The 2018 AFLW Grand Final is here and Before You Bet will preview the match between the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions. It will be played at Ikon Park on Saturday at 1:05pm (AEDT). Both sides are aiming for their first ever AFLW Grand Final victory so the stakes are high.
Road to the Grand Final: Bulldogs
Before the start of this season, the Bulldogs were one of the sides tipped to improve in 2018. They did that and more as they finished atop the ladder with a 5-2 record. Their Round 7 win over the Demons secured their place in the final and they should be hard to beat at Ikon Park. They led AFLW with the most points scored (312) and have the leading goal kicker in Brooke Lochland. The most memorable game of the season for Lochland was booting 7 goals against the Blues in Round 4. Emma Kearney is another player to watch around the midfield. She led the league in disposals and won the MVP award as a result. However, the Bulldogs have been dealt a major blow with key forward Katie Brennan ruled out due to suspension. She is so crucial for their forward line and this hurts to miss such an important match. During the season, they also lost number 1 draft pick Isabel Huntington to a knee injury.
Road to the Grand Final: Lions
It’s fair to say the Lions weren’t expected to reach the Grand Final after Round 6. They had just lost to the Magpies at home and fell from 2nd to 5th on the ladder. However, everything fell into place during the last round. They smashed the Giants in Blacktown and the percentage boost was the key. Then a Melbourne loss and Collingwood win, meant the Lions would reach their second straight Grand Final. After losing the Grand Final as the top side last season, they’ll be even more motivated to win this one. During the season, Alexandra Anderson, Kate Lutkins and Jamie Stanton were three of the best players at the Lions. As such, they were nominated for the AFLW MVP award. Jess Wuetschner was also a gun up forward with 11 goals to finish behind Lochland in the goal kicking rankings. Sabrina Fredrick-Traub is another player to watch for the Lions with her size around the ground and she’s coming off 4 goals against the Giants.
Head to Head: Tied 1-1
In 2017, the Lions beat the Bulldogs in Brisbane 23-16. Then the Bulldogs rebounded in 2018 with a 33-24 win at the same venue.
First Goal Scorer
Both sides have a player in the top two for goals this season. Brooke Lochland finished with 12 goals and 18 shots on goal to lead AFLW. While for Brisbane, Jess Wuetschner scored 11 goals with 5 behinds. She finished the season against the Giants with 3 goals and 2 behinds. The darkhorse is Sabrina Frederick-Traub after her four goal effort against the Giants in Round 7. But in the end, I like the form of Wuetschner up forward.
These two sides are very even around the ground so this should be another close Grand Final. On paper, the Bulldogs are the better attacking side but not my much. As the Lions proved in Round 7, they can attack and score quickly. This match is also played at a neutral venue (Ikon Park) so the Bulldogs don’t really get an advantage for finishing first. The Lions also convincing won their last match at this venue, albeit against the Blues. I also think that the Katie Brennan out will impact the Bulldogs. So the Lions should use their 2017 Grand Final loss as motivation for this clash and beat the Bulldogs on Saturday.
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