It’s finally here! After one of the most interesting seasons in AFL history, the Grand Final is upon us and what a matchup it’s set to be. The Richmond Tigers will square off against the Geelong Cats from the Gabba this Saturday from 7.30pm.
PuntingInDanger has been solid throughout the AFL season, racking up a record of 86-73 after making picks for every single game of the season. He’ll be looking to finish off the year with one big win in the Grand Final! See his full preview and betting tips for the clash below, and you can also check out his separate preview, which has some of his favourite AFL Grand Final prop betting tips, later in the week.
What an interesting Grand Final this is set to be. For the first time in AFL history, the Grand Final will be played under lights, with the game set to get underway at 7.30pm. The game will also be played away from the MCG for just the 2nd time since 1946.
The Tigers will be hoping to win their third premiership in the last four years when they step onto the field on Saturday night. A win would cement their place amongst the great teams of the modern era and give a third premiership medal to stars of the game in the likes of Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin.
Their finals campaign got off to a slow start when they were comfortably defeated by the Lions in the qualifying final. They bounced back with a dominant 31 point win over the Saints on the back of strong performances from Tom Lynch and Dustin Martin. They went into their preliminary final against the Power as slight underdogs and the game was an arm-wrestle from start to finish. Ultimately, the Tigers kicked crucial goals when it mattered most and dominated possession in the final quarter to earn a hard fought six-point win.
There could be some questions raised at the selection table throughout the week for the Tigers. Their line-up has looked somewhat settled for the past two weeks now but Jake Aarts and Maboir Chol have both been a big part of their success throughout the season and seem to be banging on the door to get in for this Grand Final. Daniel Rioli, Marlion Pickett or Jason Castagna could all conceivably make way depending on how Damian Hardwick wants to set up.
Dustin Martin has been the catalyst of their two Grand Final wins. He has averaged 25.5 touches per game and 3 goals per game to go with his two Norm Smith Medals in the two Tigers Grand Final wins and should be a massive factor once again.
The Cats were unfairly written off after they went down to the Power in the first week of finals. To their credit, they have bounced back to win their next two games in dominant fashion to force their way into the Grand Final. They downed the Magpies by a whopping 68 points before disposing of the Brisbane Lions by 40 points at the Gabba in the prelim.
It was Patrick Dangerfield who did the damage against the Magpies, kicking four goals and looking absolutely unstoppable in the win. Last week, Gary Rohan had one of those Gary Rohan games in the prelim against the Lions, kicking three goals and he will pose as a tough matchup for the Richmond defence this Saturday night.
On the selection front, the Cats look pretty settled and will likely go into the game unchanged. Midfield recruit Jack Steven is the only player that could push for selection, but given his proclivity for injury throughout the season so far, it’s unlikely that they will roll the dice with the 4 x Saints best & fairest winner.
The little master, Gary Ablett, will play his final game of AFL football in the Grand Final, and what a career it’s been. Ablett has averaged 24.96 possessions per game over his illustrious career and he wound back the clock in the prelim win over the Lions, kicking two goals and accumulating 14 touches. There’s no doubt Gaz will leave it all out on the field in search of his third premiership medallion on Saturday night. Back him to get 15+ disposals.
As it so often is in the Grand Final, it’s almost impossible to split these two teams and the bookies agree. The Tigers start as the slightest of favourites but based on form, I feel like you have to give the edge to the Cats. They decimated the Pies and Lions in their last two games, allowing just 37 points per game and winning by an average margin of 54 points. The Tigers did win their Round 17 clash by 26 points, however, it was a pretty clear night that night and it looks like there is some rain forecast for this Saturday.
The Cats are one of the few teams in the league that have the defensive structure that is capable of standing up to the Tigers game style, which prioritises moving the ball through the middle of the ground quickly and kicking long. I like the ability of Geelong to slow the pace of this game down and force the Tigers to go wide, which they desperately don’t want to do. They have been exemplary at doing so the last two weeks, and barring any late changes to the team, I think their defence holds up again.
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