2020 Finals Series

The 2010 Finals series week 1
Final final 8

Added 29 Sep 2020
Let’s do a brief preview of the finals series.

I am writing off team 5 – 8. Here’s why. Since we had the modern version of the final 8 (year 2000), here is what has happened to the elimination final winners:
Both eliminated in the semis (week 2 of finals and next match):
2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017,

One team eliminated in the semis and the other in the prelim:
2001, 2007, 2015, 2018,

Both teams eliminated in the prelim:

One team lost the grand final; the other lost in week 2:

One team won the flag; the other lost in week 2:

So in 13/20 years, BOTH elimination winners were gone the following week; only once did both teams win the following week. And 1 team in the Dogs went all the way (the team, by the way, given least chance at the start of the finals series).

I want to put an asterisk against 2016 (like old Carlton fans will want to do if the Tigers win this year). The reason is that this was the first year the had the pre-finals bye. So the winners of the qualifying final (Cats and Giants( both had a bye, a final, a bye and then a prelim. And both underperformed significantly in the prelim. The Cats lost by heaps, but GWS lost by a kick in the prelim and probably should’ve won the flag that year. Not that I begrudge the Dogs the flag, I was cheering for them like anything in the prelim and grand final. But I just want to hose down expectations for anyone expecting a 5 – 8 team going all the way.

Of the 5 – 8 teams, the Saints made the finals for the first time in a long time. I am generally negative on such teams but the results are mixed bag.
Examples of this using only elimination finalists since 2000 and a 5 year plus absence form finals are:
Melbourne 2018 – first finals since 2006 & beat the Cats by 29 points (this is an exception and, interestingly, the Dees did the same ting in 1987 after another long finals drought)
Richmond 2013 – first finals since 2001 & lost to the Blues (who finished 9th if you don’t mind umpire and got promoted because the Bombers were disqualified) by 20 points
Blues 2009 – first finals since 2001 & an honourable loss to the Lions by 7 points
Bombers 2009 – first finals since 2004 & and lost by 96 to the Crows
Hawks 2007 – first finals since 2001 & and beat the Crows by 3 points
Dogs 2006– first finals since 2000 & a big win over the Pies by 41 points
I excluded the first finals by the more recent additions to the AFL (GWS and Dockers in this case)

I’ll be tipping the Dogs to beat the Saints.
I will tip the Eagles to defeat Collingwood, but they are no certs.
I don’t expect either winner to go too much further.

Now on to the teams 1-4; I have my doubts about all 4 teams. but one of them has to win a flag, by the fact that I’ve eliminated teams 5 – 8. I’ll talk fundamentals first. The Tigers look the goods; they seem to be hitting their straps at the right time (like 2017 and 2019) and have a long winning run over the Lions. I don’t see the Lions being premiers just yet and then there is Port and the Cats. Port, to me, is underestimated and deserve a bit more credit. A win this week puts them in a great spot to make the big one. Same goes for the Cats, but they have been off the boil for a couple of weeks now. The fundamental say Tigers to win the flag.

But I don’t believe fundamentals when the technicals say otherwise. The technicals say that the deck is stacked against Richmond. Here’s why:
A: the Tigers are following Geelong 10 years apart. The Cats struggled for some years and then made finals 2004 and 2005, had a shocker in 2006 – finishing 10th; and then won the flag in 2007. They were big favourites to win in 2008 but lost the grand final; then won the flag in 2009; then made top 4 in 2010, lost the first final and eventually were bundled out in the prelim. We’ll stop there. Richmond made the finals in 2013 after a long absence; again in 2014 and 2015; had a shocker in 2016 – 13th actually; then won the flag in 2017; big favourites in 2018 but lost the prelim; then won in 2019 and here we are in 2020 with the Tigers tracking similar to Geelong in 2010. Not good news for a flag-hungry club.

Next, the Tigers won the flag by heaps last year; many teams have had big grand final wins in the past 50 years or so; few win back to back. The Hawks have done it twice (1988/89, but they fell over the line in 89; and 2014/15); the 20 other teams to have won the grand final big (over 6 goals is my line) have either not made the grand final at all (like Richmond in 2018) or lost it.

See data below: it’s from 1974, but 1964 to 1973 contained zero 37+ point winners

