Finals - Week 1

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Finals - Week 1

Post by Booney on Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:07 am

Now we get to the business end of proceedings. All the tool box meetings, all the brain storming, all the honesty sessions, quite frankly, all the bullshit aside this is what these blokes started running around back before last Xmas for. A shot at finals glory and ultimately a premiership medal with their mates ( and some pricks they don’t like, but hey, we can’t all be mates )


West Coast v Hawthorn – Perth Friday night.


This is the one most people see as shaping the finals, the winner here getting the week off and a home prelim. It’s as big as a game gets and it’s the perfect way to get the first week of finals underway. Good scheduling by the AFL, match of the first week on Friday night. ( It also gives the Hawks a little advantage by getting home while Sydney and Fremantle are playing )

Both teams have plenty to gain and lose in this one, but for mine the Eagles have the most to gain. They win this one they get a week off and sit at home awaiting their preliminary final opponent and then their next opponent will have travelled at least once during the finals series ( Unless Fremantle lose week 1 and win week 2 ) while they’ve been at home for the final minor round game. As such, they might not have to travel from round 22 until the GF all things going well. That’s a massive bonus. The Hawks, well, we know their September credentials and a win here puts them on the G for the preliminary final and they get a week off to sit back and relax, perhaps have a few frothies with the mates. “It’s alright love, I’ll drive. I’m fine” and await their opponent.

It’s only a few weeks back that the Hawks went West and took the 4 points, it was some classy finishing by Burgoyne in the last quarter, some immense pressure from the Hawks ( 101 tackles ) and the good work of McEvoy and Ceglar in the absence of Nic Naitanui ( who was grieving the loss of his Mother ) that got the Hawks over the line. Twice the Eagles got out to a 4 goal lead ( either side of half time ) and it took 6 of the last 8 goals to get the Hawks home.

It’s a different look altogether this week with Naitanui back in the Eagles line up, he’s a huge key to their success and the Hawks will take a two pronged big man team to tackle him. He sets up the Eagles mids to get it to Coleman Medallist Kennedy and his mates and from there they spin their Weagles Web and lock you in. Mind you, Adelaide showed the whole competition a fortnight ago that the web isn’t that sticky if you blast your way through it. If you fiddle and fuss with it, it will be all over you. The Hawks also know how to kick the ball and they like to move it as quickly as anyone from defence. The outside run of Isaac Smith will be missed though. Getting Hodge back this week won’t hurt though.

West Coast drop one to Adelaide recently, the Hawks drop one to Port and Richmond recently, not what you would call seamless form heading into finals.... at home, I like the Weagles, in big finals, I like the Hawks and the Eagles haven’t beaten the Hawks since round 4 2012. High scoring one here, Hawks avg 111 points per game the Eagles 106. Hawthorn 100 points + 13 times this year, the Eagles 12. Whoever gets to the 100 point mark will win this, finals usually don’t end up in shoot outs.

This one, it’s a big final, West Coast have some important “ins”, but I think the Hawks with their big game experience and love a challenge, they get Hodge back in and they’ll just be too good. Hawthorn by 14 points.

The match up to watch – Lake on Kennedy. If Lake can keep Kennedy to 3 goals or less, it will help the Hawks chances. Kennedy likes to get up the ground, but not far, he rarely gets far from the F50. This plays into Lake’s hands as he likes to do his work body-to-body and hold his opponent out, not chase them all over the place.



Fremantle v Sydney


Sat’dee aftanoon and the Dockers host the Swannies, don’t worry about the Eagles/Hawks game shaping the finals, one of these teams has been two games clear on top of the ladder most of the year, could get a week off and home prelim and everyone is looking at the Friday night game to shape the race for the flag, why no love for the top of the table Dockers? The other has just been quietly going about its business, finishing 4th and giving themselves another shot at going deep into the finals race, injuries have hurt them this week though.

Half the Dockers have had the week off, taking it easy back home getting themselves cherry ripe for this week’s clash, they sent a half arsed unit to Adelaide last week who were duly pumped by Port. Some say this is flirting with form, some might say they didn’t really have any form to flirt with any way. They’ve lost 3 of their last 4 with the only win over the hapless Dee’s in Perth by 54 points. The others, 4 goal loss to the Eagles, 2 goal loss to the Roos and last week’s 69 point belting from Port. That’s why there’s no love. Not the greatest top side form to ever enter finals week 1. Gun Fyfe has missed a few weeks with a knee and might come in under done. With14 changes it’s a new look Fremantle side from last week.

