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Finals 2019

Please note that the finals begin 8.10pm eastern on Thursday 05 Sep 2019
Thursday
West Coast Eagles v Essendon at Perth Stadium 8.10pm eastern
Okay, we have the teams for this game tonight (Wed night), but no teams for any other games. Have I mentioned that I don’t like Thursday night games?
The changes to note are: Nicnat in for the Eagles. This should be a plus for the Eagles; he played rounds 15 to 17 and then got injured. He was a chance to play WAFL but was held out due to the short break – as were a couple of others. This suggests that he is right to go. His opponent Tom Bellchambers is a bit underdone; Shannon Hurn might need a test for the Eagles, while Michael Hurley “will play with some pain”, said the Bombers. The risk there is if he gets injured enough during the game that they have to take him off. With a few players having injury concerns in round 23 for West Coast, I am forgiving them for that loss in terms of being able to win this game. The week off might have been good for the Dons, but they have had such a disjointed season that it is difficult to make a case for them on the road.

But here is a curio: the bombers have led at QT in their last 3 matches against the Eagles in Perth. First back in 2016 when they eventually lost by 78 points!!! Then in 2018, they led 6:2 to 0:1 at QT and then won by 28 points. This year in round 14, they led by 2 points at the first change then were blown away everywhere bar the scoreboard – losing by 35 points or 3 goals 17 behinds.

There has been talk of the Eagles battling with the loss which sent them out of the top 4. From my viewpoint, this would be a huge negative had the Eagles been a team coming up from poor performances in the past year or two (eg Essendon in 1981 and the Roos in 1993 who both had meteoric rises in those years, lost the final round AND the double chance and then bombed out in the first final to a lower placed team). But they are more like the Crows in 2016 who lost the double chance in the last round, then played an elimination final at home against the Roos and won by a massive 62 points when they kicked 8 goals to 3 in Q3 to turn a 12 point lead into a 42 point one at 3QT.

Back to the most similar example: in 2012 the Eagles lost in round 23 (admittedly away to top team then Hawthorn away) which sent them out of the top 4; then they had a home elimination final against the Roos (who have suffered in my examples here) and won 162 to 66 – kicking 7 goals to nil in Q1 and 9 to 1 in Q4.

I tend to think that the Bombers are ripe for the picking – despite their tendency to surprise to the upside through the middle of the season. The Eagles have fewer injuries, a better rated team and the home ground advantage.
I expect the Eagles to win by over 5 goals and to be certs.


Friday
Geelong v Collingwood at MCG 7.50pm
Wet, windy and cold is the forecast for Friday night.
The offices at longggey.com are full of Pie and Cat fans. Same as my broader family of origin, so if you think I seem to know more about these two teams than any other, that is correct. Generally, the Pie fans are quite confident and the Cat fans are pretending to be confident but are nervous.

Likely changes: Pies should welcome back Steele Sidebottom, Jaidyn Stephenson and Jordan de Goey and maybe James Aish. There might be some doubt on whether Sidebottom can perform at his peak, but the Pie website gave him a big tick. Darcy Moore is apparently okay, but his history of hammies is a concern.

For Geelong, Tom Atkins and Jake Kolodjashnij look lie coming back in.

David King is keen on the Cats and Gerard Whateley is keener on his Cats than in recent years, without being too bullish.

King has convinced me – almost! The key in the wet might be the small forwards who can kick goals. The Cats are slightly better off here than the Pies and the Geelong team is more settled right now. The Cats have a shorter injury list and it sounds like I am about to tip them to win big.

But I’m not totally sold on the Cats just yet. I mostly discount the bye theory (ie Cats cannot win after a bye and they just had one) because they beat the Hawks in 2016 after the end of season bye.

The Pies have great ability to fight through hardships and I would be tipping them had both teams had a full list running into the finals.

But they are missing quite a few and the Cats are close to full strength.

Cats by a goal and not certs.

Saturday
GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs 3.20pm at Sydney Showgrounds
Windy but no rain forecast.
Likely team changes:
Nick Haynes (not 100% cert), Toby Greene and Jacob Hopper are likely to come back in
Maybe Tory Dickson might come back in for the Dogs.