yearwinnerloserscoremargin (if over 36)winner next year
1974Richmond (9)North Melbourne18.20 (128) d. 13.9 (87)41no grand final
1975North MelbourneHawthorn19.8 (122) d. 9.13 (67)552nd
1976Hawthorn (3)North Melbourne13.22 (100) d. 10.10 (70)  
1977North MelbourneCollingwood9.22 (76) drew 10.16 (76)  
1977-2North MelbourneCollingwood21.25 (151) d. 19.10 (124)  
1978Hawthorn (4)North Melbourne18.13 (121) d. 15.13 (103)  
1979Carlton (12)Collingwood11.16 (82) d. 11.11 (77)  
1980Richmond (10)Collingwood23.21 (159) d. 9.24 (78)81no grand final
1981Carlton (13)Collingwood12.20 (92) d. 10.12 (72)  
1982Carlton (14)Richmond14.19 (103) d. 12.13 (85)  
1983Hawthorn (5)Essendon20.20 (140) d. 8.9 (57)832nd
1984Essendon (13)Hawthorn14.21 (105) d. 12.9 (81)  
1985Essendon (14)Hawthorn26.14 (170) d. 14.8 (92)78no grand final
1986Hawthorn (6)Carlton16.14 (110) d. 9.14 (68)422nd
1987Carlton (15)Hawthorn15.14 (104) d. 9.17 (71)  
1988Hawthorn (7)Melbourne22.20 (152) d. 6.20 (56)96win
1989Hawthorn (8)Geelong21.18 (144) d. 21.12 (138)  
1990Collingwood (14)Essendon13.11 (89) d. 5.11 (41)48no grand final
1991Hawthorn (9)West Coast20.19 (139) d. 13.8 (86)53no grand final
1992West CoastGeelong16.17 (113) d. 12.13 (85)  
1993Essendon (15)Carlton20.13 (133) d. 13.11 (89)44no grand final
1994West Coast (2)Geelong20.23 (143) d. 8.15 (63)80no grand final
1995Carlton (16)Geelong21.15 (141) d. 11.14 (80)61no grand final
1996North Melbourne (3)Sydney19.17 (131) d. 13.10 (88)43no grand final
1997AdelaideSt Kilda19.11 (125) d. 13.16 (94)  
1998Adelaide (2)North Melbourne15.15 (105) d. 8.22 (70)  
1999North Melbourne (4)Carlton19.10 (124) d. 12.17 (89)  
2000Essendon (16)Melbourne19.21 (135) d. 11.9 (75)602nd
2001Brisbane LionsEssendon15.18 (108) d. 12.10 (82)  
2002Brisbane Lions (2)Collingwood10.15 (75) d. 9.12 (66)  
2003Brisbane Lions (3)Collingwood20.14 (134) d. 12.12 (84)502nd
2004Port AdelaideBrisbane Lions17.11 (113) d. 10.13 (73)40no grand final
2005Sydney (4)West Coast8.10 (58) d. 7.12 (54)  
2006West Coast (3)Sydney12.13 (85) d. 12.12 (84)  
2007Geelong (7)Port Adelaide24.19 (163) d. 6.8 (44)1192nd
2008Hawthorn (10)Geelong18.7 (115) d. 11.23 (89)  
2009Geelong (8)St Kilda12.8 (80) d. 9.14 (68)  
2010Collingwood (15)St Kilda9.14 (68) drew 10.8 (68)  
2010-2Collingwood (15)St Kilda16.12 (108) d. 7.10 (52)562nd
2011Geelong (9)Collingwood18.11 (119) d. 12.9 (81)  
2012Sydney (5)Hawthorn14.7 (91) d. 11.15 (81)  
2013Hawthorn (11)Fremantle11.11 (77) d. 8.14 (62)  
2014Hawthorn (12)Sydney21.11 (137) d. 11.8 (74)63win
2015Hawthorn (13)West Coast16.11 (107) d. 8.13 (61)46no grand final
2016Western Bulldogs (2)Sydney13.11 (89) d. 10.7 (67)  
2017Richmond (11)Adelaide16.12 (108) d. 8.12 (60)48no grand final
2018West Coast (4)Collingwood11.13 (79) d. 11.8 (74)  
2019Richmond (12)Greater Western Sydney17.12 (114) d. 3.7 (25)89 

Using my technical help to eliminate Richmond, I rate the flag chances Port, Geelong and Brisbane in that order. So the winner of the Port versus Geelong game this Thursday will be my new flag tip; right now, that is Port!

Thursday, October 1, 2020
First Qualifying Final
Port Adelaide vs Geelong at Adelaide Oval 7.40pm EST
Friday, October 2, 2020
Second Qualifying Final
Brisbane vs Richmond at the Gabba 7.50pm
Saturday, October 3, 2020
Second Elimination Final 
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs at the Gabba 4.40pm
First Elimination Final
West Coast vs Collingwood at Perth Stadium 8.10pm EST

Thursday, October 1, 2020
First Qualifying Final
Port Adelaide vs Geelong at Adelaide Oval 7.40pm EST
Forecast: fine; maybe slightly breezy late in the game
Possible significant team changes:
In: Tom Clurey, Mitch Georgiades and Ryan Burton all are expected to be available
In: Tom Atkins and Rhys Stanley are chances to return
Early tip: Port by 9 points

Update 30 Sep 2020: we have the INS and OUTS:
IN: Tom Clurey, Zak Butters and Ryan Burton
OUT: Jarrod Lienert, Riley Bonner and Boyd Woodcock (all omitted)
IN: Rhys Stanley and Tom Atkins
OUT: Jack Steven and Esava Ratugolea (both omitted)

The only slight surprise here is Jack Steven being omitted. I expect one of these teams to win the flag. The winner is in the box seat, but the loser would also be a chance as well (as, for example, happened in 2003, 2005 and 2006).

Let’s start with the Cats; Joel Selwood this week talked of how much better the Cats are coming into this finals campaign – with the older guys better prepared / rested and also not so many having to be managed as was the case in recent years. At the bye last year, the Cats were on top and looking like a premiership team. They lost after the bye and then went win / loss / win loss / throughout the year – ending in a prelim loss to the Tigers. Even that game mirrored their topsy-turvy second half of the year – lead by about 3 goals at HT and then getting overrun.

They were looking much better late this year until they came a gutzer against Richmond in round 17, then fell over the line against the Swans in the final round. Round 15 was a bye and they demolished the Bombers in round 16 in the bus-gate saga game. Let’s assume that the bus fiasco was the total cause of Essendon’s woeful start to the game. It could be argued that the Cats have been poor since the bye and come into the finals on the back of terrible form.

