Sal’s Tips: Grand Final

Merry Grand Final to All!

The end is nigh – I have spent this Grand Final build up in the fine capital of Van Diemen’s Land and have been able to get a feel of Grand Final Hysteria in this footy deprived part of the country.  As I have alluded to before and in my opinion Hawthorn does a disservice to the good of AFL here, in reality coming down to sponge government money and get a return on their games against the interstate clubs.  The Kangaroos deal to play in Hobart is not much different at the moment apart from being sponsored by private industry through TT Line (which is in fact a State Owned Corporation).  There is some evidence that the famous North-South rivalry has risen back to the surface.  I still won’t drink Boags anywhere except when it is forced upon me at Flemington, that has nothing to do with the North-South rivalry!  As discussed with “The Great Southern Migrant” Tasmanians used to love their footy, now they love their AFL and it has been at the cost to the game locally.  The attached photograph of a sign pole in one of locals garden is an apt display of their fervour (in this case horribly misguided!).  The Hawthorn and North arrangements might be OK for now, but they need to be part of an AFL strategy to eventually locate a team in Tasmania with 9 home games split between Hobart and Launceston.  The sooner the better, but unfortunately Vlad has had little to say on the matter.

Nor has he had much to say on the state of the game.  A few comments as to the quality of the season – I say bollocks!  The top few teams separated themselves early in the competition, very few surprise results throughout the season generally with two games at the most per week being seeing by the oddsmakers as a genuine contest.  The top two teams deserve to be playing off this week, but the footy public loves the Cinderella story!  Can’t see much change in 2012 with another new team to further compromise the draw – with supporters keen for their teams to be drawn against GC and GWS twice.  But then there are the rugby rules that encourage the horrid defensive styles that are proving to be too successful and whilst the Grand Finalists may not be culprits, plenty of other finalists are.  As I have said it is time to “Release the Geisch”, stop rewarding the tackler and protect the ball player.  Thumbs up though to the sub rule – has made the game fairer and opened the game up in latter stages.  Probably a factor in allowing the Pies to escape from the Hawk clutches last week.

Then there is the Brownlow!  Plenty of naysayers on Judd’s award last year – with some justification.  I don’t reckon Dane Swan’s Brownlow should have any less scrutiny – not that I believe he is not a worthy winner but he was a more worthy 2010 winner.  More to the point there are no winners that not worthy.  We have seen again how a great season the year before gives too many “reputation” votes, Pendlebury was the better Pie throughout the year.  No sour grapes from me on Judd or Murphy, from my perspective the coaches got that right as to the better of the two over the year.  Much more damage done by Murphy with his possessions but plenty under the radar of the men in yellow, red, green, ….

But the season all comes down to this week!


Mick’s Last Stand ($2.12) vs Didn’t Kneed That ($1.88)

Looks like the onset of Armageddon will have an effect on the way the game is played but I don’t really believe it will affect the result, both teams have plenty of solid players who are more than happy to mix it when the penetrometer reaches further into the turf.  Contrary to the games I have described it won’t be the midfield that decides the game, both teams have strong deep and reliable forces to run through there who will earn their share of the footy.  However there is no doubt that if Jolly is not up to it, then West and Ottens could give the Cats a big advantage.

The difference will come down to the more effective forward line on the day.  At one end StevieJ and Ben Reid come into the game under injury cloud if one of them is not right the balance swings significantly.  Reid’s aerial strength is critical up against the Big Cats who will try and stretch the Pie defence with height as Ottens and West also spend time forward.  On the ground the Cats are clever, but the Pies are well drilled if Johnson is restricted in his ability to defend it will hurt Geelong as the Pie rebound sets up plenty for them.

At the other end Taylor is as well-equipped as any defender to play on Cloke, however a forwards value is not in the number of possessions they get but what they do with them.  A few big grabs from Cloke inside fifty and then converting will do a lot to have the side-by-sides go back-to-back.  Dawes has looked out of sorts, but he still gets in the right spots and provides a quality contest the tall Cats down back will have their work cut out.  However over the last few weeks the Collingwood small forwards have been a bit out of sorts, if the rain comes and the big boys can’t grab it I am not sure how well those little Pies are going to feed off and kick the goals they need.  Notwithstanding the great form of Blair.

Overall though with the likelihood of slippery conditions the ground players up forward will be the key factors for mine.  The combination of Johnson, Chapman, Christensen, Varcoe et al present the more potent mix based on current form.  Whilst acknowledging the talent of the Pies, I doubt the Cats will allow them to “turn it on” as they did last week in the last stanza.  However from a betting perspective and after complaining about so many lopsided games, this one is as close to the flip of a coin as any.  With that in mind $2.10 on either of these teams is great value and making Collingwood the gambling proposition, however I won’t be.  Mainly for my religious fervour in never backing Collinwood, but going on form the Cats have the edge and are my selection in a close tussle that will blow out a bit late and see Chris Scott salute in his first year as coach by 26 points.


To The Track

 The late Grand Final puts the real start of the racing season in a mess with 3 meetings over 3 days all hosting Group 1 events.  It all kicks off Friday Night at Moonee Valley with the Manikato Stakes and the clash of Sepoy and More Joyous plus plenty of other quality.  As I have stated Peter Snowden places his charges well and I doubt he would run Sepoy without genuine belief of victory.  Might be the best odds you will see for him.

Clashing with the Granny is Super Saturday with equine action returning to Royal Randwick and four Group events to close out the program.  The Spring Champion Stakes is a wide open event for the 3 year olds some of them heading to the Derby, once again we see an up and coming Snowden charge in Ambidexter that one suspects can also run well on left handed tracks so watch it for the Derby!  The Epsom over the famous Randwick Mile trip see Sincero favoured.  He has the form, he has the gate, but he might also have the weight.  Another wide open race with plenty of chances, Gai has won plenty over this trip and More Strawberries may present as an each way chance.  But I will be watching this one.  (or the replay)  The Flight Stakes for the fillies follows the Epsom with some real quality at the top.  However I will be watching for the lightly raced Roma Giaconda trained by David Hayes – not sure it can win this but did a great job finishing 2nd to Manawanui last week.  The program finishes with one of the worst Group One rated races in the country in The Metropolitan, a large field with plenty of hacks happy to watch but suspect that Trusting is just better than this lot.

Then for Brunch on Sunday we head to Flemington for Turnbull Stakes day kicking off at 10:30.  Race 3 “The Bart” sees a few cup prospects going around in a race that used to be a guide, but I reckon Brew might have been the last winner to run in the race – could Harris Tweed change that?  Bliss Street, Mosheen and Celebrity Girl clash in the Edward Manifold a race well worth a look with respect prospects for the Guineas and the Oaks.  The Turnbull Stakes field is made up mostly of cups contenders with a couple of others focussed on WFA glory.  December Draw has stayed down in the weights, goes well at Flemington and is the logical choice – but there is plenty of other quality.  I reckon the $3.50 on offer is a bit tight but is the one I would back but with a keen eye on the rest of the runners for future glory.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and may the team that is not Collingwood win!

Cheers, Sal


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