PB’s Finals Predictor: The Loser Now Will be Later to Win

“Winning form is good form”.  “Never flirt with form”.  Except when AFL finals are looming and your team has been on an extended winning run.  Better to have a quiet one.


I was content with my Eagles narrow loss to the Tigers on Sunday in what Bart Cummings would have called a final “clean out/fittener upper” heading into the Cup Carnival.  Test yourself against the best and feel the sting of losing without having to carry the burden of favouritism and an extra kilo from the Handicapper for winning.


Have no doubt – extended winning runs in August are a big no-no for AFL flags.  Only once in the last 14 years has a team won its last 4 minor round games and gone on to take the premiership.  Hawthorn in 2013 won its last 4 games in the first year of its Threepeat.  It learned from its mistake dropping Round 21 in both its next 2 flags.  The previous team to go undefeated in its last 4 minor round games before taking the flag was Port Adelaide in 2004.


In those 14 years there have been 13 teams win all their last 4 games and finish Top 4 to get a double chance without winning the flag.


2018 – Richmond and Hawthorn both won their last 6.


2016 – Losing Grand Finalist Sydney won their last 5; and Geelong their last 6.


2014 – Geelong won their last 4.


2012 – Hawthorn won their last 4.


2011 – Hawthorn and West Coast both won their last 7.


2008 – Geelong won their last 13 games (and first 2 finals easily before losing the unloseable Grand Final).


2007 – Port Adelaide and West Coast both won their last 4.


2006 – Fremantle won their last 4.


2005 – Adelaide won their last 10 games.


On a further positive note the West Coast Eagles lost their second last minor round match in each of their 1992; 1994; 2006 and 2018 premiership seasons.


That only leaves the finishing places in 2019 to decide after this week’s Round 23 clashes.  Collingwood (Essendon will rest half the team), Geelong (because its at Kardinia Park), GWS (because they are playing Gold Coast) and the Bulldogs (because Adelaide have given up) look certainties to me.  That means Essendon take the lucky losers slot at eighth.


My Eagles are highly likely to beat Hawthorn in Perth on Saturday night.  So the Live Ladder at the  time of bounce down for the Richmond v Brisbane game on Sunday would be:


Geelong 64 and a healthy %


Brisbane 64 – game in hand


West Coast 64 


Collingwood 60 and a healthy %


Richmond 60 – game in hand


GWS 52


Bulldogs 48 and a healthy %


Essendon 48 


That makes the Richmond v Brisbane game a contest for both top spot and the double chance.  Stakes are higher for Richmond as Brisbane could only lose second place and a first week home final with a big loss (+40 points) even if my Eagles have beaten Hawthorn convincingly by 40+ points (we don’t often win by big margins).  So the 5.2% gap between Brisbane and the Eagles looks pretty insurmountable.


Brisbane have won 9 of their 10 games at home at the Gabba – only losing there by 10 goals to Collingwood in Round 5.  They have won 6 away games and lost 4 at the MCG, Ballarat, Marvel and Optus in Perth.  Their only MCG game was a Round 4 loss by 8 goals to Essendon. 


To my eye Brisbane are an emerging team who have had a favourable draw and only a moderate record away from the Gabba.  The Tigers look good things to me; making the first round of finals:


Qualifying : Geelong V RICHMOND (MCG)


Qualifying : Brisbane V WEST  COAST (most likely @ Gabba given % gap)


Elimination : COLLINGWOOD V Essendon (MCG) in a Round 23 replay but Essendon with rested players back for the final


Elimination : gws V BULLDOGS (Giants Stadium @ Homebush in Sydney) in a Round 22 replay




Semi 1 – Geelong V COLLINGWOOD (MCG)


Semi 2 – BRISBANE V Bulldogs (Gabba)


Richmond haven’t had to leave the MCG for over 2 months when they beat Brisbane at the MCG (again) in one Preliminary Final.  The Magpies fly to Perth for another heartbreaking loss to their Eagles nemesis in the other Preliminary Final.


