“And so, it has come to this.” These are the words uttered by Ned Kelly in 1880 as he took to the podium for one last time before the hangman’s noose was placed around his neck. It’s also the final game of the 2017 AFL season and it has finally come to this.
And it certainly has come to this. Fanatics of this great game of ours will bemoan the fact that there is only one game this weekend, but it is the AFL Grand Final, so all is forgiven. Even more will be forgiven if the teams playing in the Grand Final, Adelaide and Richmond, put on a classic game that we’ll still be talking about in the decades to come.
But before we go on, please listen to our weekly podcast, where Eddy Jay and Lintang Enam discuss:
- The wrap of the two Preliminary Finals.
- The Match Review Panel said Richmond’s captain, Trent Cotchin, didn’t have a case to answer in his incident with Dylan Shiel. We beg to differ but, in fairness to the AFL, they wanted to avoid a riot in the streets of Melbourne.
- The clash of the clash jumpers. Yellow and black, black or yellow, or hessian bags. Richmond won’t mind what they play in, as long as they win the cup.
- Geelong’s coach, Chris Scott, was a no-sing during the national anthem sing-a-long. But it’s not Australia up against another country, so why do we sing the national anthem before finals games?
- We preview the big game, the last day of September, the decider. What ever you want to call it, it’s the 2017 AFL Grand Final.
AFL Grand Final Preview: Adelaide v Richmond
Although the finals series so far hasn’t matched the excitement and exhilaration of the 2017 home-and-away season, we predict the AFL Grand Final will turn all of that around and provide us with a game the experts will be dissecting and analysing and, hence, talking about, for the next decade.
Why are we so confident about this?
Firstly, it’s simply not possible for the finals series to have so many blowouts. So far, we’ve had results of 51, 65, 48, 59, 69, 61 and 36 points. And a combined draw/4-point result in the West Coast v Port Adelaide Elimination Final. That’s an average of a 49-point margin across eight matches, and most of these games have been decided by half-time.
It’s not scientifically possible for there to be so many one-sided finals in the one season.
Secondly, Richmond and Adelaide have similar results against the two opponents they have played against in the finals. Richmond defeated Geelong and then Greater Western Sydney by 51 and 36 points, while Adelaide defeated Greater Western Sydney and then Geelong by 48 and 61 points.
Predicting a winner is proving to be quite difficult and there are many reasons for this. Adelaide has not performed very well at the MCG this year: a 24-point win against Hawthorn (when Hawthorn were at their worst this year); a 12-point win against Carlton (who were in the middle of an eight-game losing streak); a drawn game against Collingwood, after they fell 50 points behind early in the second quarter. Sure, they are undefeated at the ’G this year, but the way they have achieved their undefeated-ness is nothing to write home about.
On the other hand, the MCG is Richmond’s home ground and their record this year is 11 wins, 2 losses, and their two losses have been a two-point loss after the siren against Fremantle, and an eight-point loss against Sydney in the dying seconds of the game. Richmond know how to play at the MCG, and they have also won eight of their last nine games against all comers.
Taking these factors into account, Richmond should win the Grand Final. But on paper, Adelaide seem to be the stronger team, and their performances throughout this year warrants their favouritism.
Adelaide seem to have answers all over the ground – they have a strong ‘spine’ from back to front, including Daniel Talia, Rory Sloane, Josh Jenkins and Taylor Walker. And their support acts are supreme: Eddie Betts, Tom Lynch, Charlie Cameron (coming off a five-goal performance last weekend), Rory Laird, Jake Lever, Sam Jacobs and the Crouch brothers. That is some serious level of skill. And that’s before we start to talk about Taylor Walker’s excellent hair cut, with the cutesy curl dangling out in front of his face.
If same-sex marriage was legal in Australia, I’d like to marry ‘Tex’.
Richmond also seem to have answers all over the ground, but the questions might be different to Adelaide’s. While Adelaide seems to be a more skillful team, Richmond has that essential ingredient critical to winning a Grand Final: pressure.
They have the most defensive team structure in the AFL, and certainly knew how to apply it to Geelong in the first Qualifying Final, and then in the second half of the Preliminary Final against Greater Western Sydney.
Richmond also has a great ‘spine’: Alex Rance, Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt, and a great support act too. Daniel Rioli, Shane Edwards, Bachar Houli, Josh Caddy, Dom Prestia and a few unsung heroes like Toby Nankervis, Sam Butler, Jason Castagna, Shaun Grigg.
Form wise, both teams have excelled over the past six, 12 and 18 games, ranked in the top three teams – Sydney being the other team in this top three, but that’s a team long gone from the finals race.
In their only match-up this year, Richmond was spanked by 76 points at the Adelaide Oval. That was in Round 6, but that’s almost a millennium ago. That was the only serious low-point for Richmond this year. Adelaide had two low points this season – a 59-point loss to North Melbourne, followed up by a 41-point loss to Melbourne. In these two games, they showed they can play as poorly as anyone.
But, all of this is in the past and the name that’s finally engraved on the premiership cup is the team that performs the best between 2.30pm and 5pm on Saturday afternoon. How will the pressure of the day affect both teams? Richmond hasn’t been in a Grand Final since 1982 and Adelaide hasn’t been there since 1998. The weather is predicted to be 15°C, no wind and cloud cover – a perfect day for football.
We think that Adelaide just have the overall polish and slightly higher skill level, and expect them to be the 2017 premiers. The only lingering doubt is their form in the small sample of games this year at the MCG. We don’t have great confidence in our prediction, but can easily visualise Richmond holding up the cup as well.
It should be a close game and both teams are deserving of the cup. It could come down to the alignment of the planets, or the position of the moon at 2.30pm on Saturday. Or the flap of a butterfly’s wing in Peru, or the flatulence of a cow at the back of Bourke. It will be that close.
- Eddy Jay – Adelaide, 7 points
- Lintang Enam – Adelaide, 9 points
- Computer says – Adelaide, 3 points