Liam Dawson and Ben Ronke exchange pleasantries. Photo: TJ Yelds/NEAFL.

By BRYCE HEATON

 

NEAFL GRAND FINAL

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sydney Swans v Brisbane Lions at the Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.45pm
*This match will be streamed live on NEAFL TV (youtube.com/northeastafl)
*Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App

SUMMARY

It all comes down to this.

The all-conquering minor premiers the Sydney Swans take to the historic abounds of the SCG to face the only side that have defeated them all year in a Grand Final stoush for the ages. Not only are the Lions the only team to knock off the Swans this season, they’ve done it twice.

The Lions return to that one day in September for the first time since their back-to-back triumphs in 2012 and 2013, whilst the Swans are back after last season’s heartbreaking four point loss to the GIANTS. Despite the club’s insatiable appetite for finals footy, the Bloods have never won a NEAFL Grand Final from three attempts.

Sydney have made the huge inclusions of Kurt Tippett and Will Hayward. The Lions welcome back listed players Blake Grewar, Cian Hanley and Jacob Allison, whilst potential top ten draft pick Connor Ballenden comes into the side. Between the two sides a staggering 40 AFL-listed players have been named, a record for the NEAFL Grand Final. There is almost a zero per cent chance of rain forecast, and with the Swans v Essendon AFL Elimination Final preceding it, expect the atmosphere at this decider to be electric.

See the full teams here.

RECENT ENCOUNTERS

Round 19, 2017: Brisbane Lions 19.14 (128) d Sydney Swans 15.19 (109) at the Gabba
Round 6, 2017: Sydney Swans 15.12 (102) d Brisbane Lions 10.5 (65) at the Sydney Cricket Ground
Round 1, 2017: Brisbane Lions 17.9 (111) d Sydney Swans 12.13 (85) at Blacktown International Sportspark

TALKING POINTS

1. These sides have met in a NEAFL Grand Final before in 2013, where the Lions scored a gutsy eight-point victory. Just two Lions from that premiership side will take to the field tomorrow in Michael Close, who booted three goals in 2013, and Archie Smith, who was a Lion Academy player. The Swans have named just one, Daniel Robinson.

2. Last time these sides met in Round 19 the Swans struggled without a recognised ruckman, Oscar McInerney and Archie Smith dominating the taps before defender Aliir Aliir was forced to jump in. While the Swans have named Kurt Tippett in the ruck this time, he will undoubtedly spent a lot of time up forward, meaning questions loom over who will rotate in.

3. The last three NEAFL Grand Finals have been decided by less than a kick. Last year James Stewart kicked the match winner for the GIANTS to defeat the Swans, in 2015 a missed shot on the boundary from Gavin Grose gifted the Thunder a one-point win over Aspley, and back in 2014 it was a goal from Aspley’s Daniel Smith on the siren which broke Sydney hearts. With two sides as evenly matched as Sydney and Brisbane, could it happen an unprecedented fourth straight time?

ROOKIE WATCH

Defence wins premierships, meaning Jack Payne has his work cut out for him this weekend. At just 17, the Noosa junior is already a broad shouldered 195cm and 93kg, and will likely have the job of manning either Toby Pink or Kurt Tippett alongside Matt Eagles. While Ballenden has been in the draft conversation for years, Payne has flown under the radar somewhat. A big showing from the high quality youngster on Grand Final day could see his draft stocks rise.

STATS THAT MATTER

The statistics show the Lions like to play an uncontested game, picking their way down the field before hitting one of their talls on the lead or in a contest inside 50. They boast the highest average marks (111), effective kicks (152) and the lowest clangers (17) per game. The way the Swans can combat this? Bloods footy. They lead the competition for average contested possessions (147), hard ball gets (58) and handball receives (145). If they can keep the Sherrin on the deck and pressure the Lions into making uncharacteristic errors, this will be their match.

PREMIERSHIP PREDICTION

Swans by four points.

 

 

 

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