Why the Swans are Favourites to Win the AFL Grand Final This Weekend
September 25, 2014
After another enthralling AFL season the 2014 premiers will be decided on Saturday. 18 teams have been dwindled down to two in another incredible year which has seen highs and lows both on and off the field. The two that remain are the best; they finished the regular season first and second and are the champions from the previous 2 years. The Hawks are shooting for consecutive premierships while the Swans will be out to regain the flag after winning it in 2012. Sydney are the minor premiers and bookies believe we’ll see a repeat of the grand final 2 years ago when the Swans soared above the Hawks in the last game in September.
Slow Start to Superb Season
With Buddy on board Sydney were around the $4.75 mark to claim 2014 flag before the season began. They shared favouritism with Hawthorn with some bookmakers while others had the Hawks outright favourites. But 3 losses from their opening 4 games saw Sydney’s odds drift dramatically. The Swans were almost double figures for the title heading into their round 8 showdown with the Hawks despite winning their previous 3 games to get their season back on track. A 19 point win over the Hawks made it 4 straight victories and the Swans would go on to win 12 games on the bounce to move to the top of the table and outright favourites for the flag. The Hawks gained revenge at the MCG in round 17 with a 10 point win but Sydney didn’t lose again till the final game of the regular season after already wrapping up the Minor Premiership. Phase 1 was of a season that promised so much was complete despite a slow start, and onto the finals it was.
All Australian Assault
The minor premiers were also the number 1 side in the 2014 All Australian selection. The Swans topped the standings with 4 players picked, ahead of Hawthorn and Fremantle with 3 each. Big Buddy led the frontline, the Coleman medallist had another phenomenal season, kicking 75 goals in 21 games so far. Josh Kennedy earned back to back selections in the centre half line with another solid season while the Swans also had 2 debutants in this year’s team. Defenders Nick Malceski and Nick Smith were both selected for the first time. The latter was part of an entirely new All Australian backline. The 26 year old was recognised for his dirty work that goes unnoticed from week to week. While 10 season veteran Malceski has had perhaps his best year to date.
Despite losing in round 23 the Swans were still premiership favourites heading into the finals and the Sydney siders have shown why since.
The hosts weren’t at their best against Fremantle in their qualifying final but still outclassed the Dockers by 24 points. Ben McGlynn made a triumphant return from an injury that kept him out for 3 weeks collecting 19 possessions and 3 goals. Lance Franklin also kicked 3, 2 of them in the final quarter to snuff out the Dockers late charge.
After a week off the Swans were fresh for their preliminary final and North Melbourne felt Sydney’s full force. The Minor Premiers stormed into their second grand final in 3 years with an 11 goal win over the Kangaroos. The Swans were superb as the visitors little resistance only lasted till half time. The hosts increased their lead at every change finishing with 19 goals in a 136-65 romp.
Buddy was brilliant bagging 5 majors in a best on ground performance that will strike fear into his former team mates’ hearts ahead of Saturday’s decider. Luke Parker’s powerful performance had All Australian selectors hiding their heads. After being snubbed for selection the midfielder showed sublime skill and courage in an incredible performance which saw him finish with 26 disposals 3 goals and 8 tackles…. not to mention one of the most spectacular marks of the season.
It inspired Adam Goodes who also had some scintillating touches on the night, rediscovering some of his top form in his 350th game. It’s another ominous sign for Hawthorn, as Goodes answered critics after some quiet performances in recent weeks. Forward Kurt Tippet finished with 4 goals as Sydney’s all-round performance proved they’re peaking at the perfect time.
The Hawks too have been strong in the finals but have faced tougher tests against Geelong and Port Adelaide. They’re $2.40 outsiders to beat Sydney in the big one with the interstate raiders roughly $1.60. The Swans are deserved favourites, especially after the manner in which they dispatched the Kangaroos. Buddy was almost unplayable and if he’s in that sort of from on Saturday he could prove the difference between the 2 sides and win back to back premierships with different clubs. But Sydney’s superb squad means there’ll be plenty of players Hawthorn must keep quiet if the Hawks are to win consecutive flags
It’s 1 win a piece for these 2 this season but who’ll be victorious in the match the most important match of the year.