Round 22 – Sal’s Preview: Welcome all for the Penultimate Round of the Season.


With the Olympics almost run and done and the beginning of the quadrennial investigation into the performance of the Australian team, footy has taken a back seat.  In reality though it is in the driver’s seat for a certain amount of our woes.  Kyle Chalmers being the exception that proves the rule.  Reckon its 50-50 whether he goes to Tokyo or is playing footy.  Our best young male athletes are being forced to choose their sporting pathways early and the choice and structure provided by AFL, ARU and NRL is much simpler and less competitive.  Women’s sports are about to suffer the same fate as the football codes look to spread their participation at the highest level across the entire population.


There are many more discussion points on this around expectations, behaviours, funding and more.  Far too much for this column which is focussed on footy.  Which presents some key games this along with a couple of sideshows this week.


Jack Nat ($1.76) vs Going for Pole ($2.28)


With due respect to their foes next week in Collingwood, this game is key for Hawthorn to lock down pole position for the finals.  A loss could see them travelling for the first final and no guarantee of a top four finish.  Meanwhile it has taken Nick Nat two games back to provide his full influence in killing off the Giants last week.  West Coast may need to be viewed differently with him back and firing.  Back on their home deck with all their key protagonists involved they are in a great position to repeat the dose of last year’s qualifying final and put themselves in the hunt for a top four finish.  Beating the Giants at the clean arena is good form and I reckon the Eagles might win this battle of the birds.


Bellerive ($3.55) vs Tipped In ($1.38)


Kurt Tippett’s absence has been good for Sydney in exposing another couple of ruckmen, but his return is even better for their ultimate quest.  They head to Hobart the scene of today’s Almanac Lunch that the Sage and I will enjoy to face the flailing Roos.  They need a win to shore up their spot in the finals – not sure of the repercussions if they don’t make it.  It should be a ripping contest and North’s end to the game last week had some encouraging signs, but I expect Sydney to continue their push for a home final.


What’s Prestia-ing? ($2.22) vs Won’t be Longer ($1.76)


The Tiges win round one in the battle for Dion, nothing is over the line till it’s done but they do have prime position.  He won’t help this week against the Saints who go without Hickey and Fisher.  Fisher may have played his last game and has been a grand contributor for the cause for many years.  Hickey has been a revelation this year – interestingly American Jason Holmes has been chosen over Billy Longer as his replacement.  Hard to tip in the also ran battles, but think the loss of Hickey will hurt and the Tigers might roar.


Cut Down to Size ($1.05) vs Lyon Eyes ($16.00)


The Giants coughed up another home game but should get redemption over Freo who are busily trying hold stories together of their plight.  Either the information coming out is all wrong or there are some serious challenges for their plight in 2017 and beyond.


The Twilighters ($5.60) vs Minutes to Midnight ($1.20)


The showdown beckons but it will be mothballs for Port after next week.  The discussion of their list is interesting, they were just about flag favourites at the beginning of 2015 and well fancied this year.  The loss of ruckmen has hurt them structurally and makes the season difficult to assess.  They need to ask the question as to whether this group has reached its nadir or does it just need some pruning and support?  Their crosstown foe (who happen to play at the same ground) are pretty close to the reaching their nadir – a top four finish puts them right in contention playing a brand of footy that suits the MCG.  Port will be cheeky, but they are undermanned and Adelaide have so much more on the line.


Cloked Off ($1.32) vs Bombed Out ($4.10)


The Suns head back to the scene of the loss to the Bombers, it will be Collingwood’s turn this week.


Cue in the rack ($4.10) vs September Dreamin’ ($1.31)


Despite the comments from Brendan Bolton the Carlton players have folded up the season, not being prepared for that kind of effort from Brisbane was lamentable.  They will face an equally desperate Melbourne who are fit and firing and have finals action in their sights.  Will be a massive task next week, but I expect them to get past this hurdle without too many issues.


The Other Dayne ($16.00) vs Fur Balls ($1.06)


The Cats nearly coughed up another one against the Tigers and travel to Brisbane who will be buoyed with last week’s win.  They also celebrate 100 games for Dayne Zorko who has been a terrific pick up for the club.  Suspect Geelong will put this one to bed early and might even try to make it ugly to boost their percentage.


Sundowners ($11.00) vs Strung Out ($1.08)


Matthew Stokes bows out with his 200th game this week – helped the Bombers out – what a great career overall.  Alongside him Adam Cooney plays his 250th against his former club – was destined for more but injuries robbed him and the fans of a truly elite player.  The put out the Suns last week, this week they face the finals bound Bulldogs.  The discussion around Jake Stringer’s form is interesting.  He was quiet last week, but in the crucial moments at the end when the game had to be won his contributions were critical.  He always gets the best defender and sometimes an extra and only needs five minutes of magic to turn a game.  Suspect only two minutes will be require this week over the Bombers.


Friar Time


Round 18 beckons after losses to Ivanhoe in the Seniors and Old Carey in the Under 19s.  A triple header at Friar Park opens up with the Under 19s taking on Old Trinity who have also found the going tough in this grade in what should be a good encounter.  Then it is NOBSP who are fighting to stay up in D1 – win and they stay up – a loss will depend on whether Old Paradians win or lose in their D2 Grand Final rematch with Ivanhoe.  It’s great to have games that mean something at the bottom of the ladder!  Prahran Assumption are destined for D2.  At the top end the finals are pretty much locked in unless St Marys can make up 12 percent on Therry.


Go Blues, Go Friars


Cheers, Sal

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