The Meaningless AFL Review: Finals Week One, 2019

This is the first season since 1926 where 1st and 2nd have lost in the opening week of the finals.

If that was Brett Deledio’s last game, it was an accurate summation of his time at GWS- Playing for 3 Quarters with a torn quad… without telling anyone.

West Coast (17.14-116) defeated Essendon (9.7-61) @ Optus Stadium

It’s also an exciting time to not be an Essendon supporter

And thus, much to the mirth and delight of the Commonwealth Of Australia, the ‘Days Since Essendon Won A Final’ Twitter account pushes on past 5,481 days.

The last time an Essendon coach not named Kevin Sheedy coached a winning final was the 2nd Semi Final of 1968.

Their coach that day was their 1962 Premiership Captain Jack Clarke… He died 18 years ago.

In that time, these are the luminaries that have failed; Des Tuddenham (’72 & ’73), Barry Davis (’79), Matthew Knights (’09), James Hird (’11), Bomber Thompson (’14), and of course, John Worsfold (’17,’19).

Some favourite sons in that mix, and Matthew Knights.

Despite the Bombers grabbing the lead twice in the opening minutes, it became pretty damn clear that this was going to be another vintage Essendon finals performance, as they had absolutely no answer to the Eagles’ laser-like ball use, and Nic Nat’s aggressive determination to end his own season by sending Zach Merrett plummeting 2 feet into an advertising board for having his famous palm tree pulled.

Scenes not seen since the year 1998, when The Undertaker threw Mankind off the Hell In A Cell, and plummeted 16 feet through an announcer’s table.

Inevitably, another brutal finals loss like this was more ammo for the Sack Worsfold army, but if you ask me, it’s very hash- 2019 was the Bombers’ second most successful season in the past 15 years, just behind 2014… when they blew a 5 goal lead to North Melbourne in a final.

The Eagles’ Premiership defence lives on, and Essendon fans can now look ahead to Adrian Dodoro powering the club to a Threepeat of Trade Period Premierships.

Yes, he is wearing 3 jackets.

Please Mr Dodo, bring in Jack Martin, because if there’s one thing the Bombers clearly lacked last night, it was outside runners… and definitely not inside mids.

Black and White Pixels (9.7-61) defeated Blue And White Pixels (7.9-51) @ The MCG

Despite my earlier fears, Nathan Buckley did not drop John Noble.

Unsurprisingly, Collingwood won courageously on the road, despite going down to 2 on the bench for the 2nd Half.

In fact, the moment the Pies won the game wasn’t the moment they jumped the Cats in the 1st Quarter, it was before the opening bounce, when the Cats decided to drop their only recognised ruckman in Rhys Stanley, because the team thought they could predict the Melbourne weather.

Yeah, fair enough Chris you were only up against the All-Australian ruckman, who proceeded to rip the Pussies to pieces in the 1st Half with nothing more than noted steeplechaser Mark Blicavs to go up against.

As long as the Cats keep the Brad Scott impersonator, they’re on track to be stuck in the cycle forever.

I don’t give a rat’s arse if they still haven’t been knocked out, I’m running with it.

Outside of Danger shattering 3 vertebra carrying the entire team, the Cats were littered with missing persons reports.

All-Australian Full Forward Tom Hawkins kicked 4 behinds, noted finals performers in Gary Rohan and Luke Dalhaus went missing, Harry Taylor was better at running into Joel Selwood than he was at stopping Jaidyn Stephenson, and Gary Ablett, just as he did in last year’s Elimination Final, looked like an injury-crippled geriatric.

I can only think that with his best years behind him, that Gazza would be best suited in a mentoring role at a struggling club, like the Gold Coast.

Contrast that with the Pies, who had most of their small forwards stand up, Steele Sidebottom be best afield by the length of distance between Jolimont and Kardinia Park, and Pendles pop up with a goal on his 300th, which turned out to be the Pies’ last score of the night… with 5 minutes left in the 3rd.

Aside from Geelong’s latest finals pants-shitting, the other glaring problem on my TV screen was the ridiculous colour clash that the AFL somehow ticked off.

Now I see people whinging about the fact that Collingwood don’t have a proper clash jumper (Neither do Geelong by the way), but the problem wasn’t a clash jumper, IT WAS THE SHORTS.

It’s worth noting that between the 2007 Prelim and Round 1, 2019, Geelong wore white shorts in every single game against Collingwood, and shock horror, there wasn’t a single problem telling them apart, because it was a team wearing predominantly white against a team wearing predominantly black.

