After a gruelling season that has had AFL fans all over the place with excitement and emotions, it’s finally time to crown the 2021 AFL Premiership Grand Final champion. As all the best scores and odds sites around finish gearing up for what promises to be a thrilling game between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs, there’s no better time than right now to get to talking about all the action that awaits AFL fans, as a new premiership champion will be crowned.
With this being the second season in a row where the AFL title will be decided amongst two Victorian squads, no other two teams seem more fitting to be playing for the title than the Demons and the Bulldogs. With their season series tied at one win each, what can fans expect from each team, and who looks best to end up winning the title? Let’s dig right in.
For The Demons, It’s Time To Break The Premiership Drought
It’s been 57 years since the last time that the Melbourne Demons won the AFL Premiership title, 57 years in which the team has gone through a roller coaster of situations both on and off the field that at times led the team into wormholes where it seemed like there would be no escape. But then again, where there’s a spirit, there’s a will and when you talk about the Demons, this 2021 season has proven to be the season where everyone’s spirits are running as high as ever and a subsequent trip to the finals with a true and open chance to take the AFL crown is more than palpable.
Melbourne’s season has been one where dominance has been a clear go-to, with their nine-game win streak to start the season as the best start for the squad since 1956. It took a heartbreaking loss against Adelaide in Round 10 to stop the Demons in their undefeated tracks. Yet, Round 11 was where we got what would end up being the first of two previews of the upcoming Grand Final after the Demons took down the Bulldogs with sheer dominance, putting the league on notice that if there was ever a favourite for the crown, it was them.
Great playing by Bayley Fritsch, Christian Petracca and Tom McDonald who all put up the goals necessary to send the Demons on their way. After a couple of unexpected results against Collingwood and Hawthorn, the results were still the same, Melbourne dominated the standings from beginning to end of the season and that is why they’re here waiting to take down the Bulldogs and get a taste of what championship glory is like once again.
What will Melbourne’s strategy be entering the premiership decider? The same as all-season, to have total control of the game and to score as many times as possible without allowing the Dogs to get any advantage. Melbourne will need all of its top players to play the game of their lives here, with high hopes for what Max Gawn can do in the ruck. If they can mix their almost unfair scoring abilities with their sharp, military precision defence, the Demons will surely be taking the title home.
For Western, It’s All About Emulating Their 2016 Title Run In 2021
Across the field from Melbourne will be a Western Bulldogs team who wish to end this season the same way they did in 2016 - where they ended up as AFL Premiership winners in one of the most memorable matches in recent times. The Bulldogs started the season out making a very strong statement throughout the first six rounds of the competition, winning all six matches. After taking their first loss of the season and subsequently losing to Melbourne on their first of two matches of the year, the Bulldogs continued on with their fight and title aspirations and were able to take the second encounter against Melbourne in the Demons' home soil.
Comments about if the Dogs were all but done for the season continued to spark though, especially after seeing their star goalkicker Josh Bruce sidelined by a tragic ACL injury. But even after losing against Hawthorn, who also defeated Melbourne and Port Adelaide and saw the Dogs finish in fifth place of the season standings, the Bulldogs dug deep and found the way to avoid 2021 being the third season in a row where an early falling out from the finals was bound to happen. After beating Essendon in an elimination final, and an action-packed victory over Brisbane in the semifinals, the Bulldogs went on to take out the heavily favoured Power in an almost unjust fashion, to book their ticket to the finals against Melbourne.
So what needs to happen for Western to take down Melbourne and walk away as champions? Well, the Bulldogs midfield, led by Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli, need to be able to win the midfield at all times. Winning possession in the middle can ensure the Dogs an advantage over Melbourne that could help them even out the competition in their favour. If they add to that, the scoring powers they showed against Port Adelaide in order to get here, then that’s a combination that will be very hard for Melbourne to battle.
While the Bulldogs are coming in very strong, playing like they initially did at the beginning of the season, it feels like if there was ever a time for Melbourne to break their title drought, it would be right now. So take Melbourne to win it all and show why they were the best team in all of the 2021 AFL season.