The Dogs have been flying of late and had a huge win over the Giants in round 22. The Giants didn’t have the Mummy in that game and also Jeremy Cameron, Jeremy Finlayson, Sam Taylor and Jacob Hopper.

The Dogs get Tim English in from that game.

What I think happened in round 22 was that the Giants struggled to come up after the Hawthorn game in the snow the week prior. That game, I believe, skews the perception of this contest. The Giants have their best team in for some time. I’m tipping the Giants as a minor upset.

But I am not confident at all and mark this as an EXTREME variance game

Giants by 3 points, but almost anything could happen

Brisbane Lions v Richmond 7.25pm at the Gabba
Windy day but light winds in the evening and manageable humidity.
Likely team changes:
Toby Nankervis might come in for Richmond but, if so, who goes out? That is more interesting. Do they play two rucks? Maybe not, if Noah Balta stays in! Maybe Balta or Ivan Soldo goes out! Which is the right move?
Allen Christensen is likely to come in for the Lions.

The Tigers beat the Lions by 27 points two weeks ago and now they play again – but at the Gabba. Will this makes 27 points difference? (1 home ground advantage taken from Richmond and given to Brisbane?). I say no. I think the tigers will win again – especially with humidity not forecast to be too bad this Saturday night. I am slightly more bullish than most on the Tigers, but not enough to mawe them certs. Tigers by 2 goals.

In summary, both the Eagles by over 5 goals and Tigers by over 1 goal (so both to over-achieve)

Early tips
Eagles, Cats, Giants & Tigers; no certs at this stage… but Eagles named certs on Wednesday night

Finals week 1 review
West Coast Eagles defeated Essendon by 55 points.
I’m very pleased with tipping the Eagles as certs – never in doubt from late in the first term, in my humber opinion. The Bombers lost Mitch Brown in Q3 once the game was done; Michael Hurley played under duress and Cale Hooker was NQR. The Eagles swooped o this advantage. In retrospect, it was an easy tip and I think too many people got sucked in by the round 23 performances of both teams.

Collingwood defeated Geelong by 10 points
This was viewed by those at longggey.com with great interest. A few lost interest at the 10 minute mark of Q1, I must admit. Just watching the game, it felt like the Pies won by more than 10 points; they won the SC scores 1807 to 1490. The weather forecast was awful, but the conditions on the night were pretty good. Rhys Stanley was a “bad weather late out – not injured” – with Sam Menegola coming in. coach Chris Scott indicated after that had they known that the conditions were going to be so good, they would have played Stanley. The change took Mark Blicavs out of defence and into first ruck. Then Jed Bews hurt an ankle in the warm-up, but managed to play; and Luke Dahlhaus copped a knock early. The Pies were 20 points to nil early on and then the Cats settled. Cat fan Gerard Whateley listed all the Geelong errors in defence which led to goals. My summary is that the Pies were sharp early and the Cats were fumbly. The Pies “went for it” early and the Cats were safe and slow. Even so, the Cats missed chances late in Q1. And just when the Pies looked to be in total control, they lost Jordan de Goey and Levi Greenwood to injury for the night. And as the cats began to come back, they lost Mitch Duncan and then Gary Rohan very late. Steele Sidbottom was terrific – showing no signs of his recent injury, but apparently wearing two pairs of undies??? Well, it if helps! I tipped the loser in this game, but I was not too bullish about the Cats, so not too concerned about my work.

GWS Giants defeated Western Bulldogs by 58 points
Pretty happy to tip the Giants and to call it EXTREME VARIANCE – both correct. Of course, I wasn’t too confident in the Giants, but hopefully persuaded a few to tip them. Again, a recent false lead (round 22 big win by the Dogs over the Giants at the same venue) may have skewed the thoughts of some and many were keen on the Dogs – especially those living south of Albury. The Dogs lost Naughton in Q3. The Giants probably had their best team on the park for some time and they seemed to click pretty well. Dogs coach Luke Beveridge comments that his players were lighter in some of the physical clashes. He also mentioned the relative lack of finals experience of the Dogs compared to the Giants. That may also have helped GWS. Brett Deledio copped a calf injury early but played through the pain and was fair. Matt de Boer tagging the Bont worked pretty well.

