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Round 1 Preview: And to all a very good night – Grand Final

Greetings All and welcome to the opener,


The AFL own the media but not first up here.  The effort of the Australian team cannot go without passing – they left these shores with most of the scribes and experts giving them little hope.  They have had to deal with injuries through the campaign but have stuck to their guns and even managed to win a test.  They go into the this test only having to draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy which alone would be a great feat.  I anticipate the wicket will be a “result” wicket as the Indians need to win the series.  The Australians will be ready for that, but as games tend to go in India the toss will be all important.  Some fine efforts to acknowledge.  The batting of Smith, Maxwell, Marsh and Handscomb really knuckled down to bat for time as did the Pujara and Saha – not sure 2½ runs an over wins too many new fans but it a gripping encounter for the aficionados.  Then the comeback of Pat Cummins to bowl so well on such a docile track, stuff the sports scientists and let the boy bowl!


Then there is Virat Kohli!  He is feisty and competitive but I am not a fan of his demeanour, the constants barbs and engagement, the taunting from the dressing room when a challenge by the Australians was lost.  Is it just because he is the opposition?  That is the test – what we think of that behaviour in the Green and Gold?  We have seen a couple of Aussies told to pull their heads with David Warner the most recent, the cricket fraternity does get the message across here.  I doubt that Kohli’s behaviour would be tolerated, however being a demigod in India has the tail wagging the dog.  The one caveat being that perhaps we are just seeing too much of him with cameras focussed on him constantly, but that being the case he should be even more aware of what a dill he looks.


Can’t wait for it to start all over again on Saturday, but there are a few other events to tide us over.  One of them being the Australian Grand Prix, the CEO Andrew Westacott stated “What a great weekend for sport in Melbourne, the Grand Prix by day and Footy by night.  Just one slightly miffed Bulldog that can’t be at the start of the title defence due to official duties, woof woof!”  I am sure that would be made up with Doggies victory and Daniel Riccardo on the podium on Sunday evening!  Have his team done enough to close the gap and put him on the top rung?


Speculation is rife that we will have a Twilight Grand Final – based very much on the success of the Twilight Preliminary Final between the Dogs and Giants.  The pundits are divided as is this one.  Not sure it needs to be moved – we all have our Grand Final rituals and changing times might just skew the earth off its axis for a few of us.  However there is so much footy played at night there is no argument that it is a novelty any longer and in fact most finals are played at night so the Grand Final has become a bit of an anomaly.  The concern I have will be the temptation to change the nature of the game – if the broadcaster wants the time changed fine, but the next step will be to extend the breaks and let’s have a half hour or more for the half time spectacle.  Great if you want to squeeze in an extra pot or two but completely changes the nature of the game and the player fatigue factor.  The one thing has me yearning for it to stay during the day is that I reckon the game is better in the daylight – but by the same token players are much more adept at night.  I guess the other conundrum being whether you head to a pub or nightclub after the siren!


But that is months away and it all begins this week – I’ll get the moan out of the way early – very hard to tip with a Thursday night game with no team selections and even harder in Round 1.


Sprouts ($2.98) vs De Lids Off ($1.48)


Fortunately these two clubs have “history” so it doesn’t matter about each other’s prospects both sets of fans look forward to the opening of the season.  A couple of questions about the Tigers but in general they have brought in seasoned players in Prestia, Caddy and Nankervis – who will make up for Delidio’s class?  I doubt they will improve enough in 2017, but they should be too good for the Blues who will have a number of new young players in the team and some real challenges to kick goals.  As Blues fan I am hoping a few of Bolton’s sprouts start to blossom and pretty pleased that Kerridge and Palmer could not make the side, but Tigers to take the opener again for mine.


Uncloked ($2.96) vs Got the Bob in ($1.48)


The Pies are the club that just keep on giving – how Jordan De Goey possibly thought the bar incident would not get out in Melbourne is mystifying!  The injury list is already building and they face the reigning premiers who will not only unveil Cloke, but welcome back Bob and Crameri.  Whilst it will be tough for the Pies the quality of the midfield will certainly test the Dogs.  The differences in the forward lines really sway me to the Dogs, Darcy Moore will be a star but not counting on Mayne without a bit more evidence.  At the other end Cloke’s sheer size will always take a good defender, Crameri takes the next, Jesse Stringer was the pea last year now he is 3rd banana.  Dogs to begin their defence with a win.


Heaven ($1.83) vs Hell ($2.16)


Both St Kilda and Melbourne would be flying up the charts if they were pop songs.  They have both recruited well with players ready to mature and become stars of the game, game styles are good to watch with plenty of speed and flair but not forsaking defence.  Structurally I reckon the Saints have done well particularly with Carlisle slotting into the back line, the Demons defence is solid but not quite with dynamics he provides.  Whilst these are teams of the future and the future might be now, I will delve into history for my selection.  Melbourne have not beaten the Saints since the Elimination Final of 2006 – when Brock McLean was the future and best on ground.  Add their deplorable record in the Loungeroom and I suspect the Saints will extend the misery for one more encounter at least.


Bondi ($1.27) vs Add the Condiments ($4.60)


With Powell-Pepper added to the Port team it has been spiced up according to reports, but they still have much to prove and especially it seems to their own honcho David Koch.  A very tough as taking on the Swans who look ready to take on 2017 and make up for their Grand Final loss – not sure if they will but they will account for Port.


