The following is a preview with betting tips for the 2016 AFL Grand Final.
Saturday, October 1
Sydney v Western Bulldogs
2:30PM AEST, MCG
Sometimes fairytales do come true. And the scenes following the final siren last Saturday evening were magical, the outpouring of emotion and the jubilation on show from players and fans alike with the realisation that they’re finally through to another Grand Final, after 55 longs years of waiting. Yep, the perennial battlers, the Bulldogs, are through to a Grand Final. It was an epic battle against the GWS Giants, but in the end the Dogs were more desperate and willed themselves over the line against the odds, as they’ve done in each of their past three games.
Now there’s just one more opponent between them and their second premiership. It’s the Swans who await them, the team I and many others have considered to be the best side in the competition all year, so it’s clearly going to require another mammoth effort. The Dogs have risen to the challenge over the whole finals series, but this one will be their biggest test yet. If they manage to topple the Swans, it will be one of the most amazing runs to a premiership in AFL history, and they’ll have well and truly earned it.
You’ve almost got to feel sorry for the Swans. With the build up understandably surrounding the Dogs, you could be forgiven for forgetting who their opponent is. Not that this will worry the Swans. They’ve experienced this week before and it’ll be all business for them. That’s one thing that could be telling – the Dogs will enter Saturday’s game without a single player who has previously played in a Grand Final – the first club to do so in 20 years – while many of these Swans played in both the 2012 premiership and the 2014 loss to the Hawks. That loss will no doubt provide them with more than enough motivation, but I think it’s fair to say that neither club is short on motivation.
The contest will come down to a few key things:
1 – Can Buddy get off the leash?
If the Dogs manage to keep him to only two or three goals, they’ll have done their chances the world of good. But if the big fella can kick five or more, you can just about guarantee a Swans flag.
2 – Will the Dogs cope with the pressure?
The Swans will have learnt from 2014 and there is nothing surer that they’ll be firing from the first bounce. If the Dogs can withstand an initial onslaught and stay with the Swans, they’ve shown that they’re capable of grinding away and winning close matches. The Dogs accuracy in front of goal will also be a massive factor, as they were poor for most of the year but have really turned things around during the finals series.
3 – Have the Swans taken a selection gamble?
The Swans have included both Jarrad McVeigh and Callum Mills in their named side. Obviously you’ve got to back the club’s medical staff to make the right call, but I’d be nervous if both these guys do take their place in the team that runs out on Saturday afternoon. They’re both coming off soft tissue injuries, and we all know how risky that can be coming into a Grand Final. You just can’t afford to take in players who run the risk of breaking down early – you’re then one man down all day in the most important game of the year.
So here goes, my best attempt at answering these questions:
1 – Yes, Buddy will play his best GF to date and kick a big bag.
2 – The Dogs won’t fold under the pressure and they’ll fight all day.
3 – I expect one of those two players to be a late out, hence minimising the risk.
So what does that all add up to?
A Swans victory, I think, due to a mix of that little bit of extra talent and experience. The Dogs will be ready to go as well – there will be the obvious nerves of course, but I don’t think the occasion will get to them and they’ll scrap hard all day and make the Swans earn it. However the Swans have experienced stars all over the ground who might just be a little too strong and a touch too good for the Dogs when it counts. But it’ll be close. The Dogs won’t have come this far to go down without a fight. It might just be some Buddy Franklin last quarter heroics that sees the Swans win their 6th VFL/AFL premiership.
Betting tip: Sydney by 1-39 @ $2.24 (Pinnacle)
Norm Smith Medal – Luke Parker @ $11.00 (bet365)
Gary Ayres Medal – Liam Picken @ $7.00 (Sportsbet)
Best Bets of the Round
Sydney by 1-39 @ $2.24 (Pinnacle)
All Bets: -10.78 units
Best Bets: -2.46 units