Richmond defeated Brisbane Lions by 47 points
This margin looked pretty unlikely early. The Lions were up and about, but couldn’t take advantage. They led 4:6 to 3:0 at QT and Richmond dodged a bullet – 12 points down and could’ve been 20-30 down! In the end, the Lions won the SC scores 1680 to 1622, had 25 scoring shots to 22 and still lost by heaps. It was efficiency that made the win big for the Tigers. I am still happy to have tipped the Tigers to win by over a goal or two – as they had a lot more finals experience and maybe they are playing to erase the pain of 2018 – the year that got away.

Finals week 2 begins 7.50pm on Friday 13 Sep 2019
Friday
Geelong V West Coast Eagles at the MCG 7.50pm
Saturday
Brisbane V GWS Giants at the Gabba 7.25pm

Early tips: Geelong and Brisbane
No certs here

GEE V WCE
Chance of a shower in the evening (but most likely no rain)
Likely changes:
Geelong
In: Rhys Stanley, Cam Guthrie
Out: Mitch Duncan, Gary Rohan (both injured, but Rohan is a test)

The Eagles
No change probably if Jackson Nelson is okay

Let’s look at teams going out in straight sets since we had the top 8. There has been 13 of them in 25 years. No top team, 2 2nd teams, 5 3rd teams and 6 4th placed teams. A lot of teams have lost the second game on a neutral venue eg Hawthorn in 2016 (to the Dogs) and 2018 (to Melbourne). The Swans were the last team in 2015 to lose with a home state advantage. They finished 4th in 2015. The Cats lost in 1997 to the Crows but played that game in Adelaide due to a then anomaly in the way finals games were scheduled (luckily, Chris Scott wasn’t coaching then).

So history is in favour of Geelong. But there is not that much difference between the Cats and Eagles. The home state advantage should be enough to get the Cats over the line.

There is an almost irresistible urge to tip the winners of the elimination finals in week 2, but they have won 13 out of 50. And the Cats weren’t really that bad once they settled a bit last week. Furthermore, the Bombers were shot before the finals began.

I am more bullish than most about the Cats – who are slight underdogs. Cats by a goal but not certs


BRIS V GWS
31 degree day, not too humid at night
Likely changes:
Brisbane
In: maybe Cedric Cox
Out: Mitch Robinson (hammie)

GWS:
In: Adam Tomlinson
Out: Brett Deledio (calf)

The Lions were also “okay” in their loss to the efficient Tigers last week. Teams that come from nowhere to get a double chance are notorious for losing in week 1 of the finals and then winning week 2, only to lose in week 3. Eg Richmond in 1995 and 2001

I expect the Lions to do the same. They will benefit from having a finals game as a club. Some imports have played many finals games, but the club itself needs finals experience. But I am not overly enthused about them and the experts have it about right I reckon in tipping the Lions by about a goal


Summary – if your tipping comp is still going and you need to catch up one, then the Cats is the go (unless your tipping comp is in Geelong – will work better in W. A.)

finals week 2 review
Geelong defeated the West Coast Eagles by 20 points
The Eagles were favourites early in the week but the Cats snuck into ever so slight favouritism when the Willie Rioli news broke. Did this affect the Eagles more than just Rioli not being in the team? I probably think not, but they did start poorly. Then again, with the Cats being absolutely slaughtered early in some recent finals, maybe their good start was their reaction to these starts. It’s too hard to tell and the coaches’ pressers didn’t solve the problem for us.

Tom Barrass struggled and copped a knock in Q3; but maybe he entered the game NQR and he has struggled for some time now. I reckon he might be one going for an op soon.

Despite tipping the winner, I missed tipping it as an EXTREME variance game. It fell into this category with the Cats leading by 25 points at QT, then trailing at 3QT before pulling away in Q4. I was looking for a reason for this trend. It seemed that the Eagles gave it all mid-game and then had nothing left. Their late season for has been patchy, but brilliant in short bursts (such as early versus Richmond round 22). Looking back at it, their last strong 4Q performance was in round 17 against the Roos (by 49 points in Perth). I am discounting last week’s win over the Bombers as I reckon the Bombers were cooked going into the game and this, more than anything else, probably gave us a false lead when analysing the game vs Geelong.