Grand Final Hosts ($1.39) vs Cubs ($3.45)


The hullabaloo over the AFLW Grand Final has been ridiculous – simple the AFL screwed up by not locking down the booking.  While the Gabba does not have drop in pitches they must ensure the cricket pitches will be in the best possible condition for their test match.  They only have one a year but there are plenty of footy games.  So Gold Coast are hosting the AFLW Grand Final which surely should have been played last week!  Then they host the Lions who seem to have a couple of the young tyros ready to break out.  The issue for the Lions is that the Sun’s tyros have arrived and whilst there are overall question marks on them they will be too strong for the Lions.  And I think the Crows might take the inaugural ladies flag.


Penance Done! ($2.58) vs A Bit Rough ($1.61)


A conundrum wrapped up in a riddle wrapped up in a quandary!  So many questions about both the Bombers and the Hawks.  How will the year off affect the Essendon players?  How will they gel with the rest of the team?  How will Woosher go when there is expectation?  Then Hawthorn how long since the Hawks have gone into a game with Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Luke Hodge?  How will Roughy come back?  Will O’Meara and Mitchell just glide in?  Suspect that the Hawks will get up in this one, however for me it is close to a flip of the coin game for me.


Boomed Off ($3.25) vs Tainted Flag ($1.42)


Much talk and chagrin about the West Coast Eagles, the 2006 Premiership and their culture.  I am not sure how tainted the premiership really is – but it sure doesn’t look great.  What looks worse though is the club and administration of the time who failed in their duty of care for these players.  They were warned often enough of the behaviour but simply chose to ignore it as their was a flag to be won.  Juddy might think Ben Cousins is a shame and everyone else has moved on, I can’t quite concur.  Daniel Kerr still makes some headlines, Chris Mainwaring is gone and we have seen a couple sad stories from the lesser lights who were dragged along in the shenanigans.  The CEO remains at the club and the coach at the time is gainfully employed at another club – how tenable are their positions.  Oh and they play the Kangaroos who have taken some responsibility moved on Boomer plus a few other older players and are looking to rebuild their team.  I reckon they are doing it from a pretty solid base with the likes of Ben Brown, Lachie Hansen, Robbie Tarrant and Mason Wood filling the key structural positions.  West Coast do have “the” new recruit in Sam Mitchell who will be very creative for them.  Goldy in the ruck will be too much for whoever the Eagles put up maybe even Petrie and I reckon if he gives his team first use of the footy they can open the season with a win.


The Bryce Was Right ($2.44) vs The No 1 Contender ($1.68)


Gee what a ripping entrée to the Grand Prix!  The Crows missed out on Bryce Gibbs but still have a pretty powerful midfield although some questions over the fitness of Sloane, Tex and a couple of others.  GWS have a couple of their own injury issues, but they have the depth to cover them.  At home Adelaide will be tough, but the Giants will be keen to put their stamp on 2017 and I suspect they will this weekend.


Fyfe ($2.80) vs Dangerfield ($1.55)


The last two Brownlow Medallists face off in match where both sides will be keen to show a difference from the 2016 versions.  Freo will do that by simply having a couple of their stars back and fit in Fyfe and Sandilands, throw in McCarthy and take out Pav.  Hard to think 2017 won’t be a better version.  Then the Cats have some change in personnel, but they will be hoping that they get a more even output across the team and not be as dependent on the Dangerfield/Selwood duo.  I want to see some of those second tier Cats step up before trusting them too much.  Freo look much better on paper this year and suspect they will take their first scalp this weekend.


On to the other track


Rosehill hosts the big ones again this week and track conditions don’t look like they will be improving.  Got the easy one last week with Winx plus the Guineas winner in Gingernuts.  The winner of the Slipper and the Galaxy were both in the selections but not on top.


The time honoured Tancred Stakes (2400m, WFA) now under the moniker of BMW is the race the Caulfield Cup would like to be, but shouldn’t.  This though is one of my favourites the classic mile and half at WFA is a race for good horses, but occasionally the weather gods intervene.  Jameka (8) and Humidor (6) fought out the Australian Cup and they both are OK on the heavy so I think they could fight this one out depending on the depth of the track.  Exospheric(2) was the best of the closers in that race and the extra distance won’t hurt and can’t discount the effort of Our Ivanhowe (1) to win the Ranvet but backing up after last week’s slog might be an issue.  The remainder of the field all have claims in what will be a truly run race with the style of Lasqueti Spirit (9) to lead them up.


Selections Race 6 – 8-6-3-1


It is followed by the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m, 3yo Fillies SW) the Kiwi on the soft track is hard to ignore so La Bella Diama (1) has to rate highly as does the CJ Waller charge Foxplay (2) both have a win on a heavy surface.  Harlow Gold (3) has not seen a heavy track but has a win on soft ground plus second in the VRC Oaks – this is on the way to the ATC Oaks but could be a handy prize on the way.  Nurse Kitchen (5) has had a couple of runs and might be ready to run a better race this week.


Selections Race 7 – 3-1-2-5


Hope everyone has a great weekend and that my team proves me wrong!


Go Blues,


Cheers, Sal



  1. Sal Ciardulli says

    And it is Jake Stringer not Jesse!

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