Preliminary Final Preview – It’s People’s Round

Welcome all to the penultimate week of the season,

 

The week began in style with the delicious irony of Brendan Goddard’s complaints about the ethics of other clubs circling the Bombers like buzzards over a carcass.  Whether Bombers are a carcass might be decided by Justice Middleton in a couple of hours, but I suspect where there is life there will be lawyers!  Interestingly BJ himself did not have too many complaints when opposition clubs came-a-callin’ when his free agency time came up!

Which brings me to free agency and its inflationary impact on the competition.  The apparent bidding war between Geelong and Fremantle for a solid but not spectacular key player in James Frawley is getting out of hand if the offers being publicised are correct.  That Melbourne cannot do anything is ridiculous, but they are sitting back promoting the auction as they watch their compensation draft selection rise up the list.  Then there is Jarrad Waite who also looks like being competitively sought, as this scribe has indicated “buyer beware”.  Once again it should be noted that neither of these players are looking to go to clubs that are struggling – how’s your equalisation going Gil?

Then there is the AFL judiciary.  The Boomer case was enough and displayed the power of the media in the whole saga.  Whilst I agree he would be stiff to miss a game – the facts are; he chose to bump with the ball in the next postcode, his act caused injury that necessitated Selwood to leave the field.  By the rules as they stand that warranted a penalty.  As we understand the rule book will be rewritten next year, my concerns being that it will be too lenient on some of these incidents because of the media squawking.  The “not enough force” incidents might not warrant a suspension, but they do need admonishing and too many of these indiscretions by a player should come at a cost.  But in all the noise about Boomer, we lost the Zac the Hack let off with his “spoil” on Robbie Gray.  Zac misses his spoils often, such decisions must surely rile Jason Cloke!

If that system is poor what about the Adelaide Football Club where the lunatics are running the asylum.  No matter what the thoughts are on Brenton Sanderson as a coach if the scuttlebutt is correct that this was a player lead revolt then god help the poor sod who has to appease this crop over-inflated ego under achievers.  They have talent, they should have played finals and perhaps the coaching was not perfect – but the coach needs to be answerable to the club and not the players.  Having missed the Goodwin bus, this could become a toxic environment.

The stats were thrown out the window last week with both Elimination Final winners breaking through, deeper analysis is required of the losers in those games however this is about looking forward and not in the rear view mirror.  For all that we now have what has become the best weekend of finals over the years with the continued corporatisation of the Grand Final – this week all the supporters get their chance to see the best of knock out competition in what should monickered as Semi-Finals.  But I digress – it is on to the games.

 

Go Canada ($1.25) vs Boom Time ($4.90)

Much bleating about ANZ Stadium this week, but I can’t agree.  Whilst I concur with the quality of the surface discussion, it is the right stadium for feature games to be played at.  80,000 turn up for big Rugby and Soccer games, surely this is the aim of the AFL.  The Kangas are unlikely to draw the crowds desired but they sure have played some good footy of late and much to my chagrin I have to agree they have reached a level of consistency beyond my expectations – dare I say it they are showing the Shinboner Spirit!  They face the Hollywood set with Sydney’s all-star forward line, the North backs looks horribly undersized and undermanned and in fact they are.  There are two factors that can save them.  The first is the weather – they have no control of that although some rain is in the forecast.  A wet night would neutralise some of the talent.  The other is the quality of supply, the North midfield will need to minimise and putrify the delivery of ball into the forward line.

Do they have the capacity to do it?  They certainly have the depth and in Wells and Harvey a bit of brilliance, but it is a massive task against the Sydney midfield which is strong on the inside and has the speed to escape and create.  As great as Goldstein was last week, Pyke will be a tougher opponent.  (Did you know Mike Pyke played Rugby for Canada? – For Channel 7 – we know, we know, we know!)  Can the Roos provide enough ball forward for the likes of Petrie, Black, Brown and Thomas?  If they can then the Sydney backline has always been viewed as unglamorous, but their record is very good.  The key to beating the Swans defence is separation and making it tougher to support each other– very difficult on this narrow ground.

