Grand Final – Sal’s Preview: Dees in a tight one



Greetings All,


It’s been a long two weeks but we are nearly there. Slap bang in the middle we had the Brownlow Medal accompanying all the usual discussion on its merits and the ongoing fact that it is a midfielders award.  It has been that way for a long time – the last positional player to win the award being Plugger back in 1987, just reinforces how good the big man was!  The Brownlow should be viewed simply for what it is – the umpires view of the best three players on the ground.  It doesn’t mean they are the best in the competition but there are no winners who were not very good players in their year.  There are plenty of other accolades that take the perspective of the players, the coaches and the media.  My worry though is the influence of the media on the umpires decisions.  It becomes a media fulfilling prophecy the more the media talks of a player the more the umpires will notice them.


Is the dynamics around the top four vote getters all finishing with over thirty votes and the distribution of votes being skinnier an issue?  Not sure it is quite a trend but couple of changes in the game may have influenced this also.  With reduced interchange the best players are on the ground for more time.  They are bigger – in years gone by The Bont would be holding down Centre Half Forward.  The Bombers have been playing a 200cm lad on the wing.  The other point is that midfielders now are undoubtedly the best players, it is where they have the most influence.  Looking at the Bombers again, Merrett and Parish are great – the most influence a player has on their games though is when Jake Stringer takes his turn in the middle.  At the end of the day Ollie Wines is a more than worthy winner, plays consistently, wins his own footy and skillful – aided by have a team that wins consistently.


The Blues have not featured in Grand Final week for a while but have made their mark this week not just with the appointment of Michael Voss as coach but with the death of past president John Elliott.  Big Jack was a big character and polarising – his passion for the Blues was undeniable, the fortunes of the club shadowed his own fortunes in the business world.  The Blues won two flags during his reign and he was a key player in the expansion of the VFL to become the AFL.  He personified his club and his mark has been indelible for both the good and the bad.  The bombastic and confident style was great through the successful years, his edict that Carlton don’t rebuild has haunted the club ever since as it still rebuilds, resets or whatever it is called these days.  There will be plenty written and said about John Dorman Elliott but for the success he brought to Carlton I say thank you and to anyone casting aspersions on his legacy – he will be replying – Pig’s Arse.


We are not at the G but we have a ripping contest coming up between teams that were the best two all year and both play attacking and attractive footy.


Come what May ($1.74) v Gone Shopping ($2.32)


The Brownlow says so and with these two teams the battle in the middle will be the major factor in this contest.  Honours were split through the season so we don’t have a pattern to go by.  Do they go head to head or are their tags to be made.  Melbourne have a couple of players in Harmes, Viney and Brayshaw capable of stopping the opposition catalysts, the  Dogs trusting more on their own style although we did Josh Schache deployed in a defensive role on Allir in the preliminary final.  Suspect the key head to head battle might be the collision of two contested bulls in Libba and Viney both are uncompromising and set the standards for their teams.  Petracca and Oliver will do the bulk of the other work inside,  can they counter Bontempelli?  Reckon they can but in the Dogs favour they have an army of midfielders going through.  Bailey Smith has been fantastic in the finals kicking goals and needs to be contained and suspect that role will go to Angus Brayshaw.  The rucks are an interesting dynamic few can doubt the influence of Max Gawn, by the same token the Bulldogs have taken no risk with Stefan Martin to ensure he is ready for this game.  I don’t think the talk of physicality from the Dogs with Max is cheap – they did “Shop Early” in 54 and it is one area of Max’s game that has not really been tested often.  There is nothing to say he and Jackson can’t handle it and suspect they will be able to give their boys first use.  I will continue and dissect each end of the ground but the reality is what happens in the middle will be the major influence on the result – and maybe why midfielders get all the votes!


If there is one player outside the middle that can decide this game it is Aaron Naughton, his sheer presence and attack on the contest sets up plenty opportunities for the Dogs.  If he is Superman the Demons might own the Kryptonite in Steven May who is a master at controlling the aerial contest and protecting the drop of the ball.  Schache will be there to control Lever but suspect the Demons brains trust will have a plan to counteract that.  With the Bulldogs usually playing an extra in the midfield it allows Melbourne to set up their defense and if they can do that they probably win.  How will Beveridge ensure all the Demon defenders are occupied?


At the other end we have seen the Demons pull apart slow, clumsy defenses with their nippy small forwards.  The Dogs are a different question, they have a couple that are slow and clumsy in Keath and Cordy but their direct opponents in McDonald and Brown are not gazelles either.  Luke Jackson could be a differentiator.  The Dog their defense is more reliant on the slick and skillful likes of Williams, Dale and Daniel – the Demon smalls will have a lot more to chase down than the barges from a fortnight ago.  It all looks very well matched up.


