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Giants share 2017 flag favouritism with drought-breaking Bulldogs

Bulldogs AFL premiership
THE Western Bulldogs completed the most unlikely fairytale in AFL history on Saturday when they defeated Sydney to win their first Grand Final since 1954.

But, despite their remarkable achievement, the Dogs are not the runaway favourites to go back-to-back.

They share top billing with another young team. A team they defeated in the preliminary final, on their way to the premiership cup, the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Both teams are +350 equal favourites for next year’s AFL premiership with just ahead of the defeated Swans, at $6.

And the bookie reports the punters have gone gaga for the Dogs, smashing them with bets to win next year’s premiership.

“Minutes after steamrolling Sydney, the Bulldogs have been backed into $4.50 equal favourite to win next year’s AFL Grand Final,” the bookie’s Ben Bulmer said.

“Twice as many punters have now backed the Bulldogs to win next year’s flag compared to the Giants, but with both sides young and still having plenty of improvement left in them, 2017 is set to be an exciting year.

“Sydney remain the $6 third favourite, despite the loss, ahead of Adelaide and Hawthorn, both priced at $8.

“Geelong is considered a $9 chance to win next year’s premiership, but punters don’t seem to rate their chances with just three per cent of the total money backing the Cats in 2017.

“Essendon remain the best backed of the teams with double figures odds, with 15 per cent of punters backing the Bombers to win an unlikely flag at $21.

“And punters don’t seem to rate North Melbourne’s chances in 2017, with just $135 bet on the Kangaroos to win next year’s premiership at odds of $34.”

Before we look to 2017, we must soak in the Bulldogs gutsy, courageous and unlikely win.

So many times, the club has been in trouble. Whether that be financially off the field, or success-starved on it.

They were just about cooked in 2014 when they sacked their coach and lost their captain.

Things were dire.

They’ve made prelim after prelim and they have always fallen short.

But not this time.

The rabid Dogs simply would not be denied against a more fancied Sydney side, turning he Melbourne Cricket Ground into a sea of red, white and blue in a 13.11 (89) to 10.7 (67) victory for the ages.

They had a little bit of help – Sydney talisman Lance Franklin hurt his ankle in the first quarter and was not the same for the rest of the match, they were fortunate the Swans gambled on injured men Callum Mills and Jarrad McVeigh, who were both largely invisible and they had a free kick count that favoured them 20-8. And hasn’t that riled Swans supporters.

But you can’t deny this Dogs side.

They refuse to lose.

Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen – who has copped plenty for his poor disposal – had a supreme influence on the game, his blistering pace bursting open the Swans on several occasions throughout the match.

They had a man in Dale Morris playing with a broken back and another in Clay Smith who had just buried one of his best mates.

Yet they all pulled together to produce a win that they will make a movie about one day.

A win that captivated a city.

And a win that might have changed the life of a towering Dog who has copped plenty of stick since moving south from Greater Western Sydney.

The victory did more for million dollar man Tom Boyd than any player on the park.

He backed up a superb second half ruck performance against Shane Mumford in the preliminary final with a high flying, straight kicking, pack busting, big marking performance that will have him forever etched in Whitten Oval folklore.

While Johannisen had 33 disposals with seven marks and was more than deserving, Boyd could consider himself stiff not to have won the Norm Smith.

He had 14 disposals playing up forward and in the ruck, registering 14 whiteouts to go with his three goals and eight towering marks, including a pair in the final term Wayne Carey would have been proud of.

It was the kind of performance that springboards a career and justifies why the Dogs spent so much money on their prized recruit in the off-season.

Jack Macrae was a monster in the Dogs’ unlikely win over Hawthorn and he did it again against the Swans, emulating Johannisen with 33 disposals, while Liam Picken bust the game wide open in the last quarter with a couple of goals that ripped the heart out of the Swans.

Old stager Matthew Boyd had 27 disposals and, while many say he has a decision to make over his career, after a performance like that, it’s hard to see why he would retire.

The Swans had a monster first half from Josh Kennedy, who finished the game with 34 disposals and three goals, while Tom Mitchell had 26 with two goals, but the Swans, as we mentioned, were up against it.

With 22 points the final margin, it was time to celebrate.

And we reckon the Sons of the West will be celebrating for a while yet.

2017 AFL Premiership Winner market

Greater Western Sydney ($4.50)

Western Bulldogs ($4.50)

Sydney Swans ($6)

Adelaide Crows ($8)

Hawthorn Hawks ($8)

Geelong Cats ($9)

West Coast Eagles ($13)

Essendon Bombers ($21)

Port Adelaide Power ($21)

Collingwood Magpies ($23)

Melbourne Demons ($26)

St Kilda Saints ($26)

Gold Coast Suns ($31)

North Melbourne Kangaroos ($31)

Fremantle Dockers ($34)

Richmond Tigers ($34)

Carlton Blues ($81)

Brisbane Lions ($251)

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