This contribution is from a previous guest blogger, The Kosak (an unabashed Pies supporter):
Wow, a big week of finals, probably the biggest first week in quite a while. Three great games and a blowout on Sunday.
I'll go through them in order.
Cats v Hawks
Cats went in favourites and duly delivered the goods in the most convincing win of their 7 game streak against the hawks. On paper the team looked over tall but thanks to Ottens and the midfield dominance, the undersized hawks defence was exposed and exposed badly. None more so than Ryan Schoenclangers. Poor Clangers well and truly lived up to his name, conceding goals to whichever forward Geelong rotated through him and kicking some trademark OOBotF. Fortunately for the hawks, Stratton had a very good game in the VFL reserves and would have to be a sure thing to come in next week.
I think Tom Hawkins reads your blog because I have never seen him so fired up, angry and effective. Surely that was a one off, however, and he will return to his normal spuddish service next game. Cats supporters in the know have suggested that he loves the wet, however, so maybe it was the conditions that allowed him to be decent.
Ottens was damn near BOG. Monstered both hawks rucks and gave silver service to the Geelong mids all night, then pushed forward and was a presence in the goal square. After an injury riddled couple of years he has reminded the comp why he was considered one of the best.
For the hawks there weren't enough to stand and be counted in difficult conditions. To the point where I heard some bronx cheers from the hawks when Rioli picked up some touches late in the game. Hodge is one who can be proud. Kicked 2 goals in the third and tried to will his team over the line but couldn't do it alone. Lewis and Sewell battled hard and Isaac Smith had a torrid time of it but will be better for the experience.
Franklin was the only key forward on the weekend to kick 4 goals, and he didn't even play the full game. Great effort by him. The knee injury didn't look great on TV but by all accounts not a long term injury. Having said that, I'd be surprised if he came back this finals series. Bone bruising is very painful and takes a long time to recover from.
I will say this. NO team would have beaten the Cats on Friday night. Even their spuds played great and plodders like Josh Hunt played above themselves. They were in awesome form and are now deserving favourites to take the flag. Had the pies played them it would not have been pretty.
Pies v Eagles
My quiet confidence took a nasty plunge when Ben Reid was a late omission. Suddenly the pies were looking at a scenario very similar to what the hawks faced on Friday. At the opening bounce the pies had the following matchup in defence. Tarrant to Kennedy, Heath Shaw to Darling, Toovey! to Lynch, Obrien to Lecras, Maxwell to the resting ruck (generally Nic Nat). The pies were conceding a lot of centimetres and in the first quarter especially they were put under tremendous pressure. Did well to limit the damage to only an 8 point deficit. After that, the pies midfield asserted itself and the game looked safe until the West Coast surged in the last. A very nervous final quarter, let me tell you, especially with two very gettable set shots being missed by Shuey and I think Selwood.
Luckily the pies were able to dig deep, tie up the free flowing ball and then eventually kick the final two goals to finish with a 20 point margin that was a touch flattering to them.
So a tough win and I'm left wondering if the pies are papering over cracks or whether the week off will give a chance to regroup (with hopefully Reid and Thomas back in) and play their best football.
WC should bounce back and beat Carlton. I hope so, anyway. Their defence was excellent (Cloke and Dawes well beaten) their midfield was out classed but fought hard, their rucks were unlucky with injury and the forwardline struggled against the best defence in the league.
Definitely a game that was won thanks to the pies back 6. Toovey held a much larger opponent in Lynch to 1 goal (lynch kicked 3 but two of those while rucking and not directly opposed to Tooves). Maxwell came back from his broken thumb and played his best game of the season. Davis, O'Brien and Shaw just tore it up all game. All had 30+ possession games and trounced their direct opponents.
So Neon breaks the September MIA tag and does it in style. Damn near the best player on the ground.
On the rucks. Cox and Natanui clearly had the best of Jolly and Brown, but the pies rucks were able to be competitive enough to let the pies superior midfield dominate. Cox went off in the 3rd, but the pies had already established dominance in the middle by then. Interesting stat. Jolly lost the hit outs to Nic Nat by a big margin but in hit outs to advantage he was at 42% while Nic Nat was 13%. E.g. Jolly got beaten overall but got more taps to his team mates advantage.
Swans v Saints
Saints are shit, and now bundled out. What a joke of a club. Announced the retirmennt of 4 players only for two of them to tweet they hadn't retired (Eddie and Baker). In other words they were delisted (fair enough, they are spuds) but the club tried to pretend it was voluntary. Pathetic culture. Surely Lyon will jump ship?
Blues v Dons
Carlton destroyed the Bummers. *sigh*. I will give it to the baggers, they finished 5th, but when it comes to smashing under strength teams by huge margins they are a top 3 team.
Carlton winning means they re-sign Ratts. LOL!
So looking forwards.
WC to beat Carlton and beat them well.
Hawks to beat the plucky swans. They will do it without Buddy, but that might be a good thing. They need to become less predictable and find some more forwards. One thing I noticed on Friday was there just didn't seem to be anyone other than Buddy who looked like kicking a goal. Stratton will come in, and could Clangers move into the forwardline? Or maybe Lisle.