Now the case for the Cats: Brandon Parfitt and Sam Menegola are two players that either didn’t play or struggled with issues late last year. They’re both doing well now and adding to their depth. The Cats get back Stanley – who didn’t play against the Tigers; also missing that night were Selwood and Gazza; they thrashed Port earlier in the season and may have some confidence going into the game. That was a win by 60 points at the Gold Coast.

This time, it’s in front of a rabid Port home crowd; the key INS from that game to this are:
Port get back Brad Ebert, Connor Rozee and Todd Marshall; Geelong get back Ablett Jnr and Luke Dahlhaus.

These changes plus the home ground advantage aren’t going to make 10 goals difference. So why did Port go so badly that night and why we would tip them now? A real key to the round 12 game is round 11. Port played a home game against the reigning premiers; it was a huge game for Port – they had to win this one at home to prove themselves worthy as they seek the flag in their 150th year. Port just didn’t come up the following week and they underperformed by over 10 goals. “We played into their hands”, said Ollie Wines this week, when reflecting on that game.

I’m still tipping Port by 9 points, but I want to make this an EXTREME variance game. If you’re still tipping certs, there are better games this week to use.

Friday, October 2, 2020
Second Qualifying Final
Brisbane vs Richmond at the Gabba 7.50pm
Forecast: fine and light winds
Possible significant team changes:
In: Jarrod Berry is considered likely to return; Harris Andrews is unlikely but not completely ruled out
In: Shai Bolton and Tom Lynch are expected to return from injuries
Early tip: Tigers by 6 points
Wednesday 30 Sep update: Tom Lynch has been ruled out for Richmond. Word out of Brisbane is that Jarrod Berry is okay and Harris Andrews is almost a certain starter.
Thursday night update: actual team changes:
IN: Jarrod Berry & Harris Andrews
OUT: Campbell Ellis-Yolmen and Jack Payne (both omitted)
IN: Shai Bolton & Dion Prestia
OUT: Josh Caddy & Jack Ross (both omitted)

A Lion official said Andrews would’ve played had the game been last week; so I’ll assume he’s okay to go; Tiger Prestia hasn’t played since round 5; he’ll be ready to go in terms of preparation, but could be a bit rusty.

Rewind 12 months and these teams played the same game week 1 of finals; it was a disaster for the Lions who kicked themselves out of it early and were blown away late (losing by 47 points despite having 3 more scoring shots!). Often team coming from nowhere to a double chance lose the first game; but credit to the Lions for being able to butter up in 2020 and finish top 2 (albeit with lots of games in QLD).

The Tigers have won 15 in a row against the Lions, so that will be a big help; how much will be this a mental thing for Brisbane? This year the Tigers won by 41 points at the Gold Coast (12:10 to 4:17, if you don’t mind!). Kicking 3:0 or something similar early on would help the Lions. I expect them to be competitive and I hope they don’t butcher shots at goal.

The long-ish Richmond injury list is a bit of a concern; they are missing Tom Lynch, Ivan Soldo; then also players who are on the fringe: Josh Caddy (omitted but had knee soreness in Monday’s injury report), Jack Higgins, Jake Aarts (listed as a test on Monday). Sydney Stack is suspended and a few others listed who would not be in the best 28 players.

Stefan Martin just came back last game for the Lions – as did Shane Edwards for Richmond.

I’ll stick with my early tip of Tigers by 6 points.

Saturday, October 3, 2020
Second Elimination Final 
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs at the Gabba 4.40pm
Forecast: fine and moderate winds
Possible significant team changes:
In: Zak Jones should be close to recovering from a hammie

Out: Aaron Naughton is in doubt with a fractured cheekbone; Mitch Wallis may in some small doubt with a shoulder injury, but the club says he’ll be okay
Early tip: Dogs by 3 points

This is a replay of the 1997 grand final that almost happened, until the Crows pipped the Dogs at the post to win the prelim (and then the grand final as well)

I’ll mark this as an EXTREME variance game and more detail when the teams come out.

Friday night update:
It’s Zak Jones in for the injured Josh Battle at the Saints.
The Dogs go in unchanged.
No no great surprises overall there. Aaron Naughton and mitch Wallis have both been named and I think they’ll play.

In previewing the entire finals series, I talked of tams like the Saints playing an elimination final after a long finals absence as being a mixed bag. This is why I have labelled this an EXTREME variance game.

Some teams in the spot of the Saints trailed at QT and then came back to win; I wouldn’t have expected the stats to be that way.

I’ll go with the Dogs by 7 points and EXTREME variance; the prize for winning is a game against Richmond at the Gold Coast

First Elimination Final
West Coast vs Collingwood at Perth Stadium 8.10pm EST
Forecast: fine and a bit breezy
Possible significant team changes:
In: Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey and Jack Redden are expected to return; and Jamie Cripps as well
In: Chris Mayne should be available; maybe Ben Reid as well, but they may not risk him

Elliot Yeo won’t be back in 2020 after already missing since round 11. Josh Kennedy played in round 18 but didn’t last long; the Eagles expect him to be okay for this game.

The Pies won’t see Steele Sidebottom again this year. He can watch the game alongside Yeo!
Early tip: Eagles by 13 points, but not certs

The Pies played the Eagles in Perth earlier this year and had a shocker – losing by a massive 66 points after leading by 14 at QT. I that game, Pendles pulled out at the very last minute and was replaced by Atu BosenaVulagi. BosenaVulagi didn’t come on for some time and was getting rubbed down on the boundary. Usually late inclusions are in about 1 – 2 hours at least before game time and can complete a full warm-up. When he did come on, BosenaVulagi struggled to pick up the pace of the game. But I reckon he was delayed because the team manager had trouble spelling the name on the team sheet!