Helping the Cats was the big game by Esava Ratugolea (he looks like an absolute superstar with amnesia who is gradually remembering how to play again) and the return to form of Joel Bleeding Selwood.

GWS Giants defeated Brisbane Lions by 3 points
I was patting myself on the back for tipping 2/2 late in this game, but then along came Brent Daniels. This goal looked somewhat easy for an AFL player. But to do it so well under the pressure of the situation was terrific.

The obvious tag of Matt de Boer on Lachie Neale seemed to work. Nick Robertson tagged Lachie Whitfield and was also successful; but coach Leon Cameron said Whitfield was a bit sore. Were the teams tagging the most dangerous players? or maybe just picking on the Lachies!

Some were saying that the Lions didn’t get the rub of the green with the umps. I actually reckon their problem was kicking high into the forward 50 and having Nick Haynes and Phil Davis intercept mark late in the game. Maybe a chaos ball along the ground would have done the trick.

I sort of feel that the Lions lost it more so than the Giants winning it – maybe lack of finals experience generally cost them (but Richmond overcame this obstacle in 1995 and 2001!).

Finals week 3 (preliminary finals) begins 7.50pm on Friday 20 Sep 2019
Friday
Richmond V Geelong at the MCG 7.50pm
Saturday
Collingwood V GWS Giants at the MCG 4.35pm

RICH V GEEL
Rain expected Friday night (since delayed and will now only come Saturday); unusually warm for a September evening; keep an eye on the forecast
The Cats lost Tom Hawkins Monday night after losing an appeal against a 1 match suspension. He’ll be back for the grand final if the Cats can pull off the upset.

I want to review recent prelim final matches. The bye came in prior to the finals in 2016, so we have a small sample size. In 2016, Geelong and GWS had the week off in week 2 of the finals series and both lost their prelims. The Cats were awful – underperforming by 44 points and the Giants were a little better, but lost by a goal as 18 point favourites.

In 2017, the teams winning the qualifying final in week 1 had to plan better than the “guinea pigs” in 2016.

Richmond and Adelaide both hugely outperformed expectations – by 20 and 45 points respectively.

Last year, the Tigers and Eagles had the week 2 bye; Richmond got flogged by the Pies and the Eagles belted the Dees. Both games were over early – although some were looking for a miracle Tiger comeback because they had been so dominant all year. It never happened. What DID happen (in my opinion) was that the Tigers suffered from winning the 2017 grand final BIG. History tells us that this doesn’t help – check it out yourself re any team winning the big one by over 6 goals and then what they do next year. Even the mighty Essendon in 1986 could not do much after their huge win.

So in the new era, 3 of 6 teams with the week 2 bye won in week 3 and ALL teams with the week 2 bye were favoured to win. This suggests that Geelong and GWS have a chance this weekend. I reckon their chances are small. I want to put aside 2016 as it was new and VERY strange for top teams to get 2 byes in 3 weeks (this hadn’t happened in the finals since the 20th century). 2017 was a true reflection of what should happen, whereas 2018 was 50/50. The teams that have had the bye and then won the prelim have won BIG. While I consider this a genuine possibility, I don’t consider either Richmond of Collingwood to be total certs. Both are expected to win by about 3 goals and this is about right by me. Certainly, I would tip the Tigers and Pies if I had to yip – unless I needed to tip an outsider to catch up.

The Cats have a problem in replacing Tom Hawkins. Much time has been spent in print and on radio / TV musing about what the Cats will do. So why not get it all from Chris Scott today (Tuesday). Gary Rohan is a test and likely to be passed fit to play, Mitch Duncan is still out. Chris Scott gives him team a chance (he can hardly say that there is no hope!)

Geelong beat the Tigers by 67 points in round 12, but in now and not playing then for Richmond was Brandon Ellis, David Astbury, Jayden Short, Kane Lambert, Nathan Broad, Shai Bolton and Toby Nankervis. Round 12 may ave been the worst Tiger team all year in terms of personnel.

I am getting keener on the Tigers the more I think about it. And, of course, there was the 2018 prelim when Dusty played hurt and the Tigers all seem raring to go. Richmond have had back to back goes at having the bye after the season, then winning the qualifying final. I won’t call them certs, because they are playing the top team on a virtually neutral ground, but Tigers by 23 points.

