Pain’s Talking Points – Round 23
1. The finals are set
Adelaide’s 29-point loss to West Coast and Hawthorn’s one-point win over Collingwood in Round 23 confirmed the finals match-ups.
In the qualifying finals, ladder leaders Sydney will face GWS, who will be making their first appearance in its four-year existence, while Geelong will host the three-time reigning premiers Hawthorn at the MCG.
In the two elimination finals, Adelaide will host North Melbourne after its fall from second to fifth, and West Coast will battle the Western Bulldogs.
The Dogs have arguably the toughest task of any side in the first week, as the final will be the second time in three weeks they’ll have to travel to Perth following its 20-point loss to Fremantle in Round 23.
2. Nick Riewoldt is a star
In a game that meant nothing except for whether Brisbane finished in second last position or as the wooden spooners, the Saints could have been excused for not showing 100 per cent intensity over four quarters.
Nine goals from Nick Riewoldt and a 58-point win later, the Saints put those fears to rest.
The story of the game was Riewoldt’s massive goal haul, however, as he equalled his career high for majors in one game.
His 26 disposals and 21 marks show that Roo’s best is still elite, that he can help lead the Saints to a potential finals birth next season and help bridge the gap between St. Kilda’s veterans and up and coming stars.
3. Paul Roos’ sad end
Despite being eliminated from finals contention following a Round 22 loss to Carlton, Melbourne travelled to Geelong in what was coach Paul Roos’ last match as an AFL coach.
It resembled a horror movie rather than a swan song, as the Demons were belted by the Cats to the tune of 111-points.
Roos’ tenure has revitalised the club and its fans after such a long period with heavy losses and a uncertain future, but the loss was a sad way to farewell one of the game’s greatest coaches.
The final margin was Roo’s biggest ever defeat as a coach, not the way a man of his statue should be saluted.
4. You’re fired
Justin Leppitsch was relieved of his coaching duties the day after Brisbane’s final game of the 2016 season.
In his three years as head of the Lions, Leppitsch went just 14-52 in 66 matches.
Despite repeating throughout the season that his job was not to win games, and that “it’s going to take years” for the club to rebuild, he was let go with a year remaining on his contract.
Brisbane will look for a third senior coach since 2013 in an effort to help its climb from the bottom of the ladder.
5. The bye
The AFL implemented a week-long bye between the end of Round 23 and the start of the finals campaign in late 2015.
Its reasoning was so that “clubs playing in September can have the best possible lead-in and preparation” for their finals matches.
How the bye effects those clubs in finals will now play out, as there will be no football for 11 days between the end of Round 23 and the first elimination final between West Coast and the Bulldogs.
If there is better football played then fans will be happy with the bye, but if that fails to be the case, expect the AFL to act quickly and change the end of season format once again.