Forget victory margins and focus on the great season

Pat Hornidge Roar Rookie

By Pat Hornidge, Pat Hornidge is a Roar Rookie


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    As with all articles this week, this one must also start with congratulations to Richmond.

    They put themselves in the position they needed to be to be in the grand final and then stood up when it was most important.

    No one can say they are not deserved premiers, or that their story is not compelling.

    From reading comments online though, it appears that many people do not regard the final series itself as compelling.

    Only two games were decided by under 40 points (although the West Coast – Port Adelaide final was an instant classic) and most were basically over by halftime.

    But why in this most even of seasons were the finals so uneven and the margins so large, and does it really matter?

    On the face of it, having large margins in finals is not a good outcome for the competition. It makes people turn off their TVs sooner and gives less interest to the games themselves.

    But the interesting thing is that the blowouts in finals were not expected, or at least not expected by the teams that emerged victorious.

    And some of the more compelling games in the regular season were blowouts – think about both Melbourne’s and North Melbourne’s demolition of the Crows, or St Kilda’s victory over Richmond.

    A large margin does not make a boring or bad game, just as a close margin does not ensure a good one.

    But finals aren’t necessarily expected to be good or skillful games. The extra pressure on players usually ensures that they are not the best games to watch as a neutral; it’s the occasion that makes the grand final a ‘good’ and must watch game – not the skills on display.

    One of the most remarkable things about this finals series, and something that it had in common with the regular season, was that the the overwhelming favourites lost.

    Geelong vs Sydney is an example of this.

    In Round 20, just a few weeks before the finals, Sydney got over Geelong by 46 points – in Geelong, a place where the Cats still play their best football.

    Sydney Swans Geelong Cats AFL Finals 2016

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Cut forward to the semi-finals, and Geelong has come off a heavy loss to Richmond, while Sydney is on a roll having defeated Essendon by 11 goals.

    Naturally, Sydney started as massive favourites.

    But by the end of the night, it was Geelong victorious by 61 points, a 107 point turnaround since their last meeting.

    A similar thing happened in the grand final itself, where Richmond turned a 76 point defeat in Round six into a 48 point Premiership Victory.

    It, therefore, seems that rather than the finals series being completely different to the regular season, it was merely a continuation of the same topsy-turvyness that we came to expect this year.

    The 2017 season will be remembered for its closeness, both in results and in ladder position.

    In the final round, 11 teams were still fighting for eight positions, and the final eight was not decided until the final minutes of the final match. The finals seemed different, but they tell the same story.

    On any day most teams could beat most other teams, and it could be close or it could be a blowout. It was all part of the unpredictability of this memorable season. The

    Finals were a fitting conclusion.

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