Finals Week 2 AFL Preview - Semi-Finals


And then there were six.  The first week of finals has been done and Saint Kilda and Sydney had their seasons ended.  Every game went as the statistical leviathan predicted (even if I didn’t follow it).  You may remember from last week the stats model said that Saint Kilda and Sydney didn’t even belong in the eight.  Perhaps I should turn its attention to something good and worthwhile, like solving climate change?

There were many discussion points to come out of the week and the MRP and Tribunal has a busy time ahead.  The biggest one was the Maynard/Brayshaw incident.  Before I dive into it, the one thing we don’t want to see in football is good players missing games.  Brayshaw will be out for a minimum of one week and nobody, not even Maynard, wanted that to happen.  I’m writing this before the tribunal hearing so I don’t know how this will pan out but for sure the path that has been taken is the right one.  Each of these statements is true:  Maynard was attempting to smother the ball and had no intention of hurting Brayshaw.  Brayshaw was executing a kick into the forward line and is reasonably expected to do so without being knocked unconscious.  The other thing that is true here is there is going to be no winner from this.  The correct course of action is being taken and we can just be along for the ride.  It’s correct to go to the tribunal as we can’t just have people being knocked out on the field…even if accidents happen sometimes.  If it goes to appeal, that would also be reasonable.  Should Maynard not be suspended, expect the rules to change.

What I did enjoy was listening to some very polarized comments on radio talkback.  One caller even insisted that Maynard should have changed direction in mid-flight.  When challenged on it the caller said they could do it and would go out the back and video themselves changing direction in mid-air.  I’m still waiting to see the video, and more importantly the awarding of the Nobel Prize as 500 years of science is proven wrong.

Let’s look at the Semi-Finals.

Melbourne vs Carlton                       MCG    Friday Night

Let’s start with Melbourne.  They were valiant in defeat last week.  The match seemed practically over by quarter time, but Melbourne kept pushing and pushing and were it not for some wayward kicking may have pinched it.  It was a costly loss too with Brayshaw to be missing, hopefully for just the one match and Van Rooyen to miss via an errant elbow to a well-positioned chin.  A lot has been spoken about the differential between inside 50’s against the Pies and if they can produce that kind of forward pressure to Carlton, they should crack them.  However, they will need to find a few more avenues to goal and get more input from their small forwards.

Meanwhile, Carlton…Whooooo – Whoooooo!  The train pulled into the station and briefly loaded on a few more passengers.  Tickets have been checked and the bogies started rolling again.  They kicked themselves to a winning lead against Sydney who left their run too late and fell a goal short.  For those not keen on a Carlton premiership, they’ll need to come up with some great ideas capable of stopping a train.  Common causes of derailment include mechanical failure of the wheels (equivalent to player injury / suspension), track failure (equivalent to losing home ground advantage) and excessive speed into a corner (players getting ahead of themselves).

This match, at the MCG means Melbourne’s home ground advantage is taken away from them and removes derailment from track failure as a cause for Carlton.  The Blues have lost McKay to concussion protocols and have the added distraction of a tribunal hearing for Jack Martin after waving his fist reckless near the face of Blakey.  Perhaps this opens up mechanical failure as a path to beating Carlton for Melbourne.

Statistically, these two teams have had some close tussles in the last 10 encounters.  The average margin (once we remove the outlier) is 13 points.  As to where this game will be won, I believe it will be between the ears.  Melbourne are seasoned finalists and Carlton can be a little error prone which could be exposed by Melbourne if they keep calm and collected.  Melbourne is certainly the more efficient team going at about 4 possessions less per goal than Carlton.  As we are at the cut-throat stage, the outcome of this match for the loser is obvious.  Carlton, however, would, upon a later review, claim the season a success, after exposing their teams to finals.  But Melbourne would see a straight sets exit as a disappointing result.  The winner, of course, gets the right to try and overcome Brisbane at the Gabba – Yikes!  It was right 100% of the time last week, so I see no reason to go against the statistical leviathan.  Melbourne by 12 points.

Port Adelaide vs Greater Western Sydney Adelaide Oval            Saturday Night

To be honest, Port was made to look a bit second-rate last week.  They showed some spirit briefly but then it seemed once the writing was on the wall, they conserved themselves for the next week.  But then they are not the first team to venture up to the Gabba and made to look second rate. 

GWS continued to steam on with a convincing victory over Saint Kilda.  They are a very good team.  Some may say “lacking talent, but you can certainly trust them.” – Toby Greene.  It’s not often your captain would publicly describe you as lacking any talent, but somehow, he seemed to make it work which confirms the theory that he’s taken some kind of leadership/maturity performance enhancing drug.

The other thing on GWS’s side is their ability to win anywhere.  They’ve won at 11 different grounds this year which is a phenomenal feat although the last time they were at The Adelaide Oval they were soundly pumped by Port to the tune of 8 goals.  Port Adelaide, on the other hand, love playing at home and have only lost there once this year (if you don’t count playing Adelaide – You do know how much I love curated stats to fit a narrative).  GWS will have learned a lot from the last visit here.

I’m undecided how this one goes?  Both teams have legitimate claims to winning this match.  GWS are a very well set up and cohesive unit and they should welcome back Cognilio after an unexpected eye issue last week.  Will Dixon be able to make an appearance for Port?  I like the way that GWS is organized and play as a single machine, whereas Port seems more to be individual parts that all are working towards the same goal.  What is the best way to skin this cat?  I still think Port will have their measure...just.  Port Adelaide by 15 points.


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