Sydney take the flag after a Grand Final epic

HAWTHORN                4.5     4.6    9.10    11.15   (81)
SYDNEY SWANS         1.4      7.4      10.5     14.7    (91)


Ryan O’Keefe won the Norm Smith as the Swans triumphed in an amazing contest.

 

Sydney are the 2012 premiers, triumphing over Hawthorn in an absolute epic in front of 99,683 passionate AFL fans.

Ryan O’Keefe took the Norm Smith medal as best on ground, but there were so many winners across the park it could have gone to a number of players. O’Keefe thanked both the South Melbourne and Sydney Swans supporters in his speech. He led from the front all day with 28 disposals, 7 clearances and a whopping 15 tackles.

This was the fifth premiership win in their combined history.

Sydney started slow but blew Hawthorn away in the second quarter, before the Hawks mounted a gigantic fightback, taking the lead in the last term before the Swans kicked in front and held their nerve to take the flag.

Nick Malceski sealed the game with his second amazing goal of the game in the last minute, booting a snap over his shoulder to raucous cheers and hugs from teammates.

There were early injury worries for Sydney, with it being revealed that Jude Bolton would have to go off for surgery after the game, ruckman Shane Mumford rumoured to have hamstring issues and Ted Richards still holding a niggle.

Adam Goodes was one of many Swans carrying a niggle, but produced another fantastic performance when it mattered most.

The much talked about weather didn’t seem to have a big impact early, but it quickly become evident that there was a definite scoring end. Captain Luke Hodge won the toss and the Hawks took advantage of this in the first, with Xavier Ellis kicking the first goal of the match before Nick Malceski responded with a beautiful boundary line snap.

From here, the Hawks squandered chances before putting on a scintillating burst towards the end of the quarter. Lance Franklin kicked his first for the game from a mark and the wind started blowing heavily. It was followed shortly after by goals to Luke Bruest (thanks to some brilliant work by Paul Puopolo) and Jack Gunston (from a quick clearance by Sam Mitchell), and the Hawks were in sight of another before the siren blew to end the first.

One of the highlights of the day came late in the first as Lewis Jetta took on Cyril Rioli in a foot-race. It might have been an omen that Jetta took the chocolates.

The Swans came out firing in the second and held the Hawks goal-less for the term. As the sun started shining on the MCG, so too did it seem to shine on the Swans as they absolutely devastated Hawthorn on the rebound, chiefly thanks to some amazing work by Alex Johnson and Rhyce Shaw. Former Hawk Josh Kennedy booted the first for the term, before Kieran Jack, co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and Sam Reid put the Swans in front.

As the Hawks started going forward, they looked like they could take back the lead before half-time. Enter Mitch Morton, the ex-Richmond and West Coast recruit playing just his 5th game for the Swans. He deftly moved out of congestion and snapped two quick goals to build the lead for Sydney.

Hawthorn had every chance to get it closer before half-time, but Franklin sprayed a set shot out on the full. Clinton Young also had a chance from 50m to bring it back, but he too bombed it towards goal with the same result.

Canadian recruit Mike Pyke really stepped up for Sydney as Mumford looked sore and slow, playing one of his best games for the club.

With main ruckman Shane Mumford carrying a niggle and eventually being subbed off, Mike Pyke stepped up to the plate with gusto.

The weather seemed to dictate Sydney’s play again, and as the skies darkened it did so for Sydney’s chances as well. After a poor kick by Jarryd Roughead for a point, Jetta showed some amazing vision to spot up Jack, who then handpassed to Kennedy who booted his second. Lewis Roberts-Thomson then took a strong mark and kicked his first to take the lead out. It looked dangerous for Hawthorn, but to their credit they responded emphatically.

Facing a 27 point deficit and 42 minutes since their last goal, Hawthorn finally answered through ruckman David Hale. Franklin then kicked his second and the rebound from the defence was totally reversed – it was now all the Hawks. Hodge was playing a strong sweeper role in defence and was cleaning up any stray kicks.

A goal to Gunston and another to Franklin took the margin back to 2 points. Shane Savage was subbed on to take full advantage of the momentum swing and the Hawks hit the front through Issac Smith after another piece of Mitchell brilliance.

Sydney goaled from a 50m penalty against the flow to take the lead back, and Roberts-Thomson took a great mark on their defensive goal-line to ensure they’d keep it going into their last. As the siren went for the third, the Swans were up by one point and hearts were racing.

Hawthorn looked ominous as they begun the last much like they had finished the third – Bruest got the ball over the back and ran into an open goal before Hale kicked a brilliant second from a stoppage. Unfortunately for the Hawks, this was their last goal for the term.

Sydney weren’t phased and Daniel Hannebery, brilliant all day, kicked a goal to bring it back to 6. Jack then followed this up with another goal to level the scores as Hodge went off with the blood rule for the third time in the game.

Brad Sewell was the Hawks’ best player and was outstanding for the losing side.

The Swans pressed as an injured Adam Goodes produced a bit of brilliance to dribble home a goal. Too often in the last quarter Hawthorn did not take their chances, and this was exemplified when Gunston missed an easy shot from the pocket to draw the Hawks closer.

Brad Sewell kicked two behinds in a row before Malceski’s bit of brilliant put the icing on the cake, with his amazing snap the sealer.

Sewell (33 disposals, 11 clearances) and Mitchell (24 disposals, 10 clearances) fought incredibly hard for the Hawks, while Franklin and Hale were strong up forward, but it simply wasn’t enough to match the brilliance the Swans possessed across the park.

The Swans pressure was simply immense all day. They finished the game with a gigantic 110 tackles, with 10 players registering 5 or more.

