Grand Final Preview – Is it Black and Yellow?

Greetings all and welcome to the Grand Final Preview,


After such a tight and unpredictable season the finals have delivered some unpredictability but very little in the way of competitive matches.  This has not really had much influence on crowd numbers with Tigermania filling the G twice, not sure what the impact on TV ratings are with so many blowouts.  Should this be a concern for Gill?


This graph displays finals winning scores, losing scores and margins since 2000.  This year has not seen any real change in winning scores but a real drop in losing scores and resultant jump in margins.



Looking at the graph this is a trending change from 2013 through to 2017, it does not appear an outlier but an extension of a recent pattern.  The average margin since 2000 is 33.6, this year it is currently 47.1.  2000 and 2007 were outliers as there were a couple of thumpings in those series, even so in both series there was more than one game decided by margins under two goals.  Let’s hope this is a trend that is short lived, however while the game continues to resemble Wrestlemania I have my doubts.


Kudos to the Richmond leadership, especially Peggy O’Neill, who put the whole away strip saga to bed quickly and quietly.  Simply saying the AFL will tell them what to do whether they like it or not and shut down what would have been the biggest non-story of the week.  The Tigers already have enough to celebrate with real news after Dusty’s Brownlow win.


Also even to the MRP!  On live viewing, it appeared Cotchin chose to bump Dylan Sheil and was in trouble.  Watching it later I simply thought he went for the footy lower and harder than his opponent with an unfortunate resultant injury.  The commentary around whether he should miss a Grand Final for that is bollocks, if the crime deserved a sanction then a sanction should be deliver no matter what the next game is.  This scribe would love nothing more than a key Tiger to be unavailable, Grand Final or not they got this one right.



Now for the game


Phil The Cup ($1.76) vs Feeling Dusty ($2.30)


What got these two team here at the pointy end is worthy of consideration.  The Crows only need a solid home season to contend for the top four, this year they scored heavily and won a good share of games away from home to enhance their position to top of the table.  Melbourne teams don’t get the same home ground advantage but the Tigers made the G a fortress.  Finishing mid table in 2016 also gave them a softer draw, but the major factor for the Tigers was that were healthy all year with players in their best 22 rarely succumbing to injury.  This week the Tigers will choose from almost the entire list, while the Crows will be missing Brodie Smith and Mitch McGovern from their best line up.  You do not just have to play well to make the Grand Final, you need to take advantage of the luck you are afforded through the season.  Both clubs did this during the year to be worthy of meeting in the Grand Final.


The teams last met in round 6 in Adelaide and the Tigers were handed a comprehensive beating in the order of 76 points.  A few things have changed since then mostly that the Tigers have significantly more belief in themselves individually and collectively.  Richmond are vulnerable to the odd shocker and have suffered two losses of more than 60 points.  Premiership teams don’t do that.  Adelaide dished out a few hidings, their worst loss being by 59 points to the Roos in Hobart.  History is on the Crows side; these Tigers are making a habit of breaking history.


The game itself will really come down whether Richmond can constrain the opposition as they have done with Geelong and GWS and then break their hearts as Dusty takes over in the second half.  He proved too much for the opposition in the two finals so far and I am not sure who Adelaide have to curtail him when he goes forward.  As Don Pyke indicated there is more to the Tigers than Martin.  Trent Cotchin is doing more inside and needs to be restricted, tackling is not enough Adelaide must win the footy ahead of him.  Head to head with Rory might just be rolling the dice although the Crows may believe the added depth in midfield from the Crouch brothers might swing it their way, the rookie Greenwood is a genuine hard nut and contested ball animal who could also have an impact.


Nankervis struggled early against Lobb last week, his onballers did their job to restrict the influence of the GWS ruck dominance.  He will be challenged being up against Sam Jacobs who is a master of his craft.  It will be advantage Adelaide if Jacobs can assert himself.


The Crow defence looked shaky early in the season but have built great confidence in each other and team up very well.  The Geelong and GWS forwards do not exert the same pressure that the Richmond forwards do, moving the ball out of defence will be a more difficult assignment this week with Dan Rioli and his pack hunting them down.  However last week Richmond only threatened to score heavily when the Brownlow Medallist went forward, if he is needed in the midfield they will find it tough to register a winning score.


At the other end the Crows offensive record speaks for itself.  Playing the Tigers it is more than a numbers game it is more a question of how you go forward rather than how often.  More simply put “Don’t kick it to Rance!” – GWS could not help themselves last week.  Adelaide have the spread of potent forwards that should allow them to separate and isolate the Richmond defence.  It is the opportunity for Eduardo Betts to prove me wrong – he has been important in the two finals not for his overall contribution but for having influence when it mattered.


Picking the winner is a tough task!  I have not selected the Tigers much this year and would be a cop out to jump on the heaving bandwagon at this stage.  I do believe either way the score will be similar to other finals this year and blow out.  Richmond can win, they need to keep it tight and close early before breaking out in the second half of the game.  Adelaide have more ways to win, they could break Tiger hearts early and blow the game right apart.  Suspect it will be a bit more of a grind than that but Adelaide will break the shackles at some stage to come away with a 41 point victory.


