• Jamie Samuel

AFL Grand Final Preview

Updated: Oct 14, 2021



Here we are at the conclusion of what has been an incredible season of AFL in

2021.


In a repeat of the 1954 VFL Grand Final, along with a historic Grand Final to be

played on Western Australian territory, Melbourne, the minor primers, will take

on the fifth-placed Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on Saturday evening.


How They Got There:

Melbourne is aiming for their first premiership since 1964, at what currently

stands the longest premiership drought in the league, at 57 years. They reached

the Grand Final after outlasting Brisbane by 33-points in the Qualifying Final.

This was before treating Geelong as if they were training cones in the preliminary final, coming away victorious by 83-points.


The Dogs are aiming for a third-ever premiership and looking to repeat their

triumph of 2016, where they came from outside the top four to break a 62-year

premiership drought. They had a late-season slump, from being second place to

losing their last three games to slip down to fifth place. But in the finals, they

have proved any doubters of their capability wrong.


They comfortably took care of Essendon by 49-points in the elimination final.

Carrying that form on, they took a massive scalp in Brisbane, eliminating the

Lions by a solitary point with an act of desperation from a decisive, late rushed

behind. Before causing yet another upset in the preliminary final, to earn their

way into the grand final with a 71-point demolition of Port Adelaide


Key Players:

If you want to look at the key players, you could simply start with the fact that

two players will face off for their respective sides, that both finished within the

top three players in the Brownlow Medal race. Marcus Bontempelli polled an incredibly impressive 33 votes to come in second place. Behind him, Clayton Oliver came third with an incredible showing of 31 votes.


MELBOURNE:


Max Gawn- Leading from the front all year. Gawn’s form of late-season has been

nothing short of incredible. Kicking the match-winning goal for Melbourne after

the final siren in round 23 to win the Demons their first minor premiership since

1964.


His form continued into the finals, kicking four of his five goals to strongly

turn the preliminary final against Geelong in Melbourne’s favor. Melbourne will

hope that he will be in top shape for the big show.


Clayton Oliver- Coming third in the Brownlow, Oliver has been in stellar form this

season, averaging 31 possessions per game.


Bayley Fritch- Averaging 10 disposals, seven kicks, four marks, and two goals.


Jack Viney- Viney has been an inspirational skipper and a true leader all year. His form

has him gaining an average of 22 disposals, 10 kicks, and 11 handballs.


Other key players - Christian Petracca, Jake Lever, Steven May, Ed Langdon, Ben Brown, Kysaiah Pickett, Luke Jackson, Angus Brayshaw, Charlie Spargo.


WESTERN BULLDOGS:


Marcus Bontempelli- As mentioned, he came second in the Brownlow rankings. His

form has been second to none this season, averaging 26 disposals, 15 kicks and

11 handbells. Dogs fans will be hoping he brings his A-game to the decider.


Bailey Dale- a young gun on the rise. Averaging 24 disposals, 17 kicks, and six

handballs.


Bailey Smith- What a season this young star has had. Averaging 23 disposals, 13

kicks, nine handballs and three handballs. An excitement machine, who will want to be

on fire on the big stage.


Jack Macrae- one of the inform Dogs players all year. Averaging, 34 disposals, 16

kicks, 17 handballs and four handballs.


Other key players- Caleb Daniel, Lachie Hunter, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar, Aaron Naughton, Patrick Lipinski, Tim English.


Head to Head this season:

These sides have met twice this year. The Demons prevailing in the first match in

round 11 by 28-points in an impressive run-away second half. Before the Dogs

got their vengeance in round 19 to earn back top spot at the time. If it had not

been for the Dogs late-season slump, it could have easily been their minor

premiership this year.


Final Thoughts:

A key factor that we can look into is that the Dogs do have some Grand Final

experience. Many of their players are still around from their flag five years ago,

along with their coach Luke Beverage, who has coached on the big day before

and as you know, did so successfully.


Melbourne has been the in-form side all year, however. They have talent all

over the park. This has been the Demon’s best season in

many decades. They have turned heads this year in terms of how

impressive they have been, starting the season with nine straight wins and

remaining on the top of the year for the vast majority of it.


Prediction:

Melbourne supporters have long suffered. But they should have faith that this is

their side’s best chance of a premiership since 1964. Melbourne has the talent

and their players and supporters should be confident it is their time. If Gawn,

Fritch, Brown, Oliver, and many other talented players can put their best foot

forward, it is Melbourne’s time after 57 long years.


Not only could it be their year, but this could be the start of something special to be sustained over the coming years. A couple of flags, a dynasty, or at least a few successful seasons at the top with competitiveness for the flag race. At any rate, Demons fans should be excited.


I'm tipping Melbourne by 25 points.


Norm Smith medallist- Clayton Oliver.

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