Grand Final Preview – Will the Hawks be GOATs?

Happy Grand Final to all!


And for those in Victoria Happy Dan Day, which is why this edition is at some risk coming out prior to team selection!


A couple of other items in the news before the big one.  I have marvelled at Nat Fyfe’s ability from when he began as a scrawny kid, he has simply got bigger and better ever since.  His efforts last Friday night will be stuff of legend in years to come, certainly hope there are no long term ill effects.  A more than worthy winner of the Brownlow.  But in doing so he has exposed the lack of exposure the stars from elsewhere get here in Melbourne.  He is also a star off the field as well.  Lives, breathes and eats footy his opinions on the game are considered and are delivered articulately and with a good dose of humour.  Let’s hope we see and hear more of him, but can leave the soft porn shots to the ladies mags!


The other issue is the big trade.  If Patrick Dangerfield is not the best player in the competition he is in the conversation, well really for second best as the previous paragraph suggests.  It is the same conversation that took place when Chris Judd moved to Carlton.  So it is worthwhile pulling that deal apart to get an idea of what Adelaide should expect from the Cats to get their man.  We can remove the steak knives from the Judd deal, Dennis Armfield has been a serviceable warrior for the Blues at best, West Coast’s pick 20 (Tony Notte) played 2 games.  But the two top five picks they received have been instrumental in the Eagles campaign this year.  Josh Kennedy was always going to be a good player, Chris Masten was written off as a “bust” by Greg Baum back in 2011 due to being injury prone but has become an important cog in the midfield closing in on 150 games.  It has been considered as a win-win deal, so with that in mind Adelaide must surely be expecting at least two quality prospects from the Cats.  The question is what are Geelong prepared to give?  I doubt pick nine will be sufficient, future selections are of unknown value, what players will be “on the table”?  Adelaide are in the driver’s seat and could set themselves up quite nicely with a win-win deal.


Now for the big one?  Will these Hawks be Greatest of All Time with a win on Saturday?  A good conversation topic, but not even the best Hawthorn team for mine.  Grand finals from 1983-1989 and then another flag in 91 puts that era ahead, in my opinion.  Speaking on this with a rusted on Hawker, what they have achieved in the area of list managed through this era is incredible given the systems in place for competitive balance.  About 80% right as no other team has exploited free agency like Hawthorn has, displaying that it is not working for competitive balance.  The argument is all conditional on a victory this week.


Three Peaters? ($1.66) vs Peter Parkers ($2.50)

Can the spidermen’s web contain the Hawks for a second time?  The satchel swingers say no and they don’t get it wrong too often.  They have been the two highest scoring team in the competition, will we see a shootout?  Suspect West Coast tactics will be to repeat the Qualifying Final so it is doubtful, but if the Hawks get a flyer it could be end-to-end stuff.  The Eagles present some challenges to the Hawks with Kennedy and Darling presenting as mobile big targets who were too slick for Lake three weeks ago.  At ground level they have Le Cras, Hill and Cripps who are all pretty clever.  Are Hawthorn one too many talls down back for the Eagles?  However against Hawthorn they also need to be the first line of defence as so much drive is generated from the back half, so taking outlet options away from Birchall, Gibson and Mitchell will be critical.

At the other end the no longer underrated Eagle defence may not have the height, but has been outstanding all year.  The Hawthorn attack is not overflowing with talls either but with Breust and Rioli at ground level they are an ever present threat.  It is just as imperative for Hawthorn forwards to try and split the web and ensure that the likes of Hurn and Wellingham are restricted to “dirty” ball.  If either team can get one of their guns off the chain it could be decisive.

But to get them off the chain they will need the supply.  The Hawks conceded the stoppages last week but had their own web on the periphery that did not allow Freo any clean delivery from those hard won contests, they may need to play in the same vein with Natanui’s likely dominance of the skies.  Priddis adds an extra challenge after being a withdrawal from the qualifying final.  However the Hawthorn engine is unparalleled for skill and strength, with pace provided by Hill and Smith.  Expect a better performance from both of them.  Then the question of what to do about Mitchell, hard tag and the others run riot let him free and Hawthorn get their uncontested possession game flowing.

A concern for the Eagles must be the venue, they have only played there once this year and the extra width might stretch the web.  They can take heart from the Richmond defeat of the Hawks which was similar to the Qualifying Final and achieved at the G.  They controlled the direction and quality of ball coming out of the backline, which did not allow the Hawks to pick those easy targets.  If the Eagles can establish that type of game then the Hawthorn tall forwards will really need to compete hard, not something we would expect from Gunston so a lot will fall to Roughead.  There are some other factors that may swing the game to the Eagles.  Heat maybe an issue with Eagles being that fraction fresher and my rusted on Hawker is wary of the potential for 2008 syndrome (Apologies to all you Cat fans).

But it all needs to click for the Eagles and I expect the game to be a tight affair for a while, before the Hawks can start the argument by taking the premiership by 34 points.


Triple Treat on the Track

Group One racing galore this weekend on Friday Night, Saturday and Sunday.  The night racing season kicked off last week, but this week it begins in anger.  Royal Randwick is the stage for three Group 1 events on Saturday then it is moving day at Headquarters with the Turnbull Stakes meeting providing a great guide to the up-coming classics.