Jude Bolton got a fairytale, playing badly injured in his 301st AFL game, Canadian Mike Pyke held the number one ruck spot after Mumford was subbed off and Mitch Morton gained a premiership medal at his third club. There are so many stories from this game, and the match itself deserves to go down in Grand Final folklore.

GOALS

Hawthorn: Franklin 3, Breust 2, Gunston 2, Hale 2, Ellis, Smith

Sydney Swans: Jack 2, Kennedy 2, Malceski 2, McVeigh 2, Morton 2, Goodes, Hannebery, Reid, Roberts-Thomson

BEST

Hawthorn: Sewell, Burgoyne, Mitchell, Breust, Hale, Franklin

Sydney Swans: Hannebery, O’Keefe, Pyke, McVeigh, Johnson, Roberts-Thomson, Jetta, Goodes

 

Thanks to everyone for supporting BigFootyNews.com this season. We’ll be back in one form or another next year… after we cover the trade period and the draft. – Chief

4 reasons the Hawks can win, and why none of those reasons matter

Breaking down the two sides, it’s easy to see why this game is impossible to pick.

Well, it’s here. Grand Final Day. It’s been a spectacular 2012 and there’s no reason to expect that isn’t going to stop now, with two closely matched sides poised to fight out what will hopefully be a cracker at the MCG this afternoon.

But what will be the difference for each side today? Since the Hawks are favourites with the bookies, BigFootyNews will look at the 4 biggest reasons they can win, and provide it with a counterpoint from the Swans.

Hawks Grand Final Links

The Hawks have got the best forward line in the competition

On paper, it’s daunting. In reality, it’s bloody scary. The Hawks are easily the highest scoring team in the AFL this season, over 200 points clear of the second-placed Adelaide Crows (not to mention nearly 100 goals clear of their opponents, the Swans). They’ve only been kept to under 90 points 3 times in their 24 games this year, and all 3 of those occasions were early in the season when they were finding their feet.

The focus is usually on Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli, with good reason, but even if those two were effectively shut-out by Sydney then they have a plethora of back-up options.

Luke Bruest, Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston, Paul Puopolo and David Hale have kicked 167 goals between them this year. That’s not even mentioning their options who have primarily played midfield or half-back this season. Jordan Lewis (27 goals), Matt Suckling (16 goals), Isaac Smith (16 goals) and Clinton Young (13 goals) regularly hit the score-board too and can be used up forward to good effect.

The most worrying of these ‘back-ups’ are players like Suckling and Young, who can ignore backlines by kicking goals from 50 metres plus out, as well as Lewis, who can almost play as a key-forward, and captain Luke Hodge who can be devastating if given space. It’s a huge, horrible migraine for opposition coaches and has been so nearly all year.

Jordan Lewis is one of many non-forwards at the Hawks who has been devastating when given the chance.

Counterpoint: Key forwards historically don’t have big games in Grand Finals

The area where the Swans are the weakest is certainly their forward line. Much maligned Hawks backman Ryan Schoenmakers typically takes young Swans forward Sam Reid, and usually beats him. Adam Goodes can be a very effective forward but is better used in various positions as needed. Mitch Morton and Lewis Roberts-Thomson are somewhat unknowns as to what they’ll produce on the big day (although Roberts-Thomson very nearly won a Norm Smith in 2005). But typically, if the contest is tight, the big forwards won’t be the match-winners.

One only has to look at great players like Wayne Carey not tearing it apart in Kangaroos’ GF victories to see the precedent. West Coast had an era near the top of the ladder in the mid-2000s, walking away with a flag, with a very choppy forward setup. Even looking at the best forward of the modern era, Hawthorn’s Lance Franklin, you can see that although he chipped in, he wasn’t a big part of the Hawks 2008 triumph over the Cats.

Add to this the fact that Sydney has the best and stingiest back six in the league and you can see why they’d back themselves in to get the job done.

Swans Grand Final Links

Once the Hawks make it to the big dance, they rarely stumble

Out of their past 15 Grand Final appearances, the Hawks have won 10. Out of Sydney’s last 7, they’ve won a solitary flag. A fair few of the Hawks 2008 premiership stars are either out or retired, but this side looks far more menacing.

Along with players like Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Lewis, Buddy and Sewell having outstanding years and more experience than before, they’ve got players they’ve brought in from elsewhere since then like Hale, spoiler extraordinaire Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne and young forward Gunston, to name but a few.

Counterpoint: The modern Swans are a different side

Now, reading that, it’s easy to say that of course Hawthorn are too, which is true. But they as a side have more recently been in a Grand Final. While the Swans veterans will add incredibly useful experience to the side, the modern Sydney side is very much composed of role-players. That’s not to say there aren’t stars, it’s to say that everybody in the side has a certain role and is expected to perform it. This has been repeated a lot by Sydney players this season.

Even looking at Sydney’s 2005-2006 Grand Final appearances you can see this is a different side. While they’re still very strong defensively, they find space and hurt the opposition a lot more on the rebound than the mid 2000s side. They dictate the play on their terms and hurt the opposition with a superior game-plan. There’s also a lot more x-factor in the current side, and they’ve shown this season on multiple occasions they can kick a big score.

While a big score is unlikely in a Grand Final, it’s hard to see the Swans as the same as the dour, stoppage obsessed team that they were, whereas the Hawks still very much play a similar free-flowing attacking game to 2008.

The BigFooty Gameday Thread –

With LIVE CHAT @ 2PM

Players like Lewis Jetta have given the Swans an X-factor their last premiership side didn’t have.

