Fair to say the second week of finals was not quite as good as week 1. I mean, firstly you have an undermanned Saints V a bolstered Richmond and the results went as expected, and in the one game I expected to be close, the game was over about 15mins in the first qtr, and by the end it was how bad the embarrassment for the Pies would be. We went from having 4 superb games where all teams had a chance to win the game, to a game where the games were largely decided by quarter time. Sadly, this is usually the case on Semi Final weekend, where the loser of the qualifying final is smashed all week, whilst the winner of the elimination final is pumped up beyond belief.

Richmond 12.8.80 defeated St Kilda 6.13.49
This one loomed as a comfortable win for the Tigers the moment Ryder was ruled out, Carlisle left to be with his wife and Long was suspended and the Tigers were able to bring in Lynch. It was a strange game overall, and really cemented the old adage; good kicking is good football.

The opening quarter was strong from the Tigers, they got on the board first through Lynch, marked on the lead from a centre clearance and kicked truly. The Tigers were on early and they were able to kick one before the Saints were able to open their account though a long Shane Savage goal. However, it was all Tigers in the opening quarter and they kicked the next 3 and everything was going their way. Good sides cash in when the momentum is going their way and the Tigers certainly did. A late Butler goal gave the Saints some chance leading in to the second quarter.
The second quarter was where the Tigers won the game, or the Saints lost it for themselves, with Richmond kicking 4-straight whilst the Saints kicked 1.4 and really gifted the game to the Tigers the game. Of course, there was a controversial moment with the ARC, where Nick Vlaustin was assumed to have touched the ball, and when the umpire said he also thought it was touched, it was always going to be difficult to overturn, despite replays showing that it looked to be a goal. After half time, both sides kicked 3.7 apiece as the Saints had more of the play, but just couldn’t make the most of it.

In the end, if was a pretty comfortable 31pt win for the Tigers, yet oddly I actually think they were second-best on the night. The Saints were better across 4 quarters, but as noted early, bad kicking is bad football. Put simply, the Tigers were able to finish when needed, whilst the Saints came up short in that department. It’s been the case for ever, and this year has been no different. If you don’t take your chances, then inevitably it’ll burn you more often than not.

In terms of best for the Tigers, whilst Martin racked up a lot of the footy, I didn’t think he had a massive impact on the game. For me, it was the trio of Shai Bolton, Daniel Rioli and Shane Edwards, who were able to continually use their class to make things happen for the Tigers. Bolton kicked 3 racking goals, Rioli continue to create defensive pressure and just had the little moments of brilliance that every Rioli seems to produce whilst Edwards was a creator through the middle and kicked two goals himself. 6 goals between these three was the difference in the game. The other guy who deserves praise was Nankervis, who again won the contest between him and Marshall. He’s not a pretty footballer, but he’s made for finals. Does the hard things, took good marks and generally did his job perfectly. Actually, I forgot one. Bachar Houli……. just a gun. People talk up Martin in finals, but Houli isn’t far behind him in terms of delivering in the big games.

For the Saints, Jack Steele worked into the game after a slow start and was easily one of the Saints best, Seb Ross had plenty of it but has to work on his disposal whilst Hannebery and Hunter Clark never stopped trying all night.

In the end, the were overawed and didn’t handle the big moments when needed. Would love to have seen this game with Ryder and Carlisle in.

Geelong 15.10.100 defeated Collingwood 5.2.32
It’s not often you get touched up by 68pts and final margin flatters you. The Cats took this game by the scruff of the neck in the opening minutes and it was game over from there. The Pies looked physically and mentally shot at around 10 minutes into the game and from there the Cats just put the foot down. The most impressive thing about this was though, the Cats just never gave the Pies enough time with the footy to actually try and get into the game.

The game started at a cracking pace, with both sides going end to end without being able to score a goal until the 8th minute when half back Zach Tuohy kicked the first goal of the game. Rhys Stanley kicked the next just over 3mins later and had the game on their terms. They limited the Pies ability to get the footy by playing slow when needed, quickly when the could and generally just controlling the footy. Miers kicked the next and the Cats looked really up and about.

It took a class finish from Elliott to get the Pies their first goal and you hoped this might spark the Pies in to action, however it was quickly answered by a Tom Hawkins goal and the Cats stopped any momentum the Pies were hoping the goal might create. The Pies just looked slow and lethargic, whilst the Cats were running on top of the ground and seemingly able to do what they want.

If Pies thought it couldn’t get any worse………yeah, they were wrong. A 5-goal to nil in the second confirmed their worst fears and the game was over as a contest at that point. The only interest was whether the Pies would record their lowest ever finals score of 1.5.11 set in the early 1900s or something like that. After their superb effort against the Eagles the week before, they went in to half time with just 1 goal on the board and you started to wonder if the travel, mental, physical and emotional toll of the previous week were coming back to hurt them. Thing is, by giving them that excuse, you actually do the Cats a dis-service as they were absolutely supreme in everything they did. They broke Collingwood’s spirit early and the game was theirs from there.