The weather is fine for the last Saturday in September and the Tigers having now won 11 games in a row since the bye have no chance (check the history) against a rampant West Coast Eagles with Jack Darling kicking 6 goals to win the Norm Smith Medal.


Remember you read it here first. 



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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    PB, I can’t help but be a rampant Bomber supporter! Finals is a different ball game and everyone is in the mix, anyone can win the big one. If my memory serves me well, and I haven’t checked, the Bombers suffer a big loss a game or two before finals in their premiership years. Maybe an omen there Bulldogs game?!

  2. Col – Alister Mackenzie the designer of Royal Melbourne and Augusta National said “every man loves his own mudheap and won’t hear a word said against it”.

  3. Pretty selective use of stats, PB. What about the massive winning streaks by Carlton (1995), Brisbane (2001)? You also make the big assumption that there’s some sort of choice in whether or not to drop a game late in the season. Granted, Richmond could have afforded and would have benefitted from a foot up the bum late last year, but this year we have to keep winning. Even now, a loss on Sunday will likely see us drop to 5th, making a Premiership all but impossible.

    Also a nice positive spin on Sunday’s loss. You can gild the lily by painting Adam Simpson as a “Cups King”, happy to have a solid second place at the start of the Spring Campaign (did he say “they’ll be better for the run” at his presser?), but conveniently ignoring that the result probably cost the Eagles a priceless home final. I reckon if I was in your camp, I’d be fretting about how that brilliant start was so easily reversed for the next three quarters (don’t blame the weather – the reversal was well underway before the rain came). I’d also be calculating the likely deficit if a) you hadn’t had a five goal head-start b) Lynch, Riewoldt, Castagna, Chol and Ross convert those missed sitters c) the umpires correctly apply the “studs up” rule. I’d be concluding that on another day it might have been a ten goal loss.

    I still reckon the Weevils are the team to beat BTW.

  4. Touche’ Stainless. There is a certain licence in finding the facts to suit your argument – as any good barrister knows. Where you stand depends on where you sit. I genuinely think the Eagles and Tigers are a cut above the rest – but fate and injuries can always find another twist. See you at the GF Lunch.

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Go Hawks !!
    Can’t believe I just wrote that on a public forum.
    Having said that, I’m happy for the Eagles to win if Brisbane can beat Richmond and the Pies get up.
    Nerves will be jangling and nails will be bitten this weekend, PB.

  6. Now Peter, you should know by now tipping football winners is fraught with danger. Take the Power for instance – brilliant one week and absolutely hopeless the next (or vice versa). On paper their side is bursting with talent but the game is played on an oval – not parer. You’re right about the Crows – at the moment they couldn’t beat an egg as the old saying goes.

    For the record, I’m not tipping any team in particular to take out the choccies, I just hope the matches are exciting and not beltings. I really enjoyed last year’s Grand Final. More like that please.

  7. John Butler says

    No mos at all in any of that, PB.

    Didn’t see your game on the weekend, but tipped your blokes. They let me down when I needed them.

  8. george smith says

    Mr B – when Collingwood beat Essendon in 1990, I promised the Lord Above that I would not annoy or skite at my brother, a mad keen Essendon supporter if He would let the Magpies win. After tonight, I will not skite at you…

    I notice that you have evoked the spirit of the ‘Sixties. Well consider this:

    The joker (Caesar Romero) said to Batman (Adam West): “He who laughs last, laughs gooood….”

    No doubt you will be barracking hard for Brisbane tomorrow. You may, like the Joker, have the last laugh. There’s four weeks of football left, so who knows where we will end up…

  9. Thanks George. Deserved. As the Bible says “pride cometh before the fool and his money who are both soon departed”. Carna Lions.

  10. I’m always suspicious of people that insist on quoting the bible (often out of context) to back up an argument.

    Last night, believe it or not, I actually barracked for Hawthorn to win – it made it harder for the Power to make the 8. I can’t see myself supporting the Hawks again but who knows. Pleased for Jan her Bloods came through but commiserated with Yoshi over Saints loss.

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