The MCG is their kingdom

Sydney won’t look into it, but the Hawks should be buoyed knowing that the Swans typically play below their standards at the MCG. Hawthon know the MCG like the back of their hand, while the Swans hardly know it at all. The brown and gold have won its past 11 games against interstate sides at the ground.

It might be considered a neutral venue due to the fan split being more even than in a home and away game, but the evidence is still damning.

Counterpoint: Sydney have proved they can match it with the Hawks on their turf

If the MCG is the Hawk’s kingdom, then Launceston is their fortress. But that didn’t stop a powerful 37 point victory by the Swans earlier this season there, breaking a 7-game winning streak at the ground for the Hawks. While it wasn’t to be the case the second-time around at the SCG, the Swans know that their best can match it with the Hawks.

The question is, if co-captain Adam Goodes and their coach believe the MCG is truly a neutral venue (compared to two venues which obviously weren’t), then will the third time be a charm?

Sam Mitchell has had his best season in 2012, and is one of many big game players

Despite not being captain anymore, Sam Mitchell has gone from strength to strength since the Hawks’ last premiership. Despite not being flashy, he puts in consistent hard, workmanlike performances and is one of the biggest keys in every Hawthorn victory. He very nearly snatched the Brownlow from Essendon’s Jobe Watson this season, and he never leaves anything on the field.

If he has a rare off-game in the Grand Final, then the Hawks can cover him with the likes of Sewell and returning captain Hodge, who won the Norm Smith in 2008. In round 22 Shaun Burgoyne played one of his best games since leaving Port Adelaide when Hawthorn triumphed in Sydney. There’s no shortage of tough players at Hawthorn.

Counterpoint: The Swans have no shortage either

Mitchell’s two least effective games this year have, unsurprisingly, came against Sydney. Kieran Jack went head-to-head with him on both occasions in a run-with role and came out on top. He is the general, and if they can shut him down again it goes a long way to winning. Hodge can replace him but may be needed elsewhere, and although Sewell has been fantastic this year doesn’t have the same presence Mitchell has.

Shaun Burgoyne tore the Swans apart in Round 22, but Sydney coach John Longmire will do everything in his power to avoid a repeat.

The Swans, on the other hand, don’t seem to be worried by a drop in form of any one man. Josh Kennedy is their star midfielder, but co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, veteran Jude Bolton and youngster Dan Hannebery all shoulder the load with him equally.

Coach John Longmire knows how to address problems, and he will no doubt figure out a plan for Shaun Burgoyne. With how he played against them last time, the Hawks would be remiss not to use him in the same role again, and Longmire would be stupid to ignore it.

You could go on and on with comparisons in every facet of the field, but these two teams are incredibly well matched. The first time the Swans and the Hawks face off in a Grand Final couldn’t be better placed than it currently is.

Lets hope it’s one for the ages.

 

 

Geelong send off David Wojcinski in style – The VFL Wrap Grand Final

Geelong burst through the banner. Photo – http://www.flickr.com/photos/gocatters/

BigFooty News runs a quick weekly wrap-up of the Victorian Football League.

Finals Week 4

Port Melbourne 11.9 (75) defeated by Geelong Cats 14.24 (108)

Grand Final

Etihad Stadium, 2:30PM Sunday 23 September

The time had finally come. Etihad Stadium was to host the 2012 VFL Grand Final between the two best sides in the competition; Port Melbourne and Geelong.

Port had finished second on the ladder and were the defending champions of the league. They were aiming to go back-to-back for the first time 1980-82, when they won the top prize three times on the trot. Under the tutelage of Gary Ayres and under the captaincy of inspirational skipper John Baird the Borough were rightly placed as favourites, despite lacking the AFL experience as their opponents. They had also beaten the third-placed Geelong in the qualifying final during the first week of the finals, installing more hope into this great side.

Geelong were the surprise packets of the VFL season. The Cats finished ninth in the 2011 season and therefore missed out on the finals. In the off season they recruited well and installed former Essendon coach Matthew Knights into their top position. They benefited from their senior side trialling younger players during the 2012 season, with the older stars dropping down and pitting it against the inexperienced players from other sides. Geelong were aiming for their first VFL flag since 2007, when they defeated Sandringham at Princes Park.

Both clubs have previously met in a VFL Grand Final before. The 2002 VFL Grand Final was played at Princes Park in Carlton, with a young Geelong side defeating Port Melbourne in a tight affair. That day, the Cats side had future champions in Gary Ablett Jr, James Kelly, Paul Chapman, Steve Johnson and Jimmy Bartel, all of whom played in Geelong’s AFL premiership in 2007. Port Melbourne also had their fair share of future superstars with Ryan O’Keefe, Luke Ablett, Amon Buchanan and Adam Schnieder, who all played in Sydney’s drought breaking 2005 AFL premiership win.

It was a sunny day outside but the roof was closed at Etihad Stadium. It was a tense atmosphere, with the curtain-raiser TAC Cup Grand Final going down to only one-point, Oakleigh taking home the chocolates. This match started like a grand final should; hard and tough. Geelong kicked the first two goals of the match, but they came as a result of Port Melbourne turnovers. It was clangers galore early on before the game settled. Port Melbourne then kicked the next four goals, silencing the Geelong supporters, who were out in force. The Cats snatched a goal just before the siren rang against the flow to get the momentum heading into the break. It was the Borough, however, that led at the first change.

The second quarter could not have been anymore different from the first. The in tight and contested ball in the first term turned into free flowing and counter attacking footy in the second. Geelong once again kicked the first goal of the term before Port Melbourne hit back with two. Geelong then quickly slammed home two of their own before the Borough regained the ascedancy right before the main interval with a goal. Port went into the break with a two-point lead over an innacurate Geelong line-up.