The 3rd qtr saw no goals from either team in what was something of a win from the Pies, but really, the Cats were still in complete control of the game. Dangerfield kicked the first of the last quarter and you wondered if records could be broken. +When Grundy kicked his first, and Collingwood’s 2nd of the match, in the last quarter they had at least thwarted the ignominy of a historic failure and actually managed to kick the next 2 goals as well to get 3 on the trot when Mihocek got his two goals of the game which was the Pies best moment of the game. However, it wasn’t to last as first Joel Selwood, then Tom Hawkins both kicked goals to reestablish the Cats dominance. It was at this stage where the Cats were looking at next week and hoping to not get injured and just get through. Jayden Stephenson kicked a long goal late, which was nice as it actually gave him a chance that he did actually play in this game. Tom Hawkins kicked his 4th to bring up the ton for the Cats and cement a ridiculously impressive win for them.

Best for the Cats……hmmm where to start. Patrick Dangerfield with 4 goals playing as a permanent forward and generally taking the piss with the Pies all night. He kicked two from the boundary which were just ridiculous, he flew for speccies at will and just seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted. Mitch Duncan was superb, with 30 touches at 90% efficiency and he absolutely cut the Pies to pieces, Cam Guthrie was in and under, he was out in space, Sam Menegola the same whilst Stewart, Henderson, Tuohy Blicsavs, Simpson and Selwood were all strong contributors.

For the Pies, it was ugly all around. Adams tried hard, as did Treloar, but neither really impacted the game too much, Moore tried hard in defence as did Crisp, outside of that they were generally well beaten across the paddock. Half of the team didn’t register more than 10 possessions. It was as comprehensive a loss as you’ll see in a final.

So, let’s have a look at the winners and losers of the second week of finals
The Winners:
1: Geelong – Slammed all week and you could tell it hurt them personally. From the opening minutes they just looked on. By quarter time it was just about done, it took less than a minute in the second for this game to be over. Superb performance……now to back it up.

2: Patrick Dangerfield – I thought if the Cats were to win, he needed to dominate the middle. Instead he played largely as a permanent forward and dominated the game from there.

3: Chris Scott – Credit to Chris Scott for having the courage to take your best mid out of the middle and play him forward. If that goes wrong, he’d cop it in a big way. He backed his judgement and Danger kicks 4 and is a massive reason the Cats dominated.

4: Shai Bolton – Classy user of the footy who started the season well, but struggled the longer it went on. Was the difference early, kicking 2 cracking goals and set the Tigers on their way. Really strong game from him.

5: Shane Edwards – People always seem to forget about this guy when they talk about the Richmond stars. They shouldn’t. Really important link man, does the team stuff continually and is a genuine match-winner. His two goals were important in the win.

6: Bachar Houli – Does he play a bad final? Was a key driver from defence, never wastes a possession and just makes the Tigers hum.

The Losers
1: Collingwood – Wow……just wow. As bad a final as you’ll see and they were pretty much non-competitive in the first half and only got some goals late when the Cats stopped working as hard. Great first week win, but this was terrible. Lots of questions around their list and future.

2: Tom Lynch – Look, it wasn’t much, but why do it. Dropping a knee to a bloke lying prone on the ground isn’t tough. He’s making a habit of hitting blokes who aren’t expecting it or lying on the ground. Thing is, he kicked 2 goals, had 7 shots and is a key to the Tigers in their flag quest. Deserved a week for stupidity. Needs to pull his head in or he’ll cost the Tigers a genuine shot at the flag.

3: The MRP – Yes, let’s fine a bloke again who’s had 4 previous indiscretions. If they actually did their job, they would have given him a week early in the season which would have stopped all this. Weak as piss really.

4: St Kilda’s goal kicking -Geez they missed some really good chances. In the end it burnt them. Arguably the better side on the night let down by their inability to convert.

5: Brad Hill – Had just 11 touches and had a couple of really soft efforts. Look, he’s never been a crash and bash player and is there for his class, but just had no impact at all. He’s on good coin and they need him to deliver in big games. Didn’t here and it hurt his side.

6: Brodie Grundy – Signed a 7yr deal on big cash, but struggled in the two finals and was well beaten by Stanley last night. Is he injured? Did the bubble take its toll? Buckley seemed to indicate the second part could be part of it. He wasn’t able to get around the ground, which is his key attribute, and whilst he wins the tap, he’s largely predictable with where he hits the ball. Needs a big season next year to justify the faith.