AFL: preliminary finals wrap and grand final preview

AFL: preliminary finals wrap and grand final preview
West Coast are into their 7th premiership decider. Photo: Jenks24, Wikimedia Commons

Last weekend saw two shock results, with Collingwood convincingly beating Richmond (who were by far the best team all year) and West Coast absolutely demolishing Melbourne. This sets up a finals rematch between the Magpies and Eagles at the MCG, after West Coast took the honours in the first week of the finals in Perth.

Richmond were the defending premiers and convincing minor premiers, and looked on track to coast to another premiership until they ran into Collingwood. The Magpies were physical, fast and accurate in their best game of the season so far. The main concern will be whether they have played their grand final already – although they have an extra day of rest over West Coast, and don’t need to travel from Perth to Melbourne this week.

West Coast, despite finishing in second place on the ladder, have flown slightly under the radar all season. Melbourne went to Perth full of confidence, after consecutive victories over veterans Geelong and Hawthorn, and were sent home in disgrace after being spanked like a red headed stepchild. Even now Collingwood are slight favourites to take out the premiership, despite being comfortably beaten by West Coast in the first week.

The Eagles are disadvantaged by a day less rest, by having to travel from Perth to Melbourne in the lead up to the match and by needing to stay away from home for the match. On the other hand they have already beaten Collingwood twice this year, once at the MCG, and have had to play a game less over the finals series. They are also coming off the most comprehensive victory in the AFL finals for a long time.

This match should be close, but given that we haven’t had a particularly close match in the AFL finals so far I think don’t think it will. In a closer game the advantages Collingwood gain from playing at home will come into play more and could get them over the line, but West Coast are the better team and if they show their class they will win comfortably.