In the third term everything lifted. The pressure put on by both sides was immense and unlike the previous quarter, no one could break away. The crowd started to get into the contest, which helped Geelong much more of course and this brought the intensity up a notch. The Cats kicked the first two goals of the quarter before it went goal for goal for the rest of the term. Going into the final break, Geelong led by one goal. It was still anybodies game to win.

We were set for a brilliant last term. Port’s spearhead Dean Galea kicked the first goal only a few minutes into the quarter and it looked as though Port Melbourne might run away with the match. The momentum swung however and Geelong were dominating the match, however it wasn’t showing on the scoreboard. They eventually did kick a goal and from then on the Cats ran away with the match to win by 33 points, an historical occasion for the coach and the club.

Young star George Horlin-Smith was judged the best player on the ground by the media and won the Norm Goss Medal. Frosty Miller Medallist Dean Galea was the leading goalkicker for the day, kicking four goals in a losing side. The crowd was then let onto the arena to see Cats captain Troy Selwood, former Brisbane Lion and brother of AFL captain Joel, and Matthew Knights hold aloft the VFL Premiership Cup for 2012.

Leading goalkickers: Dean Galea (PM) 4, Shane Kersten (GC) 3, Mitch Brown (GC) George Burbury (GC) Heath O’Farrell (PM) Will Burstin (PM) 2.

Votes: 3. George Horlin-Smith (GC), 2. Josh Sciopione (PM), 1. Simon Hogan (GC).

 

Summary: That’s it for season 2012 in the Victorian Football League, a very successful season. Congratulations to Geelong for winning the premiership and bring on season 2013.

The VFL was formed as the VFA in 1877 and was renamed the former in 1995. It took on its current status in 2000, as the reserves league to the Victorian AFL clubs, as well as maintaining its traditional clubs and still creating a pathway for the best local players.

Weekly Punt: Take Hawks and Rioli

Buddy at open training. Credit: Mollyfud of AFLspace.com

Check out the Hawks Google Event: https://plus.google.com/events/ccs2q773hv1l0cvdleabkc0q7gc

If you had taken the Hawks and Swans betting lines this year you would have done very well but not as well as The Weekly Punt. For those that have read all year I’m sure you pleased with having more than quadrupled the return on the intial investment. If you are a late comer you may be wondering what all the fuss is about given the finals tipping has been below par. The Hawthorn line put us back in the red for finals but the tipping has been generally good, with the last two weeks all correct. No line this week, just straight up heads up.

Hawthorn have a couple of things going for them coming into the Grand Final; they are slightly better overall form having lost only once in their last 15 games, and in that one loss it was after the siren to Geelong. Sydney on the other hand lost three of their last four games of the home and away matches coming into the finals. I do not know any team that has won a Grand Final with that record and I have checked back as far 1980.

The other thing in the Hawks’ favour is in their last meeting between the two, Hawthorn managed to beat Sydney at SCG. Now that the game is at neutral ground you expect the Hawks to perform better. So does this mean Sydney is very little chance for Saturday? Not quite.

The Swans have not been a great wet weather team this season but Hawthorn are even worse. Three of Hawthorn’s five losses have come in the wet. The Hawks high possession precise kicking game relies to a certain degree on dry conditions, given there is a forecast for possible hail, the Swans should have a slight edge there if it were to bucket down. Also Hawthorn’s player outs are little more significant than Swans.

So when we look at those things there is probably nothing separating those teams, except one thing. Hawthorn finished the year with their best percentage in their club’s history a good 15% more than the Swans, this with a slightly more difficult draw.

Prediction: Hawthorn by 7 points.

Almost 90% of Norm Smith medalists come from the winning teams. Rioli was the Hawks BOG in their prelim escape against Adelaide. He also scored the highest Champion Data score in a final this year. We know he can perform on the biggest stage and four years later expect another Rioli to light up the MCG.

Current Betting Fund: $4,263.00

Total staked so far: $1,003.50

(Best Market Odds)

Hawthorn  v Sydney – Head-to-Head – $200 @ $1.55 Betfair

Rioli Norm Smith – $100 @ $16 Betfair

(Bet is on team in Bold)

Odds correct at time of posting – for latest odds go to odds.BigFooty.com.

Grand Final Teams, Stats and Matchups

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffers1984/

2012 AFL Grand Final Preview – Hawthorn vs. Sydney

2:30pm Saturday 29thSeptember @ MCG – Weather: 14°C – Showers

Guest writer Conca Truck gives us his thoughts on the Grand Final.

After 206 games in season 2012 it all come down to this last one. The biggest game of the year, the AFL grand final between Hawthorn and Sydney.

These two teams have had fantastic years finishing 1st and 3rd. They both won their first qualifying finals, earning themselves the week off to get fresh and ready for their preliminary final. The Swans where too strong for the Magpies while the Hawks beat the Crows in a thriller.

