It’s Grand Final week! The 2018 AFL Grand Final will be played this Saturday afternoon between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG from 2.30pm. We’ll be bringing you a range of different articles during our countdown to the big game, starting today with our standard full game preview and betting tips!
Be sure to continue to check back later in the week for a full player prop and novelty bets article followed by a daily fantasy guide for the big game!
Collingwood 15.7.97 dft. Richmond 8.10.58
Collingwood shocked the footballing community in the first preliminary final on Friday night, downing the reigning premier Richmond Tigers by 39 points at the MCG. Coming into the game as 17 point underdogs, the Pies raced out to a five goal lead in the first quarter as small forward Jordan de Goey looked ominous kicking two first term goals.
The domination continued in the second quarter as Collingwood kicked another five goals to one to all but seal the game by half time. Surprise runner up on Brownlow night Steele Sidebottom was fantastic with 41 touches and 13 marks in the game but the big story was 6-foot 10 forward Mason Cox, who took 11 marks, eight of them contested and booted three goals in the win.
Jack Riewoldt put up a gallant performance in the loss, kicking five goals, however, the Richmond midfield was absolutely dominated from start to finish with stars Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin never putting their stamp on the game.
West Coast 18.13.121 dft. Melbourne 7.13.55
Melbourne fans travelled to Perth full of hope on the weekend but their dream of making their first Grand Final since 2000 was gone within the first half an hour of the game. West Coast booted the first 10 goals of the game to lead 69-6 at half time and never looked back, eventually winning the game by 66 points in an absolutely dominant display.
The Eagles unbeaten run when both of their big forwards in Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling continued, making it 12-0 this season. Jack Redden, Dom Sheed and Elliot Yeo were fantastic in the midfield for the Eagles, while skipper Shannon Hurn racked up 24 touches off half back and rarely wasted possession.
However, it was Jamie Cripps who stole the show as he had multiple times throughout the year with dominant performances in the midfield and up forward. The former Saint racked up 24 touches and kicked three goals in a best on ground performance that led the Eagles into their first Grand Final since the 2015 loss to the Hawks.
West Coast and Collingwood have never met in a Grand Final, but they do have a fairly storied history throughout the AFL and in the finals in particular, most recently of course in the qualifying final just a couple of weeks ago. The Eagles were victorious that weekend, claiming a tight 16 point win at Optus Stadium as Elliot Yeo, Jack Redden and Dom Sheed controlled the game in the midfield.
It was a bit of an uncharacteristic performance by the Collingwood midfield, who failed to fire as a unit which is something we have rarely seen this season. The two teams also met back in Round 17 this year at the MCG. The Eagles were 35-point winners that day as Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy booted six goals between them.
2018 Qual. Final – West Coast 12.14.86 dft. Collingwood 10.10.70
2018 Round 17 – Collingwood 9.13.67 lt. West Coast 15.12.102
2017 Round 18 – Collingwood 13.15.93 dft. West Coast 13.7.85
2016 Round 19 – Collingwood 13.13.91 dft. West Coast 11.6.72
2016 Round 6 – West Coast 18.16.124 dft. Collingwood 9.8.62
2015 Round 16 – Collingwood 7.14.87 lt. West Coast 11.21.87
2014 Round 20 – West Coast 19.12.126 dft. Collingwood 19.12.126
Many think that the West Coast Eagles struggle to play at the MCG, but they boast a decent record against the Pies at the home of football in recent history. They have won two of their last four games against Collingwood at the MCG and boast a 5-2 record overall in the two teams last seven games.
Hard to envision the Eagles making any changes after their dominant display over the Eagles. Brad Sheppard injured his hamstring in the first final and will miss the Grand Final while Andrew Gaff, Nic Naitanui and Eric Mackenzie all remain on the sidelines. The Eagles would love to have Naitanui and Gaff out there on the weekend, but you have to feel they have developed some great continuity with this roster throughout the last month of the regular season and the first few weeks of the finals.
Selection might be a little trickier for Pies coach Nathan Buckley this weekend, who will have to decide whether or not he wants to add an extra tall defender to combat the monstrous forward line that the Eagles possess.
Key defenders have been a bit of an issue for Collingwood throughout the season and an ankle injury to Jeremy Howe in the prelim against the Tigers isn’t ideal. Howe will definitely suit up in the Grand Final which is positive and a few strong performances from Tyson Goldsack in the finals so far is promising. However, if Bucks wants to play an extra key defender, Darcy Moore could come under consideration pending he passes a fitness test.
