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Western Australia and Sydney could dominate AFL finals in 2015

Expert
24th May, 2015
89
2847 Reads

It’s May, not even the midway point of the season, but regardless of the timing, it didn’t stop one thinking ahead to September prospects after glancing at the AFL ladder on a lazy Sunday morning.

There it was, two Western Australian teams and two Sydney teams snuggly filling the top-four spots on the table. I know it’s likely to – and most probably will – change dramatically between now and the end of August, but just indulge me for a moment please.

I know it’s nothing new for two interstate sides to play against one another in a grand final. We had three successive years of it from 2004 to 2006 with firstly Port Adelaide and Brisbane, then the Swans and Eagles in those pair of classics in 2005 and 2006.

And that 2005 decider when the Swans ended the longest of droughts, and is still the highest rating AFL grand final in history with an audience of almost 3.4 million from the mainland capitals.

But it would be so different to see a Fremantle-West Coast grand final – a Derby transplanted into the MCG. Much of Perth would close down for the weekend as Dockers and Eagles fans headed East.

But what if the other pair reached the decider?

Nobody would have ever envisaged an all-Sydney grand final (most would have never thought they would have seen two teams in Sydney, and many, a couple of decades ago, would have thought there would be none by now), and while I realistically doubt it will happen in 2015, the writing is now well and truly on the wall that it’s a genuine prospect for the imminent future.

The Swans were their typically tough best against Hawthorn, particularly in that first quarter when they were relentless at the ball, then again being able to rally and come back to win after being headed, albeit against a Hawks line-up missing the North Smith medal winner from the last time they met, Luke Hodge.

The Giants, well they continue to improve, and with Saturday’s win over Adelaide, they have now equalled their previous best season performance of six wins (the same as 2014), with just eight rounds played.

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Look, a grand final between the Swans and Giants might still be a little way off, but how good would it be, particularly in Sydney?

I remember not that long ago when everyone in Sydney wanted the Swans out of town. They were an embarrassment and hardly ‘representing’ the city as the locals felt it should be. Haven’t those times changed with the Swans now perennial finalists?

When they reached the 2005 grand final and ultimately won it, the support from the entire city was amazing. Sure there were anti-AFL types who still hated them, but generally the sentiment was that of genuine goodwill.

I think a lot of it was pride for the city, but there was also an amount of ‘let’s show Melbourne that we can win their game’ about it as well.

Well, using that logic, imagine if two Sydney teams made the grand final?

Surely then, even NRL devotees would sit up and have a look, and perhaps a laugh at the absence of teams from ‘Australia’s sporting capital’, ‘in the VFL grand final’.

I’m sure there would be cries of having the grand final in Sydney at ANZ Stadium, but no, the grand final should always be at the MCG, and an all-Sydney affair in Melbourne would be better anyway. As I said it’s just a pipedream, but an interesting one I think.

Having said all that, at the moment – and we all know only too well how things can dramatically change – it’s hard to see the 2015 AFL grand final not featuring the Fremantle Dockers.

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They just continue to roll on.

Their performance against North was brutal. They just seem to be able to do what they want, when they want, change gears if they need to, and brush aside any side. Looking at their draw, I can’t see them losing any of the next five – Adelaide and Gold Coast away, and Richmond, Collingwood, and Brisbane at home.

Then the biggest test, perhaps the biggest of the home-and-away season, the Hawks in Tasmania. Hawthorn have really owned the Dockers of late. Sure Freo beat them in Round 21 last season but before that they lost the previous six encounters.

They two sides have played in Tasmania seven times dating back to 2002 and Fremantle is winless in those games. And the last time the Purple men beat the Hawks away from Perth was back in 2001.

They are due, and if they are 13-0 heading into that clash, it would be a brave man to say win number 14 won’t arrive. But, I repeat, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge and a lot of injuries, suspensions and dramas potentially around the corner.

But, right now, if I was a Dockers fan and hadn’t already done it, I’d be checking out accommodation and flights to Melbourne for late September.