And like that, another season is almost over. Tomorrow the Tigers and Giants will battle it out at the MCG for footy’s ultimate prize, the 2019 AFL Premiership Cup.
After 206 matches we are down to the last two teams.
So who will it be? The Tigers for their second premiership in three years or will the Giants prevail for their first premiership in their short history.
It’s easy to get sucked into the thinking the Tigers win this by 10 goals. After all, they’ve been a juggernaut in the second half of the year – once their injury curse started to clear up. The Giants on the other hand, have had an injury crisis for most of the year, compounded by some ill timed tribunal appearances to one infamous star, Toby Greene. But Greene is BACK, as is Lachie Whitfield for the biggest game of the year. Richmond have sprung the shock selection of the year, picking debutant Marlion Pickett.
For three weeks running the Giants have been expected to drop out of the finals and for three weeks running they have found a way to get the chocolates. The last two weeks have been heart stoppers and won by a combined 9 points. The Tigers have done things a little more comfortably, albeit at half time last week there was a strong feeling that perhaps their race was run.
Which players are likely to decide this outcome of the match? Who will make the difference? The choices seem obvious and really the Grand Final is when the big boys usually stand and deliver.
Matt De Boer vs Dusty Martin
De Boer has turned into the master stopper and last time these two faced off her turned Dusty into a lunatic. Will history repeat? I would think so. Some have suggested he might go to Prestia but I think De Boer will head straight to Dusty and stick to him like glue for the majority of this game. Fireworks are almost guaranteed. Put simply the Giants cannot let Dusty get off the hook. He is far too damaging. Every touch will matter tomorrow and even if he only gets 20 touches he can destroy you with those touches.
Phil Davis/Nick Haynes vs Tom Lynch/Jack Reiwoldt
This is the one area of the ground where the Tigers seem to have every defense in the league covered. Or do they? Reiwoldt did next to nothing in the preliminary final. He seriously struggled to get into the game and yet still played his role. Lynch was, quite frankly, a star and it’s hard to see that not being repeated in the big one.
Davis is under an injury cloud and still may not play. If that happens Lachie Keeffe will come into the line up. Many would scoff at the thought of Keeffe controlling Lynch but they quickly forget that Keeffe is two inches taller than Lynch so if, and it’s a big if, he can stick with him on the lead then he will more than match him. In fact after Keeffe blanketing job in the preliminary final we’re betting there were some tough selection committee decisions at Giants HQ.
Jeremy Cameron vs Dylan Grimes/Nick Vlastuin
The Coleman Medalist is yet another ace in the deck for the Giants. According to the named teams it’s Vlastuin who will go to Cameron but I’m expecting Grimes to get across and do his bit, especially if he gets off the hook. Cameron is a serious weapon and if the Giants midfield brigade get on top he’s going to be hard to stop.
Toby Nankervis/Soldo vs Shane Mumford
Big Mummy is effectively a lame duck and yet was able to sell one of the most important dummys in history on Neo himself, Scott Pendlebury last week. Despite being obliterated by Brodie Grundy in the air big Mummy kept turning up, all the way to the final siren. This should be his last game and it’s fair to say he’s had a reputation for being, well a little thuggish, at times so I fully expect him to leave his imprint on this game. Nakervis and Soldo will run him off his feet and given that Nankervis has previously beaten Brodie Grundy this will almost certainly be a big win for the Tigers.
Toby Greene vs The World
Yep, cover your eyes, Greene is back. Poor Toby…. yeah not really. We’ll give you the hot tip. Nothing will change about the way Greene plays tomorrow. He will play tough, uncompromising and occasionally dirty, football. He will almost certainly influence this game and the result, for better or worse. For the impartial supporter watching he will be must watch alone.
Gut says the Tigers by plenty. The head says the Giants are a huge chance, provided they get off to a decent start and have some way of stopping the Tigers momentum when it inevitably gets going.
The crowd will be ridiculously one sided – although I think many are delusional to think that everyone picks a team on the big day. Don’t think I’ve heard more “couldn’t give a fat rats clacker” than for this year’s decider.
The Tigers will be going for 12 wins in a row, a huge huge effort at this time of the year.
So after all that…. we’re going Tigers by 35 points. Time to block off Punt Rd again.
Best of luck to both teams.. and their supporters.