Sydney’s best is better than North’s best – although as we have seen North’s best is fun to watch.  The Swans have gone “All in”, but whilst they have so much pressure they do have home town advantage and should make a date for the last Saturday in September.  The odds are askew and whilst Sydney are my selection to win by 31 points I rate this about a 70-30 game and the Roos are great value.

 

They do Suckling ($1.41) vs In Neade of Wines ($3.40)

The Hawk defence has been built this year around stopping Sydney – the Port attack presents a significantly different challenge.  The Sarge and the Hoff provide the aerial challenge but should be able to be handled, but the talent below of Gray, Wingard and Monfries provide the secret sauce for the Power attack.  That talent though needs to go both ways as the likes of Birchall, Gibson and Suckling set up plenty of attacking thrusts for Hawthorn.  At the other end of the ground challenges await the Power where the smarts of Breust and Gunston are able to find space to be either loose or have their defenders isolated.  Then throw in the contested capability provided by Roughead and the ruckmen and we see the multi-dimensional challenge for Kenny.  Forwards at either end present odd challenges to what have been effective defences all year.

So it is to the midfield we go and it will come down to this.  Wines and Boak lead a pretty tough inside unit, but the Hawks are so laden with inside midfielders they have dropped Brad Sewell.  If the game is to be played on the outside Smith and Hill present well for the Hawks, but no team has excited us on the run like Port Adelaide has.  If Port can get a game played outside they are a huge chance.  However finals are usually won and lost on the inside and the reigning premiers might have the edge here.  With that I rate this game a 65-35 game in Hawthorn’s favour by 25 points,  whilst I rate Port a chance the $3.40 on offer is as low as I’d consider.

 

The Undercard at Caulfield

Three group races are up for decision at The Heath with the Underwood Stakes being the highlight, it was the highlight event of last spring with the duel between It’s a Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel.   There are also some serious contests up in Sydney, but the Melbourne meeting will the focus.

A ticket into the Caulfield Cup is on offer in the Naturalism Stakes (G2, 2000m, Qty) and the big stables all have prospects.  Forgiving Entirely Platinum (3) for last start his earlier form is terrific, David Hayes has made no secret of his desire to get Spillway (1) into the Cup with a low weight.   Giving Foundry (6) one more chance as might be the Weird One from up Macedon way and tough to split Our Voodoo Prince (4) and Bonfire (5) who both would have rated higher but for their poor draw.

Selections Caulfield  Race 6 – 3-1-6-5

 

The switch of the Makybe Diva Stakes to last week looks to have affected the field the Underwood Stakes (G1, 1800m, WFA) but we do see Silent Achiever (10) step out, she had an outstanding autumn and could be a star of the spring.  After that this is an open affair Lidari (6) looks well suited in this field as does Happy Trails (1).  Plenty of others could fill the final hole, but Foreteller (2) is a most consistent performer and with G Boss aboard must be a chance.

Selections Caulfield Race 7 – 10-6-1-2

 

The Sprint Series Heat 2 Stakes (G3, 1200m, Mares SWP) sees the Mares charging over the six furlongs.  Samaready (1) returns to the track against her own sex and must be a great chance after contesting the hottest of sprints in the Autumn, however I am again drawn to Shamal Wind (7) to repeat her efforts from this day last year.  PGM’s pair A Time for Julia (2) and Brilliant Bisc (8) round out the selections.

Selections Caulfield Race 8 – 7-1-2-8

 

The Quaddie

 

First Leg – 1-3-4-5-6

Second Leg – 1-2-6-10

Third Leg – 1-4-7

Fourth Leg – 4-5-16

180 combinations so the $30 investment returns 16.66% of the dividend – but consider splitting another quaddie with Silent Acheiver one out in the 2nd leg.

 

Good Luck and enjoys People’s Weekend

 

Cheers, Sal

 

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