They’ve split the season with one win apiece, but The Wolf believes Melbourne has been the best team in the competition all year and will learn from their Round 19 loss, breaking a 57-year premiership drought.
Check out The Wolf”s AFL Grand Final preview below as well as his Norm Smith Medal predictions here.
The Demons have been the team to beat all year, and off the back of two dominant finals they’re primed to win their first premiership in 57 years.
In Round 11 the Demons upset the Bulldogs by 28 points, set up from their defensive structure with Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver dominant.
The Round 19 clash saw the tables turn though, with Luke Beveridge trialling a few things which saw the Bulldogs impact the scoreboard more, kicking the second biggest score against Melbourne in 2021. But like how Beveridge learnt from Round 11, it’s Simon Goodwin’s turn to move off the back of the Round 19 loss.
Although the Bulldogs have managed to fill the void of Josh Bruce, it could hurt the most against this Melbourne back-six with the key forward playing an important in their Round 19 win with two goals.
The team that has finished higher on the ladder has won the last three Grand Finals, and based on Melbourne’s two dominant efforts in the finals – a 33-point win over Brisbane in the Qualifying Final and 83-point victory over the Cats in the Preliminary Final – they are in the box seat in this.
The winner has covered in the last nine Grand Finals, and between these two teams, the winner has covered in 11 of their last 12 games. If Melbourne can withstand the early Bulldog pressure, they’ll be too good covering the line of 7.5.
Grand Finals of late have been low scoring affairs with five of the last six going under the total points line. The average points have been 152.5 from these games, although that includes 2020 with shortened quarters. The total score cleared the line last year with 131, the only game that went overs since 2014.
The line is set at 155.5 in this, which is above the total points from both their Round 11 and 19 matches during the season which landed on 146 and 150 points respectively.
Five of the last seven between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have gone under the total points line, including three of their last four. The average total points from their last seven meetings is 153.7 points with the total points in their last four 150 points or less.
If there’s a tag from the Demons, it’s not going to be on Jack Macrae.
The Demons will likely use Jack Viney in a defensive mid role, and against the Bulldogs we’ve seen this work against Tom Liberatore especially around clearances. If it’s not Liberatore, Bontempelli will be next in line.
Macrae has racked up enormous disposal numbers all season including two big games against Melbourne. In their Round 11 loss, Macrae had 36 disposals, and in their Round 19 victory he finished with 38 touches resulting in two Brownlow votes.
He’s gone to another level in the finals as well – Macrae averages 37 disposals in his three finals games leading into the Grand Final with his lowest output 36 touches.
Going over the 32.5 disposal line in 56% of games this season, The Wolf expects another big game from Jack Macrae.
All the numbers point to Bayley Fritsch kicking multiple goals in the Grand Final.
The Dees forward averages 2.3 goals per game this season, averaging 2.8 goals in his last five games and 2.44 goals from his last nine outings.
Kicking a goal in 87% of games this season, Fritsch has a strong conversion rate of going on to kick 2+, doing so in 65% of his games in 2021 – the only player with a better percentage on the ground this week is Ben Brown doing so in 67% but from only 12 games.
Fritsch kicked 3 goals in their Round 11 win over the Bulldogs, and even though Melbourne only managed nine goals in Round 19, Fritsch still finished with 2.
The Melbourne forward has kicked 2+ goals in six of his last eight games and he’ll have a major impact on the result of Saturday’s Grand Final.
It’s been an inconsistent year for Jack Viney with injury and suspension late in the season, but he’s pushed James Harmes out of the Melbourne midfield this finals series and his disposal numbers have skyrocketed.
Viney’s two finals have resulted in 28 and 34 possession games, with a huge first half against the Cats in the Preliminary Final with 20 disposals at the half.
The Wolf expects Viney to remain in the middle alongside Petracca and Oliver, with Harmes spending more time forward. Between Rounds 1-22 Harmes spent 74% of playing time in the midfield but since Viney’s return in Round 23, his midfield time has dropped to just 35%.
SAME GAME MULTI
Jack Macrae 30+ Disposals / Christian Petracca 25+ Disposals / Jack Viney 20+ Disposals / Kysaiah Pickett Any Time Goal Scorer = $4.20
Jack Macrae has had 30+ disposals in 92% of games this season including eight of his last nine games. Christian Petracca averages 27.5 possessions against the Bulldogs this year, recording 25+ disposals in 79% of games including 12 of his last 13. Jack Viney is back in the Melbourne midfield and enters this averaging 31 disposals a game this finals series, recording 20+ disposals in 57% of games this season. Kysaiah Pickett $1.40 any time goal scorer? Yes please. Pickett has kicked a goal in 88% of games this season including his last ten, kicking a goal in both games against the Bulldogs this season and two in their Round 19 loss.