Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Grand Final

West Coast v Collingwood, MCG, 12.30pm

That West Coast have got this far without Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff speaks volumes about the coaching capabilities of Adam Simpson and his staff and the spirit in the squad. The same applies 100 per cent to Collingwood mentor Nathan Buckley and his players given the adversity they have encountered throughout this year on the back of a difficult 2017.

If the grand final prices went up around $1.90 each late last Saturday, nobody would have been surprised. This is a genuine 50-50 contest, with the Magpies perhaps entitled to start the slightest of favourites given they have an extra day’s break and are in familiar surrounds at their MCG base.

If the inclement weather that is forecast hits, it has the potential to erode potential trump cards in Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling (West Coast) and preliminary final hero Mason Cox (Collingwood). It could also impact the Eagles’ preference to chart their way forward from defence with elite kicking skills. As for the Magpies, they bat deeper in the midfield than West Coast and will be hoping All-Australian Brodie Grundy can overcome the extra attention he will receive from Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy. If this was at Optus Stadium, I would have tipped West Coast.

Verdict: Collingwood by 9 points

Norm Smith Medal: Adam Treloar

First Goal: Jordan De Goey

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