Round 23 – Sal’s Preview: The Goodbye Round

Greetings All,


The last weekend of the season and we have 5 games involving teams that will be playing in two weeks’ time and whilst we know who will be playing, the jockeying for position is on.  Unfortunately, as games progress through the weekend the permutations diminish leaving little intrigue for the last couple of games.  Surely playing all those five games at the same time on Saturday Night would provide a much better atmosphere for followers right across the country.


However, it is the other three games that present Gil with the challenge.  I have always been a proponent of the 22 game season and the fairest way to run the competition is with three conferences of six teams who play each other within the conference twice and all the other teams once giving us the perfect 22.  However, as we are all too well aware the league is not about fair it is about squeezing every dollar out of us or as they would say it is all about engagement.  The 17-5 model seems to have support from AFL house, but they have much work to do on the model to make the games among the bottom six of any relevance.


Playing for draft picks goes contrary to the philosophy of the draft.  What if they were playing for a finals berth?  Then what if the top six teams were not just playing for their order but one of them would be dropping out of the finals?  My proposal for the last 5 rounds is not fair but would certainly stoke some intrigue.  All clubs play each other once in Rounds 1-17, note a necessary inequity in the number of home games per club.  Then the competition is split into the top, middle and bottom six who all play each other over the remaining five weeks.


Instead of the top six simply playing for the top six position I propose they play for positions 1,2,3,5,7 with the last placed team not being part of finals action.  Might not seem fair but teams carrying poor form into the finals usually get bundled out quickly.  Their win loss record is carried through from the entire season.


The middle six play for two spots including a coveted top four spot (4) and the sixth seeding.  Rather than all results counting the only results that are carried through are the games they have played among each other.  In other words, their results against the top and bottom teams are thrown out.


The bottom group all have something real to play for – the last spot in the eight.  To make sure there is genuinely something to play for all team’s points are reset to zero and they all start from scratch, so even if the bottom team has not won a game they start at the same level as the 13th team that may have notched up 5 wins.


This is all manifestly unfair, but would certainly put some spark into late July and August!  Would roll beautifully into September unless the league continue down the path of the pre-finals bye.


On the “bye” it was introduced to protect the sanctity of the game after the situation with Fremantle and North Melbourne last year.  Freo may not have rested many players but win, lose or draw their result had no effect on the end of year standings.  North’s loss however had a major effect in ensuring they did not travel to Adelaide in week one of the finals.  No matter what the clubs would say I maintain we would have had exactly the same result bye or no bye.  So it’s bye bye to the bye for me.


But there are the games before the bye.


Feeling a Sloane ($1.32) vs Nic Natted ($4.10)


Massive losses for both Adelaide and West Coast, however at least for the Crows Rory Sloane will only be missing one match.  Whereas just as I was about to rerate the Eagles they lose Nic Natanui, his influence around the contest is so important.  The Eagles defence had a picnic last week against the Hawk midgets, the Crows tall forwards present a completely different proposition.  They will not allow as many intercept marks and will force more ground balls for the likes of Betts and Cameron to feast upon.  The middle will test both, will be watching closely for picks up the workload in Rory’s absence.  Not underestimating the loss of Smith also, he and Laird share the quarterback duties which stretches the opposition.  Adelaide have had challenges when there is only one of them for the opposition to cover.  But it will all come down to hunger – the Crows will just about lock up a top two finish with a win – an Eagle win puts them in the hunt for top four and throws it wide open.  They will both be on, but Adelaide are the better side and they are at home


Lached Out ($1.20) vs Dawes Slammed ($5.70)


The Blues put paid to the Demons chances last week and to a certain extent any interest in this contest.  A furious Melbourne would have been the perfect hit out for Cats before finals, they are just winning their games over mediocre opposition and are entering the finals with all guns spluttering!  They lose Henderson to surgery and expect to get him back, have had to deal with his injuries before and can’t say his record of returning rapidly is any good.  But maybe that was the Blues!  Expect Melbourne to put up a show, but there is nought for them and top four for the Cats.  Geelong to win.


Essen Done ($3.80) vs Dee Stroyers ($1.35)


The nightmare finishes for Essendon with chance for a few players to bid farewell after giving a year of service, it is onwards and upwards from here.  They face the Blues who played completely against form to put the Demon Dream to bed.  This could be dubbed “The Seinfeld Game” as it really is about nothing – but one I think the Blues will prevail in, unless Joe can kick straight as he will get plenty of opportunity.


Run of the Mills ($1.07) vs Dead Cat Bounce ($14.00)


Dimma expects the Tiges to bounce back up the ladder, methinks more of the dead cat variety – another tease before the inevitable.  But there is Deon.  They face the Swans who go without their first year star in Callum Mills, he is young but calf injuries do tend to linger.  I suspect the Richmond record against the Swans is one of the reasons for Dimma’s optimism and they are prone to play good games when not expected.  But I expect the Swans to play better and lock themselves for finals in Sydney.


