After 23 home and away rounds and a gruelling month of finals football, there now remains two; the team chasing immortality against the precocious interstaters ready to prove they belong in the upper echelon.
The Hawthorn Hawks are chasing three premierships in a row – a feat that only four clubs in VFL/AFL history have been able to accomplish.
The Eagles are playing off in their first Grand Final since 2006 and are looking to secure their fourth premiership since entering the competition back in 1986.
The two teams have met just once in Grand Final history back in 1992, with the Hawks winning by 53-points to secure their fifth flag in nine years at Waverly Park.
The game was notable due to the fact it is the first and only time the AFL Grand Final has been played away from the MCG.
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Odds provided by www.sportsbet.com.au
Hawthorn – $1.60
West Coast – $2.40
Last time they met
West Coast comprehensively defeated the Hawks in the second qualifying final at Domain Stadium, dominating the match from start to finish to run out eventual 32-point winners.
The Eagles did it without 2014 Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis and on-baller Chris Masten, while an ankle injury sustained by Jack Gunston was the big talking point out of the contest.
Hawthorn: Only one change to the team that outplayed the Dockers last Friday night at Domain Stadium with Jack Gunston overcoming his ankle injury to reclaim his spot in the 22.
Billy Hartung was the unlucky man to miss out.
Hartung’s omission means Ryan Schoenmakers – the man many expected to make way for Gunston – retains his spot, in a move that Hawks’ coach Alistair Clarkson will be using to exploit the lack of height in West Coast’s defensive back six.
West Coast: Eagles’ coach Adam Simpson has elected to make no changes from the team that overturned a 22-point deficit last week at home against the Roos to book a place in the grand final.
All three emergencies – Scott Lycett, Scott Selwood and Patrick McGinnity – travelled with the Eagles to Melbourne but with no players under injury clouds it is unlucky the trio will get a late reprieve.
Most possession markets – who to bet on and why
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the most possessions market, Crownbet have made the unprecedented move of adding a third group for Grand Final day.
This means punters wanting to find a ball magnet diamond in the rough now have a third group to get excited about.
Let’s take a look at the contenders in each group and pick out some winners.
Sam Mitchell $3.25
Matthew Priddis $3.75
Jordan Lewis $5.50
Andrew Gaff $6.50
Luke Hodge $9.00
Chris Masten $11.00
Luke Shuey $11.00
Grant Birchall $21.00
Group A verdict:
After returning from a quad injury last week, Matt Priddis was still able to have an impact for the Eagles on his way to gathering 26-disposals against the Kangaroos; the second highest tally in the preliminary final.
His main rival in the group is Sam Mitchell, but with all the exposure the prolific Hawk has drawn this week, we think he is sure to be locked down on to ensure his output is limited.
The 2014 Brownlow medallist Priddis gathers the majority of his disposals in tight, which makes him a hard man to quell.
There is also the strong likelihood that teammates Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff attract the most opposition attention, meaning Priddis may even get some cheap possessions around the ground too.
Matt Priddis at $3.75 is the favoured group A most possessions bet.
Isaac Smith $4.50
Liam Shiels $5.00
Matthew Rosa $6.00
Sharrod Wellingham $6.00
Mark Hutchings $7.00
Dominic Sheed $7.50
Bradley Hill $8.00
Shaun Burgoyne $10.00
Group B verdict:
The market reflects the lack of a standout possession accumulator in group B, with the shortest priced player at the $4.50 quote.
Hawk Isaac Smith is the favourite to amass the most touches, but with lingering doubts over his knee which he injured in the final round of the home and away season, it may be prudent to look elsewhere.
Hawthorn speedster Brad Hill was prolific last week, gathering 25 disposals – the third highest for his team – and will have ample opportunity to replicate those numbers on Saturday.
Expect Hill to line up on the wing, and with his speed and evasiveness, the Eagles will struggle to find a suitable match up.
Bradley Hill at $8.00 is the favoured group B most possessions bet.
Josh Gibson $4.75
Matthew Suckling $5.00
Jarryd Roughead $5.00
Mark Lecras $6.50
Cyril Rioli $6.50
Elliot Yeo $7.00
Shannon Hurn $9.00
Bradley Sheppard $10.00
Group C verdict:
It is another wide open betting affair in the final group, with Hawthorn defender Josh Gibson the favourite at $4.75 – but with a plethora of attacking Eagle options, it is unlikely the All-Australian defender will be able to play a free-wheelng type of game.
For the Hawks, the inclusion of Jack Gunston and the retention of Ryan Schoenmakers means former Coleman medallist Jarryd Roughead will be left to roam the ground and provide another dimension to Hawthorn’s forward thrusts.
Roughead has proven in the past he can play through the middle of the ground, with nine games throughout the 2015 season with 20 or more disposals, including two 30 touch tallies.
The big Rough is a proven ball winner if Alistair Clarkson frees him up to play that role.
Expect that to happen with Gunston and Schoenmakers likely to play much closer to goal.
Jarryd Roughead at $5.00 is the favoured group C most possessions bet.
Match outcome – who will win and why?
It is the team that everyone expected to be here versus the young upstarts that few predicted to even make the finals – so how will the Grand Final between the Hawks and the Eagles play out?
The Eagles will take great confidence over their win three weeks ago over the reigning premiers, and will have the benefit of the week’s rest in between the qualifying and preliminary finals over their foes.
With hot temperatures expected on Grand Final day, fatigue may become an issue too.
The Eagles are used to scorching heat all year round in the West and may handle the conditions better than the Hawks, who have travelled two of the past three weeks to Perth.
The Hawks have experience on their side, having played in the previous three Grand Finals.
Hawthorn has been there and done that on the big stage and know exactly what it takes to get the job done.
The main problem for the Hawks is shutting down dominant Eagle forward Josh Kennedy.
The 2015 Coleman medallist has kicked an imposing 17 goals in his last four games against the Hawks and looms as the decisive factor in the Eagles’ premiership aspirations.
It promises to be an enthralling contest worthy of the showpiece match of the 2015 season.
The travelling Eagles will benefit greatly from their home finals stint leading into Saturday’s contest, with the Hawks gruelling schedule likely to take its toll on the reigning premiers late in the match.
The Eagles will need to remain in touch by the start of the fourth quarter; if they are able to do so the likelihood that they will run over the top of the Hawks is strong given the arduous conditions expected Saturday compounded by the tough month that Hawthorn has endured.
Expect the Eagles to spoil the three-peat party on their way to securing their fourth ever premiership.
Tip: West Coast Eagles to win – $2.40 via Sportsbet
Exotic: Most goals – Josh Kennedy – $4.00 via Crownbet
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