Friday Moonee Valley

Race 7 – Moir Stakes (G1, 1000m, WFA)

Buffering (1) returns and will set up a good tempo for Ball of Muscle (6) who should get all the favours from the inside alley.  Very wary of the 3yo fillies who are lightly weighted.  Petits Filous (13) is the known quantity in great form and on a winning streak.  Fontiton (12) is more of a risk was the Blue Diamond favourite after three scorching wins to start her career, the Williams/Smerdon combination can be lethal.  Angelic Light (7) is a star at the Valley and has a chance as do a few more.

Selections – 6-13-12-1


Saturday Royal Randwick

Race 7 – Epsom Handicap (G1, 1600m, HCP)

Usually look for the lightweights in these big handicaps, but a very compressed scale with only 2kg separating the toppy from la bottomy.  Right in the middle of the weights is Winx (4) with 57kg whose last win was something special – suspect she will take this and hopefully then to Melbourne.  Sweynesse (10) needs to improve from his last two but is capable if he can get a firm track.  Always be wary of the CJ Waller 2nd banana which is Silverball (7) and Lucia Valentina (2) is progressing nicely.  But as is the case with most races at this time, the chances don’t end there!

Selections – 4-10-7-2


Race 8 – Flight Stakes (G1, 1600m, 3yo Fillies SW)

With such a lightly raced field there are not too many form lines that come in here and most of them have been running against each other.  With that in mind Pearls (5) won the Tea Rose and might have most of the field covered, the biggest danger is Speak Fondly (1) who comes off a second placing in The Golden Rose.  Honesta (4) and Kimberley Rose (2) to fill the rest out.

Selections – 5-1-4-2


Race 9 – Metropolitan Stakes (G1, 2400m, HCP)

Looking for the O’Shea/Macdonald double here with Magic Hurricane (8) who ran a valiant second to Preferment last start.  Gets my pick just with the barrier over Almoonqith (7) who has wide draw but closed strongly in The Naturalism.  Craig Williams is the pilot on Chance to Dance (9) again to give it a chance to win, not unusual for Macedon Lodge to target this race.  Giving Newcastle Cup winner Beyond Thankful (4) the final slot as I continue to ponder how this race still has group one status!  Also worried about not having a Waller runner in the mix.

Selections – 8-7-9-4


Sunday Flemington

Race 7 – Turnbull Stakes (G1, 2000m, SWP)

The card is littered with group races but just the one G1, but what a race.  Connections would love to win this one, but plenty of them have greater riches on their mind over the next few weeks.  Could not help but be impressed with the win of Preferment (4), won the Derby here and top pick in a tough one.  Alpine Eagle (15) was less than a length from Fawkner in the Makybe Diva and gets in nicely on the scale, Rising Romance (9) must then also have a chance as she finished in front of him.  Hartnell (3) might still need the run, but his best is good enough.  A couple of others to watch Happy Trails (1) loves this journey and must be a chance.  Protectionist (2) hasn’t fired yet, but we really don’t know how long he takes to wind up as he was a visitor last year winning the cup.  His best wins this.  Who Shot Thebarman (8) is going well, Amralah (11) is well fancied but happy to watch first, Set Square (13) should get a better run than last start and can measure up here and Royal Descent (16) rarely runs a bad race.  Sure hope the winner is among that lot!

Selections – 4-15-3-9


Quaddie Time – Flemington Sunday

A open leg first up in The Bart Cummings (G3, 2500m, HCP) once we get past the favourite Foundry (5), skinnying up this leg just because of the next.  The Turnbull is $7 the field and as my preview suggests many chances, going wide here.  The rusted on Hawker has one in the third leg, but concedes some mighty opposition and plenty of them – putting a few in and hoping, Satya (15) my leading contender.  If we are lucky enough to still be going at race 9 then we will save some and go skinny with just the two picks Lord Aspen (15) and Ulman (12) – would like to include Yesterday’s Songs (10).  Big fields, mean big dividends and very hard to nail!

Leg 1 – 1,5,17 (10 if affordable)

Leg 2 – 1,3,4,8,9,13,15 (2,11,16)

Leg 3 – 1,3,5,7,15 (2,11)

Leg 4 – 12,15 (10)

210 Combinations, a $30 investment will return 14% of a nice dividend we hope!



At the request of one of the readers, they have requested some accountability for my selections.  Something I am very wary of over the next few weeks – but we have to take the good with the bad.  Both footy selections were right last week.  I still can’t find Mourinho who just tipped out Fawkner for the Underwood with The Cleaner for third the holes, also said kaput to the Quaddie where 2 legs just doesn’t cut it.  Disposition suffered the same fate in the Rupert Clarke being nosed out by Stratum Star.  Close but no cigars!


Hope everyone has a great weekend and sees off the footy season in style


And for 2016

Go Blues, Go Friars,


Cheers, Sal



Check out Ladbrokes for all of this weekend's markets on the AFL and NRL Grand Finals, as well as all the action at Caulfield, Royal Randwick and Doomben.

Check out Ladbrokes for all of this weekend’s markets on the AFL and NRL Grand Finals, as well as all the action at The Valley, Caulfield, Royal Randwick and Flemington.


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