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2021 Toyota AFL Premiership
Grand Final • Melbourne v Western Bulldogs
140 21.14
Full Time Demons by 74
66 10.6
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    FINAL TEAMS, SUBS LOCKED IN: Follow the Grand Final LIVE

    The medical subs have been confirmed for Saturday's premiership decider

    Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs do battle in the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final at Optus Stadium on Saturday night. Picture: AFL Media

    FINAL TEAMS

    WESTERN Bulldogs forward Laitham Vandermeer has won a Toyota AFL Grand Final reprieve, named his side's starting sub for Saturday night's bout against Melbourne. Midfielder James Jordon will be the Demons' sub with both teams to enter as named on Thursday night.

    Vandermeer was dropped from the Dogs' line-up after being subbed out of the preliminary final win over Port Adelaide with a hamstring concern. Coach Luke Beveridge insisted on Friday he was fully fit to play. The Dogs made two changes from the side that beat the Power, Cody Weightman (concussion) and Alex Keath (hamstring) recalled in place of Vandermeer and Ryan Gardner.

    DEES v DOGS All the stats LIVE from 5.15pm AWST

    Jordon was the unused sub in the Demons' qualifying final win over Brisbane and played a tick over a quarter in the preliminary final against Geelong, subbed on in place of Steven May. The Demons named an unchanged starting side on Thursday with May passed fully fit and veteran Michael Hibberd retaining his position in defence.

    NO LATE CHANGES

    MEDICAL SUBS
    Melbourne: James Jordon
    Western Bulldogs: Laitham Vandermeer

    SUMMARY

    For the second straight season, two Victorian teams will play the Toyota AFL Grand Final outside of Melbourne. Although they've taken different paths through the finals, minor premier Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have been the best teams for much of the year, occupying the top two spots for 16 of the 23 rounds. Melbourne is trying to break a 57-year premiership drought, while the Bulldogs are trying to emulate their remarkable 2016 flag by coming from outside the top four to sweep their way through September.

    03:37 Mins
    Published on

    THE FINAL WORD: Grand Final captains and coaches have their say

    Nathan Schmook with all the Grand Final Eve news from Perth

    Published on

    WHERE AND WHEN: Optus Stadium, Saturday September 25, 5.15pm AWST (local), 7.15pm AEST

    WEATHER: Perth is expected to reach a maximum of 25C throughout the day with light easterly winds and no chance of rain.

    HOW MANY WILL BE THERE? The 60,000-seat Optus Stadium can be filled to 100 per cent capacity, despite a COVID-19 alert during the week when a NSW truck driver tested positive after leaving the state. After corporate tickets and members were allotted seats, tickets to the general public sold out in minutes.

    TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

    ENTERTAINMENT (split pre-game and half-time): Hometown rock band Birds of Tokyo will headline a huge contingent of local artists that includes John Butler, Eskimo Joe, sisters Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn from folk-rock group The Waifs, Men at Work lead singer Colin Hay and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

    L-R: Amy Manford, Kav Temperley, Abbe May, Ian Kenny Gina Williams, Guy Ghouse. Picture: AFL Photos

    WHO WILL PRESENT THE CUP AND MEDALS? Former Melbourne captain Garry Lyon will present the cup to the Demons if they break their drought, while Bulldogs champion Chris Grant will have the honour should his former club salute. 2006 Norm Smith Medal winner Andrew Embley will present this year's medal, while his West Coast premiership-winning coach John Worsfold will hand over the Jock McHale Medal to the winning coach.

    UMPIRES: Matt Stevic (ninth Grand Final), Brett Rosebury (ninth), Jacob Mollison (first)

    WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR

    Round 11: Melbourne 13.9 (87) def. Western Bulldogs 8.11 (59)
    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.

    07:11 Mins
    Published on

    Highlights: Western Bulldogs v Melbourne

    The Bulldogs and Demons clash in round 11

    Published on

    Round 19: Western Bulldogs 13.7 (85) def. Melbourne 9.11 (65)
    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.

    07:31 Mins
    Published on

    Highlights: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

    The Dees and Dogs clash in round 19

    Published on

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR

    Melbourne
    The Demons love to control the game and generate their scoring from the contest. Against Geelong in the preliminary final they scored an unthinkable 101 points from clearance wins – the fourth-most points from that source by any side on record. It was no fluke. Led by Max Gawn in the ruck, Melbourne has been the AFL's most prolific team from centre bounce all season, outscoring opponents by an average of 6.3 points a game. In the home and away season, they won the contested possession count by an average of 11, which has increased to a mind-blowing 25 in the finals. Combined with the most frugal defence in the competition, it's a lethal combination.

