Cry “Havoc!”, and let slip the cats and dogs of war

Giovanni Torre Columnist

By , Giovanni Torre is a Roar Expert

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    Tipping may be a mug’s game, but there’s never been a more exciting time to be wrong about football.

    Prior to the first week of the finals I tipped Geelong by five points and Adelaide by 58 points. Not too shabby, but my other two tips were wildly inaccurate.

    And thank heavens my strike rate was only 50% and not 100. The win by the Western Bulldogs was contextually one of the most impressive performances I have ever seen.

    During the week, Luke Beveridge had looked like the misfortunes that plagued his charges had taken their toll. If he was quietly confident, the emphasis was on the quiet.

    The gap in form of the Eagles and the Dogs going into the game was matched only by the chasm between their records at Subiaco Oval. And yet, Bevo’s Bulldogs remembered ’89 and took the hapless Eagles to the cleaners.

    Even when the score was 2.0 to West Coast and 0.3 to the visitors, the writing was on the wall. Footscray’s tackling, chasing and smothering in the opening few minutes showed they wouldn’t let the Eagles have one easy possession, one pressure-free moment.

    If you want more detail about what makes the Dogs tick, here’s something I prepared earlier.

    To update – the Bulldogs’ ability to move the ball, to win the hard ball, and to squeeze opposition forward lines is equal to the best in the business.

    Hawthorn’s loss to Geelong was agonisingly narrow, but let’s get one thing straight here – the Cats were off the boil for portions of the game. As I have previously posited, the closeness of the competition – particularly among the top teams – is so intense that short lapses can prove very costly. Geelong had a couple of serious lapses against the Hawks, but were able to strike back decisively and hold their nerve for the win.

    Geelong Cats AFL Finals 2016

    In short, it was not one of Geelong’s best performances – but it was enough to beat the Hawks in a pressure cooker. This says plenty about where both teams are heading at the moment. On form, the Hawks are cactus. Bulldogs by 19 points.

    When Bevo’s Bulldogs euthanise Hawthorn, they will book a date with Greater Western Sydney in the land of the Giants. Long shot? So were the English-Welsh odds at Agincourt, but like Henry V, Bevo has inspired an almost fanatical level of devotion from his players.

    The Swans are in strife. Stunned by the magnitude of the loss to GWS and reeling from the injuries to Kurt Tippett and Callum Mills, Sydney will struggle to beat Adelaide – even at their postage stamp home ground.

    Finals mean pressure, and pressure means stoppages. Without Tippett around, big Crow Sam Jacobs will cause mayhem. The Crows should march into the prelim against Geelong. Adelaide by 22.

    Adelaide have not beaten Geelong in Victoria since 2003. Of course, the intervening Vic games have been played at Kardinia Park and not the MCG, but the Cats play the G fairly well.

    Henry Ford said history is bunk, but he was a complete prat and he also believed in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. History is not bunk, no more than jazz was a plot to destroy America.

    What we know about the history between Geelong and Adelaide is that the Crows have lost their last four to the Cats, including at Adelaide Oval this year.

    Geelong’s big defenders seem to be a good fit for the Crows’ forwards. Eddie Betts may be a genius, but if supply is reduced by midfield pressure (see: Selwood, Selwood, Guthrie and Dangerfield) and Betts is the only Crow able to hit the board – they won’t score enough to win.

    And so, despite having hitherto anticipated otherwise, I hold that the Western Bulldogs will face Geelong in the grand final. After that, anything is possible.

    What a time to be alive!