Ready for the Handover


The reality is I was ready for the handover when the Blues lost about six in a row!  The baton moves from the arena to the track after this weekend and there are six Group 1 events over 3 meetings this weekend.  The Valley kicks it off on Friday Night with the Moir Stakes; then Royal Randwick for the Flight, Epsom and Metropolitan on Saturday followed by a big Sunday at the Heath for the Rupert Clarke and the Underwood.


Friday Night – Moonee Valley


Race 7


Moir Stakes (G1, 1000m, WFA) – the sprinters line up at the scale over the flying 1000m, a number of them priming themselves for The Everest.  Not sure about the Everest concept but with $10M up for grabs it has everyone chasing it.  The outside draw does not help Russian Revolution (5) but just think he is a ripper.  He won the McEwen over the same journey so the track will not worry him, his main danger has not traversed the Valley in fact She Will Reign (13) has only raced in Sydney.  Has a few question marks but she has speed, is undefeated and only 50kg.  Drawn further in might have put her as top selection.  Heatherly (11) chased home Russian Revolution in the McEwen and is going well.  The Magic Man rides Sheidel (6) who has the capability, her record at the track is poor.  That being the case putting Voodoo Lad (3) to fill the final hole who is undefeated around this circuit.


Selections – 5-13-11-3


Saturday – Royal Randwick


Race 5


The fillies contest the Flight Stakes (G1, 1600m, 3yo Fillies SW) over the famous Randwick Mile and the top two dominate the market but are both drawn out wide.  A tough assignment but I think they have the class.  Champagne Cuddles (1) was terrific in last week’s Golden Rose and the Tea Rose before that.  Godolfin’s Alizee (2) was her conqueror in the Tea Rose and think she might just do it again. Pandemonium (8) raced out of pattern in the Tea Rose if she can lead in typical Gai style she must have some chance and Cellar Girl (4) is racing well.


Selections – 2-1-8-4


Race 7


That mile features again in the Epsom Handicap (G1, 1600m, HCP).  The field is down to 12 with a couple of scratchings already.  Sticking with the usual big handicap theory finding value at the bottom of the weights.  Not sure if the value will be there, but Egg Tart (10) has a great record and drew the number one marble.  Would have put Comin’ Through (11) on top but for the barrier, if the man can do his magic then he can win.  Happy Clapper (1) and Foxplay (2) have played bridesmaid to Winx in this campaign so are in fine form.  Wary of Tom Melbourne (9) who is racing well but not winning, G Boss has won on this horse often and has come down from Singapore to take the mount.


Selections 10-11-1-2


Race 8


The time honoured Metropolitan Handicap (G1, 2400m, HCP) has been through a bit of a lull where the plodders contesting did not quite match up with the stature of the event.  It does seem to be on the improve with the support of Teams Williams, although they do only send their second stringers.  They are leaving Amrallah at home which might be a pointer to Foundry (10) who looks very nicely weighted, not sure how the Williams horses go without a teammate?  Libran (1) got the good track and the great ride to win last start and can repeat the dose with those conditions on offer again.  Big test for Big Duke (5) has the ability just worried he is feeling the effects of a long summer and autumn campaign.  Antonio Guiseppe (6) rarely runs a bad race, would be promoted with any softness in the surface.


Selections 1-5-6-10


Sunday – Caulfield


Race 7


GSOB has chosen the Underwood Stakes (G1, 1800m, WFA) for Hartnell (1) rather than taking on Winx in the Turnbull next week.  It takes a good one to beat him and Humidor did last start.  Is there another good one in this field?  There maybe but he is the proven one for mine.  The contestant he has not met before is the NZ mare Bonneval (8) who won the Dato but got plenty of favours from a rider less horse. Abbey Marie (7) was good in that race also but not so good last week, her best gives her some hope andBlack Heart Bart (2) gets back to his favourite track but not is quite up to Hartnell (1).


Selections 1-8-2-7


Race 8


The weekend’s final big one is the Rupert Clarke Stakes (G1, 1400m, HCP)Charmed Harmony (6)should ensure this race is run at a solid tempo which sets it up nicely for the backmarkers.  The one at odds that will enjoy that is Lucky Hussler (2), there are questions on how well he is going but the last time he carried this weight or less was back in 2014.  Scales of Justice (3) ran down the straight last start but covered most of it, despite that he ran second to a good one the Caulfield bend might help.  Froggy Newitt will cross Bass Strait to ride So Si Bon (11) who will appreciate a good tempo as will Santa Ana Lane (9).  The chances don’t end there in a very open affair – kudos to the handicapper!


Selections 2-3-11-9


Quaddie Time


Will try and wait till Sunday for the Quaddie and the wide-open Rupert Clarke makes it a good challenge, but there are a couple of shorties that lets us skinny up.  There might be a better colt than Royal Symphony but I am yet to see him so he goes one out.  Could go Hartnell one out, but will include Bonneval.  Wide in the Rupert and wider than normal in the last which is also a raffle.


Leg 1 – 3

Leg 2 – 1, 8

Leg 3 – 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 14

Leg 4 – 1, 2, 11, 12, 13


70 combinations so the $30 ticket will return about 43% of the dividend.


Who is up for a Winxpedition to Flemington next week?



Cheers, Sal


  1. I wonder what picture will go on the almanac front page… oh wait Dusty

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