So we have....
- 4 interstate teams in the top 4
- 4 Melbourne teams in the bottom 4
- The same 2 teams in the top 2 as last year, only reversed
- No Melbourne finals in weeks 2 or 3, meaning the 2 Melbourne teams that win in week 1 must travel and win twice in a row to make the GF.
1. West Coast has won 17 games, exactly the same as last year. Dangerous. They play against Sydney in the first final. The last 3 games these clubs have played, the highest score has been 68 points, and no teams has won by more than 4 points. If anyone can knock off West Coast, its Sydney.
2. Adelaide has lost 4 of its last 6 games, in a season where it only lost 6 games total. Arguably their best two playher in Riccuito and McLeod are out for a good portion of the finals, if not all. Until Round 16 they had conceded an average 64.5 points a game, until the eagles beat them by 82 points kicking 26.9 (165). Since that game the Crowd have given away an average of 88.6 points a game. Its all about form going into the finals. Speaking of which...
3. The Dockers have finished 3rd, their highest finish ever and most wins in a season ever. They have won 9 in a row, have beaten every team in the top 8, and have beaten both teams above them on the road in the last month. They missed out on the last 2 seasons of finals by 1 game, and at 6-7 after 13 games there was calls for Coach Connollys head. How people sing a different tune now. Still in need to win a final to take the club to the next plateau, the only thing against this side is experience
4. Sneaking...again. Sydney have finished 4th and will play West Coast again and will travel to Subi, again, in the first round of the finals. Last time they were robbed by the umpires with some bizarre decisions that handed West Coast the game. Now, you can say a team was robbed by the umpires when in fact there was other facts inclusive that caused the boilover, but Sydney were quite literally robbed by the umpires in that game. Retribution was the fact they beat them by the same margin in the GF, and thats all that matters (No, I dont support Sydney)
5. Collingwood. 8-3 through its first 11, 6-5 through the last 11 games. The best attacking side in the league. A fall in form in the last half of the season, they finished where they were supposed to and face a real uphill battle to win in a finals series that will see them travel for 2 weeks if they win. This team travelled only 3 times this year. Eddie McGuire is a good person to have on your side.
6. St Kilda. First half of the season 6-5. Second half of the season 8-3. The only teams they have lost on the back 9 (11 if you want to be technical) is Adelaide (round 12, finished 2nd), West Coast (round 18, finished 1st) and Fremantle (round 20, finished 3rd). The best hope for Melbourne.
7. Melbourne had won 10 of 11 games in a row. They then only managed 3 wins in their last 8. Comparisons to last year are relevant. In 2004 they lost their last 5 in a row. Last year they lost 7 in a row, before winning its last 3 games by scraping home by 1, 4 and 10 points. They limped into the finals in 7th place, which they lost in spectacular fashion by 55 points and bundled out in their first game. This year appears to be no different.
8. Western Bulldogs missed out on the finals by 1 game last year, winning 5 of their last 6 games, only losing to Melbourne by 4 points kept them out of finals contention. They were the form side, and had they made it in would have given the finals a shake up. This year, plagued with injures, they managed to drag the kennel to the finals. Losing 5 players of its starting 21 to season ending injuries, they have managed to remain in the top 8 all season, finishing 8th.
They play an all out style of football, in which the win big, and lose just as big. An average winning margin of 32 points against an average losing margin of 31 points shows the all out style of attack the squad plays. Only Adelaide and Collingwood have scored more for the year, and they have by far the worst defense of the top 8. Still, it makes for exciting football and anything goes on the day. The excitement machine of the finals. If they can get through the first round they are a chance.
Most will tell you there is only 3 teams that can win it - West Coast, Sydney and Fremantle.
I don't disagree with this, and by all accounts, my money is on a repeat of last years Grand Final. The winner will be who wins out of West Coast vs Sydney.
My finals breakdown week by week...
St Kilda vs Melbourne - StKilda
Adelaide vs Fremantle - Fremantle
West Coast vs Sydney - Sydney
Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs - Western Bulldogs
West Coast vs Western Bulldogs - West Coast
Adelaide vs St Kilda - St Kilda
Sydney vs Adelaide - Sydney
Fremantle vs West Coast - West Coast
Sydney vs West Coast..... Lets just wait and see how I go first