AND then there were four.

Two redemption stories, a minor premier seeking validation and an underdog looking for quality over quantity

Richmond were fantastic in 2017 and arguably looked better the following year. A grand an opportunity to go back to back you’d never see yet in the penultimate weekend they stuffed it. Tipping they’re still dirty.

Collingwood, the winners that night a year ago, came from nowhere to lose agonisingly a week later. Tipping they’re dirty on that still too.

Geelong has a monkey on its back the size of Naomi Watts’ co-star in that 2005 film set in Skull Island. The minor premier yet not rated a legitimate flag chance. They’d be dirty on that.

And lastly the Giants. Third prelim in four seasons, no-one has put together a more consistent body of finals work without tasting ultimate success. They’d be dirty they haven’t converted a golden opportunity yet.

Lot of get-even stories going on, three will go unsatisfied, yet one will succeed and nothing will taste sweeter.

1. Start with Toby Greene – still don’t get it. Last week, Bont, that was either a free-kick at most or a couple weeks for doing something properly grubby and in need of a spell. A contrived outcome later and he plays last week, instrumental in their win. Given the margin you could say he misses through suspension it’s a Brisbane win. Now, he gets a week and its upheld, but on the vision available the Bont incident looks worse. Don’t get it.

2. Theory – Michael Christian wanted to see Greene go to the Tribunal last week on a serious charge where the Tribunal could come to its own conclusion, away from the constraints of the matrix Christian uses, and the Giant gets a suspension through that channel. It didn’t work, an agreed guilty-verdict into fine-only eventuated and the Christian plan failed. So this week, to avoid that happening again, he gave the suspension up front so Greene would have to work down from a week instead of the Tribunal working it out from scratch.

3. As of writing this his suspension has been upheld but surely the Giants appeal on Thursday. Costs them $5,000, it’s a free hit, and given the size of the task Saturday afternoon and how important he is to them, they’d be mad not too. I expect them too, and in reality, it’s a 50-50 to be a success such is the crazy case it is.

4. It’s an impressive four-year block for the Giants after that win last Saturday. Lost that epic prelim by a kick to the Dogs three years ago, were really in that prelim against the Tigers the year after a long way in, remembering they didn’t have Dylan Shiel for three quarters, and once again into a prelim this year. Leon Cameron has his detractors but they say winning a flag doesn’t just take planning and talent but a little luck as well. Given he continually gets this far, maybe that last ingredient is all they’re missing?

5. Last one on GWS, from a league perspective it was actually encouraging to see that the left of screen displayed decent Giants coverage in the crowd in Brisbane Saturday night. Not a massive contingent but hardly the token couple-dozen of the early years, there was something half-decent for what is still a club shy of ten years old representing what is otherwise rugby and soccer heartland. Encouraging.

6. Right, Brisbane. Told you so. This is a team who had zero injuries until Mitch Robinson and a draw softer than the Russians paid for at least year’s World Cup, so straight sets doesn’t surprise one bit. This is not a top four team, it’s probably a sixth to eighth team at best. Straight sets dot com, doesn’t surprise this column one iota.

7. Luke Hodge though, what a jet, enormous career, huge for the Lions the last two years too, and we just love the look of Jarryd Lyons motioning to the two-time Normie winner for a chair off and the Colac product in body language alone gave it the “nah mate, cheers”. Love that. Well done Hodgey, certainty for a Hall of Fame Legend status at some point you’d think, with that resume.

8. How was the Sam Reid ‘George Gregan’ impersonation on the game-winning-goal? Three or so posessions before the jockey Brent Daniels cheeky checkside, pretty sure it was Reid who dished the ball out like he was given a freshly-baked jacket potato unawares, very quick hands but by the letter of the law incredibly illegal. Umpy was never going to see it but gee, if only he could, would have paid a forward pass for sure.

9. Speaking of umpiring, that spirit of the game free kick nonsense with Adam Kennedy and Charlie Cameron. My Lord. I hope the umpire mistakenly meant the stuff about constant niggle where a free is awarded if its just too much. But otherwise, under the letter of the law, Cameron coming back on was not injured. Play on. Ridiculous.

10. So umpiring, was a shocker this weekend. Match Review and Tribunal not good either. Who is responsible for that? Old Steve “having a shocker” Hocking. My mate is just enduring the nightmare to end all nightmares. Rules, done nothing, scoring, down, I can’t see any portfolio he looks after better than this time last year. Lift Steve.