Collingwood love to play what I like to call the dump and chase system that was made famous by the Tigers and taken to another level by the Pies last weekend. They kick the ball long and lock it in their forward line with high intensity pressure allowing them to set up with their intercept marking defenders in Howe and co. Slick ball usage through the middle of the ground by hand and foot is catalyst to this system. It opens up the whole ground and allows the Collingwood forwards to get one on one matchups, which is where players like de Goey, Will Hoskin Elliot and Jaidyn Stephenson thrive.
The Eagles don’t force as much pressure but are elite ball users and have made a habit of taking every chance they get when they go forward. Having a dynamic forward line with multiple threats allows them to get one on one matchups all over the ground as defenders don’t know who to double team with Darling, Kennedy, Marc LeCras and Jamie Cripps all elite one on one players.
Collingwood – Jordan de Goey
Cox might have been the heralded hero in the Pies win over the Tigers on Friday night, but de Goey remains the key cog in the forward line. You know what you are going to get from the Pies midfield which is to say constant pressure, elite ball winning ability and silky ball usage. However, time and time again the Pies have had to rely on their midfield to score goals in order to win matches. The rise of de Goey over the back half of the season has eliminated some of those needs. Granted, the Pies midfield will still need to show up in a big way to ensure they can put enough points on the board to beat the high scoring Eagles side, but de Goey remains the key for me.
Something clicked in Round 15 for de Goey. Maybe it was a change of role within the Collingwood side, but in the 10 games since then, the forward has booted 28 goals and in multiple games, singlehandedly dragged the Pies over the line. Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Treloar, Adams and co might run rampant in the midfield but its de Goey who is the true barometer for the Pies. Collingwood have lost just one game in 2018 when de Goey has kicked 2+ goals, and that was three weeks ago against the Eagles.
West Coast – Elliot Yeo
Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy are certainly the star forwards and the guys capable of winning the Grand Final for the Eagles, however, with the one-two punch they possess, you have to feel confident that at least one of them will fire on Saturday. Where the Eagles cannot afford to be substandard, however, is with their ball usage and drive forward. That’s where Elliot Yeo becomes the most important player on the ground for the Eagles.
We saw it in the preliminary final, Collingwood turned their pressure up to record levels against the Tigers, beating them at their own game. Without Andrew Gaff, Yeo’s ball usage will have to be elite off half back and through the midfield otherwise the Eagles will get swallowed up by the Pies pressure.
Yeo has the ability to run, carry, break lines and hit targets inside 50 as good as anyone in the league. He ranked 2nd in the AFL in total inside 50s, 3rd in total metres gained, 5th in total kicks and 10th in total contested possessions. He is also a tackling machine, having laid the 3rd most tackles in the game in 2018. You know what you are getting from Kennedy, Darling and McGovern. Yeo has the ability to win the game for West Coast.
What a tough game to call. The Collingwood game plan seems much more suited to a game that will be as pressure filled as the Grand Final will be on Saturday. However, the Eagles arguably possess more genuine match winners. You have to think that only a couple of Kennedy, Darling, LeCras, Cripps, Rioli, Ryan or Yeo have to fire on the weekend for the Eagles to win. The Eagles are also just so big everywhere around the ground. They love to play two ruckman and sit one forward when resting, which I think will cause real problems for the Pies, who have struggled to find reliable key defenders throughout the year.
I think West Coast kick away here throughout the middle parts of the game when Collingwood’s pressure might just drop off and they go on to win this by 25 points.
- AFL Grand Final - $1,000 in BetEasy rewards points
- NRL Grand Final - $500 in BetEasy rewards points
Incredibly, no one was able to predict the top three of the Brownlow medal count correctly in our first $500 tournament in partnership with BetEasy on Monday night. Tom Mitchell, Steele Sidebottom and Angus Brayshaw combined for the trifecta which through a massive spanner in the works. This means that we'll now be rolling the $500 in BetEasy rewards points that was up for grabs in that tournament over to the AFL Grand Final tournament, which now has a tasty prize pool of $1,000 in BetEasy rewards points!
See more info on the competition here or use the links below to follow us on Facebook and Twitter where you'll see posts in the coming days that will allow you to enter both the $1,000 AFL Grand Final competition and the $500 NRL Grand Final competition!
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