After a season that started then stopped then started again, the AFL Grand Final is finally here. This is has had its fair share of obstacles, with players and coaches having to go to extreme lengths to get the season underway.
Not only is it the first time the Grand Final will be played at the GABBA under lights, but it is also the first time, teams that finished third and fourth on the ladder are playing in the Grand Final. Richmond and Geelong compete in the Grand Final for the first time since 1967, where the Tigers won by nine points.
In 2010 when Richmond CEO Brendon Gale stated a 10-year plan was in place that included three premiership victories by 2020, everyone laughed. Well, who is laughing now? The Tigers have arguably been the best side in the last three years and could pick up their third premiership in just three seasons.
The Tigers have plotted along this season, even though finishing third, everyone has touted them as best in the league and Premiership favourites. The Tigers have had an even contribution from their players all season. Players such as Jayden Short, Shai Bolton and Noah Balta have all stepped up, especially when they were missing key players. Short is seventh in the league for marks and has averaged 18.8 disposals this year. It’s hard to go past the dynamic duo of Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch up forward who have both scored 31 goals each this season.
The Tigers have had to do it the hard way through finals this year, losing the Qualifying Final to the Lions. They were too strong for the Saints in the Semi-Final, then most recently beat the minor premiers Port Adelaide in a nail biter in the Prelim. Friday night’s game against the Power was an arm wrestle from the start, with only one goal separating both sides at the final siren. Dustin Martin continued his consistent final form, gathering 21 disposals and kicking two goals. Noah Balta also played an important part, keeping dangerous forward Charlie Dixon to one goal.
The Cats however, are coming off a 40-point win against the Lions at the GABBA on Saturday night. The Cats lead at every change and continued where they left off the week before, where they smashed the Pies by 68 points. Gary Rohan and Mitch Duncan were solid in the win with Rohan scoring three goals and Duncan picking up 22 disposals.
356 gamer and arguably the best player to play the game, Gary Ablett Jnr kicked two goals and his still working his magic. The Little Master will be playing his last game this weekend and will be looking to add another flag to his already unbelievable CV.
The Cats this year have had stars all over the ground with Tom Hawkins having a career best year scoring 48 goals and securing the Coleman medal. Hawkins has also had the most score involvements by any player this year with 144. Tom Stewart has also had a great year, second in the league for marks with 119 and averaging 19.1 disposals.
The midfield matchup is going to be great to watch with Martin, Cotchin and Prestia going head to head with Dangerfield Selwood and Ablett.
I think the cats will overcome their round 17 loss to Richmond and are going to be too strong. The cats are coming off great momentum and will carry through to the last day of the season. It’s going to be a nail-biter, but the cats will do it for Gaz.