Finals Week 3 – The Penultimate Week: Order is restored

Greetings All and welcome to what should be called Semi-Final weekend,
Since this finals system began in 2000 until 2013 only twice did we have Elimination Finalists get through to the preliminary final, for the next three years we did have an elimination
finalists play in the penultimate week of the season.   After those couple of years of confusion even to the point where an Elimination final winner won the flag, the world was set back on its axis last week with both Qualifying Final losers beating the Elimination Final winners.  The other thing is coming off a loss they are usually overs in the semi-final – the Cats certainly provided that last week!
Much has been made of the “poor” crowd last week’s GWS final, just not sure what would have been a good crowd and what a truly fair comparison would be.  A scan back over some of the crowds for finals at the G with interstate finalists sees crowds of less than 40,000.  This is supporting teams with 100 years of history, the Giants were created yesterday in relative terms and are based in a very competitive market.
We have mostly enjoyed one of the most competitive seasons ever, but these have been he finals that have not delivered!  5 out of 6 games have been blow outs with four of them decided early, the Geelong-Richmond game was tight for a while but it was pretty much a rugby tackle fest until Dusty blew it apart.  Whilst I did not watch the close one between Port and West Coast from all reports it lacked real quality and the skills were poor on both side.  I’m sure the supporters could not care less, but if the finals are of this quality what does 2018 look like?  Perhaps this weekend will make up for it, both games are full of intrigue and possibilities.
Pull the Lever ($1.46) vs Danger Ahead? ($3.10)
Not a great fan of Chris Scott especially with incredulous reactions to umpiring decisions.  (Maybe less time on camera)  Have to say though that he had a brilliant week last week, to the point where he had little to do during the game.  He set up a plan, the players bought in and they executed perfectly.  Helped a bit by the Swans who were as fumble as Geelong were the previous week.  Heading to Adelaide holds no fears, the Crows won the last meeting but the Cats won the previous five.  These Crows might be different.  The midfield has stepped up and is no longer dependent on Rory Sloane, getting him back this week is an added bonus.  The loss of Brodie Smith will take some adjustment, good luck to him recovering from the dreaded ACL rupture.
The question though is how will Adelaide deal with Dangerfield if he goes forward again.  It completely flummoxed Longmire – who was surprised by the move and did not have a strategy to deal with it.  Pyke will be prepared and then also have a Plan B for the move.  Not sure Geelong will do it again, the element of surprise was critical in its success last week.  Scott will be weighing whether or not Adelaide have a match up for him.  Both defences enjoy having an extra number to allow them to intercept and build their game from there, there is none better than Jake Lever not just for marks he takes but his disposal and decision making help setup their attacking forays.  The Cats share the responsibility for the inteceptor, but none of them are “Boris” Enright when it comes to distribution.  They all have a few forwards to look after, which is where I think the Crows have an advantage with the likes of Walker, Jenkins, Betts and Lynch to contend with.  Menzel added spark to the Geelong forward line, but Dangerfield set it alight.  Suspect they will need a bigger contribution from Tomahawk rather then being the decoy as he played last week.
The interceptors really rely on two things.  The first one is dumb footballers who don’t look up when they go forward and do not either kick to their teammates advantage or bomb for distance.  The other is pressure from up the ground forcing desperate kicks into the forward line or out of defence.  It worked beautifully for the Cats last week which midfield and forward line will apply the most pressure.  Which team will be smarter with the footy and kick their desperate clearances hard and low rather in the air directly to the opposition?  The Crouch brothers have lifted their intensity in the back half of the season plus Sloane and the rest of the Adelaide running machine.  Geelong have the dynamic duo and the next level really stood up last week, can they go again?  Suspect Adelaide have Geelong’s number here and will do them for pace also.  Sam Jacobs should continue his superb form.
Like last week not quite writing the Cats off, they showed last week they could produce a plan and deliver.  Suspect though on home soil Adelaide will have enough of the answers to win what is hopefully a great game by 17 points.
The Beatles ($1.63) vs Sympathy for the Devil ($2.56)
The Tigers are at fever pitch and worried about wearing the away strip for the Grand Final – methinks that is a category B problem right now!  The Giants play the villain and looked much sharper last week with the added running power, just not sure the game was played at finals intensity.  In their previous encounter the Giants played 20 minutes of the purest footy, before Toby whacked Alex and the Tigers defence took over and the rain came restricting the Giants to only another 3 goals for the game.  The personnel though has changed from that game with the Giants with six additions including Coniglio, Hopper and Deledio while the Tiger have three additions in Houli, Graham and Townsend that do not substantially improve the team compared to the Giants.  
If the Giants play at their best they win this, however what the Tigers do collectively is not allow the opposition to play at their best.  They also have the best player in the competition that can split a tight game up in a matter of minutes as we witnessed two weeks ago.  How GWS deal with Dusty will be a key to their chances.  The other unknown will be the 23rd man for the Tigers with at least 90% of the crowd behind them the roar factor could come into play.  Early last week the Giants bombed the ball in to see McGovern intercept regularly, loved the way they changed their entries into the forward line taking out the intercepters and also the big forwards becoming defenders and spoiling the Eagles intercept players if the ball did come in long and high.  Do the same this week and I think they have the Rance factor covered.
The Tigers have proven the pundits wrong all year and they might do this one again, but think the Giants are made for the MCG and can get their game going for long enough to win by 21 points.
Racing Ahead
The Group One event is at Rosehill this week with the Golden Rose while the Heath hosts a pretty good program highlighted by The Naturalism which give the winner a free ticket into the Caulfield Cup.  However the big news this week has been that the might Winx is coming to Flemington to run in the Turnbull Stakes in two weeks.  Turnbull Stakes day has long been my favourite day of racing especially when coupled up with three group ones at Randwick – this year it promises to be even better.
Rosehill Race 7 – The Golden Rose (G1, 1400m, 3yo Set Weights)
Menari (2) is all the rage and is pretty good, but it just lets us get a better price for Merchant Navy (7).  I am still trying to work out hoe he won at his last start looking hopelessly locked in at the turn and running over the top of a handy field, thinking he can remain undefeated.  Assimilate (10) has the Snowden polish and the Bowman pilot, just missed in the Ming Dynasty with a big finish is my next pick.  Would have rated Formality (13) a bit higher but for the wide draw.  Chances don’t end there.
Selections 1-10-13-2
Caulfield Quaddie
Leg 1 – 3
Leg 2 – 2, 3, 4, 6, 9
Leg 3 – 5, 6, 7, 8
Leg 4 – 6, 13
40 Combinations, $30 outlay return 75% of the dividend.
Go See Winx!


Cheers, Sal


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I had that same thought about “Semi-” Sal. It might have worked back in the days of the final four, but not any more.

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