2018 AFL Grand Final Preview & Tips

The battle of the over-achievers! West Coast will make the journey east to take on Collingwood in the 2018 AFL Grand Final at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.

Before the 2018 season had even kicked off both the Eagles and the Pies were given Buckley’s chance of reaching the final Saturday. Both clubs have dug deep into their rosters to overcome extensive injury lists and suspensions gaffes, to ultimately prove most pundits wrong.

The Eagles have clashed with the Magpies on two occasions during the 2018 regular and post season and walked away with bragging rights on both occasions. If we’ve learnt anything in recent years, however it’s that previous form stands for little when everything is at stake in the AFL Grand Final.

Collingwood

Collingwood finished a dismal 13th on the ladder in 2017 and coach Nathan Buckley was expected to be shown the door following an internal performance review. Fast-forward 12 months and Bucks has completely turned the club around, with the Pies finishing the season in third overall and ultimately going on to thump defending champs the Tigers by 39 points in last week’s prelim.

The Pies’ success has come off the back of their ability to win and then hold onto the ball; finishing the year with the most disposals (402 a game in comparison to the Eagles’ 356). Midfield trio Steele Sidebottom (30), Adam Treloar (29.8) and Scott Pendlebury (27.1) lead the way for the prolific possession-winning side, with the former being rewarded for his stellar season with second place in the 2018 Brownlow count. Sidebottom will likely find himself being tagged by Mark Hutchings, who was successful in restricting the star Pie during their defeat to the Eagles in the first week of finals.

Brodie Grundy has enjoyed a break-out season for the Pies, with many pundits having given the athletic ruckman an outside shot at taking out the Brownlow. The All-Australian squad member will have his hands full with the in-form Scott Lycett and his rucking chop-out Nathan Vardy. The two Eagles’ big men did a number on Max Gawn during the prelim, virtually nullifying the usually formidable giant.

Moving the ball into the forward line will be the biggest issue facing the Pies in the GF. Mason Cox had a career best performance last week against the complacent Tigers back line. The monstrous American provided a reliable target in the forward 50 and took 11 marks during the contest, eight of which were contested. I expect his impact against West Coast will be nowhere near as damaging, with the Eagles back-line’s ability to work in conjunction with each other to block potential leads and consistently pick off intercept marks. Jordan De Goey has a great opportunity to exploit the attention given to his lanky teammate by utilising his speed and athleticism against the Eagles’ talls.

Tip: De Goey Kicks 3+ Goals $2.25

West Coast

The Eagles flew into the finals series after finishing the home and away season in second place on 64 points, two games behind reigning Premiers Richmond and one game ahead of their Grand Finals opponents.

Adam Simpson has been able to drill consistency into his side this season, after being labelled home ground specialists in 2017. The Eagles proved they could get the job done interstate; winning eight from eleven matches on the road with a two-from-two record at the G, which included a six-goal victory over the Pies.

West Coast’s impressive season was built on their ability to dominate through the air. The Eagles lead the competition in marks, averaging 101 per game – ten more than their closest rivals the Pies. Captain Shannon Hurn leads the way with a season-high 190 marks, while halfback weapon Jeremy McGovern tops the table in contested marks, edging out the 210cm American Mason Cox. With this marking prowess, the West Coast backline has the ability to nullify opposition key forwards and they have done so throughout the season, to great effect. This could prove a huge advantage to Simpson’s side as Mason Cox terrorised the Tigers in last week’s prelim.

The Eagles also boast one of the most dangerous forward-lines in the comp with the twin towers of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling providing a reliable avenue into the forward 50. Both power forwards have struggled with injury throughout the home and away season and only managed to line-up alongside each other on 12 occasions, but they do have a win record of 100% during those clashes.

Tip: West Coast to win $2.35

2018 AFL Grand Final Betting

First Goal Scorer – Mark LeCras ($21)

With the defensive attention heavily concentrated on the Eagles’ pairing of Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy, small forwards Mark LeCras and Jamie Cripps could find themselves in space in and behind the big men.

Norm Smith Medal – Jeremy McGovern ($17)
Jeremy McGovern has shown up in both meetings between these two sides this year. The intelligent half-back was best on ground during their round 17 clash, coming up with a succession of intercept marks and spoils to quell the Pies early charge. McGovern was named in the bests again during the first round of finals, with his nine marks, four contested helping the Eagles restrict Collingwood’s delivery into their forward 50. With plenty of attention surrounding Mason Cox leading into the Big Dance, McGovern has the perfect opportunity to spoil the party and take home the cherry on the cake!

Total Score O/U – Under 161.5 ($1.80)

Both sides have been resolute in defence during the finals series and have barely given an inch to their opponents.

Most Disposals/ Most Goals Double – A Treloar/ J Kennedy ($16)

With the Eagles’ tagger Mark Hutchings most likely occupying Steele Sidebottom’s time, Adam Treloar should be the main ball winner for the Pies, while Josh Kennedy has gone from strength to strength since returning from injury and will surely prove a handful for the smaller Collingwood defence.