The Dockers lost a GF in ‘13, went out in straight sets in ‘14 after a top 4 finish and I’ve got a feeling both the coaching and playing group would know this is the last decent crack at the clubs first flag with Pavlich, McPharlin and Sandilands in the key posts. They’ve got much to prove and, IMO, the most to lose in this series.

The Swannies have on the flip side had some winning form but they have been smashed by injury with Jack and Parker missing, Smith ruled out with injury and Buddy unable to take his place as he battles various health complaints. Take out 3 of their top 5 mids and their key forward recruited to play big in big games out and this side looks to be under manned heading West. We all know better, their “system” is as good as any and stands up under pressure.

Sydney win more of the ball than any other team, surprisingly much of it uncontested, they’re second for uncontested possessions behind the Hawks. Most of us see the Swannies as the contested ball /clearance kings, not so, 8th for clearances, with Josh Kennedy the competition leader in this area they rely on one man to do the bulk of the extracting work, Parker, Hannebery and Jack next in line. So the Swannies are missing 2 of their top 4 clearance winners, Jack and Parker again 2 of the top 4 in contested ball winners for the Swans. Massive week ahead for Kennedy and Tippet....big Kurt, he’s really delivered over the last month and a bit, looks better in the ruck than previous years and seems to enjoy the F50 to himself. He’s a huge key this week, if Pyke can soften Sandilands up and Tippett come in and jump over him to give Kennedy and Hannebery a look a it, they’re a chance.

The Dockers are hardly flying, in fact they’re limping into the finals series with hardly any form, question marks over the fitness of their biggest gun in Fyfe and half a side who have just had a week off. Interesting preparation. Sydney are missing some real midfield grunt that isn’t easily replaced and a key big man who is irreplaceable.

At home, the Dockers should triumph here, I’m not confident, but they should win. Fremantle by 19 points.

The match up to watch – Kennedy and Mundy. Mundy is a strong body and Kennedy has loads of pressure on him to win the ball in tight. With Jack and Parker missing in the extraction stakes the ball really is in Kennedy’s court and he needs a big one to help the Swans get moving. If Mundy can curtail his influence in tight, it will go a long way to helping the Dockers win.



Western Bulldogs v Adelaide


Big clash at the G in the first elimination final. I’ve loved how the Doggies have embraced playing at the MCG, that’s where the GF is played, they say, that’s where you need to win big games to be a top side, they say, and they’re right. The whole club has quickly moved on from not getting a home final at Etihad and it’s a great move by the coach and senior staffers to get on with the job.

Speaking of getting on with the job, Adelaide. While it’s not quite a “taboo” topic, we often hear “the Walsh tragedy”, it was, it is, but it’s almost impossible to believe a side who had their coach (allegedly) murdered midyear can be strong enough to keep executing a game plan and win enough games to make the final 8. Even a mad Port fan like me couldn’t begrudge them one losing final this year.

The Doggies have surpassed any expectations they could possibly have had preseason, while all clubs enter round 1 thinking “It might be our year”, 50+ years of it NOT being their year has the Footscray faithful more pessimistic than optimistic when it comes to lining up for finals tickets. This year though has been different. With a side not really boasting any genuine ruckman, nor a genuine big key forward nor a monster down back they’ve taken pretty much all before them. A multi faceted forward line with 3 blokes kicking 30+ for the year, 7 others in double figures, they’ve spread the load.

They do however have an absolute jet in the forward line. Jake Stringer ( I won’t call him “The Package”, I refuse to, I am not buying into any Brian Taylorisms at all ) is one very difficult player to match up on. He’s crucial for the Dogs this week, he needs to kick multiple goals. Why?

Well, because last week excused, the Crows have been piling on the scoreboard pressure like few others in the last month or so, so much so that they’ve finished the minor round behind the Hawks, West Coast and the Doggies to be the 4th highest scoring side of the year. These 4 teams the only sides to average over 14 goals per game. Keep in mind, Adelaide were not in great nick early on and after the Walsh tragedy had a couple of understandable down weeks. Since the loss to the Swans though they kicked 11,27,20,19 and 11 in last week’s loss at the Cattery. Big blokes Jenkins (42 goals) and Walker (55) are clutching anything in sight, Betts (58) is roaming around dangerously and Lynch (29) is doing plenty up the ground and hitting the scoreboard. Cameron (27) and Dangerfield (20) also know where the big sticks are.