Line Ups

Hawthorn

B: Grant Birchall , Josh Gibson , Benjamin Stratton
HB: Matt Suckling , Ryan Schoenmakers , Shaun Burgoyne
C: Jordan Lewis , Sam Mitchell , Xavier Ellis
HF: Jack Gunston, Lance Franklin, Isaac Smith
F: Cyril Rioli , Jarryd Roughead , Luke Breust
Foll: David Hale , Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell
I/C: Clinton Young, Liam Shiels , Shane Savage, Paul Puopolo
Emg: Max Bailey, Thomas Murphy , Kyle Cheney

In: L.Hodge
Out: T.Murphy

Sydney

B: Rhyce Shaw , Ted Richards, Martin Mattner
HB: Alex Johnson , Heath Grundy , Nicholas Smith
C: Lewis Jetta , Kieren Jack , Daniel Hannebery
HF: Craig Bird , Sam Reid , Ryan O’Keefe
F: Jarrad McVeigh , Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson
Foll: Shane Mumford, Josh P. Kennedy, Jude Bolton
I/C: Nick Malceski, Mike Pyke , Luke Parker , Mitch Morton
Emg: Trent Dennis-Lane , Tony Armstrong, Tommy Walsh

No Change

Last 5 times they have met:

Sydney 95 def.by Hawthorn 102 – SCG Round 22, 2012
Hawthorn 69 def.by Sydney 106 – Aurora Round 5, 2012
Hawthorn 122 def Sydney 86 – MCG Semi Final, 2011
Sydney 60 def.by Hawthorn 106 – SCG Round 9, 2011
Sydney 129 def hawthorn 85 – SCG Round 19, 2010

Key Match Ups

1. The Midfield Battle

Mitchell, Sewell, Hodge, Burgoyne, Lewis, Young, Smith, Shiels, Ellis
vs
Kennedy, Jack, Bolton, Jetta, O’Keffe, McVeigh, Hannebery

The midfield is where the game will be won and lost. There are some genuine stars of the competition in both midfields with Kennedy, Jack, Mitchell and Hodge. Both midfields will get best use of the ball from ruckmen but whichever teams midfield can get the ball from the middle and pump it long inside 50 the most will win the game.

2. Richards vs. Franklin

Richards has played on Franklin the last 3 times these teams have met and I would expect him to play on him again. Franklin has booted 4,0 and 4 goals in those 3 games and with Franlin getting back to his best from his injury and Richards in career best form, I would expect a gruelling contest.

3. Gibson vs. Goodes

With Schoenmakers going to Reid, that will leave Gibson to play on Goodes. Last time they met Gibson kept Goodes to the 2 goals and 15 touches and if Gibson can shut down Goodes again it will give the Hawks a good chance of winning.

4. N.Smith vs. Breust

Breust has had a great 2012 season booting 43 goals while also having 25 goal assists (ranking 2nd in the comp) and putting pressure on defenders with 105 tackles. Smith has also been great down back for the Swans and he should go to Breust and limit his output. Smith played on Breust in the round 22 clash this year keeping him goalless.

Key Players

Hawthorn

Shaun Burgoyne
Burgoyne has already played in two Grand Finals with Port Adelaide and he always steps up on the big stage. Burgoyne was best on ground last time he played Sydney with 26 touches and three crucial goals and a big game from Burgoyne is vital if the Hawks want to win.

Lance Franklin
The best defender in the competition Ted Richards will be waiting for Buddy this Saturday. Richards kept Franklin goalless and to four goals in their two clashes this season. But on the big stage expect Buddy to step up and have a big game, which might not mean kicking a bag of goals but setting them up for his teammates.

Luke Hodge
After missing last week with an illness Hodge will be fit and firing to play against the Swans this week. Hodge has shown he is a big game player winning the Norm Smith in 2008. His toughness around the ball will set the standard for his teammates.

Grant Birchall
The skilful defender is important for the Hawks as his pinpoint kicking is really going to set the Hawks up when coming out of defence.

Sam Mitchell
After only 17 and 20 disposals against the Swans this year, Mitchell has struggled against them. But Mitchell has been in great form lately and has been one of the best Hawks performers in finals so except a big performance this week even if he does get tagged by Bird.

Sydney

Josh P. Kennedy
Kennedy has sent a message to his former Hawk teammates this season in the two matches they played with huge games. Kennedy has been one of the most improved players of the comp and he has turned himself into a genuine star of the AFL and is a very good chance for the Norm Smith medal on Saturday.

Adam Goodes
One of the best players in the history of the Swans, Goodes will be looking for his second premiership medallion. Goodes has been known for his ability to turn a game around single-handedly and for his massive performances in the big games. If the Swans want to win their 5th Premiership then Adam Goodes will have to be at his best.

Sam Reid
Schoenmakers will man Reid up this week and the Swans need to exploit the pair in one on one contests. Schoenmakers has had 20 goals scored on him in his last four games and Reid is a good chance to boot three+ goals on him this week. But Reid has only kicked two goals against the Hawks in their two contests this year.

Lewis Jetta
The excitement machine is a massive X-Factor for the Swans on Saturday. But Jetta has been quiet against the Hawks this year with a combined total of 22 disposals from the two games against the Hawks this season and expect a Hawk to pay close attention to him.

Ted Richards
Richards has had an amazing season but he will have one of the toughest jobs in football, playing at Full Back on Lance Franklin. Richards one of the best defenders in the comp has kept Buddy to 4 goals in there 2 clashes this year and if he can limit Franklins output, it will go a long way in the Swans winning the game.

The Verdict

The best two teams of 2012 will do battle for the ultimate football glory: The Premiership Cup.

It is going to be a great battle from start to finish. The Hawks are a very attacking team while the Swans are defensive and if it turns into a shoot out, the Hawks might be too strong for the Swans. If the Swans slow the game down they are a very good chance of wining. Both teams have some great players and are evenly matched all around the ground.

But I would expect the Hawks to step up after last week and win a thriller.

