'PIES vs CATS
Everyone seems to be crapping on that this is the real Grand Final but the fact is, the Saints have already pissed all over that idea. This is a tough one to pick...I tossed a coin on it but the coin seems to have vanished:
We know that Collingwood can definitely beat Geelong but with the Minor Premiership under their belts, and with the burden of Collingwood bogans the land over talking Premiership between their rolly-smoker-stained gap-teeth, the pressure is all on the 'Pies. The Cats have been there and done that so we can expect them to be settled early on. We don't quite know what we're going to get from the Collingwood players; will they come out firing or will they be thinking about how long it's been since they won a Premiership and what a wasted opportunity this would be? I am going to tip the 'Pies on the basis that they'll start well, that the Cats will hang around for much of the game, with Collingwood finishing them off in another big last quarter. Pretty much like the last time they played. I just don't like the fact that Geelong tuned up for their biggest match of the year against a timid and awe-struck Dockers. Seriously, I stopped watching that game after 5 minutes, such was it's sheer pointlessness. So Collingwood to go through to another Grand Final...
SAINTS vs BULLDOGS
The Dogs actually showed some fight last week in front of Julia Gillard (their no. 1 ticketholder) after looking like they were going to limp out of the finals yet again. Perhaps they've turned it around...but St. Kilda for much of the game against Geelong looked fantastic, as good as they looked last year. Riewoldt is starting to look very menacing and the delivery to their forward line in the first half especially of that game was superb. The Dogs will not be able to handle the Saints if they find that sort of form despite having the Prime Minister in the crowd with a Bulldogs scarf on:
We'll see plenty of Julia Gillard during the coverage, maybe even a bit of Barry Hall. I think Riewoldt is playing too...but Julia Gillard is a huge Bulldogs fan in case you didn't know...
Their only hope is that the bad Saints turn up, like they did numerous times during an inconsistent regular season. I have to go with St. Kilda, and if the Dogs are slow out of the stalls, it will be by plenty. Julia Gillard will be there, don't worry, you won't miss her, the cameras will find her...
RAIDERS vs TIGERS
The Green Machine just keeps rolling on with 9 wins out of their last 10, and now a home final against a likely demoralised Tigers. Positive momentum at this time of year is hard to stop, and negative momentum is even harder to turn around. If Benji Marshall doesn't play, the Tigers are a goner; when he went out of the game last week, there was just too much pressure on young halfback Robert Lui. Even if he plays, it may not be enough to stop the Raiders juggernaut which is clicking on all facets of the game at the moment. Shillington and Learoyd-Lahrs have been absolute monsters up the middle of late, Campese has been a composed/clever/cranky/clinical captain at five eighth, and Josh Dugan, give that man an Origin jersey next year...or I suppose you could give it to Kurt Gidley instead.....fucking 'tards...But next year's possible Origin selection balls-ups to one side, last week's game between the Roosters and Tigers was just an epic battle. The high of winning a game like that can spur a team on past any possible tiredness factor...but losing a game like that couldn't be more deflating. I expect the Tigers to put up a brave fight early but you've just got to go the Raiders here:
ROOSTERS vs PANTHERS
Much more than that, this is the Captain's Roosters vs the Professor's Panthers! At 15-14 to the Tigers, 20 odd seconds on the clock and a Wests Tigers scrum feed, I was a shattered man last Saturday. Sensing a Raiders upset of the Panthers, I feared the worst. Here's what I was thinking: "Fuck. Season over. Sure they'll be a good chance next year, but you never know for sure when you'll get another shot. Fuck! But wait...what's this?!? A scrum against the feed?!? WTF?!?! Surely the ref will call this back. Real scrums aren't allowed anymore. He's letting it go??? He's letting it go!!! Set up for the field goal! No time...snap it! Fucking snap it! YEEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!". And so it was, after showing that we're totally incapable of setting up properly for a field goal in extra time, the Miracle At The SFS was completed with an SK-D intercept and I went off! Now instead of Mad Monday, the boys have a home final against a Panthers team who've struggled for consistent form of late. They do however welcome back Civoniceva and he will make a huge difference. Without big Petero they look somewhat lost...when he's on the field the Panthers seem calmer and more organised. The Roosters will also have to cope with the after-effects of the 100 min marathon which was the Miracle At The SFS. I just think that the euphoria of last week will spur the Roosters on to bigger things, like a Preliminary Final against the Titans. The Panthers are a chance with such a dangerous attack, but defensively they've been pretty sloppy over the last 8 weeks or so. The Roosters defense was monumental against the Tigers. The biggest factor of all at this time of year is momentum. The Roosters have it. Roosters win.