But, that’s it, after these the scoring dries up, so there’s the challenge for the Dogs. Keep 3 or 4 of these guys down and they’re a big chance. Easier said than done. Not hard for the Dogs to establish who it is they need to keep quiet in front of goal. Betts and Walker the keys.

All finals are tough to pick, this one as tough as any. My heart says Doggies, a good mate who passed away early this year was a huge Dogs fan, I hope they do it for Doug and his family who miss him so, but my head says the Crows, just. Adelaide by 8 points.

The match up to watch – Jacobs and Minson. Big Will has been brought in to try and quell the influence of perhaps the single most important player to any team in the comp. Adelaide’s ruck stock’s are pretty thin, but they never get tested as the seemingly ever durable Jacobs busts out huge game time every week with little support. Will the big MCG make that harder for Sauce to dominate on?



Richmond v North Melbourne

Back-to-back Tigers v Roos with September 2015 V2.0, but there’s a twist. Last Friday night the Roos, with AFL approval, left half their side sitting in the stands and as expected, albeit after a decent arm wrestle, the Tigers prevailed in a fairly lack lustre contest that never really reached any great heights after Majak Daw smashed into a couple of blokes at the very first ball up. The only thing that can be read into that result was the Tigers got a win, some confidence and momentum into the first week of finals. The Roos got a rest.

The Tigers will be ever so keen to win a final, after two years of exiting the finals in the first week, both times without giving much of a roar this playing group will want to make a stand and show some bite. We know how Deledio, Cotchin, Martin and co run the midfield, we know Rance holds the back half together but the new dimension they’ve been able to add this year is Vickery offering some consistent effort allowing the more mobile Jack Reiwoldt up the ground to provide some conduit between the back half and the goal posts. Vickey’s year has been crucial to the Tigers getting to where they are and to Reiwoldt making the All-Australian squad reward for his more selfless approach to games. 50 goals still for Jack and 30 for T-Rone, gives them some more balance.

This has given them much more structure going forward and they play a fairly “traditional” style of footy. They also have the 3 mids named above Deledio, Cotchin, Martin who know how to go forward and produce the goods.

The Roos, with Richmond, would they be the most frustrating team to support? They’ve got the games #1 ruckman in Goldstein ripping it up week after week, huge hitout numbers, many to advantage, disposals and the odd reward with a goal or two here and there, he starts it all off. But they’ve also got a problem....who is their #1 possession winner? It’s 57 year old Boomer. Yep, Boomer leads the way for the Roos in disposals in his 37th AFL season. Cunnington next, Gibson, Swallow and Ziebell all well down the list. Is this a good thing? It might be, this gives them an even spread.

It’s the same up front, Petrie, Waite, Higgins, Thomas, Brown, Nahas and Harvey all over 20 goals for the year. They spread the load there as well. Perhaps as well as anyone. So why are they 8th? It’s application that brings them undone, application to keep working through the rough patches when they aren’t clicking. When it’s all good, so are they, when it isn’t they aren’t.

I’ve got a feeling the Roos flirted with form last week and they weren’t two games clear on top. They were in the 8 and perhaps lucky to be there.

I think the Tigers are just about the safest bet of the weekend, I think they’re a good thing. Richmond by 28 points.

The match up to watch – Ben Jacobs on Dustin Martin. Ex-Port players Ben Jacobs has taken to the role given to him by the angry Scott brother, the hard tag. I’m not sure Dustin Martin would be my first choice to go and rough up, he’s got a head liked a dropped pie and he doesn’t mind some argy bargy, jumper punch type action. It was shown last week that Jacobs might get the job on Martin in the midfield this week, but not when he goes forward. I think Dusty might spend more time forward this week creating a miss match.
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Re: Finals - Week 1

Post by Paul on Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:15 pm

West Coast by 14
Fremantle by 43
Western Bulldogs by 27
Richmond by 71
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Re: Finals - Week 1

Post by Lee on Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:06 pm

Fantastic write-ups, Booney.

Just watched most of tonight's game. You really have to admire West Coast.


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