On Saturday afternoon, the 2017 Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) between the Adelaide Crows, who are looking to win their third premiership, and their first since 1998, and the Richmond Tigers, who are into their first grand final since 1982, and will be looking to win their first premiership since 1980.
The Crows come into the grand final off the back of two finals wins against the GWS Giants in the first week of the finals, and against the Geelong Cats last week in the preliminary final, winning by 36 points and 61 points respectively in each of those two matches. They are the number one scoring team in the AFL (after the regular season), averaging 109.77 points per match, and the fourth-best defensive team (after the regular season), in terms of scoring, conceding on average 80.72 points per match in 2017.
Given the Crows great offensive scoring stats, they are unsurprisingly the number one goal scoring team in the AFL, averaging 16.1 goals per match, but they are fifth for disposals (394.2 per match), first for contested possessions (155.4 per match), third for contested marks (12.5 per match), first for marks Inside 50 (14.7 per match), third for hit-outs (45 per match), second for clearances (39.6 per match), equal-second for tackles (71.9 per match), fourth for one percenters (50.5 per match), and second for Inside 50s (57.9 per match).
The Tigers come into their first grand final in 35 years off the back of four-straight wins, including two finals wins against the Geelong Cats in week one of the finals by 51 points, and against the GWS Giants in last week’s preliminary final by 36 points. They are only the eighth-best scoring team in the AFL (after the regular season), averaging 90.54 points per match, but are the third-best defensive team in terms of scoring (after the regular season), conceding on average 76.54 points per match.
The Tigers are 15th for disposals (365.8 per match), ninth for contested possessions (143.9 per match), equal-11th for contested marks (10.8 per match), second for marks Inside 50 (14 per match), last for hit-outs (31.9 per match), 14th for clearances (35.6 per match), equal-sixth for tackles (69.8 per match), equal-sixth for one percenters (47.5 per match), third for Inside 50s (55.8 per match), and ninth in terms of goal scoring (13.1 per match).
And while the Crows look more dominant compared to the Tigers as far as the statistics are concerned, the Tigers do have the 2017 Brownlow Medallist in their team in Dustin Martin.
Martin has had a career-best season in 2017, being the best on ground on 11 occasions (as voted by the field umpires), which is the most in history, and tallied 36 votes, which is a record amount of votes for a Brownlow Medallist in a year, and was the only Richmond players to poll into double figures.
Martin is equal-ninth in average disposals (29.8 per match), seventh in average contested possessions (14.2 per match), eighth in average clearances (6.5 per match), and first in average Inside 50s (6.1 per match).
However, the Crows have been more of a team-first orientated club in 2017, with four players polling into double figures in the 2017 Brownlow Medal count, including Sam Jacobs (10), Rory Atkins (10), Matt Crouch (11), and Rory Sloane (20).
Sloane has had a superb year for Adelaide, being 13th in average contested possessions (13.4 per match), equal-10th in average clearances (6.4 per match), equal-fourth for average tackles (7.8 per match), and equal-13th for average Inside 50s (4.5 per match).
The Crows and the Tigers have only played against each other once in 2017, which was at the Adelaide Oval back in Round Six, when the Crows smashed the Tigers by 76 points, but as far as the records of both teams at the MCG in 2017, it looks quite promising for both teams.
Richmond have won 11 of their 13 matches at the MCG in 2017, only losing to the Fremantle Dockers (Round 8), and the Sydney Swans (Round 13), while Adelaide are undefeated in 2017 in their only three matches at the MCG, winning against Hawthorn (Round 2), and Carlton (Round 15), before drawing with Collingwood (Round 19), with Mitch McGovern (who will miss the grand final) kicking a goal after the siren to level the scores for the Crows.
However, with many of the spectators on Saturday likely to be Richmond supporters, it moves the match closer to a 50/50 contest, but with the grand final being a neutral occasion, it moves the odds more in favour with the better team, and that is the Crows.
I think it will be tight contest for at least three-and-a-half quarters, but I think the Adelaide Crows will pull away late to win by 18 points on the last Saturday in September to return to the holy grail of Australian rules football for the first time since 1998.