Anyway, the Pies have the luxury of being one of the teams to travel to the west this year, so they will be better for the experience this time when they go over.

Friday night update:
Team changes
IN: Jack Redden, Jamie Cripps, Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey
OUT: Josh Rotham (Injured), Bailey J. Williams, Luke Foley and Will Schofield (last 3 omitted)

IN: Chris Mayne, Darcy Cameron
OUT: Travis Varcoe and Tyler Brown (both omitted)

Darcy Cameron was a surprise selection for Collingwood; maybe he was picked to thwart the defenders of the Eagles intercept marking; or is Brodie Grundy needing help?

Pie fans should gain comfort from the fact that Port got belted by Geelong in the regular season; & Lions likewise weren’t close to Richmond earlier in the season; but both teams turned those results around this week. I could imagine a big Eagles blow-out win, but suspect a tight tussle is more likely; I’ll stick with the Eagles by 13 points (which is a woosie tip because it’s about the same as everybody else); the four changes is a bit of a risk for Adam Simpson (which he acknowledges), but all four should be good to go and not hobbling onto the arena. The winner faces Geelong in QLD next up

Finals week 1 Review
Port 58 Cats 42
I was right… and wrong. i tipped Port but was wrong about the variance.
The score was 9:4 to 5:12 and the Cats won the SC score 1664 to 1635. With these figures, a case could be made that the Cats kicked themselves out of it. But I think Port deserved the win in any way one looks at it. Todd Marshall was injured early and did play some part later – kicking a crucial goal. But he clearly was NQR. And Xavier Duursma came off in Q3 after a head knock and was done for the night.

Tom Hawkins kicked 0:5 from 6 shots, but only 1 was a shocking miss; the rest were from wide out.

Ollie Wines was terrific and it was good to see Rocky not overawed by the occasion of playing his first ever final.

Joel Selwood was among the best for the Cats and Lachie Henderson (looked gone early in the season) did well in defence.

The Cats got a goal to hit the lead late in Q2 and then Port went forward from the next centre bounce; the ball fell into Brad Ebert’s arms in F50 and he converted the shot on the siren. I see late goals / misses / missed chances as generally momentum builders. Port jumped out of the blocks well in Q3 – supporting my theory. Check out the Q3 highlights and see Danger’s goal; well worth a look.

Ex Cat Steven Motlop was effective up forward with 3 goals in a low-scoring contest.

At this early stage, I would tip both teams to win when they next play. Unofficially, Port should play the prelim at home and the Cats should be back in QLD next week.

Lions 69 Tigers 54
I tipped a loser here despite spending a lot of columns above talking down Richmond’s premiership chances; like Geelong 10 years earlier, they lost a qualifying final. Full credit to the Lions who showed some zip and dare; and then were able to hang on late. They have now avoided the possibility of going to Adelaide for a prelim.

Chris Fagan thought that the long string of losses against Richmond was not as big an issue for them as for the media. He said they played Richmond off a short break earlier this year and with an inexperienced team (compared to the finals team); he also thought that they gained some belief from last year’s finals series despite the straight sets exit.

Damian Hardwick rued the free and 50 metre penalties which led to goals. The critical one, from my point of view, was the 2 x 50 metres that put Lachie Neale barely within scoring distance. He gave it everything and the Lions were suddenly 13 points up in what was a tight game on the stroke of half time. As mention before, a crucial goal just before a break can provide momentum and the Lions duly won Q3 (by 8 points) and the 21 point 3QT lead proved enough.

Saints 67 Dogs 64
I was wrong on both the tip and the variance, but don’t feel too disappointed. I would’ve been right on both had the dogs got up to win, but they probably didn’t deserve it. What I was glad about was doing some research which avoided me totally writing the Saints off (which was my off the cuff thought as soon as I knew the match-up).

The game was a 3 point result, but it felt like the Saints controlled the game, but didn’t handle Q4 as well as they could have. From a motivational viewpoint, I thought they were a goal away from totally breaking it open early in Q4.

The Dogs lost Zaine Cordy in Q2; Aaron Naughton and Mitch Wallis came in under injury clouds and were just so-so

Pies 76 Eagles 75
I tipped the loser, but glad not to tip the Eagles as certs (as many others did); there was a reference to Collingwood being a “dirty football team” in the west – referring to the length of their quarantine before the game; maybe it proved a motivation. Now the Eagles players have to quarantine for 14 days before being let loose in the general public (maybe an extended Mad Monday?). Anyway, the Eagles were never really convincing all year, bar for at home. Even though this game was in the west, they should never have been labelled certs and I doubt they would have won another final had they got over the line. They were the team to complain most loudly about hubs (especially compared to Freo) and then the WA govt effectively killed off any chance of the entire final series being played in Perth (or even merely the grands final). the media was concerned about the Eagles making 4 changes but all the INS were experienced players and did okay, bar perhaps for Luke Shuey. The inexperienced players were all at the bottom of the SC scores for them – Jack Petruccelle with 8 and Brayden Ainsworth with 31.

Mason Cox kicked 3 goals in Q1 for the Pies – bringing back memories of the USA USA chant in the 2018 prelim. That was the last time he shone like that. The Pies were 3 goals up early and the Eagles were fighting from then on to get back into the game. then it all came down to a wonderful Taylor Adams tackle (which brought back memories of the 1999 prelim and Fraser Brown’s tackle). Great game to watch for a neutral on-looker, as were all the games this weekend.

