Sal’s Grand Final formguide – A Buddy Big Time in The Big One!

Happy Grand Final Day to all,

And what a Grand Final we look forward to with a saliva inducing contest between two teams that have appeared to be the best in the competition over the 2014 journey.  Forget about the other noise,  it is straight onto the game this week!

Everybody’s Talking about Buddy ($1.65) vs We have to talk about Cyril ($2.50)

Was not a great day for Jonathons as the Ceglar and Simpkin variety made way for McEvoy and Rioli.  The question being whether the Hawks believe they can win without Cyril?  I suspect they will have to.  There are ducks and drakes to be played out, the Hawks have not taken many risks all year and a match day change with Cyril not taking his place would not come as a shock.  The Hawks prevailed in the last stoush between the teams but it was a tight affair, the Hawks were missing a few key players in particular Brian Lake.  Importantly in that game 9 of the Swans 13 goals came from the trinity of Franklin, Tippet and Goodes a potentially unhealthy dependence, the tall Hawks forwards kicked 5 from 14 but there were another 3 from Breust.  For all that it was a night game at the G in July – we are currently looking at 24 degrees in natural light for the big dance, we should be wary of taking too much notice of previous encounters.

Some comment has been made of the extra day’s rest for the Swans, what a bunch of claptrap!  Clubs should be prepared to play on a 7 day break every week and have to do it all year.  Unless their was some travel issue or other disruption the extra day should be of no advantage or disadvantage.

Of course Buddy up against his old team is a story in itself – how will he go?  There are more forwards than Buddy for Sydney and with 4 talls in fine weather on the G the Hawthorn defence will be in for an aerial bombardment.  They are good at stopping poor entries, however I suspect the Swans will be able to get mismatches on a regular basis.  It will be critical that their midfield identify and deliver effectively to those mismatches.  The other stat to be wary of is Buddy’s waywardness, he has kicked 5-12 against the Hawks, they will be in bother if he can straighten up.

However it would folly to forget about the Hawks attack who were over 10% better in points scored than the next most potent forward line.  Importantly their forward forays are dangerous and their forwards get into good goal scoring positions as can be seen from their accuracy, they are 397-277 for the season which is 57%.  The return of Rioli will create challenge for the Swans defence in terms of match ups and whether Smith goes to Breust or Cyril.  Who takes the other?  But the key for the Hawks is Roughead who is such a tough match up, might not have the flair of Buddy but is certainly as effective.  Then there is Gunston who regularly materialises in dangerous places and is a deadly shot for goal.

Importantly the defensive pressure of the two forward lines will be critical slowing any rebound from defence.  If Gary Rohan can explode forward as he did last week then Sydney will fare very well.  By the same token the precision kicking of the Hawthorn defence not only ensures possession but also allows them to control the tempo of the game, closing down the loose player they create will be critical for the Swans to get the ball to contested situations.

So both forward lines are potent, thus unsurprisingly the midfield battle will be telling and importantly the quality that they can deliver going forward is critical.  Harry Cunningham and Liam Shiels are two of the most unheralded stoppers in the game, but the Hawks also have Will Langford who has had an outstanding finals series and won plenty of footy.  Both midfields are brilliant, however I favour the balance of the Sydney midfield where all bar Jetta play inside and they have pace to play outside or flee from contested situations.  The Hawks do have balance in there also but most of them tend to be one-dimensional either tough insiders or pacy outsiders.  That speed out of the contest is a real advantage to Sydney.  The Hawks look to have the Ruck dominance with Hale and McEvoy, their ruckmen push forward regularly and will keep the Swans rucks honest.  Of course we know Mike Pyke is honest as they come and a great warrior, proven in Grand Finals.  Many would consider their second ruck a weakness, to me it is a strength.  We only need to go back two years when in the Preliminary Final a roaming Kurt Tippet nearly single handedly took Adelaide into the Grand Final in what was his final game for the Crows.

Whilst the Hawks have had the Cyril issues and it may bite them, he also presents as a potential match winner.  A dozen effective possessions from Rioli might be worth four goals.  But whether he plays or not, there is no doubt the Hawks are playing well enough to win – a Captain Obvious statement maybe, but they are friendless with the satchel swingers and it does not make sense.  But their opponents could not have had a better lead in there does not appear to be any injury concerns with that and the slight edge in both the midfield and up forward I am tipping the Swans to win by 29 points.  However Hawk fans should be happy to follow their heart with a few shekels at the price on offer as I rate this a 55-45 game for the Swans.

It is mostly media responsible for choosing who takes Normie home so Buddy is an easy selection, but for a bit of value I like his partner in crime Kurt Tippet and his former partner in crime Jarryd Roughead if the Hawks were to prevail.

Matters of the Turf

The racetracks certainly play second fiddle this weekend and the main events are spread over three days.  The lights go on at the Valley on Friday Night, a handy card at Rosehill on Saturday and Caulfield on Sunday.  Will concentrate on the Group One events and a couple of the other highlights.

On Friday night in Race 2 the mares contest the Stocks Stakes (G2, 1600m, WFA) where Commanding Jewel (2) steps out again, she will be very short with Dear Demi (1) the main danger.  Race 7 is the Stutt Stakes (G2, 1600m, 3yo SW) with the Guineas in the sights of most of these, Chivalry (3) and Zebulon (6) stand out here after their efforts at Flemington but also respect Almalad (1) coming out of the Golden Rose.

The main event is the Moir Stakes (G1, 1200m, WFA), however due to the lack of numbers has been pushed out of the Quaddie to Race 4.  Angelic Light (5) shocked Lankan Rupee (2) last start, but I doubt that will happen again.  But it could if Lankan Rupee (2) takes on Buffering (1) who is the likely leader, I suspect the favourite is more likely to take a sit and chase down the leader to win.  Though if he is still not quite there Buffering (1) is a mighty warrior and tough to pass.  Rebel Dane (3) is handy first up.

Selections Moonee Valley Race 4 – 2-1-5-3

Caulfield on Sunday has the preludes for the Guineas, the first is the Thousand Guineas Prelude (G2, 1400m, 3yo Fillies SWP) and Bring me the Maid (1) heads a competitive field.  She will be well fancied if you forgive the Golden Rose, others of interest are Afleet Esprit (5), Lumosty (6) and Traveston Girl (8).  For the lads they have the Caulfield Guineas Prelude (G2, 1400m, 3yp C&G SWP) a full field stands but there are a few double bookings with the Stutt.  Looks Like the Cat (8) gets weight and a better draw over his conqueror Rich Enuff (2), Merion (4) won well at Flemington and Zebulon (11) is chance if he runs here.

But the main event is the Sir Rupert Clark Charity Cup (G1, 1400m, HCP) a race that has seen many names and some great winners.  This year’s field is a beauty lead by Dissident (1), he is carrying well above the minimum and failed in his handicap run, but the Doncaster was run on a Heavy 9.  He is a chance, but I am looking further down in the weights.  Atlante (4) competed well with Dissident (1) at level weights with 6kgs he is a chance, Sweet Idea (3) is a proven performer and Akavouron (10) is 4 from 4 over the 7 furlongs.

Selections Caulfield Race 7 – 4-1-3-10


Hope you have a great Grand Final Day,

Go Hammers

Cheers, Sal




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