Saturday, October 1, 2016, 2.30pm AEST, Melbourne Cricket Ground
The road to the grand final:
Sydney Swans 7.13 (55) defeated by Greater Western Sydney Giants 12.19 (91)
Sydney Swans 18.10 (118) defeated Adelaide Crows 12.10 (82)
Sydney Swans 15.7 (97) defeated Geelong Cats 8.12 (60)
Western Bulldogs 14.15 (99) defeated West Coast Eagles 7.10 (52)
Western Bulldogs 16.11 (107) defeated Hawthorn Hawks 12.12 (84)
Western Bulldogs 13.11 (89) defeated Greater Western Sydney 12.11 (83)
Last time they met:
Sydney Swans 11.13 (79) defeated by Western Bulldogs 15.3 (83) at Sydney Cricket Ground
Sydney Swans: ($1.60 at Sportsbet.com.au)
Western Bulldogs: ($2.40 at Sportsbet.com.au)
Sydney Swans: -10.5 ($1.92 at Sportsbet.com.au)
Western Bulldogs: +10.5 ($1.92 at Sportsbet.com.au)
The big day is finally here, the Sydney Swans machine rolls into Saturday as red-hot favourites in the 2016 grand final against everyone’s second team, the Western Bulldogs.
Both teams have had to play the maximum amount of post-season games to get here, but neither side look flat heading into the decider.
The Sydney Swans swept aside Geelong last week after a blistering seven goals to none opening quarter burst that put the red and whites in prime position for their third grand final in four years.
The Western Bulldogs played arguably their finest game of the season last week against the Giants.
The Dogs were ferocious and lifted when it mattered most, outworking and outmuscling their much more fancied opponents to record a nail biting six-point victory to make it through to their first grand final in over 50 years.
The Dogs have battled injuries and adversity all year, but coach Luke Beveridge said the team’s ability to listen and apply the lessons learned on the training track to the field has given his side the confidence to overcome every challenge that has confronted them in 2016.
“Once you teach a system, you can bring different personnel through that and they can adapt and they can roll with the punches,” Beveridge said.
“You can take them all the way if they’re willing to learn (but) they have to buy in. That was the rare thing.”
Swans and Dogs waiting on last minute fitness tests for injured stars
The Sydney Swans are expected to name injured pair Jarrad McVeigh and Callum Mills after the duo did everything asked of them during Wednesday’s training session prior to flying to Melbourne.
It was not all positive news on the injury front out of the NSW capital.
The Swans ruled out emerging defender Aliir Aliir on Wednesday after the Kenyan born rookie failed to overcome a knee injury sustained in last week’s win over the Cats.
All-Australian on-baller Josh Kennedy said the playing group has total faith that coach John Longmire will play a team of Swans capable of winning their second premiership this decade.
“It’s part of the game and part of the industry, and we’ll do the best we can with the best 22 we take out there,” Kennedy said.
“We know that ‘Horse’ (Longmire) and the coaching staff will make the right call and I’ve just got to worry about bringing my best on Saturday.
“There’ll be a few nervous guys, but I have the utmost confidence that they’ll be able to get through training, and we’ll see how they go.”
The big selection headache for the Dogs heading into Saturday’s decider is the availability of Jordan Roughead, who was struck in the eye by a ball early in last week’s win.
Roughead failed to play in the second half after leaving the field to have his eye checked but his injured skipper Robert Murphy believes the key bigman will line up on Saturday.
“My gut feeling is that he plays,” Murphy said.
If Roughead is unable to take his place the bulk of the ruck load will be left to former Giant Tom Boyd.
The number one draft pick was admirable on the weekend, competiting against the most fearsome ruckman in the league in the form of Shane Mumford.
Murphy believes the high-priced recruit has the ability to back up last week’s performance if Roughead cannot take to the field.
“He (Boyd) was huge.” Murphy said.
“I was actually watching and I got really worried in the third quarter, the wave of orange run and we were just able to hang on, led by Tommy, he was all heart.”
The Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs meet for the first time ever in the AFL era in the grand final to determine who will finish 2016 at the top of the footy mountain.
The Swans have been the class team of 2016 and after finishing the season as the minor premiers look the team to beat heading into Saturday.
The Dogs have made it their business to prove the doubters wrong over this year’s campaign, and after starting the post-season as $31 outsiders for the flag are just 120 minutes away from their second premiership in the club’s existence.
We took a look at all the major markets for this year’s grand final and gave our best selections for each one.
Most disposals – Kennedy to keep his good run rolling
Both the Swans and the Dogs have a terrific group of on-ballers who are capable of winning ball on the inside and the outside.
The Western Bulldogs were ferocious in their preliminary final win, out-bustling the Giants around the ball to win clearances by 14 and contested possessions by 16.
Luke Dahlhaus lead the way for the Dogs, collecting a game-high 32 touches.
The Swans are the second best clearance team in the league, and given they boast hard-nuts Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Daniel Hannenbery in their midfield, the Dogs will be unable to boss their opponents in quite the same fashion.
Kennedy in particular has been outstanding in this year’s finals series.
The former Hawk has amassed an incredible 97 possessions across all three finals this year and is our selection to gather the most disposals on grand final day.
Suggested most disposals bet: Josh Kennedy is $3.30 to collect the most disposals of Group A at WilliamHill.com.au
Norm Smith medal and most goals – the big stage is Buddy’s domain
The big question for Saturday’s grand final is: who will play on Lance Franklin?
The Bud has been in sparkling form this post-season – booting six goals from his last two matches against All-Australian pair Daniel Talia and Harry Taylor – and given the dogs have no real match up for him, Franklin could be the decisive player in this year’s grand final.
We expect Franklin to kick the most goals on Saturday which will in turn put his name right into Norm Smith medal calculations.
Suggested Norm Smith medal bet: Lance Franklin is $9 to win this year’s Norm Smith medal at Sportsbet.com.au.
Suggested most goals bet: Lance Franklin is $2.30 at William Hill to kick the most goals.
Grand Final outcome: Sydney’s second success in four years
The Dogs have been admirable all year and are fully deserving of their place in the AFL grand final, but we think the Swans will have far too much class for them – especially inside 50.
The biggest query on the Dogs heading into the finals was their ability to kick a winning score, and while they have kicked 13 goals or more in all three finals the Swans have a versatile back six can nullify the Bulldogs’ smalls.
The other great strength the Dogs possess is their contested ball winners, but given they are coming up against the second best clearance team in the league their advantage will be negated.
We are expecting the AFL premiership cup to be heading back to the NSW capital for the second time in four years.
Suggested Match outcome bet: Sydney Swans -10.5 points $1.92 at Sportsbet.com.au