Sydney Swans take on the Western Bulldogs in the AFL Grand Final on Saturday in what should be a fascinating contest between two teams that are ferocious when hunting the ball but who have quite different styles of moving the ball into scoring positions when they gain possession, and also when not in possession of the Sherrin .
The Swans will look to get the ball forward quickly to their star key forward, Lance Franklin, near the 50 metre arc while the Dogs will look to handball through the corridor and attempt to hit one of their forwards or mids well inside the 50.
When defending the Swans tend to sit back and keep their shape inside 50 and the Dogs simply press like crazed lunatics.
The two teams rank #1 and #2 in disposals in 2016 which illustrates the value of moving the ball.
The Swans are ranked #1 in the league for contested possessions while the Bulldogs rank #1 for uncontested possessions.
The narrative around this match has very much focussed on the Western Bulldogs as they try to win the second Flag in their history and their first for over 60 years. I’ve little doubt the Swans team and staff are delighted about this even if some of their fans are somewhat irked by all the Doggies talk and neutrals support.
So which team is going to come out on top?
The handicap line is set at 10.5 points in favour of the Swans and that looks pretty much spot on to my reckoning so a line bet is one to leave alone for us. The total points line at 166.5 falls into the same category but with a keen eye on the weather. There are showers forecast near the MCG on Saturday and if the outlook worsens a bet on the unders is in order.
A strategy that might be worth considering is a ‘back to lay’ of the Swans after they’ve blown both the Crows and Cats away with their opening quarter scores.
A back of the Swans at $1.60 will be layable at around $1.30 should they win the opening quarter by two goals while should the Dogs win the period by the same amount the Swans will still be trading at around $1.90. a fast start looks more likely by the Swans which makes this approach of some interest.
The same can be done with the handicap line. Back Sydney pre-match at -10.5 and the Bulldogs at between +22.5 and +25.5 if the Swans lead by 2 goals in the first quarter.
is the place to go for your first goalscorer bets with money back (up to $50) if your pick scores the 2nd, 3rd or 4th goal but not the first.
Buddy Franklin is the obvious favourite in the market at $7 but we’ll look elsewhere for a bit of value and there could be a bit of just that with a punt on Clay Smith at $20.
He’s averaged 1.42 goals per game in his 12 games in 2016 which is only bettered at the Dogs by the injured Redpath and Stringer and Dickson who are both just over half the odds of Smith.
Sydney small forward Tom Papley has been one of the stars of the finals thus far with nine goals in the three matches and with an average GPG of 1.53 from 19 games he looks a bit of value too at his current odds.
The last five winners of the Norm Smith medal are:
2015 – Cyril Rioli
2014 – Luke Hodge
2013 – Brian Lake
2012 – Ryan O’Keefe
2011 – Jimmy Bartel
So two of the last three winners in Rioli and Lake were not midfielders and this was very much a shift in the norm after nine mids in a row won the award before Lake in 2013.
We’ll go for one from each team for the Norm Smith starting with an obvious one from the Swans. Both Daniel Hannebury and Josh Kennedy can be backed at $8.50 and barring a six goal+ haul from Buddy it’s hard to see the award going anywhere else should the Swans win.
I’m plumping for Kennedy as I think a 40 possession game is slightly more likely from him which would all but seal the award but essentially it’s a flip of a coin job.