Where and when: Perth Stadium, WA at 7:15pm (AEST), 5:15pm (AWST)
Last time they met:
Rd 19, 2021: Western Bulldogs 13.7 (85) def Melbourne 9.11 (65) at the MCG
The Bulldogs made it one-all for the season – this time at an empty MCG – with a strong performance in the wet. Led by Marcus Bontempelli’s three-vote outing, in which he kicked two goals among 31 disposals, the Dogs led most of the way and staved off a fourth-quarter surge from the Demons. Jack Macrae (38) and Caleb Daniel (34) were also important in a victory that put the Bulldogs on top of the table. Alex Keath injured his hamstring in the win.
Rd 11, 2021: Melbourne 13.9 (87) def Western Bulldogs 8.11 (59) at Marvel
Both teams entered this match 9-1 and it was the Demons who walked away as premiership favourites following a dominating win at an empty Marvel Stadium. Their pressure was suffocating, with Christian Petracca revealing post-match a mantra to “trust the tackler” playing a huge role. Bayley Fritsch and Tom McDonald kicked three goals apiece, while Clayton Oliver (32 disposals) and Petracca (24 and a goal) were also important. The Bulldogs were missing Josh Dunkley, Adam Treloar, Stefan Martin and Mitch Hannan.
Melbourne = 6 straight
Bulldogs = 3 straight
Why will the Doggies win (Thommo)
The Midfield Battle: The Melbourne midfield has been dominating teams with their physicality but they won’t find the Doggies midfield so easy to negate. With their crazy depth of midfield talent, the Dogs should be able to win plenty of the ball, avoiding them from chasing tail all match like Geelong did in the prelim final against the Dees. Bevo has named Stef Martin again, not for his ruck prowess, but to lock-down on Max Gawn. Maxy should dominate the hit-outs but Martin will pressure him all match and prevent him from giving silver service to his mids and racking up too many touches around the ground.
The Tall Forward Line: While Stef is keeping Max busy, English will spend valuable minutes up forward stretching the Demon defence. He, Schache and Naughton will prove to be a handful for Lever, May and Petty, especially if Schache can drag a tall defender high up the ground as he did to Port Adelaide. Jonas and Aliir Aliir looked second-rate once they were separated in the Preliminary final. At worst, this will prevent Lever from zoning off and taking uncontested marks, providing plenty of ground ball for Weightman and Hannan to go to work. At best, Naughton will explode for 5 goals and win the match off his own boot.
Dee-fence: Likewise the return of Keath will allow the Dogs defence to quell Ben Brown and McDonald. Ben Brown will hear that little voice in his head telling him that he wasn’t good enough at North Melbourne and that he is not good enough to play finals footy and he’ll disappear after half-time. Unless Fritsch, Spargo or Pickett can play a blinder against the strong mid-sized and small-sized doggies defenders, the Melbourne forward line will struggle to post a competitive total.
Mind Games: Has there ever been a team more prone to falling apart mentally in big moments than the Dees? That old cliché about sport being played above the shoulders is true for them. The Bulldogs know how to win finals and they won’t fold like a cheap deck chair, but can the same be said about Melbourne? After their Brownlow snubs, expect Macrae and the Bont to put Melbourne to the sword early and then watch Melbourne self-Dee-struct.
Why will the Dees win (Mottsy)
Max Gawn: The Doggies simply have no answer for the most dominant ruck in the comp right now. Stephan Martin and Tim English. Pfffffft. Big Maxy’s going to have a day out the likes of which we haven’t seen since, oh, 2 weeks ago when he single-handedly tore Geelong a new one. The Dees will get first use of it for the entire afternoon – I don’t have to tell you what an enormous advantage that is.
Well Rested: Some critics like Ross Lyon paint the fact that Melbourne has only played one game in the last month as a negative. I’m telling you it’s not. They’re rested and relaxed and all their little niggles have ebbed away leaving the team in pristine condition for the last game of the season.
Back Line: Hibberd, May, Lever. That’s as strong and stingy as it gets. I don’t care if your forward line does contain names like Weightman (who admitedly is having a stellar post-season), Naughton (who notoriously goes missing in matches), and Treloar (who has problems with accuracy). All three of those boys aren’t going to find it easy tonight.
Engine Room: Yes the Dogs’ midfield is solid but the Demons’ is no slouch! Oliver, Petracca, Viney, and Brayshaw with a chop out coming from Harmes and Langdon. Those boys are more than capable of collecting taps from Big Maxy all day long and booting it long to McDonald, Fritsch and Brown.
Premier: Western Bulldogs by 12 points (tipping record 40.5/70).
Norm Smith: Jack Macrae
First Goal scorer: Cody Weightman (from a free kick)
Premier: Melbourne by 20 points (tipping record 47.5/68).
Norm Smith: Clayton Oliver
First Goal scorer: Christian Petracca (from outside 50 on the run after a massive tap from Big Maxy)
On the final Game Chat for 2021, I wanted to say a huge thank you to Thommo and Father Dougal for chipping in and helping all season with these. You fellas rock! Mottsy
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