Tip: Hawthorn by 5 points

Norm Smith Medal: Shaun Burgoyne

First Goal: Lewis Roberts-Thompson

Thanks for reading and leave a comment on which team you think will win the game, Norm Smith and kick the first goal:

http://www.bigfooty.com/forum/threads/2012-afl-grand-final-preview.974806/

The Kennedy midfield crisis, Lance and the Big Dance – Grand Final Preview

AFL Grand Final

Sydney Vs Hawthorn

Saturday, September 29th, 2012
MCG, 2:30pm

One of the eagerly awaited and evenly matched grand finals of recent times sees season-long premiership favourites Hawthorn take on the perennially underrated Swans.
An irresistible battle of attack versus defence awaits on that ‘one day in September’.

Hawthorn finished minor premiers with 17 wins and one of the biggest percentages ever recorded – 154.59. The Hawks kicked 2,679 points (at an average of 121.7 per game) for the season – almost 42 goals more than the next most attacking team – Adelaide, who finished second.

Sydney finished third on the ladder, with 16 wins, with the best defence in the league – only conceding 1629 points – at an average of 74 per game. The Swans were also the fifth best attacking side in the comp, kicking an average of 104-points per game. Their percentage of 140.98 was the fifth highest in the history of the Swans/South Melbourne, only bettered by the 1909 (premiership year 168.9), 1919’s 158.71 (2nd on the ladder), 1912 – 156.97 and 1918’s 143.07 – when they also took out the flag.

In the two previous meetings between the sides this season, the Swans unexpectedly defeated the Hawks 106 to 69 in Tasmania in round five, while Hawthorn prevailed by 7 in a classic grudge match at the SCG in round 22 after trailing by a big margin in the first quarter.

Lance Franklin – who was subdued early but finished with 4.3 and Sean Burgoyne three goals, seven marks and 26 disposals starred for the Hawks in the round 22 victory, while Josh Kennedy racked up 36 disposals and Daniel Hannebery with 31 including 21 by hand were the best from the hand-ball heavy Swans.

In that game Hawthorn were able to use their advantage in the hitouts and their superior foot skills to generate more marks (69 HAW 62 SYD) and scoring shots (27 HAW 25 SYD) from less disposals (376 SYD to 336 HAW) and fewer kicks (203 SYD 199 HAW) than the Swans.

The last time these two teams met at the MCG was the semi-final last year where the Hawks came out harder and more determined and blew the Swans away early, and coasted to a 36-point win. The Swans last beat Hawthorn at the MCG in round 11 2007, and have lost the last four clashes between the sides at the ground. Overall the Hawks hold an 83 to 66 – with two drawn games – record over Sydney/South Melbourne.

The Swans not only boast the statistically best defence for the season, but also one of the most settled back sixes, and a potentially dangerous rebounding one. Defender Rhys Shaw, who leads the league in running bounces, said in the lead up:

“We pride ourselves on our defence and we’re hoping we can stand up this week… Because we know if it doesn’t, we’re going to get blown out of the water. We just have to do what we’ve been doing all year.”

Swans coach John Longmire believes the imperative attitude to win the grand final is:

”You have to make sure your pressure is absolutely elite and for four quarters. You can’t have any lapses in concentration, and you’ve got to take your chances when you get them.”

Josh Kennedy has been the talk of the week with his genealogical ties to his grand final opponents. He averages 29 disposals, seven clearances, five tackles and a goal a game for the season, and almost 28 disposals for his six finals matches. Against Collingwood in the Preliminary Final he had 30 possessions – 19 contested – four marks, five tackles and two crucial goals. Kennedy remarked on that match “On the weekend (against Collingwood) our pressure was right up there and if we can bring that intensity it will go a long way to winning the game.”

Expect Sam Mitchell or Brad Sewell on Kennedy in a crucial duel to go head to head in a battle for clearances.

The All Australian centre half forward in Lance Franklin will match up on the AA centre half back Ted Richards in a contest that will be crucial as to who lifts the cup. Lance Franklin can win the game off his own boot, and is an ominous and irresistible figure in the Hawks forward fifty.

Richards held Buddy goalless for the only time in 2012 in the Swans round five win. After a quiet first three-quarters Franklin let loose with three goals in ten minutes and finished with four for the day when the Hawks toppled Sydney at the SCG. Richards, who concedes four cm in height and 10kg to Franklin, is the No. 1 intercept marker in the competition and No. 2 for intercept possessions, so Buddy will have to be conscious of the offensive outlet provided by the Swans #25.

Cyril Rioli showed that he just needs the barest of opportunities to create goals, and Nick Smith will be given the task of curtailing the livewire forward. Jaryd Roughead will be primed for a big game after being accused of favouring preservation over taking possession against the Crows, while Luke Bruest offers poise and speed.

The clash of the midfield will be a titanic struggle, even more so in the predicted wet weather. Hawthorn have a top class crew of centremen with Sewell, Mitchell, Burgoyne all hitting hot form, and Lewis keen to atone for his game against the crows, where he has vowed to ‘go in harder’. They are capable of quick clearances and effective forward entries with their foot skills, and as their five goal second quarter in round 23 showed, capable of piling on quick points.

Sydney open training session. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/jeffers1984

Sydney have hard nuts in stalwart Jude Bolton and Luke Parker when subbed in late to get the hard ball, the hand-skills of Hannebery and the classy clearances of Kennendy to get the ball out and quick to their forward line.

Up forward Sydney have the large presence of Goodes, Sam Reid, who while taking some contested grabs, is not hitting the scoreboard, and Tigers discard Mitch Morton who can sneak behind defences for some opportune goals. Roberts-Thompson will most likely be used trying to negate spoiling-king Josh Gison and keep him from coming in third-man up. Isaac Smith will most likely be given the matchup on Lewis Jetta, who is capable of long, freakish goals and precision passes alike.

