Our experts debate all the hot topics and burning questions as we head into the second week of the 2020 AFL finals series.
Was Chris Scott right to label Geelong's critics 'lazy'?
Niall Seewang: Another Geelong finals loss, another chance to grab the popcorn and watch Scott get overly defensive about this, that and everything. It is entertaining but I think he missed the mark in his post-match press conference ... the facts are there for all to see that teams under his guidance more often than not struggle in finals. That being said, he did make some pertinent points, none more so that regularly playing finals is a position a lot of clubs would be jealous of.
Jake Michaels: He's a prickly and intimidating character, Scott, and it's not the first time we've seen him take a swipe at the media during a press conference, but he's probably got a point here. The Cats played the top of the table team, on their home deck, with fans allowed into the ground and lost by just 16 points. If Tom Hawkins kicks straight, they probably win through to a preliminary final. Still, if Geelong lose to Collingwood this week, you can bet he'll be getting the same treatment from the media.
Matt Walsh: You almost need to let coaches sleep on the result of the game and face the media the next day if you want to get frank and measured assessments - especially from a character like Scott. He's a tad dismissive when he gets asked an uncomfortable question. I'd rather he just answer them than give his opinion on the question itself.
Jesse Robinson: Scott is never one to take a backwards step and he was always going to defend himself and his team after a stinging finals loss they probably didn't see coming. The critique is somewhat lazy if you are continually asking "why are the Cats struggling in finals?" but if you look a bit deeper, there clearly needs to be something addressed by Scott in relation to Geelong's poor form coming off a bye and a 25 percent winning record in finals. At this point, it seems only a flag can put those criticisms to bed.
Did the Pies prioritise the wrong contract by signing Grundy?
NS: Nope. He's a gun, plan and simple, although there's no denying he's had a down year by his standards. With free agency looming at the end of 2020, the Pies did what they needed to do to secure one of the game's elite players, signing him on a seven-year deal worth approximately $AU7 million. He'll bounce back in time, possibly as early as Saturday night against the Cats.
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JM: It's probably easy to raise this question now Grundy is down on form, but at the time the contract was put in front of him there was no question who Collingwood's most valuable and important player was. If he bounces back in 2021, everyone will say the Pies made the right call. I expect that to happen.
MW: Jake is spot on - no one was complaining when the deal came through. All players have down patches, and to do it in a year where Grundy wouldn't have been home for months and is living out of a suitcase is, well, fair enough! I'll back him to bounce back.
JR: Grundy has had a slower season by his standards but, like many things in 2020, no one could've seen this coming. It would've been ludicrous to gamble on his contract after the level of play he had displayed over the past few seasons. There's plenty of time to re-evaluate this one, but I think most clubs would be happy to pay whatever Collingwood are for Grundy at the moment.
Did Ben Long deserve a week's suspension?
NS: In isolation, yes. He chose to bump and clipped Jack Macrae high, and although the Bulldog played out the game, there was a high chance of the bump causing serious injury. It seems more weight was placed on Long's action, rather than the outcome, which I support in theory. But (and this is a big but!) this flies in the face of almost every MRO decision all year, which put far more weighting on the outcome! The inconsistency is maddening.
JM: Yeah, I think he did. It's about time the AFL graded the action and not the outcome - the problem is, they never alerted anyone to the fact that's what they're doing. Perhaps they don't even know! Still, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I'd bet my last dollar Patrick Dangerfield or Dustin Martin wouldn't be missing a final for the exact same action and outcome.
MW: When you look at Shaun Burgoyne getting away with two sling tackles because the outcome wasn't severe enough, and then at long who gets a week after Macrae bounces straight back up after his bump, you can see why the Saints are appealing. Are we suspending the action or the outcome? Pick one, AFL, and stick to it. He's stiff given the precedence, but logically deserved a week.
JR: It's always tough to see a player miss a final through suspension but this hit meets all the criteria for a suspension. There will be plenty of debate but the message is simple, you can't make contact with the head. Just go for the tackle next time.
What letter grade would you give the Eagles and Dogs?
NS: For West Coast, it'd be a D. That may appear harsh for a team that played finals but it's not unfair to suggest their passmark should have been a prelim final - or better. They've got a very mature list, added Tim Kelly in the offseason and should have gone deeper into October. Similarly, I look at the Dogs' season as a failure. My expectations for them weren't quite as high, so I give them a D+.
JM: I'm giving the Eagles an F. They were the flag favourites in many eyes after the off-season addition of Tim Kelly and yet failed to make the top four or win a final. Adam Simpson's side we're beyond poor when away from Perth and never really looked like a genuine flag threat. I was more impressed with the Dogs' season. The midfield continues to grow, but the Josh Bruce addition to the forward line didn't work at all. I'll say B.
MW: The Eagles get a D and the Dogs a C. I had the Dogs as a smokey to challenge for the top four. They didn't do that, but made finals and lost by less than a kick. They'll get better, particularly if they can add some ruck depth and a key forward. The Eagles ... man, what a wasted opportunity. The only way it could be worse would be if the Grand Final was slated to be held in Perth and they were out of the running!
JR: The Eagles are a C. Should've done more, plenty of real home games, a fit forward line and the addition of Tim Kelly all should've propelled them forward this season, but they were held back by the obvious uncertainty of 2020 and a raft of injuries to their midfield stocks. Any time you play finals, it's not a bad season but they'll feel it got away from them a bit. The Dogs, while they were a bit of a surprise, will also feel like this season slipped away from them somewhat. Still, their list remains young and talented, if they stop losing games they have no right to lose, they'll become a very scary club to face. C+ for the Dogs.