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The AFL Grand Final is usually played on the last Saturday of September at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The 2020 decider was played at the Gabba in Brisbane due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the AFL has made it clear that footy’s biggest day will return to the ‘G in 2021 and stay there for the foreseeable future.
As always, it promises to be one of the most bet-upon events on the Australian calendar. It is often the first leg of a massive footy weekend that ends with the NRL Grand Final on the Sunday night, although that is not the case this year.
Yet the AFL Grand Final is unlike any other beast you will see throughout the season, with a huge upswing in markets, and a flood of money coming in before and during the game. The AFL’s showcase game for the season is in the true sense of the phrase — a once-in-a-year celebration — both literally and figuratively.
Geelong holds the record winning margin in an AFL Grand Final, crushing the Port Adelaide Power in 2007 by 119 points.
Carlton and Essendon are currently the two teams with the most premierships to their name, both with 16, while Collingwood is just behind with 15.
Melbourne (53 years) and St Kilda (51 years) have two of the longest AFL premiership droughts.
The AFL grand final can bring out the best in bookies with one of the bigger wagering events in Australia. The question we get posed the most is what is the best betting site for the AFL?
While Sportsbet and BetEasy share equal billing as the place to wager on AFL games, there are plenty of good, legal options for Australians to bet with. Depending on the state you are from you may be able to claim promotions surrounding AFL games. These promos will ramp up during the finals series and we will cover them extensively when they are released.
Australians can no longer claim sign up bonuses at online bookmakers, with the National Gambling Framework banning bonuses them until further notice.
Despite the sudden retirement of star defender Alex Rance, Richmond will start the 2020 season as the outright favourite in AFL Premiership betting. The West Coast Eagles are also well liked after luring Tim Kelly from Geelong in the last trade window. Collingwood and the GWS Giants, the last two runners-up, round out the major contenders. The Brisbane Lions will fancy their chances on the back of a big season in 2019, while the star-studded Cats are never too far away from the premiership conversation.
|Team||2021 AFL Premiership odds|
|Richmond||+300||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Geelong||+500||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Brisbane Lions||+750||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Port Adelaide||+750||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|West Coast Eagles||+750||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Collingwood||+1000||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|GWS Giants||+1300||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|St Kilda||+1700||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Western Bulldogs||+1700||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Melbourne||+2200||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Carlton||+3300||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Hawthorn||+3300||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Fremantle||+5000||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Gold Coast Suns||+5000||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Essendon||+6600||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Sydney Swans||+6600||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|Adelaide Crows||+10000||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
|North Melbourne||+10000||Best Odds @ Sportsbet|
A head to heat bet or a ‘win bet’ is the most popular bet people will have on an AFL game.
Invariably the Grand Final pits two of the best teams of the year against each other, which means the odds will be much more even than they are throughout the season. Also, due to the sheer amount of money put into the market on this one, the agencies usually offer huge money back specials on head-to-head markets throughout the game.
Line betting will give you better odds on a straight head-to-head market to if you are prepared to concede a head start to another team. It is also a great saver bet if you think your team is in with a chance but you are not absolutely certain they can be in front when the final siren sounds.
Both head-to-head and line betting is available throughout the match, but bear in mind that due to the fluctuations in matches the odds will change rapidly. Australians are restricted in betting live on the internet, but most corporate bookmakers will have a phone line that you can call and place bets during the course of a game.
The Norm Smith Medal is awarded to the player adjudged best afield in the AFL Grand Final. Five members of the media are given the honour of selecting the winner through a 3,2,1 voting system, with one of the five appointed the chairman.
There will only ever be a single winner of the Norm Smith Medal, with a count-back system awarding the medal to whoever accumulated the most best on ground votes as allocated by the judges on the day. If there is still a tie, the chairman has the deciding vote.
The Norm Smith Medal has live-betting all throughout the match, with markets closing late in the fourth quarter. In 2014, punters were still able to get $6.50 live on the Norm Smith winner Luke Hodge deep into the final quarter due to the fact there were no standout performers in the contest.
It pays to check the statistics and figures on the match before making a live bet, with kicks and handballs not the be-all and end-all when it comes to influence. New stats such as score involvements, pressure acts and score chain possessions will greatly assist in helping you find and winner on the live betting side of things.
In 2017, Richmond superstar Dustin Martin capped his perfect season by winning the Norm Smith Medal just five days after winning the Brownlow Medal. He was the $4.75 favourite at Sportsbet. He repeated the feat in 2019 to join an exclusive club of two-time winners that includes Gary Ayres, Andrew McLeod and Luke Hodge, and then did it again in 2020 to become the first player in history to win the award three times.
Outside of Norm Smith betting, betting on who will kick the first goal in the AFL Grand Final is always a hot bet going into the match. The idea is simple — either select a player you think will kick the first goal of the entire match, or select a particular player from their respective team to kick the first goal.
This means if his opponent nails the first goal of the contest, you are still in with a chance to make a collect on the game.
This bet also works in as a popular multiple bet, with the first goal scorer/match winner double typically a favoured multi bet coming into the big dance.
Some agencies feature a first goal scorer bet for each quarter too, so if you feel robbed that your guy missed a goal from five metres out, there is always next quarter.
In 2017, Crow midfielder Rory Sloane floated forward to take a chest mark and kick truly from a set shot. He was paying $25 at online bookmakers.
Another one of the self-explanatory bets but a critically hard one to master. The most possessions bet through some agencies has the overall market, but typically the big agencies will split key possession gathers into two groups and will only compete against five other players.