The combined margins would’ve been the lowest since the current final 8 system was in place (35 points total margins)

Week 2 of Finals begins Friday 9 Oct 2020 at 7.50pm EST
Richmond vs St Kilda at the Gold Coast 7.50pm 09 Oct 2020
Note that this is Australian eastern daylight saving time and that QLD does not go onto daylight saving

Saturday 10 Oct 2020
Geelong vs Collingwood at the Gabba 7.40pm 10 Oct 2020
Note that this is Australian eastern daylight saving time and that QLD does not go onto daylight saving

Richmond vs St Kilda at the Gold Coast 7.50pm 09 Oct 2020
Weather: breezy
Possible team changes of note:
Tom Lynch is tipped as a certain IN for Richmond
The Saints will need a replacement for Paddy Ryder who has done a hammie. Jake Carlisle may also be an out for family reasons (TBC) and Ben Long faces a 1 match ban for rough play.
Teams winning elimination finals tend to underperform the following week; it’s even harder if they win narrowly; and harder still if they lose Q4 in the process. that is true of both St Kilda and Collingwood this week. It’s also harder if the team winning that elimination final hasn’t played finals the previous year; so bad for the Saints and more positive for Collingwood on that basis.

Early tip: tigers by 38 points and my first “cert” of the finals.
Update 08 Oct 2020: team changes
IN: Nathan Broad, Tom J. Lynch
OUT: Mabior Chol  & Jake Aarts (both omitted)
IN: Jonathon Marsh, Josh Battle & Shane Savage
OUT: Ben Long (Suspended), Jake Carlisle (family) & Paddy Ryder (Injured)

No huge surprises in the teams and I see no reason to change my tip. I will mention that teams like the Saints who win narrowly in an elimination final and lose Q4 in the process usually start badly the following week – losing Q1 by an average of 8 points; they also underperform a bit in Q2 and Q3 then finish off very well in Q4 (usually the game is decided by then – so it’s just ending the year well for their fans).

Tigers by 38 points, certs and to win Q! by over 2 goals. The variance – EXTREME but only because the Tigers might win by over 56 points.

Geelong vs Collingwood at the Gabba 7.40pm 10 Oct 2020
Weather: warm and breezy
Possible team changes of note:
Cat captain Joel Selwood has had surgery on a finger this week, but says he will play; possible replacement Jack Steven injured his hammie in a practice match.
See above comments on teams winning elimination finals narrowly in the Richmond / St Kilda preview. This is a small negative for the Pies; but they are a great early finals teams and have had a tendency in the past to win elimination finals and progress to a prelim of grand final.

What makes me lean to the Cats is that it was such a huge effort to move west for 1 game and then come all the way back to QLD. That’s the deciding factor; it virtually gives the Cats a home ground advantage (of sorts) in this contest. The Cats traveled in week 1 as well, but to Sa with less strict quarantine rules and a shorter flight each way

Early tip: Cats by 7 points
No teams named Thursday night – very disappointing.
Friday night update: no change for the Pies and Tom Atkins is omitted for Geelong and replaced by Sam Simpson.
The Cats are narrow favourites but there is a huge number of experts tipping the Pies. Going back to the narrow Elimination final winners: those who won as underdogs: there have been 9 of them (including the Saints in 2020) and 7 of them lost the following week. The two winners were Collingwood in 1980 (huge winners over the Blues) and Fitzroy in 1986 who beat the Swans. The other 7 lost and the 9 as a whole underperformed by 16 points. The two above-mentioned winners won Q1 and the losers were all behind at QT (so all 9 games were “decided at QT). I have my reservations re tipping against the Pies due to their great finals record and finals experience, but the technicals makes me more confident about the Pies than the experts; final tip – Cats by 14 points and to win Q1

Finals week 2 Review
Tigers 80 Saints 49
I’m pretty happy with my tip, except for the EXTREME variance call! I put this in because I gave the Tigers a chance to thrash the Saints. It looked that way with their start (which I tipped correctly); the tigers were up 23 points late in Q1 and that was about the margin from then on – with Richmond slightly drawing away and withstanding a few Saints challenges.

The Tigers are faithfully following the pattern of Geelong 10 years later. The Cats in finals week 2 of 2010 put the game away early (as did Richmond here), but powered away to beat Fremantle by 69 points; in this instance, the Tigers weren’t that dominant after late in Q1, but the pattern is still somewhat intact.

A curio is that 3 of the top 4 SC scorers for Richmond (Tom Lynch, Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli) all scored over 130 and all missed games in the second half of the season.

Given the narrow win by the Saints and their long absence form finals, it was a very good performance by them. Jack Steele was the best SC scorer for the Saints and recovered from a so-so elimination final. The Saints finished with a few minor knocks, but it wasn’t those that caused the loss.

The Tigers go in to the prelim reasonably confident – but more so due to experience than pure form.

Cats 100 Pies 32
I’m totally stunned with what happened. In this game, I didn’t label it as EXTREME variance, but should have.

It was like watching the Cats play Essendon a few weeks ago after the Bomber players all got stuck on a bus for ages in the lead-up to the game.
What happened? Looks like the Pies spent all their petrol tickets in getting to Perth (for the second time this year), going in to quarantine, flying back across the country and then playing the Cats (who had 2 more days to prepare and had to go from Adelaide to Brisbane).