Jaeger Meistered ($3.40) vs I Know Nothing ($1.39)


Jay Schulz plays his final game for Port and here is hoping the Demons pick him up so we can have Hogan and Schulz on the same team!  Could be a few others finishing up at Port but not everyone aware of it yet.  Gold Coast have their own exodus to worry about with Prestia and now O’Meara declaring their intentions.  Love the tough talk of the chairman, but they need to attract players for the swaps he wants, not sure how many are lining up to go to the Suns.  Tough game to tip with result being academic and a result that could sway many a tipping comp (that is where sanctity is destroyed) – the coin came up Suns.


Lowering the Boom ($2.74) vs Finally ($1.54)


They can spin it anyway they like but North’s management of their announcements this week was amateurish at best.  Surely they could have worked with Boomer to have him announce it on his own terms.  The players did not force their hand, managers across the league have been asking for such commitments.  Surely the players would have acted in the club’s best interest if they were asked to wait a bit longer.  They face the Giants who finally get a franchise team to the finals – and they could face them again in two weeks dependent on results.  Picking the Roos but will be dependent on what is in their best interest.


This Year’s Tigers ($1.09) vs With Merrett ($11.00)


Dan Merrett plays his final game for the Lions – he has been a terrific player for them over many years.  Not always the most attractive to watch but always played on the best and tried his best.  Another tough one this week against the Saints who appear destined to finish in the dreaded ninth position, but the general opinion being that it is with a bullet!  A win this week will seal it!


The Long Goodbye ($3.35) vs Smelly Kennel ($1.38)


The injuries have plagued the Dogs but I reckon there might be something else rotting at the back of the kennel.  Jake Stringer is not a high possession player but is high impact and always takes a good defender, not sure they are going well enough to muck around.  But give the coach his dues – the work with Tom Boyd earlier in the year is bearing fruit now, I suspect he has a plan for Jake.  They travel to the Matthew Pavlich Show and it is a show he deserves.  It is claimed he has been underrated here in Melbourne, in fact I have heard the claim so often now I believe he might be overrated!  The stats don’t lie he has been great player and the greatest in purple, I suspect he might have a few mates also playing their last game.  Dogs with too much to play for.


A Fine Mess ($1.28) vs The Swan Song ($4.10)


When he started out Dane Swan epitomised the footballer I loved to hate; played for Collingwood, squat of stature, ran like a duck and a spreading array of body art.  Many things change – I don’t hate any footballers – I just respect them at different levels (even Steven Milne).  As I watched he become one of my favourites, he read the play like few others and always got to where the ball was.  In the odd game that he didn’t rack up his 30 touches he would still do things to help his team.  Not everything he did off the ground was kosher, but when he engaged he was genuinely amusing and what he had to say about the game and life was honest.  I probably liked him more because he did not fit the Buckley mould.  I rated the Pies highly this year expecting him to be a real threat up forward, he went down and so did the Pies.  A great career, not sure he is the media type but he is who we want to listen to.  Oh and his team face the Hawks who earned the chagrin of Brian Taylor (who we don’t want to listen to) for covering a camera with an injured player in the room.  Far more important for the broadcaster to the get the on field action right rather than an injured player’s private agony.  Big move from the Hawks trusting their veterans for another year, but releasing a fair amount of the cap will make them players at the trade table.  Suspect they will beat the Pies and stay top four.


Friar Time


Well no it’s not but it is Finals Time.  D1 sees the OGS take on Old Mentonians for the first ticket to Premier C, both teams have been impressive however the lads from Como Park have been the best I have witnessed this year and they are my tip to end their D1 residency.  In the First Semi Final, which is played second, the relegated duo from 2015 in PEGS take on Therry Penola in a very tough game to predict, both teams have dominant forwards and containing Skurrie and Bannister will go a long way to winning.  Suspect the across the ground depth of PEGS might hold sway in a flip of the coin encounter.  Friar Park will be hosting finals for the first time the D2 First Semi Final between Yarra Valley and Preston Bullants on Sunday.


Spring is in the Air


The first group one race takes place in Melbourne this week with Caulfield hosting the Memsie Stakes (G1, 1400m, WFA).  It is a beauty of a field with the reigning Melbourne Cup, VRC Derby and ATC Derby winners using this as their pipe opener.  Doubt any of them will be primed.  With four runners Darren Weir is well represented including having the favourite Black Heart Bart (2) who has been brilliant since coming over from the west.  However going with another DKW runner in Palentino (11), who has a good 2nd up record and ran a creditable race 1st up.  Alpine Eagle (7) is very talented but can be wayward, maybe the spell has matured him, Lord of the Sky (3) will set the tempo and might hang on.  Keen to watch plenty of them none more so than Mahuta (8) who I am looking for improvement from.  Not necessarily a betting race but a race that will shape the spring.


Selections 11-2-7-3


For the final time this year – Go Blues!


Cheers, Sal

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