The Hawks seem to have it all in place, but that also comes with expectation, which almost bought them undone against the Crows. The Swans will need to pressure the Hawks for four quarters and will take great comfort from their round five win and the first quarter of their most recent encounter.

Prediction

A tough, hard contested battle awaits, with the rainy conditions expected to favour the Swans style of play. Swans by three.

The 2012 AFL Punter Awards

fireworks

More eagerly awaited than a “WOWEE” from Brian Taylor…

More wonderfully articulated than an elocution course conducted by Andrew Demetriou…

Fairer than Adelaide’s fixture…

It’s the 2012 edition of everyone’s favourite awards – The Punter Awards!

The Aunty Jack Award for best ability to “Rip Your Bloody Arms Off”

To Chris Judd, who knows more than three ways to kill a man before he hits the ground.

The Kim Kardashian Award for greatest collection of ultimately useless achievements

To Richmond, who beat both Grand Finalists, had the Brownlow favourite and the Coleman Medal winner… and finished 12th.

The George Costanza Award for the most counterproductive push for extra cash

To Travis Cloke, who held out for a better contract and forgot what the ball looked like.

The Muhammed Ali Award for Best Punch

That wall never saw Alastair Clarkson coming.

The Heath Streak Award for Best Plugging Away in a Lost Cause

To Gary Ablett, who polled twice as many Brownlow Votes as his team had Premiership Points.

The Tinman Award for Best Performance without a Functioning Heart

Lenny Hayes – 3rd Trevor Barker Award, All-Australian Squad Member, 19 Brownlow Votes. He’ll be even better next season after visiting the Emerald City.

The Julia Gillard Award for Best Bloodless Coup

To Mick Malthouse, who somehow managed to find himself coach at Carlton through no work of his own.

The Dermott Brereton Award for Most Innovative Use of Footy Boots

To Josh Hunt, who confused Eddie Betts with a footpath.

And now for the old favourites…

The Nathan Bassett Perpetual Trophy for best ability to ride a teammates coattails into the All-Australian Team

To Nic Natanui, the first man to ever do this while playing the exact same position as the teammate whose coattails he was riding: Dean Cox.

The Jason Akermanis Award for Worst Ability at Keeping Your Mouth Shut

Who else could win this award? Comments about Jim Stynes, gay footballers and “dribblers” made this award a non-event for another year. Good work Jason.

Congratulations Jobe! Now close this joke medal down

Jobe Watson is a worthy winner of the Brownlow medal.

He plays hard but fair. He is courageous and he leads by example. And in the dog days of Essendon’s season, when his teammates looked liked they had given up the ghost, Jobe just kept on keeping on.

So I congratulate Jobe Watson and salute his achievement.

And also say in all honesty that I hope he is the last winner of the medal.

Modern football has moved beyond the Brownlow medal as we know it.

The concept of the best and fairest player is indeed noble and I’d like to see it continue.

I’d also like to see all teams playing fast attacking footy too, but that isn’t going to happen when Ross Lyon can develop a gameplan that gets blokes like Brett Peake and Robert Eddy into Grand Finals.

How do we define “fairest”? Is it fairest over the season in that a player who has been suspended at any point can’t win it?

Or should it be collation of the votes from games where players were judged by the umpires to be among the three best and fairest players on the day/night/twilight?

Take one game from this year: Round 16, North versus Carlton.

The game is important in the Brownlow context for two incidents. First, Chris Judd’s infamous chicken wing tackle. Judd’s actions were about as close to the definition of unfair as you can get – deliberating hurting a prone and trapped defenceless player.

But Judd also played a blinder that night and got two votes. And quite rightly so. No free was paid at the time of the incident and although the North players on the scene knew something was definitely up, you can forgive the umpires for not knowing exactly what had happened in the confusion of yet another stoppage, ball up and play on.

It took a video review from the Match Review Panel to clearly identify Judd’s wrongdoing and the punishment to be dealt out.

The other incident involved the Jack Ziebell bump on Andrew Carazzo. Again, at the time the umpire didn’t pay a free, in fact said umpire said at the time that Ziebell was going for the ball, play on.

This is not to re-hash the rights and wrongs of either incident. But it does prove that the umpires, filling in their Brownlow voting forms post game, would have been quite legitimately unawares that both players had committed offences worthy of long suspensions.

This is where the game has moved beyond the system. In ye olde times – when the rules of the Brownlow were devised – the umpires either reported a bloke there and then or they didn’t. And if they had reported a bloke, it is unlikely verging on impossible that they would hand out votes to the individual in question.

The trend is towards more and more incidents being cited post game. In fact, that is the entire intent of the MRP. The on-field report is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. So if we don’t find out who has committed unfair acts on-field until two days afterwords, why are the umpires being asked to vote straight after the game?

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. There is an argument that the umpires could make their votes after the MRP has reported, but the one key element of the Brownlow that still makes sense is the giving of the votes straight after the game. That way, umpires can’t be affected by media reports, or even worse.

As I said, Jobe Watson is a worthy winner of the award. A great footballer suitably recognised for a magnificent season.

But the Brownlow is now becoming debased and it is the AFL itself leading the charge. The very basis upon which it exists is being undermined.

The AFL are keen to reform, often with eye-raising creativity, aspects of the game once thought inviolate.

Perhaps Adrian Anderson and crew could turn their pointy heads to the Brownlow?

Grand Final telecast: why no HD Mr Channel Seven?

Why is it that we can watch lawn bowls in high definition in this country but, unless you are willing to cough up for pay TV, you won’t be able to watch a live HD telecast of the Grand Final of the largest and most popular sport in the land?