Nathan Buckley was kind enough to answer questions for 17 minutes in his presser and said that his side had nothing left to give – backing up my “petrol tickets” theory. He was asked about Brodie Grundy (is he injured) and Bucks said he is one who needs some time away from footy (as some others do); so it we get a more normal season next year, he may be back to his 2019 form.

The Pies lost the SC score 2156 to 1143; cannot recall many bigger wins that that! The Age had a story of which teams had the toughest fixture and it was Hawthorn – followed by Collingwood. Pie fans can just parcel this year up and look forward to 2021 – with more games at the MCG, hopefully.

With Collingwood’s woes in mind, how does one assess Geelong? Well, they were reasonably good in week 1 of finals (which has been disastrous for them in the past decade here and there – being blown away early by Fremantle in 2012; the same against Richmond in 2017 and the Dees in 2018).

So the end result is fairly positive for the Cats – more so for the way they played against Port the previous week than the size of their win over Collingwood.

Week 3 of Finals (Preliminary Finals) begins at 7.50PM EDST on Friday, October 16
Port Adelaide vs Richmond at Adelaide Oval; 7:50PM EDST

Saturday October 17
Brisbane vs Geelong at the Gabba; 7:40pm EDST

Friday, October 16; 7:50PM EDST
Port Adelaide vs Richmond at Adelaide Oval

Weather: showers clearing
Damien Hardwick said after the win over St Kilda that the Richmond team which faces Port Adelaide in the prelim will be vastly different from the one which played Port in round 11. And he is correct. Into the team (who weren’t playing back then) comes David Astbury, Bachar Houli, Dion Prestia, Jack Graham, Shane Edwards and Trent Cotchin (based on their most recent lime-up); handy inclusions! The Tigers lost that game by 21 points; it was a statement game for Port – we are on top, we are serious contenders and watch us against the reigning premiers. Given all those INS for Richmond, should they be tipped? Well, they lose Ivan Soldo and Sydney Stack from that team (and the others OUTS would be omissions)

Hold on a minute! Let’s do the same test on Port: they get back Brad Ebert, Connor Rozee, Steven Motlop, Todd Marshall (assuming he comes up this week) and Ryan Burton. The OUTS for Port would all be omissions. Also handy INS and no OUTS to match Soldo and Stack!

I like Port in this contest which experts are split about 50/50. If Richmond follow Geelong 10 years later, they are in for a horror night. The cats were 10 goals down in the 2010 prelim against Collingwood before half time (a stark contrast to last week) and never got close thereafter.

The somewhat unreliable technical trend suggests that Port will begin well and never be headed. By the way, what Collingwood did to Geelong in 2010, they did to the Tigers in 2018 in the prelim – 44 points up at HT.

Then there is the BIG WIN in last year’s grand final hanging over Richmond (and the technical trend here suggests that the Tigers will either miss the grands final or lose it – especially 2H).

Then there is the 150th year for Port; it shouldn’t have an effect and maybe their rise has just coincided with the rise of their draft picks in recent years – but it is a small plus for me.

Early tip = Port by 16 points.

The long awaited team changes: NONE
I will leave my tip as is; I’m reasonably confident about Port, but there are no certs from here on in for the year.

Saturday October 17
Brisbane vs Geelong at the Gabba; 7:40pm EDST

Weather: fine & not too humid
Unlike the other game, we have a favourite here – the Lions are 4 point favourites (okay, so not big favourites). I find this one harder to tip. There are a few unknowns (which is why it’s always easier to tip after the game is over). I’m not sure how the Lions will cope with the pressure and expectation of the home crowd. Then there is the difficulty of assessing Geelong’s win over Collingwood.

If we take their round 6 meeting as a guide, then the Cats would be the tip. In that game, Geelong lost Quinton Narkle and Mitch Duncan by QT, looked down and out in Q2 but managed to stay in touch and then kicked 7 goals to nil in Q3 and eventually win by 27 points. In fairness to those who want to tip the Lions, they lost Mitch Robinson in Q3 and Hugh McLuggage copped a Q2 knock. And the game was in Sydney – one of 3 games played outside of QLD by Brisbane all season.

Now all their finals are at the Gabba, so this is a huge help.

Early tip: Lions by 2 points, but I prefer the other game.

I will finish my tips tonight (Thursday) after the disappointment of not getting the teams for Saturday tonight.

I expect little or no change to the teams. The one of interest is Rhys Stanley; the coach says he’s fine, so I expect he will play. Maybe the Cats could bring in Esava Ratugolea as insurance, but they already look a bit too tall overall.

I had a squiz at teams that won the semi-final (week 2 of finals) big from 2000 to 2019. Teams coming of those big wins in week 2 tended to underperform in the preliminaries slightly (3.8 points worse than expected). They tended to underperform in Q1, 2 & 3 and then do very well in Q4. If we look at Q1, 3 of the 10 teams in the sample were down 20 points or more at QT and never recovered – all losing by over 40 points. I mentioned the good Q4; 1 team came from behind at 3QT to win.

There were 4 cases where the semi final winner had the game won at half time as Geelong were last week (6 goals plus in front I am using as the guide). 3 of the four teams lost Q1 in the prelim the following week and lost the game. 1 only (Hawthorn in 2015) won Q1 AND the game (then the grand final after that).

All this leads me to be ever so slightly more keen on the Lions; I’ll tip them by 7 points now. And my further tip: the QT leader will lead at ever change on the way to a win.

