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After 23 rounds and eight finals, it all comes down to this: the 2021 AFL Grand Final between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in what could shape as one of the closest deciders in years.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the big dance...
2021 AFL GRAND FINAL - MELBOURNE V WESTERN BULLDOGS
Date: Saturday September 25, 7:15pm AEST
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth
H2H: Melbourne ($1.65) v Western Bulldogs ($2.25)
Line: Melbourne (-8.5 $1.90) v Western Bulldogs (+8.5 $1.90)
For all your latest odds on the Demons vs Bulldogs, CLICK HERE.
Last five meetings:
Round 19, 2021 - Melbourne 9.11 (65) def. by Western Bulldogs 13.7 (85)
Round 11, 2021 - Melbourne 13.9 (87) def. Western Bulldogs 8.11 (59)
Round 13, 2020 - Melbourne 7.10 (52) def. by Western Bulldogs 12.8 (80)
Round 17, 2019 - Melbourne 9.12 (66) def. by Western Bulldogs 10.14 (74)
Round 17, 2018 - Melbourne 18.11 (119) def. Western Bulldogs 10.9 (69)
Best bets (odds correct as of 21/09/21):
Norm Smith Medal:
PETRACCA, Christian (MEL) - $6.00
OLIVER, Clayton (MEL) - $7.00
BONTEMPELLI, Marcus (WB) - $8.00
GAWN, Max (MEL) - $9.00
MACRAE, Jack (WB) - $11.00
SMITH, Bailey (WB) - $15.00
BROWN, Ben (MEL) - $10
FRITSCH, Bayley (MEL) - $10
NAUGHTON, Aaron (WB) - $10
OLIVER, Clayton (MEL) - 35+ @ $2.60 (season average of 31.5)
MACRAE, Jack (WB) - 40+ @ $4 (season average of 33.9)
Two dominant preliminary final victories sees the two form sides of the season battle it out for the 2021 premiership. Melbourne was clinical against Geelong two weeks ago, winning by 83-points off the back of a five-goal, 19 disposal game from captain Max Gawn while the Western Bulldogs were just as impressive against Port Adelaide in enemy territory in their 71-point win. While the Demons finished on-top and the Dogs slipped to fifth after a drop in form over the last three rounds, both sides had incredibly strong starts to the season - 9-0 and 6-0 respectively - and sat second and third for percentage across the season - 132.8 and 130.8. The Demons, looking for their first premiership in 57 years, will head in as favourites but the minor premiers have only played two games in the last four weeks which could be an area of concern for coach Simon Goodwin. For the Dogs, they've been on a hot streak throughout the finals, winning three games in three different states, something they also did in 2016 on their way to the club's first premiership in 62-years as they look for their second flag in five years.
Both sides have incredibly staked midfields and that's where you think the game will be decided. Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw and Ed Langdon going head-to-head against Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar and Bailey Smith is a tantalising prospect, but the difference could be the form of Demons skipper Max Gawn as he battles underdone Dogs ruckman Stefan Martin. Martin returned to the Dogs line-up in the preliminary final and quelled the influence of Scott Lycett, so he'll have to replicate his efforts in the grand final if his side is any chance of gaining the upper hand throughout the middle of the ground throughout the game. The difference could be the power of Melbourne's defence and should key pillars Jake Lever and Steven May be able to control the play in the back 50 and set their side up well, it should go a long way in the Demons winning their first premiership since 1964.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons
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