AFL Grand Final Preview

Well, the big day has finally come as AFL footy’s ultimate game returns to its spiritual home for the first time in 2 years – and what a match up we have in store for us.  Sydney v Geelong, arguably the two best teams of the second half of the season have found their way to that one day in September.  It’s the old cats last chance against a young bloods outfit that have exceeded the expectations of the footy community.  Who will emerge as premiers?  This game that has a heap to unpack!

Geelong looked phenomenal last week putting the Lions away by 71 points with standout performances from Dangerfield, Duncan, Hawkins and Miers. It was a complete team effort by the Cats and they didn’t look like stopping or defending a lead, stamping their name down as the ones to beat this week. They controlled the game from quarter time, as Chris Scott put on a coaching masterclass that the Lions could not match.  They controlled the game and scored 59 points from intercept possessions, continuing a streak of averaging over 33.5.  Geelong are clinical when it comes to scores from turnovers and the Swans are far from the cleanest ball movers in the comp. A key element in this matchup that could spell problems for Sydney if they cannot keep it clean.  Geelong have won 15 in a row and clearly come into this in unquestionable form. Geelong are the side to beat here.

That said – the Swans have won their last two encounters against the Cats and most recently put them to the sword in round 2 winning by 5 goals.  The hot style of footy that revolves around pressure could be the undoing of this classy and experienced Geelong outfit. Collingwood nearly undid them in Finals week 1, until the seasoned Cats wrestled back control of the game.  If Sydney can replicate the chaos footy they delivered in the first two quarters of last week they can cause the major upset here.  Another key for the Swans will be that star studded forward line. Franklin, Hayward, Heeney and Papley must all panic the usually unflappable Cats and capitalise on forward entries. The next key issue that Sydney face is their tendency to have lapses in their play, and it certainly reads as though only an effort of four brilliant quarters will deny this premiership from the ever consistent and experienced Geelong.

The interesting and crucial matchup to watch will be Sam De Koning on Lance Franklin. Buddy has just re-signed for the Swans for another year and will be out chasing that first Sydney flag in his 9 years as a Swan.  Buddy is a big game player, just ask any Hawks fan, and his ability to shape games on the biggest stage of them all is one of the reasons he is so lauded.  De Koning is a good defender, however if he is to shut down Bud this week will need to need to be at his absolute best in the one-on-one situations.  When given room he’s a great interceptor, but I’m unconvinced on whether he’ll be able to shut down Franklin and beat him when isolated.  It’s a massive test for De Koning but if he can play a role in limiting the champ he goes a massive way to helping the Cats secure the cup.

The way this game shapes up I’m feeling shades a decade on, of 2012’s memorable triumph by the tackle-mad Bloods over the much vaunted Hawks, and will say the Swans can conquer that Cats.  Pressure has been Geelong’s undoing and the Swans are the highest-pressure team in the competition.  If the Swans can bring it they can win it – providing they remain effective going forward for most of the 4 quarters, they can take the flag from Geelong here.

Predictions and Tips.

Swans by 10

First Goal Scorer – Tom Papley @ $11 or Tyson Stengle @ $10.50

Norm Smith – Chad Warner $18

Most Disposals – Callum Mills $6



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