COLL V GWS
Rain is forecast but may, perhaps be gone by game time; it’s going to be cold; keep watching as the weather forecasters are worse are predictions than I am on AFL games!!! (if that were possible)
Toby Greene lost at the tribunal Tuesday night (why the delay) and the Giants will miss him (but now they are appealing this! – and they lost); like Hawkins, he’ll be back grand final day if they can pull off the upset.
The Giants have also lost Lachie Whitfield who is having appendix surgery.
Stephen Coniglio has virtually been ruled out for the prelim but may play grand final day if they make it.

The Pies lose Jordan de Goey and Levi Greenwood and expect James Aish to come back in; the second “in” can be any of a number of players.

Okay; I want to make this game the EXTREME variance game – just. I am a bit concerned about the fragility of both teams. The Pies have two injuries from their finals win and the Giants look like losing 2 players as well from last week. I am struggling to know whether to rate the Pies on their 46-10 start over Geelong or on their 15-41 last 2 1/2 quarters of that game. I doubt whether the Giants can come up without Whitfield and probably Greene.

The most likely outcome of the EXTREME nature would be a huge win for the Pies. But I haven’t totally ruled out other possibilities either – such as a big GWS win or wild swings within the match.

The teams are in: James Aish and Ben Reid replace the injured Jordan de Goey and Levi Greenwood for Collingwood.

Lachie Keeffe and Ian Hill replace the suspended Toby Greene and the injured Lachie Whitfield.

I am tipping the Pies and reckon they should win; but the risk (in my mind) is the injury risk. I am still not totally sold on Darcy Moore being bullet-proof; and Ben Reid has had a history of injuries. The Pies were two men down last game and it nearly cost them; that’s the main risk.

With 2 out for each team, a lot will depend on the bottom 6 or so for each team. Maybe the Pies are slightly better here. Pies by 16 points, but anything could happen and watch the weather!


Early tips
Richmond and Collingwood
Forced to tip an outsider, I am torn. Maybe the Cats, but I can make a case for the Giants if anything goes wrong for the Pies. will finalise after teams announced… I am going for the Giants as the slightly more likely upset if one is to occur. But I would prefer to be leading the tipping and going for the Tiger and Pies this week.

Preliminary Final week review
Richmond defeated Geelong by 19 points
This was the first time that both prelim winners were trailing at half time. Very happy with my tip – 4 points off (in reality, getting that close is more of a fluke than good analysis – normally getting within 2 goals is excellent, but being consistent over the year is more critical). The game almost went into the EXTREME variance territory, but just fell short (Cats led by 20 at HT; Tigers won H2 by 39 points to win by 19; a goal more lead to Geelong or 1-2 goals more at the end for Richmond and it would’ve been EXTREME). In the presser, Cats coach Chris Scott reckons that the Cats didn’t make the most of the early period of dominance. Early, the Tigers had a few injury problems – but they all played on and contributed (Jack Graham under extreme duress) – Dusty and Trent Cotchin having minor issues and then Nathan Broad getting a head knock in Q3; so, all in all, with the multiple little issues the Tigers had, they did very well to pull away.

GWS Giants defeated Collingwood by 4 points
I tipped the loser here but the rest is good news. I advised people who needed an outsider to go for the Giants AND I tipped the variance as EXTREME; the variance just barely got into the EXTREME range – with the Giants going from 3 points down at HT to 33 points up early in the last (a beautiful scene on TV when Jeremy Cameron kicks a long goal to apparently seal the deal; he celebrates, but the fans behind him in the pic are all Magpie fans who look like they are at a funeral!) and then barely hang on to win by 4 points.
The Pies led at half time, but the Giants looked to be controlling the game in Q2 without putting it on the scoreboard. Then they dominated in Q3 (5:2 to 0:3) and then got the first goal on Q4 and it looked how far; but then they tired and the Pies lifted. The Giants tried to save the game and maybe should’ve kept attacking; but they had Phil Davis injured and playing forward due to lack of mobility. “panicked a bit” said coach Leon Cameron in the presser.

Grand Final 2.30pm at the MCG Saturday Sept 28
Richmond versus GWS Giants
I’ll give more details soon, but the Tigers are total certs. They’ll win easily as the Giants have played their grand final a week early.