11. Oh, and whilst we need to whack some folks – how about all that fuss about Mark Blicavs out of defence against the Pies and it cost them the game. They brought Rhys Stanley back in and where did the Blitz play most of his footy in the first half, a first half where the Cats played well? On the wing! David King was the main culprit. So we know not to ask him about the Geelong backline like we don’t ask him to be designated driver. Low blow, but he doesn’t read this, too busy with the behind the goals vision looking for Blicavs on Kennedy or Darling. He’ll be a while.

12. So this week, what we got. Richmond playing a better Geelong but without Hawkins. Anyone see that going any other way than a Tigs win? Didn’t think so. Surely last year’s cock up doesn’t repeat. So one inner-suburban army of hundreds of thousands will bombard all of us in Grand Final week.

13. Then, the day after, weather-pending the greatest collection of Collingwood supporters in one place ever since Pentridge hit capacity once back in the late 80s, hosting a GWS who have been tough for two good weeks but can they go again? The Pies might like the wetter conditions, the mosquito fleet up forward and a classy onball brigade. So we might end up with another huge inner-suburban army up and about in Grand Final week. Giants are in decent nick but, very decent nick.

14. Good to see the Gulls make the VFL Grandma this weekend. Not just coz we like Willy almost as much as Liz Taylor, but because if it had been Richmond reserves versus Essendon reserves it would have been mega scratchy. Let’s just call the VFL for what it is, what used to be the well-respected VFA is now just the AFL Reserves comp with appearances by Port Melbourne and Williamstown. It’s a magoos competition and this Sunday one club will be caring more about the GF the Saturday after, the other will be hellbent on winning so they can secure a local real estate agent as a sponsor the year after to pay for the club jumpers.

15. Jordan De Goey, oh, not worth the risk, he has only played ten seconds of footy in seemingly eight months and is made of tissue paper and is missing a limb and has Rickett’s. One thing though, aside from the German witchcraft and the fact he will have 22 days between the first final and a potential Granny – he hurt his hammy against Geelong in the opening two minutes but ran out, to little impact granted, most of the first half before heading for the tracksuit. No gratuitous stride out where the back door comes off the hinge and there’s the full dramatic hobble off the ground like you’ve got a bad case of pins and needles. Sure, he has a bad history, but this was not your typical tear. If the Pies win, I think he is a certainty to play Grand Final day.

16. Ashes, all done. But please, Timothy. If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times: if you win the toss, nine times out of ten you bat first. On the tenth time you think about bowling, but you bat first. We lost the fifth test at the toss.

17. Davey Warner. Couldn’t middle shit. You know you’re going busted when Stuart Broad gets you LB and doesn’t even bother turning around to appeal, he goes immediately from delivery stride into celebrating to gully. Was his brand new baby daughter on the eve of the Ashes a distraction enough? Perhaps. Was it just one bowler having him by the pills and otherwise, if Broad wasn’t playing he could have averaged say, 40? Possibly. Or, he averages 59 in Australia but averages less than 34 overseas. That’s telling. Remember, Steve Waugh and Allan Border, proper batsmen who don’t mind if your TV is an OLED TV or something from ALDI, they actually averaged higher overseas than at home. Proper batsmen.

18. We need to find a new opening pair asap. Not bothered by playing Warner again, because if we do he’ll score a mount of runs against Pakistan and New Zealand on home conditions, but all it does is delay finding his successor for when we need to win tours, I dunno, in India, or England, or anywhere not at the SCG basically.

19. Cam Bancroft, only averaged 11 from his two tests, sure, but gee, they swiftly moved him on because he was so bad, he was bringing such bad cricket juju to the place they brought in Marcus Harris who went on to average 60. No. That’s not right. Harris averaged 9 from his three tests.  Brilliant. Harris is now averaging 24 from 9 tests. Bancroft has 10 tests @ 26. Semantics perhaps but I’d be picking the sander before the Victorian first come the summer. But we have four Shield matches before the Gabba, I want to see Matty Renshaw ton up, get into the test team again and stick.

20. And I love this, Steve Smith, missed a test and an innings but still amassed 333 runs more than the next best for most runs in the series. That man is a freak.

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