Let the Finals begin……

so the pain can reside!

Salutations to All,

Though not necessarily sincere coming from a vexed Blues supporter.  The club maybe right in deciding Brett Ratten was not the coach to take the club forward – it was not supposed to be a kneejerk reaction to the loss to the Suns.  Potentially it was not – but it certainly did appear to be a kneejerk reaction to Mick Malthouse’s musings on his own future.  The Blues have been down the coaching “legend” path before with dear old Dennis and from my point of view Mick is not much different.  Achieved a lot – but what is the motivation.  He acted bigger than the club in his swansong at Collingwood and it hurt their premiership tilt – what would such ego-tripping do at a club in Carlton’s predicament?  For want of a better expression – The Blues really do need go through “The Process”!  They must ensure the appointment is about the club and not the individual.

But we do have the makeup of the eight and now they are just jockeying for positions, an intriguing September beckons.  But what of the fallen – none have fallen harder than Carlton this week, even though Sunday’s results made Saturday Night’s of no material consequence.  The effort and execution though have been of “mortal” consequence and in reality the glaring evidence of a malaise that has been at the club for a while.

The Blues abject failure has been a godsend for the Bombers whose fall from a leading contender has been spectacular, how long before the Golden Boy gets the treatment that Ratten has received?  Again injuries cruelled the Bombers, but they have their plans.  From a mere mortal perspective I am not sure inducing lots of injuries is a great strategy – hamstring injuries are often repetitive and the more you tear ‘em the more likely it is you will tear ‘em again.  Only time will tell – but GB is still spoken of in revered tones.

Richmond have been the feel good story of the season!  Tiger fans are in ecstasy as they rejoice that their worst losing margin was 44 points in Round 1 and the rest by 22 points or less – the problem is there is 11 of them!  The summer will abound in the joy of the Tiger rebirth – what will happen in game one?  The Saints on the other hand anticipated finals action – a view not unilaterally shared.  They have produced a number of excellent results through the year – but many still on the back of their aging elite but at least they have introduced more youth in 2012.  Their healthy percentage also indicating a more watchable brand of footy than played under Get Stuffed Lyon.

Of the other four “established” sides only Brisbane can really come out with a satisfactory season, with some encouraging results alongside a couple nasty defeats.  Inconsistency can often be put down to inexperience – but that will need to change as their “untouchables” Brown and Black approach the conclusions of their stellar careers.  Port looked better, but then the Giants defeat was a coach killer.  The Dees were lamentable from go to woe and the Dogs have progressively disintegrated through the long season.  Of cautionary note the Dees hit the panic button last year after the Geelong defeat – would Dean Bailey have been better or worse than what has been dished up in 2012?  Who knows if Port will find the right replacement for Matty Primus – but they forced themselves into the hunt by pulling the trigger immediately.  Fans are demanding, the media relentless,  but boards need to remain rational.

Both new clubs should be satisfied with their seasons.  GWS falling away late but notching two victims and Gold Coast have won 3 of their last 7 – does Malcolm in the coaches box help?  It would appear so.  The beauty of his role is that it is non-threatening to Bluey as I am sure he has no desire to be in charge again.

And now a reluctant review of this prognosticators performance last week.  Started poorly with the Bombers not firing a shot and Tigers charging for 9th.  The Lions and Saints delivered per expectations, but the doubts on the Hawks were unfounded and we look forward to that rematch.  Eagles over the Pies who were structurally unsound for this game.  Whilst never really considering the Blues would lose – I did at least say it was a danger game – should have nibbled the $21 – meanwhile the wheels fell off the bus!  Didn’t really care what happened on Sunday – with 2 games going to plan – I didn’t pick Freo but did indicate attitude would be critical and $3.10 was great value.  5 from 9 – just an effort.

But it is on to the final round and precursor to 10 Mad Mondays.

The Premiership Favourites ($1.29) vs The Nic Nat Show ($4.40)

Another game about attitude – for the Hawks a win locks in top seeding – for the Eagles a loss locks in a top four finish.  Motivation can’t be stronger for West Coast, but Hawthorn’s will be comparable.  So then it comes down to the real estate question – location, location, location.  For the Eagles they have won only one of their last ten at the G – this will be no easier and I can’t see the Hawks dropping this one.  By the same token should the Eagles reign, they will be a dangerous proposition in the finals.  The Eagles at over $4.00 is worth some consideration.


