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Grand Final

Collingwood v Brisbane 

It’s 1st vs. 2nd in the AFL Grand Final for the first time in close to a decade as the Pies take on the Lions in what promises to be a terrific contest to end the season.

They played twice this season, with the Lions winning convincingly at the Gabba, and then recently winning at Marvel Stadium, albeit against an underdone Pies team. They’ve won six games in a row against them and will feel confident they can expose them in key areas. The negative is the MCG, winning only one of their last 15 games there. It won’t be the reason they lose the game, but it’s a factor we have to consider.

For the Pies, their road to the Grand Final has come with significant challenges. An emotional night against the Demons in Week 1 saw them go through by 7 points, and they pulled off what they’ve been doing for the last two years once again against GWS, climbing their way out of a four-goal hole to outlast the Giants by a point.

There’s no denying they haven’t looked anywhere near their best, yet they’ve had the experience to get the job done when it mattered. They don’t bleed and they don’t roll over, good qualities to have when trying to win a flag.

For the Lions, their road to the Grand Final has been a bit smoother, dominating Port Adelaide in Week 1, then clawing back the Blues after a very slow start that saw them down by 5 goals. They didn’t lose at the Gabba all season, and they’ve used their home-ground advantage to great effect, which is a small factor to consider in this Grand Final as they travel away from their fortress.

Collingwood comes into this one with a few selection queries, with McStay having to come out, and Adams pushing hard for selection along with a few others. Combine this with Daicos missing time, along with Moore over the last 6 weeks, and it’s fair to say the Pies lineup isn’t as settled as they’d like it to be, but their depth ensures no matter who plays, their side will be more than capable and there will be no excuses.

The Lions on the other hand come into the game fully fit for who is available, and may even throw in a spanner of their own with Gunston supposedly training again, but it’s hard to see them make any changes from their preliminary final team.

The ability for the Pies to win under any game scenario is their strength. They can win a tight contest or a shoot-out where both teams are getting out and running. They can win by coming from behind, or maintaining an early lead and controlling the tempo of the game. They feed off the home crowd better than anyone, and a hot start might cause the Lions to panic, which Collingwood will feast upon.

However, they have massive scoring issues, and kicking 60 points isn’t going to win them this game. Can they win enough clearances if Cox has to go forward, and how do they get their small forwards involved without sacrificing forward half pressure? A few of their players are underdone, as many are at this stage of the season, but they looked slow in big patches against GWS, and the Lions will make them pay if they do so again.

The Lions have one of the most dynamic forward lines we’ve seen in years and can hurt opposition defences in so many ways. Daniher can break open any structure with his ability to kick from 60m out, and with so many contested possession winners in the middle plus speed off halfback, they won’t need to change their game style much to ensure a victory in this.

However, if they do start slow, can they fight their way back again? Being 5 goals down to Carlton at home with a breeze to one end is different from being down to the Pies and those infamous Collingwood chants start ringing around the ground. It’s brought the best teams unstuck all year, and the Lions won’t be immune to that. Charlie Cameron had the yips at home in the Prelim, how is he going to go if he misses a few early ones here?

In saying all this, regular readers of the weekly AFL Tips will know how much we’ve rated the Lions all season long, and there’s zero reason to jump off them now, especially as underdogs. Their ability to score at will put so much pressure on the Pies all game long, and it’s hard to see where the Pies can get a clear advantage over the Lions to put a gap in the game.

McStay is such a massive loss to their structure, and while writing off the Pies in the biggest moments has been foolish over the last two years, they’ll need everything they have to win this, and I’m not sure they’ll have enough.

TIP: Lions

Back the Lions. Take them at $2.10 or better.

PRICE: $2.10

Norm Smith Medal

We haven’t seen a Norm Smith Medal awarded to a player on a losing team since 2010 (which was a draw) so keep that in mind when placing your bets here, as it’s very likely going to a player on the winning team.

For the Pies, it’s hard to go past Daicos or De Goey, who will undoubtedly rise to the occasion.

For some value, Sidebottom at $34 looks a nice price, as he’s capable of going forward and sneaking a goal, and gathering plenty of the footy, similar to Isaac Smith last year. He was best on ground only two weeks ago against Melbourne.

For the Lions, Neale and McLuggage both look better options compared to Dunkley at similar prices.

The one at value looks to be Joe Daniher at $26, who can rip this game right open if he wants to, and a 4 goal haul with a few disposals around the ground could seal it.


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