Friday night update: 1 change for Brisbane, none for Geelong; no change to my tips
IN: Cameron Ellis-Yolmen
OUT: Keidean Coleman (Omitted)          

In summary – perhaps I should cover qualifying final winners without a huge amount of finals experience. Not too many in this category. And it gets hard to define amounts of finals experience. I’ve picked out 3 teams:

Dockers 2013
Giants 2016
Tigers 2017 (Tigers made finals in 2013/14/15 after a long drought but lost 3 consecutive elimination finals, so I’ve included them – just make the cut)

Dockers 2013 prelim: dominated against the Swans and led all night, but kicked a wasteful 2:9 to 2:1 in Q1; won by 25 points; were 20 point favourites on the back on the home ground advantage

Giants 2016 prelim: lost as very warm 18 point favourites, but this was the first year that the post-season bye was introduced; so was it finals inexperience or the bye that contributed?

Tigers 2017 prelim: they won by 36 points as 12 point favourites.

Looking at this, the technical charts (on a very small sample – too small to be sure of anything) would suggest that you don’t write off Port and Brisbane because of less finals experience than their opponents.

Port to lead go to whoa
Lions are my tip but I reckon the QT leader might go all the way in this one.

Preliminary Finals Review
Tigers 46 Port 40

See write-up prior to grand final preview below about the byes;
I was wrong AND wrong; Port lost and they didn’t even lead at HT or 3QT; this was a huge game and a dour struggle with neither team getting a decisive break and the Tigers hanging on determinedly late in Q4; Port lost Brad Ebert to concussion late in the contest, but his final game was a good one; Ryan Burton battled through the game after copping a leg injury; while Port had its chances, I feel that the Tigers deserved to win; correctly identified Kane Lambert as the X factor – with 2 x Q4 goals almost out of nothing. Port attacked the final few minutes of the game, but without much system and Toby Nankervis managed a late crucial intercept mark. Richmond has now exceeded the pattern set by Geelong ten years earlier.

Cats 82 Lions 42
See write-up prior to grand final preview below about the byes;
I was staggered at how easily the Cats won this game; they won by 40, but it looked like a ten goal win in the second half. Admittedly, a few things went wrong for the Lions. Darcy Gardiner was a late withdrawal – replaced by Jack Payne who looked very good and scored 93 SC; Grant Birchall did a hammie in Q4; Jarrod Berry, Eric Hipwood and inclusion Campbell Ellis-Yolmen just couldn’t get into the game; Mitch Robinson copped a knock to the eye early and didn’t have a great influence on the contest. The Lions seem to lack a bit of zip, but the Cats hemmed them in perfectly, controlled the game from a defensive viewpoint and then were able to do some damage in attack.

Much has been made of the pre-finals bye and qualifying final winners playing only 1 game in 4 weeks (last round of season, bye, qualifying final, bye, prelim). Since 2016, only 4 of the 10 qualifying final winners have won the prelim; from 2000 to 2015, it was 28 out of 32 qualifying final winners who won the prelim. So they say that the post-season bye penalises the qualifying final winners. Maybe in 2016 it did (clearly, in my opinion) because it was new and teams didn’t adjust.
In 2017, both qualifying final winners easily won their prelims.
In 2018, it was 1 of 2 and the loser was Richmond; I put this loss down to the “big grand final win hangover”.
In 2019, it was 1 out of 2 and the Pies only narrowly losing their prelim (although being a long way behind at one point).
This year, I think the “unprecedented times” had more to do with it (and maybe a little bit about Port and Brisbane being inexperienced at being at the pointy end of the finals recently). Let me explain. Richmond and Geelong are in a hub in QLD. for them, they just play until the end (grand final, as it turns out). but for Port and Brisbane players – they were at home and it was October; everything told them they should be finished. The October warmth at home may have been a minus to them; and more so for the Lions – who remained at home right through the finals (as did Port, but they would have had to travel to QLD had they won the prelim). This is impossible to prove, of course. but it’s my theory and it explains why Port underperformed by 3 – 4 goals (according to my tip) and the Lions about 7 goals worse than expected.

Grand Final
Saturday 24 October 2020
Richmond vs Geelong at the Gabba 7.30pm AEDT

Early forecast: chance of showers and a bit breezy
My early tip is for Geelong (the ever so slight outsiders) to win the game and also win the second half.
Below is the reason for my tip. IT shows a list of teams since 1961 which have won a grand final by over 6 goals and then made the grand final the following year.

To summarise the data: most were favourites and only 2 of the 9 won. the average of the 9 is a loss of 18.5 points; but there is a difference between 1H and 2H. The 9 teams, on average, won the first half (1H) by 6.2 points and lost the second half by 27.7 points. This is amazing! 8 of the 9 lost 2H with only Hawthorn in 2015 winning (and that against a Perth team, so with home ground advantage!). The Hawks twice won the grand finals above – 1989 and 2015. In 1989, they beat the Cats; no great home ground advantage to speak of there, but Geelong was in its first finals series for 8 years.

On this basis, I am very confident of Geelong winning the second half – and, most likely, the match as well.

yearsTeamresult1st half2nd halfresult1st half2nd half
1975/76Rooslost by 30lost by 19lost by 11-30-19-11
1983/84Hawkslost by 24won by 25lost by 49-2425-49
1986/87Hawkslost by 33lost by 11lost by 22-33-11-22
1988/89Hawkswon by 6won by 37lost by 31637-31
2001/01Bomberslost by 26lost by 14lost by 40-26-14-40
2003/04Lionslost by 40won by 1lost by 41-401-41
2007/08Catslost by 26won by 3lost by 29-263-29
2010/11Pieslost by 38won by 3lost by 41-383-41
2014/15Hawkswon by 46won by 31won by 15463115

The teams are expected to be unchanged from the preliminary finals teams.