The Boutique Boys ($1.68) vs Dreaming of ’05 ($2.42)

Nice close for the Cats 2 in a row at the boutique ground, should give them a good run into the finals.  The Bloods could not contain the favourites last week but were the last team to conquer the cats here.  Could it happen again?  For Geelong they lock in a Melbourne final, Sydney stay top two for a stoush at ANZ Stadium in week one.  Sydney can win if Geelong are unable to separate their defenders – however if Tomahawk can be isolated the Sydney defence will be exposed.  Not sure if they can so Geelong is my selection, however Sydney might just have the greater motivation.  Nevertheless at the cattery I would still want $2.50 to back the Bloods.


Danger in Texas ($1.02) vs Malcolm in the Middle ($34)

All the Blue furore has been unfair whose effort and execution last week was very good, and whilst there has been talk of the statistical domination that the Blues had after ¼ time the pressure maintained throughout the game did not allow the Blues to have a moments peace.  But this week in Adelaide will be a different story with the Crows looking to at least lock in 2nd place.


Dive Bombers ($5.10) vs Dawes Slammed ($1.22)

The Pies are playing for a top four spot – this should prove too much for Essendon who will descend to 12th on the table after this one.  I thought the Bombers would have given a yelp last week, so I doubt they will this week.  There are no odds to attract me to the Bombers.


Last one Boys ($19) vs Argentina ($1.04)

The end of season one is nigh for the Giants who host the Kangas who demolished them in Hobart earlier in the season.  I suspect the margin might be similar.


Get Stuffed Lyon ($1.06) vs Dee-plorable ($15)

Ross certainly proved he knows the loungeroom well with the Dockers winning all three encounters there this season.  He is coming to grips also with his team and Subiaco and will be far too strong for Melbourne with the potential to even get to 6th and host a home final.  In all likelihood it could be a percentage chase for 7th and 8th with the Roos.  The timing of the game is an added bonus for Freo – they will know whether West Coast have claimed 5th or 6th and they will also know the exact requirement to finish above or below North.  Hence they could line themselves up directly at West Coast – there might even be a touch of badminton in the game.  Exactly why games should be played concurrently in the final round.


Coach Killed ($1.92) vs Play it again Lenny ($1.83)

The best of the worst cup – not such a great spectacle!  Saints resign four including Lenny to go around again, but also Milne!  However no news yet on Goddard.  For the Blues the players owe a lot more than this game to the coach, but not sure where their motivation will come from.  I’ll pick the Blues, but suspect they may come out flat as a pancake again.  Mad Monday likely to have a bit of a stench too.


Missed by that much ($1.13) vs Ploughing In ($8.00)

The Tiggers will beat Port and are likely to miss by one spot from their rightful 9th position.


Kings of the Jungle ($1.22) vs Footscray ($5.20)

The Lions finish their season at the Gabba and if the game goes to form they should win comfortably.  The Dogs have been poor in the back half of the season – weren’t great in the front either – however I suspect they will put up a game fight in their final game for the season.  But not enough to win.


Bring on the Spring

Well now I can focus on the upcoming carnival!  A couple of strong cards this weekend at Caulfield and Rosehill as we approach the first group one for the season in the Golden Rose in 3 weeks time.  Fortunately last week I watched Rusambo through a little bit more than just my eyes, not sure if he measures up with the best 3yo but will be competitive.  At The Heath the Memsie Stakes is the featured event, the field is full of spring hopefuls including Melbourne Cup Runner Up MaluckydayLuckgray also appears again, however the weather gods do not appear to be smiling on the western wonder with rain forecast through to Saturday morning.  With the weather in mind I am taken by Peter Moody’s import runner Voila Ici making his Australian debut – A lightly raced 8yo who has a great first up record and has never been unplaced on slow or heavy ground.  Long odds but worth an each way gambit.

The other major on the card is the McNeil Stakes for the 3 year olds, the undefeated mudlark Elite Elle stands out in the this event.  However there are a number of lightly raced but well-bred juveniles in this field that could shape up in the classics.  Certainly a race to watch and learn from.

Then in Sydney we have the clash of the 3yo titans with All Too Hard taking on the all-conquering Pierro, will that 1kg help Tinkler’s saviour get over Gai’s undefeated star?  Will there be a big improver among the remaining four?  The Sheikh’s Epaulette is one that could measure up.  Not sure it’s a betting race till we see what the satchel-swingers put up – but it is a race that will shape the spring carnival in Sydney and Melbourne.


Go Blues (in 2013), Go Friars, Go Hammers

Cheers, Sal

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