Traditions have got to start somewhere, and as The Mongrel Punt has just turned one – happy birthday to us, by the way – we thought we may as well start one with our Grand Final predictions.
Feel free to criticise where and when you feel it’s warranted.
So, what do these bunch of Mongrels think?
Winner - West Coast by 18 points. They are a complete side that don't overly rely on clearance, forward guns, or game style. They have composure across every line and the best back line of 2018. Adam Simpson will have them purring. No matter what happens, West Coast outrun the pies in the final quarter.
Norm Smith - Elliot Yeo. Has to be the most underrated player in the league. As a utility he will tackle, win contested possession, and kick with efficiency to be the most influential player on the park.
First Goal - A scrappy small forwards goal. I'll go with a Cinderella story - Travis Varcoe.
Most Goals - Jack Darling (4). Awkward to match up on and with JK, Rioli, and Ryan taking so much attention, Darling hurts Collingwood on the scoreboard
Winner: West Coast by 10 points
Norm Smith: Elliot Yeo
First goal – Jordan de Goey
Most goals: Jordan de Goey (4)
The Pies should probably go in favourites, given they will have the home ground advantage and they just knocked off the Tigers but there’s something about West Coast. The Eagles have the most potent forward line in the comp with Kennedy, Darling, Rioli & Ryan. Throw in Cripps and Le Cras and I don’t know what the Magpies backs will do about it.
Down the other end, McGovern & Co. will edge Cox off his line and he won’t have the presence he had last week. If Vardy and Lycett can trouble Grundy similarly to the way they broke Gawn, the game is won. I expect a close one but if Eagles get ahead late. I think it very likely that Collingwood push too hard in desperation and give the sealer to Ryan or Rioli out the back.
Winner – West Coast by 17
Norm Smith: Shannon Hurn
First Goalkicker: Mark LeCras
Most Goals – Jamie Cripps (3)
The Eagles have learnt their lessons from a horror 2015 decider. They feel more composed, settled and prepared. Unlike 2015 they are not complaining about where the game is being played but have instead prepared for it. Their game style is no longer tailored to the width of Subi but the identical dimensions of the MCG. West Coast are undefeated at the G this year including a big win against the Magpies. They are ready
Winner - West Coast by 10 points.
Norm Smith - Steele Sidebottom or Jeremy McGovern
First goal - Willie Rioli.
Most Goals - Josh Kennedy & Willy Rioli with 3 goals each.
I’m tipping West Coast as I don’t think their defence will allow Collingwood to kick a winning score. 12 goals is all they’ll need to win, and with all their forwards hitting the scoreboard, it should happen. I think the Eagles will be able to stop de Goey from having a huge influence and they can also match Cox aerially.
Winner: Collingwood by 23
Norm Smith: Steele Sidebottom
First goal: Jamie Cripps
Most goals: Josh Kennedy (4)
Plenty has been written about how many didn’t pick either of these sides to even make the Finals before the start of the season, but here we are, with two sides who’ve arguably strung together the best form line in September battling it out this Saturday.
Despite Collingwood’s loss to West Coast in Perth in the first week of finals, their last two weeks, and especially the first half of their prelim, has shown their best is good enough. West Coast did beat Collingwood at the MCG in Round 17, but I think with the grunt of Adams, class of Pendlebury, and the best player of the finals - Steele Sidebottom, the Pies’ midfield will outdo the Eagles.
Kennedy, like Riewoldt last week, to get off the leash a little against Goldsack and kick 4, but the Pies to run over the top in the second half and seal a famous 16th Premiership.
Trent Adam Shields
Winner - West Coast by 22 points
Norm Smith – Jack Darling
First Goal – Will Hoskin-Elliott. Received a hot tip from Mrs. Goldsack that her boy will start forward… oh, that news is 8 years old? Ok, let’s go WHE from a contested mark and set shot from around 40m straight in front.
Most Goals - Jack Darling (4)
As a keen student of history, in order to try to determine trends or predict results, I’ve skipped over the obvious (and recent) fact that on each occasion the Qualifying Final match up has replayed in the GF the opposite outcome has resulted (2003, 2005, 2006, 2015). Instead I’ve opted to look for a similar Preliminary Final build up.
In 1995 Geelong and Carlton both enjoyed resounding victories to book their place in the premiership decider, much like Collingwood and West Coast this year. I liken the Eagles to Carlton in this example on the basis of form across the year, settled structure and the fierce resolve to reverse a recent missed opportunity. Greater analysis will be up on The Mongrel later this week, but West Coast to win for mine.
Winner – West Coast by 15
Norm Smith - I’m going Elliott Yeo. He will be determined to kill the demons of 2015, arguably his worst output in an Eagles jumper. As a bit of a roughy, Jordan de Goey in a losing side.
First goal – Tom Phillips
Most Goals – Jordan de Goey (3)
In the simplest of terms, my tip is the Eagles. I’ve cast an eye back to their last two meetings, of which West Coast triumphed both times. In the Qualifying Final, the twin towers up forward only had average games, although Kennedy pulled out a brilliant second half to get the Eagles across the line. West Coast can also draw on memories of 2015’s loss to the Hawks as inspiration.
The old Mongrel, HB Meyers
Winner – West Coast by 24
Norm Smith – Jamie Cripps
First goal – Josh Thomas
Most goals – Jamie Cripps (4)
The more I look at the weather, the more I start thinking that the influence of Mason Cox will be much more akin to his Qualifying Final output than that which we saw in the Prelim. The Eagles’ defenders already demonstrated that they can handle Cox… tee hee.
Beating the Tigers was incredibly impressive, but I get the feeling the Pies played their Grand Final last week, and the Eagles will be too strong down the stretch.
So there we go – The Mongrel team seem to have a foot firmly planted in the West Coast camp in this preview. Both HB Meyers and Trent Adam Shields will be doing deep dives into the game over the next 24 hours, but on the whole, it is a 7-1 split in favour of the Eagles.
Don’t forget to come back to this post and lord it over us if we’re completely wrong… which I am sure won’t happen, right?
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