Ten Things the Preliminary Finals Taught Me.

TEN THINGS I LEARNT AFTER THE PRELIMINARY FINALS...

1. The week off during the finals is irrelevant, as is the 6-day break Collingwood had.

It would seem it's a myth that it's advantageous to have a break before the preliminary final. Richmond were still on that break until half time. And as for all the hype surrounding Eddie McGuire's outburst regarding the "incompetent" AFL for them scheduling a 6-day break for the Pies, maybe, if it's at all possible, he needs to stay quiet. Gil and the boys have every right to pass him a can of STFU.

2. Mason Cox washed his hands before the game with Araldite.

It looked like Mason Cox, and moved like Mason Cox, but that's where the similarities ended. I can't even remember an instant where he dropped a mark. The question begs, however - did he not follow Buckley's instructions? I've heard Nathan talking about how he just wants Mason to compete and make sure he brings the ball to ground. Let's face it - it's just a polite way of saying the kid can't mark so you little blokes need to be at his feet. Not this time, however!

3. I'm putting money on Steele Sidebottom for the Norm Smith medal.

Steele is the player of the finals by miles. On Friday, he had a lazy 41 possessions at a measly 83% efficiency rate. I'm guessing his name is on every single whiteboard in the Eagles change rooms. Simpson knows that he must be stopped for the Eagles to increase their chance of winning. I'm just not so sure he can be.

4. Two teams didn't show up for their games until after half time.

As I said earlier, Richmond were still on their break, and the Dees were the first team in 91 years to fail to score a goal in a half in a final. The Tigers were only marginally better with their second major coming with just 11 seconds left to go before the break. It beggars belief how two of the teams were just so far off the pace in the early stages of the game, and as for us neutral observers hoping to see an exciting contest, the running theme of average games and the disappointment continued.

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5. I'm a little sick of hearing how Richmond were "the best team all year...". The year's still going.

I've always found comments like this, which we hear almost every year, to be an insult to those who beat these teams. They were the best team during the home and away season, but clearly not the best in the finals. And that's when it counts.

6. How must all those supporters who paid $2,000 in airfares to go watch that rubbish first half the Dees served up in Perth be feeling right now?

Perhaps they should've stopped off in Bali instead. Some enterprising Dees fans worked out it would be cheaper to go to Perth via Bali than flying direct. So this would mean they would've spent up to 12 hours travelling to see a game that was pretty much over in 20 minutes. I love my team, but there's a reason I have Foxtel....

7. This will make many Collingwood folks happy, but I might've got my Tyson Goldsack call a bit wrong...

I will concede I think I now get why Goldsack was brought back. I still don't think he was fantastic against the Eagles, but it's what the other defenders are doing while he's there that has made me think outside the square and why, if the Pies go all the way, Bucks will be hailed as a genius for bringing this guy back well before expected. Langdon, Mayne, Maynard, Howe and co just seem to have one less thing to worry about and play with freedom.

On paper, with Riewoldt snagging 5, and Goldsack only with 8 touches, it looks like he got towelled up, until you then realise that Caddy, Castagna, Rioli and even Martin scored none. That said, Kennedy's in form so Goldy will be busy, but he's definitely the man for the job.

8. Beware of West Coast's forward 6. All of them scored and booted 15 goals between them.

Based on my previous point, the Collingwood defence might be able to reduce the effectiveness of this forward line next week, but it'll be harder than what they were dealing with against a lacklustre Richmond. That said, if they can keep them to 10 or less, they win.

9. It appears that the Melbourne Football Club hired the skills coach at Carlton for the first half.

I have never seen so many short handballs miss the target as what I did during the first half by Melbourne, and that's saying something, because I've watched every single Carlton game this year! The pressure got to them it seems.

10. Thankfully, with West Coast making the Grand Final, we only have to listen to one bunch of Victorian supporters whinging about not being able to get a ticket.

I'm always bemused by the constant stream of complaints by people who can't understand why 100,000 members all can't get a ticket. It's laughable. Unless they make a stadium that holds 300,000 fans, we'll always have this issue. And yet, next year, we'll hear it all again, and they'll be bitching about scalpers and the government will still be powerless to stop it. Get over it.

My tip for the Grand Final - A DRAW!! I have absolutely no idea.

My tip for the Norm Smith - Steele Sidebottom

Well done to Collingwood. Amazing effort. And people keep underestimating West Coast....

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