The satchel swingers have the Demons as solid favorites – I reckon this is much closer to flip of the coin.    Ultimately swinging to the Demons as they should have that edge in the ruck with both Gawn and Jackson plus a couple they can use to lockdown opponents if they get out of hand.  Then there is the genius of Bevo who can take the opposition’s game away from them.  It promises to be a beauty with the 57 year drought ending by a mere 8 points.


Track Time


The races are secondary but the night grand final has had the MRC shift the Underwood Stakes program to Saturday, it has also shifted the program from Caulfield to Sandown – hosting a Group 1 for the first time in many years.  Before that we also have the opening night at the Valley for the season, while racing returns to Rosehill after being shutdown through COVID for the Golden Rose.


Friday Night – Moonee Valley


Some handy types face off in the Stutt Stakes (Race 3, G3, 1600m, 3yo SW), if the pace is on then an each way ticket on Daily Bugle (2) might present the value.  It’s the fillies turn in the Scarborough Stakes (Race 4, G3, 1200m, Fillies SW), Larkspur Run (5) never lost ground to the 1000 Guineas favourite Zouzarella over this journey.   The JRA Cup (Race 6, G3, 2040m, HCP) sees Defibrillate (3) follow up after a slashing run at Flemington.  Up against a first up specialist in Homesman (1) and a Valley specialist in Al Galayel (5) – good race!


Race 7 – Moir Stakes (G1, 1000m, WFA)


Can the baby burn them off?  Profiteer (11) has won two and dictated from the front, if he can do that here he will be hard to beat.  The issue is that there are not many Group 1 sprint where the leader gets his own way, Portland Sky (4), Ballistic Lover (8) and Miss Albania (9) all have the potential to take him on.  He might be that good anyway over this journey, but reckon it sets up for the closers.  Can’t see why The Inferno (3) can’t repeat the dose from the McEwen.  The mares five through nine are all in this and favouring Swat’s That (6) and Brooklyn Hustle (7) to be closing hard getting clear runs from wide draws.  Any result would not surprise in a ripping opening to Friday Night Lights!


Selections – 3-7-11-6


The night closes with the Stocks Stakes (Race 8, G2, 1600m, Mares WFA) a tough end to the evening, So You Assume (9) has fitness and form in a wide open affair.


Saturday – Rosehill


Some handy support races where we see Love Tap (R6, #10) back in winning form and can repeat the dose.  Another shorty follows with Entriviere (R7, #2) whoever beats her will have to be very good.


Race 8 – Golden Rose (G1, 1400m, 3yo SW)


How far Anamoe (1)?  Seems to be the question, still beat most of these after a setback so hard to see the tables turned.  Artorius (2) presents the biggest question coming off Victorian form, second in both races this campaign has been a touch disappointing should be primed for this.  Remarque (9) was the best of the runs behind the favourite a couple of weeks ago.  Giannis (8) was very good last week but some concern coming back from 1500m, would have rated Hilal (4) higher but for the outside barrier.


Selections – 1-2-9-8


The 3YO stretch out to 1800 in the Gloaming to close the program, interesting runner in Profondo (6).  Comes off a midweek maiden to this not sure he should be favourite but not sure who beats him.


Saturday – Sandown


Great to see a big meeting at Sandown, probably the fairest track in Melbourne if not the country.  Would be a shame to see it shutdown as the MRC are looking to do.  We get to see the impressive Zouzarella (R4, #2) away from Moonee Valley where she has won ant both starts, not sure about the short price but important to watch.  She gets followed by a small but quality field in the Sandown Stakes (Race 5, G3, 1500m, HCP), is the form of Harbour Views (3) and Cherry Tortoni (6) good enough over the group form of Elephant (2)?  All three are great chances but I hear the jungle drums.


Race 7 – Underwood Stakes (G1, 1800m, WFA)


Zaaki (2) is not Winx but has scared off plenty to have a pretty disappointing line up with only four more to complete the field.  Dominant win last start over a non-suitable distance says Zaaki (2) is hard to beat here.  The one thing to note is that the competition was pretty average so that might be the hook to grab and find a challenger.  Superstorm (4) is the main threat after a great win in the Feehan with Probabeel (5) better suited back to WFA.  Take your pick for next from Fifty Stars (1) and The Chosen One (3).


Selections – 2-4-5-1




Got a result last week, just not much of a profit.  This week’s will just finish off before the big game and is gettable given we have almost a gimme in Zaaki, hoping for a long shot in the last leg.


Leg 1 – 1, 5, 9, 10

Leg 2 – 2

Leg 3 – 1, 2, 5, 6

Leg 4 – 3, 8, 13, 15, 16


80 Combinations, $30 investment could return 37.5% of the dividend!


For the Bride, the Princess and Reg,


Go Dees!
Cheers Sal



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