Wednesday update: Tom Hawkins had a cold and tested negative for Corona virus today. It looks like all is well and he’ll play. In fact, unless the tigers bring in an extra tall (may depend on the forecast) both teams could go in unchanged.

Looking at the finals games, the Cats have been slightly more impressive overall. They both played Brisbane and Port.
Tigers lost to Brisbane by 15 points and beat Port by 6
Cats: lost to Port by 16 points and beat Brisbane by 40.
In week 2, Richmond defeated St Kilda by 31 points and the Cats won by 68 points over Collingwood,

But the Tigers are ever so slight favourites on the back of recent grand final wins (2017 and 2019). A curio is that the teams are in the same location at their QLD hub. Shane Edwards and Gazza trained together as they got ready to play again.

I give a slight tick to Richmond for their grand final experience of late, but it’s not enough to give them the tick overall.

I don’t generally go into game styles or place too much emphasis of recent clashes between the teams, but I did hear a few commentators explaining the round 17 Richmond / Geelong game; the Cats had Bradley Close and Ben Jarvis up forward in this game and the commentator said that the Tiger defenders paid no attention to defending hard on them (or words to that effect) and were therefore able to rebound easily; another factor is that the Tigers were first up after the bye and looked sharp; the Cats had their bye a week earlier and then played Essendon; maybe the ease of the win against a bus-lagged (if such a term exists) Bomber outfit was not a good preparation for their match against Richmond. So, personally, I’d prefer to go on finals form than round 17 form in order to pick the winner of the big one. One more thing out of the round 17 game, however, which may prove very crucial – the tigers lost Ivan Soldo for the season.

The booroo (as Mal Prop calls it) has forecast a 60% chance of rain during the game; a lot of rain might help Richmond; a little rain would not make me change my tip; if we get a lot of rain, I’ll knock 6 points off Geelong’s winning margin.

My final tip (unless there is a selection shock or similar before game time) is Geelong by 15 points; if they are within 2 goals at half time, they will overrun the Tigers. Other tip is for the Cats to win the second half by over 2 goals.

Grand Final Review
Tigers 81 Cats 50

Tigers way too good and totally mucked up my tips; I will begin with the technical analysis stuff first. I mentioned that teams which win the grand final BIG and then make it next year tend to do poorly in the decided, but especially in the second half (2H); so, with Geelong up 15 points at half time, one would have expected them to pull away for a comfortable win. I re-looked at the data. From when the new finals system came into place, the relevant teams who won big then contested the grand final the following year were:
Essendon 2001
Geelong 2008
Collingwood 2011
Hawthorn 2015 and, finally,
Richmond 2020
Hawthorn and Richmond won the second halves AND the game. Of interest is that both lost their qualifying finals. This now starts to make sense to me. For a technical to regularly work, there has either got to be a reason for it – or it is a statistical anomaly. I think the reason this one has worked pretty well is that teams get an unhelpful feeling of superiority in winning a flag and then looking the goods the following year. The Dons, Cats and Pies all finished on top of the ladder in 2001/08/11 respectively and all three won their qualifying finals on the way to their grand final losses. The Hawks 2015 and Tigers 2020 both finished 3rd and neither were the hot favourites for the flag that the previous 3 teams were. So I now postulate that teams that win a grand final big and then struggle (somewhat) to make the next grand final have already shred that burden of over-confidence by the time grand final day arrives. I’ll watch in future years to test out the theory.

Now on to the game – well, lets start at prelim 2019. Cats played Tigers and led by 6 points at the end of Q1
21 points Q2
down by 4 points Q3
lost by 19 points

This year it was up 1 point, 15 points, down 2 points and lost by 31; if you factor in that Richmond kicked 2 late goals on Saturday, the trend is almost identical. The coaches and reporters at the pressers both thought the Cats could have been further in front in Q2 with their dominance. I agree. Enter Dusty. He applies a great tackle and kicks a late Q2 goal. Tigers dominate the latter part of that term. In a normal game, I would have taken that as a good sign for the team that is trailing (either the leading team wasting chances a la North in 1998 & Geelong in 2008) or the trailing team kicking a vital late goal (like Geelong in 2011). The dominance of Richmond late in Q2 continued when Jack Riewoldt kicked one early in Q3 and from there the Tigers never looked like losing. Their pressure was great; they were able to break tackles and their tackles on Cat players stuck; a few Geelong players looked fumbly – exemplified by Thys Stanley dropping a sitter mark which led to Dusty’s last goal.

Both teams had injury concerns which sort of evened out – although the Tigers looked a bit discombobulated when Nick Vlaustin went off. Gazza’s last game was a shocker in that he was injured early and really struggled to play under duress thereafter. The Tigers lost Nathan Broad for a while but he returned. Bachar Houli also struggled with a leg injury but played out the game. A highlight and lowlight was the Q4 mark by Sam Menegola. Sam Simpson was knocked out in the collision and the game was delayed for several minutes. Menegola kicked the goal to give the Cats a minute chance, but the Tigers slammed the door shut soon after. Dusty was a deserved Norm Smith medal winner and revels in the big moments. Jayden Short would have been the only possible other candidate with 169 SC points. dusty got 15 / 15 votes from the judges with Short second on 6 votes; Mitch Duncan was Geelong’s best and the only Cat player to get votes.

Penny Dredfell signing off for 2020. May 2021 be better.