The simple reason is because Channel 7, which holds the free to air rights, prefers to use its bandwidth on the 7Mate channel rather than broadcast footy in HD.

The logic on this – and this is an educated guess – is that rather than simulcast the Grand Final in HD on Mate, Seven would rather trap mug punters who won’t, or crucially can’t, cough up for Foxtel into watching the standard version.

And then they can rake in the dollars from flogging ads on Mate anyway. A double dip. Why restrict your revenue when you don’t have to?

It is decisions like this that demonstrate why free to air television networks are destined to join the Hamburg to New York zeppelin route in the dustbin of capitalist history. And Seven is by far and away the healthiest of the Australian commercial TV networks. Yet they are still reduced to doing this, despite actually filming the games in HD.

At risk of sounding like a spruiker for Harvey Norman – another enterprise destined for the aforementioned waste basket of mercantilism – footy is better in high definition. So are most movies. Sitcoms aren’t but that’s not really the point: footy is and more people than Channel Seven obviously realises have invested some rather substantial sums in new TVs for the main purpose of watching footy.

If you’ve parted with a large sum of money in order to watch TV in high definition, then parting with a far smaller sum on a monthly basis to ensure you can do so suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Given this is the first year of the TV rights deal, it will be interesting to see just how many people sign up with Fox Footy next year on the back of Seven’s decision.

But frustrated viewers – and want to be viewers – can console themselves with the fact that soon all this will be over. The AFL has made very plain that it intends to sell content straight down the pipe to consumers using the NBN. The next media deal will most likely have a free to air broadcast element – I don’t see it dying off within the next five years, but more likely within the decade – but the centrepiece will be the ability to access the content directly yourself.

In this brave new world, the individual will be king. If you have invested in the technology, then be guaranteed that the AFL will provide you with the suitable feed.

A feed produced entirely by the AFL. With AFL endorsed commentators.

Maybe the old days don’t seem so bad after all.

 

Want to protest the lack of a live Grand Final telecast in HD? Check out this page on Facebook.

2012 Brownlow Preview

Brownlow Medal

The 2012 Brownlow Medal looks to be one of the most open in recent years, with up to nine players considered legitimate chances.

As always we expect it to primarily be a midfielder’s award. The shortest price you’ll find for a big man at Sportsbet is ruckman Dean Cox at 150-1, and you need to go down to Tom Hawkins at 250-1 before you’ll find anyone who plays predominantly forward or back.

Bigfooty News takes a look at the top chances:

Trent Cotchin (Richmond) – $4.25

The inspirational Tiger stamped himself as one of the AFL’s elite in 2012, and has been nominated as the equal favourite to take Charlie home. Brett Deledio may well take votes from him in the early rounds, however Cotchin should easily poll the most votes for Richmond in the second half of the year. Expect him to poll well in the final rounds in particular, starting with his 35 disposals and three goals against the Bulldogs in round 20, and a clear best on ground in their final round draw against Port Adelaide.

Gary Ablett (Gold Coast) – $4.25

The 2009 Brownlow winner has polled 20 or more votes in each of the last five seasons. He proved last year that he has no problem polling votes in a losing team with a tally of 23, and many would say he’s had a better year in 2012. The man voted by his peers as the AFL’s most valuable player this year has had 40 or more possessions seven times this year.

Jobe Watson (Essendon) – $5.25

A stunningly consistent year has seen Watson collect 25 or more disposals in 19 of his 22 games, with the Essendon captain spending much of his time right under the umpire’s nose winning the hard ball. Despite the near certainty that team mate Brent Stanton will take some votes from him early, Watson is almost sure to be leading the count up until round 13, and probably even round 16. His form continued throughout the year, but his biggest concern is that Essendon lost their last seven games of the year, often by big margins.

Scott Thompson (Adelaide) – $8.00

The Adelaide ball magnet was at it again in 2012, averaging 29.5 disposals in a side that collected 17 wins. Thompson traditionally polls well, and will be in the umpire’s sights again with the second most clearances in the AFL. With an impressive 30 or more disposals on 12 occasions this year, Thompson is every chance to be in the mix late in the count.

Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide) – $9.00

The dynamic Adelaide midfielder had his breakout year in 2012, and what a year it was. First in the AFL for hard ball gets, Dangerfield also has the advantage of being explosive when in space. He was often the go to man who stood up in the big moments, and did not miss a game this season.

Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn) – $12.00

Another proven vote getter, Sam Mitchell only just missed out last year with 30 votes. Has had slightly less of the ball than last year, however his creativity by hand, particularly in the big moments, seems to have somehow improved. A clear best on ground with his 32 disposals in Hawthorn’s big win over Carlton in round 14, should be the start of a streak in which Mitchell storms home strongly.

Dane Swan (Collingwood) – $14.00

Last year’s winner after polling 34 votes has averaged 34.7 disposals a week, which is up by four on the 31.7 he averaged in his Brownlow year. He has however played three less games and had six less wins than 2011. Probably has been a little less effective with ball in hand compared to last year, but a previous winner with those sorts of numbers simply cannot be ruled out.

Josh Kennedy (Sydney) – $18.00

With a similar big-bodied style to Jobe Watson, Kennedy’s votes will likely come in bursts. He opened the season with a bang, and could legitimately claim three votes in each of the first five weeks. Is expected to poll less frequently in the middle rounds of the season, however will almost certainly poll votes in each of the last three games.

Dayne Beams (Collingwood) $21.00

Unlikely to poll votes until his 33 disposal game against the Western Bulldogs in round six, however expect to hear his name regularly from this point on.  A dynamic player who is hard to miss when he plays well, Beams averaged 31 disposals a week and often contributed goals.