Lots of people have given their thoughts about how the game will be played, tactics, game styles etc. none of this matters to me. It’s just that the Giants are gone already just by getting there.

One thing of interest is Marlion (don’t forget the “i”) Pickett debuting in a grand final; this has not happened since 1952, but there are special circumstances in this case this weekend.

Let’s look at some technicals:
A: the Tigers are on a big winning run coming in; other teams to do this in the top 8 era were Carlton 1995 (big grand final win); Brisbane 2001 (win over Essendon) and Geelong 2008 (upset loss to the Hawks). I blame the 2008 Geelong loss on the big Geelong 2007 grand final win (I have written about this technical before and this cost the Tigers the flag in 2018). So the long winning run I see as a positive for Richmond.

B: what about teams coming from 5-8 to a grand final. The Dogs won from 7th in 2016, but I want to dismiss this as a good lead. Reason – this was the first year of the bye and both qualifying final winners lost their prelims (not adjusting properly to the 2 byes in 3 weeks), so it was nicely set up for a 5-8 team to win through. The Dogs played the Swans in the grand final and the Swans (although finishing on top) lost their qualifying final and played all four weeks of the finals. This time the Giants have played all four weeks as well but they are playing the Tigers who got the week’s rest n week 2 and have had that week 2 rest for the past 3 seasons. Richmond is primed to go and they will win by 6 goals, I reckon (but any more than 6 and it is a bad sign for the 2021 season). The Giants looked out on their feet late last week and they are not going to beat a better team away from home after coming from 6th. I have explained away the Bulldogs winning from 7th (whcih is not to say they didn’t deserve the flag – they were good enough to take advantage of their “rails run”). Who was the last team before that to make a grand final from 5 – 8? Way back in 1999 and that was Carlton who finished 6th. They lost in week 1 of the finals to Brisbane by 73 points but, back then it was 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5 with the lowest 2 losers going out. So 7 and 8 lost which meant Carlton went to week 2 AND played the Eagles in Melbourne; the Eagles finished 5th and won their first final away against the Dogs and then had to travel again. The Blues played the up and coming juggernaut Essendon in the prelim and led by 4 goals at half time. The Bombers erased that lead by 3QT to lead by 11 points themselves and then started getting ready for the grand final. But Anthony Koutoufides played his best quarter of footy ever and got the Blues over the line by a point. The Blues were never a chance against North Melbourne in the grand final.

So the Dogs are the only team under the new final 8 system to even make a grand final from 5 – 8. My tip is Tigers by 6 goals, but I feel extra confident in tipping them by over 4 goals and to win Q3 by over 2 goals. The Q3 factor is helped by the Giants going to half time and then really struggling for energy thereafter.

Can’t wait for Saturday!

Grand Final review
Richmond Tigers 17:12 115
defeated
GWS Giants 3:7 25
Q by Q
Tigers by 7 points at QT, 35 at HT, 62 at 3QT and 89 points at the end (winning all 4 quarters)

Lachie Whitfield never shirked the issue, but looked NQR after his appendix op 9 days ago. Also Phil Davis looked a little below 100%. Agreed with Dusty for the Norm Smith medal; really liked Heath Shaw’s game, but the Giants had no forward to really take the bull by the horns.

How good was Marlion Pickett in his first game!

Well I really nailed it for the final analysis; people spent a lot of time trying to work out a way for the Giants to win – or who was Matt de Boer going to tag; or what tactics would be used. It didn’t matter! the Giants were G O R N coming into the grand final. Twas a pity for their sake that they recorded their lowest ever score int heir first grand final. Hopefully, their gutsy effort just to make it is remembered more than their absolute shocker of the big day.

Well, lookee here. Longggey has just wandered back into the offices of longggey.com
No doubt he will thank me for the year, congratulate me on my excellent analysis and give me a bonus. Let’s see, he’s approaching my office door.. no, he’s diverted to the fridge; looked inside; found nothing of interest; walked out and gone home.

In my heart I know I did a good job. I’m sure a lot of employees will relate to me now. Penny Dredfell signing off for 2019, but check out the home page for eventual news on Mal Prop and Poppy Copp