Mick’s Picks: AFL Grand Final

Mick Malthouse: Grand Final

Looking back at last week, both the Preliminary Finals were blowouts, although they were different types of games insofar as Adelaide dominated from the start against Geelong, whereas Richmond ran all over GWS in the second half.

Adelaide controlled the midfield brilliantly with perfect ball use. The Cats tried to shut down the Adelaide mids but were unable to replicate the success they had against the Swans the previous week. The Crows backline was dominant against the Cats forwards, with Daniel Talia in particular being all over Tom Hawkins.

The lesson for Richmond out of this game is that they need to force turnovers. Adelaide did give the ball up on occasion but it was primarily due to skill error, not to pressure. The Tigers have made pressure, particularly in the forward line, their defining characteristic and they will need to bring it on Saturday.

In the other Preliminary the Giants were simply overwhelmed in the second half. Their forward line was one dimensional with the loss of Jeremy Cameron and Steve Johnson wasn’t able to have any impact at all. Both teams come into the Grand Final with terrific form, no new injuries and high confidence.

Grand Finals Tips

Match
Mick’s Pick
Adelaide v Geelong (Sat 14:30) Richmond WIN ($2.20)
Norm Smith Medal Tom Lynch ($17)
AFL Grand Final: Adelaide v Richmond

The Crows have been clearly the best offensive side all year, averaging more than 109 points throughout the home and away season. They are a solid defensive side, but the Tigers have clearly been the best defensive team over the second half of the season and through the finals.

Since Round 6 the Tigers have conceded more than 12 goals on only one occasion, against St. Kilda at Etihad Stadium. The Crows on the other hand have been a very good defensive side for the most part, but they have shown that they can concede large scores, particularly on the road when the opposition has the best of the midfield battle.

Looking at the game tactically, one area the Crows can look to exploit Richmond is in the ruck. Adelaide’s Ben Jacobs and Richmond’s Toby Nankervis are fairly evenly matched, but when Nankervis is being rested the Crows will look to exploit Shaun Grigg or whoever the Tigers throw in there. The Crows backup ruckman is Josh Jenkins who will have a big height advantage over whoever he comes up against.

The midfield battle will be crucial but it is difficult to identify one team as having the obvious edge. The Crows are a very even brigade led by Rory Sloane with the Crouch brothers also being crucial cogs. As everyone knows, the Tigers best player is Dustin Martin, and he has the capacity to tear games open in a very short time. Last week Sloane took Patrick Dangerfield at several of the stoppages. He didn’t put a hard tag on – neither of these teams generally does – but it wouldn’t surprise to see him go to Dusty at times.

Adelaide’s game is largely built upon fast, accurate distribution from their half back line to a myriad of taller options up the ground. Richmond’s ability to stop this – they are the best defensive forward line in the competition – will be crucial to the outcome of the game.

One player Richmond will need to be wary of is Tom Lynch. David Astbury and Alex Rance are good match ups for Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins, but if they don’t put time into Lynch he has the ability to tear them apart. He does a vital job for Adelaide in linking their forward and backline play, and if they don’t have a defensive plan for Lynch he could end up playing a vital role for the Crows.

Richmond has an unusual forward line because they only generally have one permanent tall forward in Jack Riewoldt. Adelaide has a tall backline but most have the ability to play on smaller opponents so that shouldn’t trouble them too much. Daniel Talia should go to Jack Riewoldt, and with the Adelaide team’s tendency to zone off their opponents means the Tigers small forward line could find themselves with opportunities. Dustin Martin will no doubt spend time forward and he can potentially break the game open as well.

In predicting this game, I’m going to stick with what I know best. History shows that the best defensive side will generally beat the best offensive side, so I am predicting the Tigers to win a very close match.

Mick’s Pick: Richmond WIN ($2.20)

Norm Smith Medal

The way both sides match up Tom Lynch looks like a player who could end up playing a vital role if the Crows are to win. Astbury and Rance will likely go to Walker and Jenkins, so Lynch has a great opportunity to become the focal point of the Crows attack. Maurice Rioli, Gary Ablett Senior, Nathan Buckley and Chris Judd were all winners on a losing side and Lynch may very well be joining the list.

Mick’s Pick: Tom Lynch ($17)

The Wolf’s AFL Tips: Grand Final

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