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2021 AFL GRAND FINAL - MELBOURNE DEMONS V WESTERN BULLDOGS
Date: Saturday 25 September, 7:15pm
Venue: Optus Stadium
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Out: J. Jordan (sub)
Preliminary final sub: J. Jordan (replaced S. May)
B: M.Hibberd, S.May, J.Lever
HB: T.Rivers, H.Petty, C.Salem
C: A.Brayshaw, C.Petracca, E.Langdon
HF: A.Neal-Bullen, T.McDonald, T.Sparrow
F: C.Spargo, B.Brown, B.Fritsch
FOLL: M.Gawn, C.Oliver, J.Viney
I/C: J.Harmes, L.Jackson, J.Bowey, K.Pickett
EMG: J.Melksham, J.Jordon, J.Hunt, K.Chandler
In: A. Keath, C. Weightman
Out: R. Gardner (omitted), L. Vandermeer (omitted), A. Scott (sub)
Preliminary final sub: A. Scott (replaced L. Vandermeer)
B: E.Wood, A.Keath, B.Williams
HB: C.Daniel, Z.Cordy, B.Dale
C: B.Smith, T.Liberatore, L.Hunter
HF: C.Weightman, A.Naughton, A.Treloar
F: J.Schache, T.English, M.Hannan
FOLL: S.Martin, J.Macrae, M.Bontempelli
I/C: J.Johannisen, J.Dunkley, T.Duryea, R.Smith
EMG: L.Vandermeer, E.Richards, A.Scott, R.Gardner
An unchanged line-up for the Demons shows the stability of their side. There was speculation that speedster Jayden Hunt could return to the line-up but after not being seen since round 21, coach Simon Goodwin has elected to head in with the side that has consistently proven they can get the job done all finals series. Expect James Jordan to be given the medical sub role again for reward for a strong season. For the Bulldogs, there's two heartbreak stories. With the return of Alex Keath and Cody Weightman from injury, the hard luck stories are Ryan Gardner and Latham Vandermeer. Both have been named as emergencies and Vandermeer is more likely to earn a recall as the medical sub but he'll be in a tight battle with Anthony Scott for the 23rd man spot.
Max Gawn v Stefan Martin
This is the match-up that could shape the Grand Final. Gawn is in terrific form, averaging 35 hit outs and 19 disposals across his two finals and kicked a bag of five goals in the Preliminary final win over Geelong two weeks ago. Martin has struggled with injury all season but returned for the Dogs' Preliminary final win over Port Adelaide and quelled the influence of Scott Lycett. The former Demons teammates will be locked in a tight battle all game and if the Dogs are any chance to walk away premiers, Martin will have to play the game of his life against the All-Australian ruckman.
Ben Brown v Alex Keath
Former Roo Ben Brown makes his first Grand Final appearance in his first season in a Demons jumper. He'll likely go up against Alex Keath with the ex-Crow returning to the line-up after being a late-out of the Preliminary final win. Brown has kicked 3.3 across his two finals so he hasn't lit up the scoreboard but his work in the air has allowed small forwards Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett to crumb when the ball hits the deck so Keath's main objective will be to play off Brown and collect a number of defensive marks to set the Dogs up from the back 50.
James Harmes v Marcus Bontempelli
We don't usually see a hard tagging role in AFL footy as much as we used too but don't be surprised if, at times, Simon Goodwin sends midfield bull James Harmes to the Dogs skipper in Marcus Bontempelli. Bontempelli starred in the 2016 Grand Final against Sydney, finishing with 22 disposals, seven tackles and five score involvements. Harmes could also be sent to disposal king Jack Macrae should the season's top gatherer start to get far more of the footy than the Demons would like.