oppositions key defenders, they will try and repeat that this week avoiding Buckley and Taylor.  Suspect over the entire game they will need to have more forays forward than against Melbourne as the Giants will be far more efficient and unpredictable with their entries.  The Collingwood defence works very well together the task for Greene, Hogan and the other forwards will be to separate the defence and beat them mano-e-mano.  Then in the middle we have a couple of beasts.  The Collingwood beast De Goey is dynamic can turn a game in minutes, the GWS beast is Tom Green who simply wins the footy all day and is so clean with it in heavy traffic.  Whichever has the greatest influence will help determine the result here.  As will the ruck contest, Briggs has been magnificent this year but appeared injured late last week, that is sure to be tested early by Cox and Cameron.  It then comes down to the running power of the teams, both are very slick with their ball movement and love to transition quickly, just think the Giants have the slight edge purely with the sheer number of runners.  That can all be countered with effect of the Collingwood 19th man; it will not be foreign to GWS playing against a heavily biased crowd but daunting nevertheless.  The Pies best wins this but there are too many unknowns to be confident so tipping the Giants to get home by 21 points.



Kings of the Jungle (86%) vs The Lion King (14%)


This game appears much simpler the numbers make this difficult for the Blues.  Brisbane remains the only team their former champion Michael Voss has not beaten as a coach, Carlton’s only win in the last ten years at the Gabba was against North during COVID the previous being in 2013 with Voss at the helm for the Lions.  Their last win over Brisbane back in 2019.  The encounter early in the year saw Brisbane absolutely stifle Carlton’s ball movement in the Loungeroom the 26-point margin flattering the losers.  We have seen teams turn around previous results in these finals.


The Blues have some significant improvements in their team from that contest, notably Tom De Koning and Jack Martin.  A genuine second ruckman can wear down big Oscar as they did with Gawn last week (although it did take till the two minutes).  The Lions probably have a better pinch hitter in Daniher.  Up forward is where he presents a bigger challenge and getting that match up right along with the rest of Brisbane forwards is critical.  The inclusion of Boyd at the expense of Kemp showing the concern they have for the speed of the Lions forwards.  There has been plenty said about the ineffectiveness of Curnow and McKay in their last encounter, with the poor ball movement that night from the Blues they were pretty easy to play against.  Their match ups will be critical likely to be Gardiner and Andrews – or will they try and release Andrews to be the spare defender.  Suspect Carlton will strive to make him accountable.


Chris Fagan sent the message out that his midfield is more than Lachie Neale and they showed that against Port.  The Blues have also shown that theirs is more than Cripps – it had to be after Dunkley locked him down and ran riot himself in the last meeting.  How each team control the others in the middle will be critical especially McCluggage and Walsh who have shone in this finals series.  As a supporter there is confidence that the Blues have planned well and can win this game but everything has to go right and there are a few tired bodies after the last two games.  While there is hope there is the daunting task of beating Brisbane at the Gabba, no one has done it yet this year and suspect they will remain undefeated and win this by 9 points.



Track Time


The circus heads to The Heath this week for the Underwood Stakes as the main event, the Guineas Prelude and the Naturalism lead a nice support program.  For those looking at the juvenile classics keep your eye on Flemington on Sunday with the Derby and Oaks Previews.  Sydney also have a guineas prelude of sorts with their feature race being the Golden Rose for the three year olds.


We’ll open proceedings in the fourth backing up on Yellow Sam (R4, #11) the claim for W Pinn gives her a great chance.  The Testa Rossa is a good race with Amenable (R6. #10) coming up at a short price after a handy run in a group one, reckon Umgawa (R6, #7) presents as a good each way chance after being the bridesmaid last three starts.  The Guineas Prelude kicks off the Quaddie and should be a watch and learn race with some very handy youngsters running.  The undefeated Steparty (R7, #3) faces his stiffest opposition yet.  A ticket to the Caulfield Cup is the prize for wining the Naturalism, like the chances of the WA Raider Alaskan God (R8, #17em) but needs to get a start.


Race 9 – The Underwood Stakes (G1, 1800m, WFA)


Alaskan God (17 em) has the same issue here, but this race is not as suitable.  This race has plenty looking to the Cups running as well as Alligator Blood (2) backing up from last week.  Gets the chance to avoid Mr Brightside and looks well suited here.  He might just set the race up for Soulcombe (10) who seems to excel on left-handed tracks and was devastating in the Heatherlie.  Attrition (14) follows up from a great run in the Feehan and H Bowman takes the ride on Lindermann (13) who should be ready to run well 3rd up.  Doesn’t end there in a race that there is plenty to learn from.


Quaddie Time


Got the chocolates last week but did not get the shorties beaten so they were not quite as sweet as it didn’t get the investment back.  We will narrow down the opener to three and then be a bit more expansive, but will be tough to nail


Leg 1 – 2, 3, 6


Leg 2 – 1, 3, 5, 12, 17


Leg 3 – 2, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14


Leg 4 – 3, 4, 12


Represents 270 combinations, a $30 investment returns 11.11% of the dividend.


Go Blues,


Cheers, Sal



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