We had two thrilling Preliminary Finals. Let’s get right to it!
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
Finals Week Three started with the first of the two Preliminary Finals to be played: Geelong Cats against the Richmond Tigers at the MCG.
By a twist of digestive tract fate and the fact that it’s cooled down at night in SoCal, I woke up at 3 AM on Friday morning and pondered whether to go back to sleep. Luckily, I remembered that the Cats game was about to start!
Truth be told, I was not optimistic going into this game. Part of me wanted to skip the watching portion and read later what happened. But, I was already up, so I tuned in.
The game started well with the Cats getting the first goal only for the Tigers to score and take the lead. From the middle of the first quarter until Half Time, however, it was all Cats. And I mean literally all Cats. They dominated the Inside 50s, possession, turnovers, you name it. To the point that they held a 21 point lead at the half.
In truth, it should have been more. The Cats were wasteful with so many opportunities, but they were playing well, so I thought that if they could score a quick goal in the third quarter, the momentum would keep swinging their way and they could repeat their blowout victory over the Tigers from earlier in the season.
The only problem was that the Tigers had other plans. Through a mix of a change of strategy and a change in attitude, the Tigers came roaring out of the locker rooms (sorry!), scored a goal within 1 minute, and completely took the game over. The Cats were not able to stop them, only slow them down, but the damage had been done. The 21 point Half Time lead turned into a 4 point Three Quarter Time deficit turned into a 19 point loss. Complete turnaround completed.
Here are the highlights:
The next game started at 11:35 PM on Friday night, LA time. I had been up since 3 and had a very busy day at work, so I couldn’t stay up to watch the GWS Giants take on the Collingwood Magpies again at the MCG for the second and final spot in the Grand Final
BFC had warned in an open thread for us to not mention the game as he had work and family commitments and would not be able to watch the replay until later in the weekend. All weekend long, I pondered how he and LemonJello would react to watching the game. Would they have checked the score first to make sure they weren’t wasting their time? I guessed no.
Well, it turned out to be one hell of a game. The first half was tighter than my lady friend’s anus before… you know, with Collingwood hanging on to a slim 20-17 lead at Half Time. There was very little scoring as it was a tough grind-it-out affair with both teams tackling well and stopping the other team from gaining any kind of momentum.
That all changed in the third quarter as the Giants scored 5 goals while the Pies could only muster 3 behinds and they took a commanding 26 point lead into the final quarter. At that point, the Pies rediscovered their game and mounted a furious and I mean FURIOUS comeback. The game came down to the last two minutes:
Here are the full-game highlights:
The Giants hung on to play the Tigers in their first-ever Grand Final. It’s a culmination of years of hard work, keeping a talented group intact, and fighting through multiple injuries to maintain a high level of performance and results. They should be commended and I shall be rooting for them in the Grand Final.
On the other side, the Richmond Tigers thoroughly deserved their victory over the Cats and should also be commended for fighting through injuries early in the year and maintaining a high level of performance. Both of these teams have gone through a lot this year and a Grand Final is a great reward for both of them. It’s too bad someone has to lose.
In the meantime, the Cats and Pies go home and start thinking about how to take the next step next year. They have a lot to be proud of but, at the same time, there is a lot to improve. The Pies needed a bit more consistency this year. In spells they showed they could beat anyone, but they also had lulls where other teams could take advantage and beat them.
As for the Cats, in coach Chris Scott’s words, it will take a long time for them to get over that third quarter. There were critical mistakes made and they couldn’t correct them until it was too late. Ultimately, that was what doomed them this year.
One thing I will say is that Chris Scott is my favourite coach in all sports. You can listen to his post-match press conference here, but I’ll transcribe a few of the choice quotes for you below:
We are proud of them. It’s pretty clear, whatever our failings, we’ve got a group of players that don’t give up. But right at the moment, we’re just not quite good enough…
When the dust settles a bit, we will rue the opportunity lost, but look forward to finding a way to improve…
We’re, as we were last year, pretty clear on where we need to improve and where some of the deficiencies in our game are, but we’re just not in the business of explaining that to people. I don’t think that’s our role and anyone who thinks it is is wrong.
Sometimes you wonder whether the risk, whether risking this feeling, is worth it. But it is… I understand completely the emotional investment that Geelong people commit to. And it’s brutal when it doesn’t work out. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking. But, again, that’s the emotional risk we take. It will be worth it in the end.
Isn’t that what you want from a coach? Forget Rex Ryan, I’d run through a brick wall for that guy.
Footy Tipping Contest
Here is where we are after Finals Week Three:
|Total Tips||Total Margin|
|3||Son Of Spam||1||1||133||720|
|7||Joliet Jake Delhomme||2||8||117||838|
|9||Game Time Decision||1||7||116||776|
|10||Why Eagles Why||0||19||113||776|
Big congratulations to Litre_cola, who has clinched the AFL Footy Tipping Contest Championship! Also a hearty congratulations to Joliet Jake Delhomme, who is having a phenomenal performance in the playoffs. We have one game left and that battle for the 7th spot between Joliet Jake Delhomme, Yeah Right, and Game Time Decision is still raging! Good luck, boys and congrats again to Litre! Your Four Loko Fleshlight is on its way!
Only kidding. Maybe.
DONT FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
Grand Final Preview
Here is the schedule for the Grand Final (all times Pacific):
Friday, September 27, 2019
9:30 PM – Richmond Tigers v GWS Giants at the MCG
This is going to be one hell of a Grand Final. Both teams should have close to full teams as there were no suspensions this week. The Giants will be worried about co-captain Phil Davis’ calf, but he should be alright and they will get Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield, and possibly Stephen Coniglio back next week.
As for the Tigers, Jack Graham dislocated his shoulder, Dusty Martin got a corkie on his knee, Nathan Broad got a concussion, and Trent Cotchin had a leg problem during the Geelong game. Broad and Graham couldn’t continue and they are big question marks to play in the Grand Final.
However, as they showed all season, the Tigers have incredible depth and their losses, if they materialize, won’t be as critical.
The question for this game then revolves around game style and which team will impose their game on the other.
Prediction: I am leaning towards the Giants simply based on emotion and no logic whatsoever. However, if the Tigers win, it will be well-deserved.
That’s all for this week! Next week, we’ll have a recap of the Grand Final and a look-ahead to next season and the AFWL season. See you next week!