The following is a preview with betting tips for the Grand Final of the 2018 AFL season, in which West Coast take on Collingwood.
Saturday, September 29
West Coast vs Collingwood
2:30 pm AEST, MCG
The Pies put in one of the season’s best performances to upset the overwhelming flag favourites in Richmond to book their spot in this week’s decider. It was a game that will be talked about for years to come; a game in which the team who had one hand already on the cup was thoroughly outplayed by a Magpies team that looked hungrier and more versatile. The tallest man in the AFL — the big American Mason Cox — had the best game of his career, playing as if he were the dominant key forward of the competition. That came just two weeks after a really disappointing showing against the Eagles where he was totally ineffectual. This week the Pies are up against the same opposition, but Cox will take plenty of confidence into the game and back himself to make amends. The only issue for Collingwood coming out of Cox’s stunning performance is that they need to ensure they don’t become too focused on the big fella. Sure, he had a career-best game and absolutely dominated the Tigers, but he’s extremely unlikely to play that well again, and the Eagles will be laser-focused on him. If Collingwood continually kick it on his head expecting him to do the same thing he did last week, Jeremy McGovern and the West Coast defenders will have a field day.
As the Pies did against the Tigers, the Eagles also had a day-out in their preliminary final victory over the Demons — the Eagles could do no wrong, holding the high-scoring Demons to a goalless first half and kicking a big score themselves. The only possible way it could’ve gone any better is if Luke Shuey and Jeremy McGovern didn’t pick up small injury concerns, but they’ll both be fine to play on Saturday regardless. Scott Lycett did a tremendous job nullifying the best ruckman in the competition, and now he’s got an equally big task combatting the other All-Australian ruckman, Brodie Grundy. That contest will go a long way to determining the winner of this year’s premiership, as will the way the Eagles treat superstar Collingwood midfielder Steele Sidebottom. Sidebottom is in blistering form and was dominant against the Tigers, but he can be certain the Eagles won’t afford him the same amount of space this weekend.
The other main point of interest will be how Collingwood’s defence handles the Eagles’ tall forward line. Tyson Goldsack did a great job on Josh Kennedy for three quarters of the qualifying final, but the star West Coast forward got off the leash in the final term to help the Eagles overcome a 10-point three-quarter time deficit. If Kennedy and fellow key forward Jack Darling can once again make life difficult for the Pies then West Coast will be well on their way to their first premiership since 2006. Which leads us to another point: West Coast’s performance in the 2015 grand final loss to Hawthorn. There will be plenty of demons still present from that disappointing day, but this weekend is the perfect opportunity to move on and put in a much better performance; to win a flag and forget 2015 forever more.
I loved the way Collingwood played last week against the Tigers, but I’m leaning towards the Eagles being 2018 premiers, for a number of reasons: Mason Cox won’t play that well again, Steele Sidebottom will be heavily clamped down upon, and the Pies will still struggle with the Eagles’ tall forwards. Having said all that, I expect it to be a very close game of footy, and if the Pies have a bit of luck fall their way they could end up with a fairy tale flag, but I’m backing the Eagles to get over the line by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $2.32 (Neds)
Best Bets of the Round
West Coast to win @ $2.32 (Neds)
All Bets: -10.99 units
Best Bets: -0.80 units