Time on – finals week 3


Collingwood 10.8 (68) def. Hawthorn 9.11 (65)

Geelong 17.15 (117) def. West Coast Eagles 10.9 (69)


1. Another finals series to remember

Bruising, committed, mistakes, heroes, individualism, team ethic, resilience, noise, passion, intensity and pressure are among the words to describe the finals series of 2011. A couple finals in particular stand out, Carlton-West Coast and Collingwood-Hawthorn. Those two games fit into the category of the great finals games of years gone by. In no particular order, the 2010 GF draw, the 2005-06 GF’s, 1999 preliminary final and the 2001-2003 GF’s. These games is one of the many reasons that makes our game so great.

2. Nic Naitanui

All from the same draft, Naitanui, Watts and Hurley – who do you pick? Melbourne and Essendon are adamant their selected talls in the first round of that draft will become very good players for their footy club but gee, you have to stop and wonder if they could’ve had Nic Nat. The Dees could’ve but passed on him for Watts, but he was no chance for the Bombers having being picked before their selection. All will be outstanding players but for mine, can’t go past Naitanui. His tap work is first rate, his follow up work is as good as an extra midfielder and he kicks goals. The great thing about this talented tall is that he doesn’t need many possessions to impose himself on a game. Football experts have already predicted Naitanui will be a star of our game and win a couple Brownlow Medals as his career unfolds. I’d have to agree.

3. Dale Thomas

Has developed into a very good footballer after being what I call a “one-trick pony” across half-forward in his early days. Now a complete midfielder who has found the right balance between winning the football inside and outside of the contest, as well as his versatility to go forward and kick goals. Came straight back in the team to face Hawthorn on Friday night after a 3 week absence due to suspension. Despite being quiet for the first three quarters, his efforts in the last quarter were game-defining. A smother after the bounce was crucial, but his run-down tackle of Cyril Rioli in the final minute was a match-saving one. He finished with a game-high 9 tackles and I get the impression he’s set for a big Grand Final on Saturday, and boy, the Magpies will need him at his best to overcome the Cats.


1. Poor performing Pies

One thing that made Collingwood’s win against Hawthorn on Friday night even more astounding was poor performances from the likes of Leigh Brown, Dayne Beams and Alan Didak. Three proven match winners at their best but three who failed to fire a shot against the Hawks. Brown will retire immediately after Saturday’s Grand Final, Beams has had better games but has upside given his youth and will continue to develop as a footballer, but most disappointing of all was the sub, Didak, an experienced campaigner with plenty of ability to turn a game. This must be a concern for the Pies. Didak can’t be the sub on Saturday and must be in the starting 18, while Mick Malthouse needs to select a player who can be
effective once they activate their sub.

2. No energy for too many Eagles

Games on the big stage in typical finals intensity got both Hawthorn and the West Coast Eagles on the weekend. Alastair Clarkson was furious with his Hawks, while John Worsfold praised his young Eagles for their efforts this season, two vastly different mindsets and evaluations. The
lack of intensity was clearly evident in their poor performance against the experienced Cats, and perhaps the finger should be pointed at particular players who were very poor on Saturday.

Andrew Embley, Mark LeCras, Mark Nicoski, Quentin Lynch, Chris Masten and Luke Shuey had minimal impact, while rumours continued to surface the fitness of Daniel Kerr and Dean Cox, both who were well below their best and probably shouldn’t have played. That proves my next point that playing underdone men in finals never works in your favour.

3. Severe knees

We have seen shocking knee injuries in our game over the years and mercurial Cat Steve Johnson added to that list when his knee buckled, just as the Cats were on a roll on Saturday. Jaymie Graham’s knee in the WAFL was the worst I’ve seen, add to that former Sydney star Daryn Creswell banging his dislocated kneecap back in, former Melbourne champion David Schwarz did his knee three times, and not to mention other stars of our game – Richmond’s Matthew Richardson and Carlton’s Anthony Koutoufides. A sickening sight no footy fan wants to ever see.



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