Aug 27, 2021
A highly unhelpful guide to Finals Week One
The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to Finals Week One.
Second qualifying final
Port Adelaide vs Geelong (AO) 7:50pm Seven/Fox
In a minor miracle, we’ve reached the finals, not that you’d know it in Melbourne, where all the media have talked about is a certain club that manages coaching changes like it’s an exercise in psychological warfare.
But now we get to watch the good clubs go at it, and frankly a few good finals games is what we need right now. Not as much as vaccines, but the AFL is better run and more ruthless than any Federal Government we’ve ever had.
Say what you like about the AFL, but they get things done, even if you don’t particularly want what they’re delivering.
Port Adelaide come into this as favourites, in good form, coming off a win against another finalist and playing at home in front of a crowd of 20,000 fans.
To think, a crowd of 20,000 Power supporters is no longer the biggest dangerous gathering of people you can have in Australia.
Geelong are coming off a rather dispiriting loss, although Chris Scott suggested it wasn’t that bad, signalling a career in politics awaits.
The Cats can’t be written off though, they’ve proven themselves good at bouncing back this year, but the way they just ran out of steam in the second half must be a concern.
They were like a parent overseeing homeschooling, enthusiastic at first but becoming increasingly frustrated before giving up entirely and letting the kids run amok.
Port’s big question is can they consistently compete against the top sides?
Of the finalists, they’ve beaten Essendon, Sydney, the Giants and lost won against the Dogs
They have lost to Brisbane, Melbourne and Geelong, so it’s not that they can’t beat them, it’s just the results are mixed.
Really the question is, have they lifted in recent weeks into the top bracket of Melbourne, Geelong and Brisbane?
This will be the exam they have to sit to prove this and to be honest, I’ve got no idea, no one really does.
I’m wildly guessing the Power will win.
Oh, it’s Tom Hawkins 300th game, I almost forgot because it’s Tom Hawkins.
Saturday, August 28
Second elimination final
Sydney vs Greater Western Sydney (UTAS) 3:20pm Seven/Fox
The Sydney Derby, deep in their home territory of Tasmania, the AFL showing once again Tasmania is important to them, when it is useful to them, and not the rest of the time.
These two have met twice this year, splitting those games, the Swans winning the more recent one.
That game was the one when at the last minute, a bunch of players were told they couldn’t play due to going to Tier 2 sites.
Despite this, the AFL had them play anyway, not reschedule because they are not Victorian clubs, and the AFL doesn’t really care about them.
The Giants did lead that game by 35 points before the Swans kicked 12 of the final 14 goals, not an ideal strategy.
But that was such a weird game that like a social media post about Covid from Pete Evans, I’d not be putting any faith in it.
The Swans have surprised everyone this year, even themselves a little bit, this being seen as more a year to build again towards challenging over the next three to four years.
They’ve been boost by some good pick-ups, the young kids coming along and Buddy Franklin getting 17 games in, which is overs for what you’d have predicted.
The Giants season seemed to be travelling about as well as NSW early on, and missing finals entirely was a real possibility before they managed to turn things around with a late-season surge.
In the last five weeks, the Giants have beaten Essendon and Geelong, so they’re hardly making up the numbers, and in Toby Greene they have the best small forward in the game. He’s like an angry Eddie Betts who does dodgy things on the field regularly.
I’m tipping the Swans in this one.
First qualifying final
Melbourne vs Brisbane (AO) 7:30pm Seven/Fox
Melbourne are minor premiers, and the All-Australian night was like the Melbourne Football Club end of year awards. Yes, these are strange times.
That all counts for very little now, finals being the start of an entirely new race.
Last week’s spectacular comeback win counts for nothing, except it should fill the team with a sense of belief, something previous Melbourne sides never had.
Even Melbourne fans believe in them, a first in my lifetime.
In the Lions, they face a side that’s had its ups and downs but has come home strong.
The last time these two met the Lions dominated the first half, only for the Dees to run all over them in the second half.
Perhaps Melbourne’s biggest strength, after their defence, is their ability to run out games.
My doubts about Brisbane revolves around Joe Daniher, who is inconsistency personified. In any game, he could be the difference, by either giving the Lions a target or by doing nothing.
The Lions do get back Harris Andrews and Mitch Robinson, which is more than handy.
While Daniher has question marks over him, the Dees forward line is the same. You know the defence will keep the opponents score in check, but it seems the midfield need to really get going for the forward line to work.
To say I approach this game with a feeling of real terror would be an understatement. Not since Sally Horfenstein told me she might show up to my party have I been so nervous.
I’m tipping the Dees to win, but I’m prepared for pain, like when Sally did show up but in the arms of her new boyfriend and I spent the party crying up the side of the house near the hot water system.
First elimination final
Western Bulldogs vs Essendon (UTAS) 3:20pm Seven/Fox
Yes, Essendon are in the finals, which feels weird, like going to a nightclub only to find your parents are there.
The last time Essendon won a final, we didn’t worry about covid, we worried about scurvy and leprosy.
The good news for Bombers fans, is they’re playing a Bulldogs side that has the worst form of all the finalists.
They’ve lost three in a row to Port Adelaide, Hawthorn and worryingly, Essendon.
Against Hawthorn, they were held to 37 points which doesn’t scream ‘premiership contenders’ to you.
One of the storylines running through this game is Jake Stringer playing against his old side.
It will be tough for Bulldogs supporters and their players given how beloved Stringer was by those two groups.
The Doggies big issue lately is they have a team so short they need to ask people to help them get things off the top shelf when at the supermarket.
Tim English is basically it in the ruck department, and even someone as dense as me knows that’s a weakness that can be exploited.
I hate to say it, but I think the Bombers are going to win.
It’s going to be horrendous. Essendon supporters when their team is winning make Hawthorn supports seem humble.
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