Crikey’s AFL Hot Form Chart

For most, it is the grand final we had to have. From early days, St Kilda and Geelong looked a cut above the rest and, despite the odd creased brow on coaches Lyon and Thompson, that is exactly how the season panned out.

Never before have the two teams competing in the grand final both won at least 20 games. In any other year, the Saints would be raging favourites but the nail biting nature of their prelim final and the pedigree of their opposition have most favouring the Cats.

It will only take one quarter of the ant army at their marauding best for everyone to recover from their football amnesia, but will a Geelong team itching to secure a special place in history allow it?

Here is how Crikey’s Hot Form Chart sees it:

St Kilda Team Geelong
L-L-W-W-W Last 5 games L-W-W-W-W
L-L-L-L-W Last 5 head to head W-W-W-W-L
W-L-W-W-W Last five at venue W-W-L-W-W
97.4 Av. pts for 105.3
63.1 Av. pts against 80.9
$2.40 TAB Sportsbet odds $1.58
Nick Dal Santo, first goal, $26 Value GF bet Corey Enright, Norm Smith Medal, $17

The three keys for St Kilda:

  1. The ruck. Experienced big men Gardiner and King loom large for the Saints. If they can dominate, not only will it assist the midfield in their battle with the supreme Geelong onballers, but it will also force Brad Ottens to play more on the ball and less in the forward line where he looms as a dangerous prospect.
  2. Game plan. The Saints played conservative, hesitant football against the Bulldogs and almost paid the price. While clogging Geelong’s ability to rack up their usual amount of possessions will be paramount, St Kilda will need to be more adventurous in order to kick a winning score.
  3. The big blond bloke. There’s no escaping it, Nick Riewoldt is the man of the moment and is probably the most critical player from either side. If he gets his hands on the footy early, Geelong’s defence may be disrupted which could open up opportunities for others inside-50m. Harry Taylor will be the man trying to stop him.

The three keys for Geelong:

  1. Matthew Scarlett. In so many ways, the key to Geelong. His set-up from the back half is crucial to how the Cats play the game and that makes Koschitzke’s game equally as important, with the big Saint hoping to keep Scarlett too busy to play his normal influential role.
  2. Paul Chapman. The hardest man to match up on in either side, Chapman is capable of killing an opposition with a mountain of midfield possession or going forward to play his hand as a match-winning forward. Sam Gilbert is likely to get the job on Chapman when he is forward and it will be one of the contests that will shape the result.
  3. Gary Ablett. The biggest star in the game has freakish ability and a work-rate to match. Half a quarter of Ablett magic could turn the game making him the number one target for Saints’ super-stopper Clint Jones.

The prediction: The St Kilda of the first half of the season has waned but the ant army is still mighty hard to beat. They have lost just two of 24 games, and those by less than a kick. Unfortunately, the Saints have also lost their ability to compile quick points. In round 14, they had piled on five goals before Geelong knew what had hit it. That won’t happen again and, with all the stars in alignment for the Cats, they look to have too much depth for St Kilda to stifle.

Geelong by 14 points.

Crikey’s NRL Hot Form Chart

The NRL season has thrown up surprises more often than David Fa’alogo has thrown a straight left. Will the pattern continue? The Hot Form Chart is here to help.

Bulldogs Team Parramatta
W-W-L-W-W Last 5 games W-W-L-W-W
L-L-L-W-L Last 5 head to head W-W-W-L-W
W-W-W-W-W Last five at venue L-W-L-D-W
24 Av. pts for 20.3
17.6 Av. pts against 18.7
$1.90 TAB Sportsbet odds $1.90

The three keys:

  1. Jarryd Hayne. There is no sidestepping it, the Eels’ No.1 is the man of the moment and will bend, if not break apart, this match. Parramatta has been at pains to talk up the team this week but if the Dogs can stop the amazing Hayne — or at least curb his influence — they will have one foot in the decider.
  2. Brett Kimmorley. The Bulldogs’ half is the next most critical man on the field. He must direct his team with precision in attack and vary his kicking game in an effort to take Hayne out of the action. Kimmorley is capable of doing both and, if he delivers, will take the Dogs into a grand final.
  3. He who ignores the past … Parramatta match up well with the Dogs, and have beaten them four out of the last five occasions including a 27-8 touch-up in round 20. The Bulldogs have been the model of consistency this season but if the Eels play up to recent form, they seem destined to score more points. And as the sharp-eyed would have noticed, the team that scores more points generally wins.

Prediction: Parramatta by 4 points

Melbourne Team Brisbane
L-W-W-W-W Last 5 games W-W-W-W-W
W-W-W-L-W Last 5 head to head L-L-L-W-L
21.8 Av. pts for 22.1
14.4 Av. pts against 23.3
$1.38 TAB Sportsbet odds $3.00

The three keys:

  1. The halves. The Broncos will line up with a veteran and a rookie at 7 and 6, while the Storm have the more settled Cronk-Finch combination. On paper, it is advantage Melbourne with young Broncos halfback Alex Glenn sure to be under immense pressure. Brisbane needs to try and break even here to be in with a yelp.
  2. Star power. The Storm has Smith, Inglis and Slater, the Broncs boast Folau, Lockyer, Hunt and Hodges. A match-winner looms in this group; it’s just a matter of which colours he is wearing. Inglis is a cut above everybody when on song so he could be the man.
  3. The Storm’s rediscovered scoring power. Not so long ago, Melbourne was playing the most boring football in the competition and looked incapable of scoring a try. But the beast has now awoken and not a moment too soon. It makes the Storm a mighty tough assignment and explains why they are now the premiership favourites.

Prediction: Melbourne by 12 points

Crikey’s Hot Form Tips for finals, round 3 are:

  • Parramatta
  • Melbourne

Last week: 2/2

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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