In games throughout the season most possession bets start and end prior to the match, but in the AFL Grand Final live betting for most possessions runs all the way through the match.
Sometimes this market correlates directly with the Norm Smith voting, due the fact that if you have the most possessions in a game you are typically exerting the most influence on the outcome.
In 2017, Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch broke all kinds of records on the way to 37 disposals. He was the favourite in the disposals market at $1.90.
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All the best betting agencies have multiple markets on the game, as well as promotions throughout the season and leading right up to the game. Any company who truly values their position in the sports betting market will have a multitude of options to choose from when it comes to odds, markets and specials so you will never be bereft of choice when the big dance rolls around.
There was more than a hint of irony about the fact that the first AFL Grand Final played outside Victoria featured two of the oldest, proudest clubs from the Big V. Richmond overcame myriad issues throughout the season to enter the finals series as the team to beat, while Geelong’s star power brought the Cats to the brink of their first premiership since 2011.
Persistent rain in Brisbane made it a war of attrition from the off, while early injuries to Geelong’s Gary Ablett Jr and Richmond’s Nick Vlaustin tested the depth of both sides. The condition were always going to suit the Tigers, however, and that point became clearer as the second half wore on.
It was a tight contest for the most part, but Richmond kicked away late to seal a 31-point win and clinch the club’s third premiership in four years. On a night full of footy firsts, Dustin Martin put in a dazzling display to become the only player in history to win the Norm Smith Medal three times.
Having failed to reach the big dance as favourites in 2018, Richmond brought a ruthless determination into the 2019 finals campaign. They blitzed the Brisbane Lions side in the first week and followed up with a 19-point win over Geelong in the preliminary final to enter the last Saturday in September on an 11-game winning streak.
Greater Western Sydney had a much tougher road to the decider. They made their intentions known with a big win over the in-form Western Bulldogs in the first week, but narrow wins over Brisbane and Collingwood left the Giants short on gas for their first-ever AFL Grand Final appearance.
The opening quarter was low-scoring and cagey, with the Tigers taking a seven-point lead into the first break. By half-time, however, the game was all but over. Richmond piled on five unanswered goals in a second-quarter blitz while GWS struggled to feed the ball to their frustrated forwards. The gap widened further after the main break as the Tigers romped to an 89-point victory – their biggest winning margin in a GF.
The match was notable for several reasons. GWS’s final score of 3.7 (25) was the lowest in a VFL/AFL grand final since 1960, when Collingwood posted 2.2 (14) against Melbourne. Marlion Pickett, who starred in Richmond’s VFL Premiership win the week prior, became the first player to make his senior debut in a grand final since Keith Batchelor for Collingwood in 1952. Dustin Martin picked up his second Norm Smith Medal to join Gary Ayres, Andrew McLeod and Luke Hodge as one of only four players to win the award twice.
The 2018 title was Richmond’s to lose until a much-improved Collingwood knocked them off in the preliminary finals. The Magpies had finished 13th the previous season, thus continuing the trend of teams bolting into flag contention from outside the top eight.
Despite spending the entirety of the season inside the top four, West Coast managed to fly under the radar for much of the campaign. They destroyed a well-liked Melbourne side in the prelims, yet there were doubts over their ability to get the job done at the MCG without the suspended Andrew Gaff and injured Nic Naitanui.
It was all black and white early on as the Pies booted the first five goals of the game. The Eagles lifted, however, reducing the deficit to 12 points at half-time and clawing back to level pegging by the last break.
After a riveting final term, it was West Coast who emerged victorious on the back of some heroic efforts in defence and a nerveless finish from Dom Sheed. The Norm Smith Medal was awarded to Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey, who finished the game with 34 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.
A year after the Bulldogs broke their long-running premiership drought, it was Richmond’s turn.
The Tigers had not played in a grand final since 1982, with their last flag coming two years before that. Adelaide, the minor premiers, were playing on the last Saturday of September for the first time since their upset win over North Melbourne in 1998.
The Crows enjoyed a better start to the game, but four unanswered goals in the second quarter saw Richmond take a nine-point lead into the main break. From there, it was all yellow and black as Damien Hardwick’s men roared away to a 48-point victory.
Nobody enjoyed Richmond’s premiership year more than Dustin Martin. Named best afield in the grand final, the superstar midfielder became the first player in history to win the Norm Smith Medal, the Brownlow Medal and a premiership in the same season.
The Western Bulldogs completed a fairytale 2016 finals campaign, winning the premiership from seventh position on the ladder in one of the biggest upsets in football history.
Sydney, which finished on top of the ladder, was the first team to enter the 2016 grand final with a stunning victory over Geelong in the preliminary final. The Swans were outsiders heading into the clash, but their greater spread of midfielders proved too much for the Cats, who were heavily reliant on Patrick Dangerfield.
The Western Bulldogs won a thrilling clash against expansion club GWS at Spotless Stadium to reach their first grand final in 55 years. The Bulldogs midfield was brilliant in the clash, while small forward Clay Smith booted four goals to be the most dangerous forward on the ground.
On Grand Final day the Bulldogs’ momentum was too much for the Swans. After taking a slender lead into the last quarter, the Dogs kicked four last-quarter goals to the Swans’ two, clinching their first premiership since 1956. Jason Johannisen was awarded the Norm Smith Medal for a dynamic performance across half-back that included 33 disposals and nine inside 50s.