AFL 2017 Grand Final Preview
After a season of unbelievable upsets and comebacks, the finals series really showed none of it.
Still, we are now at the big dance, and we have the best team in 2017 against one very big surprise. Who Wins…Let’s find out.
Here is our AFL Grand Final Preview for 2017.
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Adelaide Crows v Richmond Tigers
MCG – Saturday 30th September 2017
The Crows have been the team of 2017, but again does that mean they deserve a flag? Absolutely not, and there is an army of Tigers fans who say no. Let’s dig a bit deeper and find out who should have the edge.
It is very hard to pick holes in the Crows attack. Over the last two seasons at the very least, they have been the highest scoring team in the AFL. In 2017, they average 2.1 goals a game more than the second-best team (Port Adelaide), and 3 goals more than Richmond. In a season that is so even, these numbers are hard to ignore.
It isn’t hard to fathom though when you have one of the best small forwards of all time (Eddie Betts – 54 goals), a powerful centre-half forward (Tex Walker – 52 goals), two other agile big men who float in and kick 45, 31, and 20 goals respectively (Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch and Mitch McGovern), and a host of mid/forwards the notch up a goal or more a game (Sloane , Douglas , Cameron , Otten ). Not only their scoring power, but they are incredibly accurate kicking at over 50% for the season. They are a very hard team to fully contain,
On the other side of the coin the Tigers might not score as high, but they spread the load. Jack Riewoldt kicked his 50 for the season, but outside of that they had 4 small/medium forwards kick 20+ goals (Caddy, Rioli, Castagna & Butler), and their key mids moved through and kicked their fair share as well (Martin  and Cotchin . The secret to their success is team footy, and this is also very hard to contain. The Tigers are also one of the best tackling teams inside their own 50 this season, with an average of 14.1 per game.
I would be close to insane not to give the edge to the Crows in this facet. However, grand finals do strange things, and I don’t think they will get the same freedom that many afforded them this season. If they do score their average of 100-110+ then they will likely win. The Tiger’s target should be 70-90.
The Crows have also been very solid defensively this season, letting in just 11.5 goals per game and around 75-80 points. Despite having a few quality players down back, and a few possible stars in the making, I think this is their weakness (albeit a very slight one). Against the Tigers small brigade, they could even be top heavy, but let’s not stretch things too far.
Any team with Alex Rance holding down the fort is going to be hard to score against. Richmond are one of the best defensive teams of 2017, and have let in a measly 10.7 goals a game and a shade over 70 points. Again, they play good defensive team footy. Ellis, Vlastuin, Grimes etc.. They are all probably very underrated, and support each role as good as any team in the AFL. They had 21 goals kicked on them in Round 6 by the Crows, but a lot has changed since then. I would be shocked if that happened again.
The Crows are clearly very good defensively, but I really like what the Tigers have done at this end. Because of this, I will give them the edge.
Let’s firstly look at the big men. It wasn’t too long ago that many would say the ruckman was the most important player on the ground. TImes have changed slightly, but boy they can still influence games as well as any. We can keep this simple I think. Nankervis has been a revelation this season for the Tigers, and has done everything (and more) that they wanted. He is a quality ruckman who will only get better as time goes, and no doubt he wont go down without a very hard slog. But Sauce….Jacobs is one of, if not the best ruckman in the AFL in 2017. He wins plenty of quality taps, is mobile, takes marks he should, and floats forward to kick goals. He also has one hell of a motivating factor due to a close family passing not too long ago. If Nankervis can even go close to an even battle, the Tigers are well on their way.
Now the mids. What a contest this will be, and no doubt the key driver behind the winner. It is very hard to go past a midfield with a brownlow medalist (Martin), Cotchin, Prestia, Grigg, Caddy, and Edwards (who I think is incredibly underrated). There is class, and goals, all over this pack, and they are in as good a form as anyone.
But, then we turn to the Crows. Sloane (need I say more), the Crouch brothers, Douglas (having his career best year), among others. They have arguably a better midfield than Richmond, but Sloane has shown he struggles under the tag, and I wonder if the Tigers go for it. Big job, but if they succeed it will be another step towards glory.
Hard to split the midfield. Maybe Crows just, but with the class, it will come down to an ‘on the day’ job. I think this is the most critical area of the game though.
For the Crows, there are plenty. Narrowing it down I would say two stands out for me. Sloane is obvious, and I usually wouldn’t bring him up, but his form under a tag has been poor. How he goes will be huge in the context of their midfield. The big one for me is Eddie Betts. Not only can he kick goals, but his forward pressure and team motivation is second to none. If he gets off the chain, the shackles could very well break.
Let’s not say Dusty for the Tigers. Obviously, he is a gun. I think Riewoldt is very important. He doesn’t even have to kick goals, but his contest and movement around the front half could be critical. His effort will bring in the little fella’s, and that’s how they have been winning games. The outside x-factor for me is Shane Edwards. I think he is underrated by many, but I am a huge fan of the things he can do. He can pop up for goals but can do some special game-changing things. He doesn’t need much of it, but can make a difference in a few places.
I have a feeling this match will sum up 2017, and be a deadset cracker. Well, I hope it is anyway.
There are so many critical areas between these two teams. Some have the edge, and some will just depend on who shows up more. It is Grand Final time, so picking a winner with real confidence is almost impossible.
The Crows are better in almost every single statistic this season, but the Tiger army is rolling and the emotion behind them is at fever pitch. My heart says the Tigers could just about pinch this (and they definitely could), but in the interest of smartest pick, my head says the Crows might have a few too many match winners.
Crows by 8
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