Example- A Cats home game in 2017, not a problem.

Because it was their home final, the Cats chose to wear the blue shorts, but a shitload of good it did the team, because they still couldn’t tell that Jeremy Howe and Darcy Moore weren’t wearing hoops.

Anyway, the Pies went scoreless in the last quarter, but they’re into the Prelim, Jordan De Goey’s hamstrings are fried, Levi Greenwood’s ACL is torn, and the Cats get lucky, because they don’t have to play after a bye again this season.

GWS (16.17-113) defeated Western Bulldogs (8.7-55) @ GIANTS Stadium

I thought the result might be similar to Round 22.

It was, all the way down to a 2nd Half blowout… just not in the way I expected.

The Orange Soviets emphatically satisfied the lust for revenge they had been carrying since the Battle of Kiev that was the 2016 Prelim.

If that Prelim was Kiev, then this was Stalingrad…. or Berlin.

After all the buildup of mongoloids like me talking up the Dogs midfield, the Giants showed up and utterly crushed them, and no amount of free kicks could stop their orange-filled demise.

The Dogs were held to their lowest disposal count of the year (319), the scoring shots were 33 to 15, and the Inside 50 count was 76-37… +39 being the biggest differential ever recorded in a final.

Outside of the Dogs’ fightback in the 2nd Quarter, it was just an exercise in watching grown men be washed away by an Orange tsunami.

Of course, the tenacity of the Communists was best summed up by the retiring Comrade Deledio, who, in a moment that summed up his time at GWS, tore his quad in the 1st Quarter… and still played out the game.

The almost certain enforced end of his career was not forgotten.

And thus, the Giants used the exact same formula as last year- Go in to the Finals down on form, regain a host of key players thanks to the pre-finals bye, and wouldn’t you know it, they got the exact same emphatic result.

I can only help but think that the very thing that helped make the 2016 Premiership possible for the Dogs, has come back to kill them off this year by disrupting that late season run of form.

All that build up, and the Dogs lost a final by a greater margin than Essendon.

Richmond (18.4-112) defeated Brisbane Lions (8.17-65) @ The Gabbatoir

A Gabba record crowd of 37,478 came out in force for the first final north of Tweed Heads since 2009, and for some reason, most of them were stunned at the sight of an All-Australian defender from Richmond who scrags his opponent all game and plays for free kicks.

The talking heads have been right all along- Dylan Grimes really has filled in superbly for Alex Rance, and as if we needed a reminder, he quite brutally shut down Sir Charles Cameron for the second time in as many games.

I could be wrong, but Grimey was able to do the same thing to Luke Breust in last year’s Qualifying Final, after ‘Punky’ had kicked 53 goals and also made the AA team.

Still, dodgy free kicks didn’t make the Lions lose this one- Despite the teachings of Lord Fagan, their kicking at goal was absolute shite when the game was hot in the 1st Half.

4.10 to Half Time, while the Tigers took what limited chances they had in the field position war to kick 7.3, including the last 4 of the half, and unlike the Lions, they were able to take most their chances simply by running into within 20m of goal and slamming it home.

If you look at that final scoreboard, the Lions had 3 more scoring shots… and yet it was never close in that 2nd Half.

It you ask a mug like me, it wasn’t an inexperienced finals team being nervous, it was a classic case of a team failing to take their chances against a top team (Especially the premiership favourite), and quite brutally paying the price for it.

Heck, the Lions only held Dustin Martin to 14 disposals…. the only problem was, he kicked 6 goals without a miss.

Unsurprisingly, the Tigers continually showed Lord Fagan’s Disciples how to kick at goal with a 7.1 3rd Quarter, and blew the lead out past 46 points, which was as good as game set and match to the Yellow & Black, and win No.10 in a row, their first double-digit win streak since the glorious year of 1980.

Just capping off a stellar evening, the Tiges finished with 18.4, which is apparently the second-most accurate performance of all-time in a Final, just behind Essendon’s lazy 28.6 in the ’84 Prelim.

And 2 of those Tiger behinds were rushed, so it was actually 18.2 for the evening- Good for 90%.

As Dwayne Russell would say, that’s crazy good.

The Gabbatoir is well and truly alive in once sense- Richmond’s 15 year unbeaten streak in Brisbane rages on, and they now have the chance to perform a Satanic ritual on either Geelong or West Coast in a fortnight.

And now, we spend 5 days wondering if the Elimination Final winners can find a way to give us a pair of straight sets exits…. as is tradition.

Categories: AFL

Tagged as: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s