    03:47 Mins
    Published on

    Complete package: How Dees gun will 'break' opponents

    Access All Areas looks at why Max Gawn will have the upper hand no matter who the Bulldogs throw at him, then checks in on the Grand Final markets with Sportsbet

    Published on

    Western Bulldogs 
    It's a genuine 'battle of the midfields', with the Bulldogs' engine room of Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore critical to their success. They love to chain handballs from stoppage wins, averaging 25 disposals a game more than their opposition through the home and away season. The Dogs have also been beasts around the contest in September, winning the contested possession count by an average of 21 through the finals. Luke Beveridge loves to assign specific jobs to players, so watch for a forward, possibly Josh Schache as he did against Port's Aliir Aliir in the preliminary final, to negate Jake Lever, and Josh Dunkley to get a midfield run-with assignment.

    WHAT THE STATS SAY

    - Jack Macrae is having an unbelievable finals series. The prolific Bulldogs midfielder is averaging 37 disposals a game – the equal-most of any player in finals history – and 17.3 contested possessions, which is third all-time.

    - Not only is Melbourne good around the clearances, it's also the best team in the AFL for winning post-clearance contested possessions, with a differential of plus-10 a game.

    - Tom Liberatore and Clayton Oliver are the top two players in the competition for total clearances this year. Liberatore has won 182 and Oliver 181.

    - If the Bulldogs turn the ball over in the middle of the ground, they're the best equipped of any team to defend it, conceding a score from just 24.2 per cent of these mishaps.

    - Jack Viney is stepping his game up when it matters the most. The rugged Demon averaged 4.3 clearances a game during the home and away season and has upped that to eight a game during the finals.

    - Stefan Martin has a bigger influence than meets the eye. In games when the veteran ruckman has played, the Bulldogs have outscored opponents from clearances by 14.9 points a game, compared to just 5.9 points when he hasn't played.

    - When Alex Neal-Bullen kicks the ball inside 50 for Melbourne, it's good news for the Demons as they mark it 25.9 per cent of the time. That success rate is the fifth best in the League among the top-50 for total kicks inside 50. 

    IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR

    Melbourne
    Last off-season the Demons decided they needed more key forward scoring punch and recruited Ben Brown. After knee troubles slowed his progress early in the season, Brown has hit form when Melbourne needed it most, kicking 17 goals and averaging six marks in nine matches since being recalled in round 17. Brown doesn't need to dominate, but providing the star-studded midfields are relatively even, it's important he occupies in-form Alex Keath and provides a strong presence for the small and medium forwards to work around.

    Western Bulldogs
    It's been a patchy finals campaign for Adam Treloar, but the former Magpie will be as hungry as anyone to win on Saturday. Treloar was terrific in the second half of the elimination final triumph against Essendon, was down against Brisbane, and then absolutely superb against Port, racking up a game-high 13 score involvements. After falling short with Collingwood in heartbreaking fashion in 2018, and then controversially forced to change clubs during the off-season, a premiership medal would be oh so sweet for the 28-year-old.

    Prediction
    Melbourne by eight points. Max Gawn's red-hot form, coupled with the Demons' stingy defence might give them the slightest of advantages.

    MATCH REPORT

    It's a grand NEW flag: Demons finally exorcise 57 years of pain

    Melbourne breaks through for its first premiership since 1964

    The Demons celebrate winning the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

    AFTER 57 years, it came down to 15 minutes. They are surely the sweetest 15 minutes in Melbourne's long and proud history.

    The Demons' decades of misery - the AFL's longest premiership drought - is over after Melbourne's stunning third quarter saw them overcome the Western Bulldogs in Saturday night's Toyota AFL Grand Final. 

    HOW THE WEST WAS WON Decade of dysfunction wiped away in 31 seconds

    The 74-point thrashing secured Melbourne its 13th flag and first since 1964, with the premiership promiseland reached in style under lights at Optus Stadium in front of 61,118 fans.

    07:55 Mins
    Published on

    Highlights: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

    The Demons and Bulldogs clash in the Grand Final

    Published on

    And the Perth prize was captured in the most dramatic of circumstances, with the Demons trailing by 19 points midway through the third quarter before booting six goals in 15 minutes to turn their deficit into a 24-point lead at the final change.

    ALL THE STATS Full match coverage

    It was a wild patch that came after the Dees hadn't kicked a goal for more than half an hour of game time, and it was led by midfield superstar Christian Petracca, who finished with 39 disposals, nine clearances and two brilliant goals. It was an iconic and dominant big-game performance from the midfielder who will now etch his name into Melbourne history as the first Demons Norm Smith medallist.

    03:18 Mins
    Published on

    Petracca writes history in the most powerful performance

    Christian Petracca equals the record for most touches ever in an AFL Grand Final to deservedly claim the Norm Smith Medal

    Published on

    That Simon Goodwin's men marched on in the last quarter to finish comfortable victors – 21.14 (140) to 10.6 (66) – will mask the epic nature of the first three quarters of the game. But after midway through the third quarter it was an irresistible sea of Demons in an extraordinary shift that will go down in Grand Final folklore.

    Bayley Fritsch was sensational with six goals for the Demons while Clayton Oliver (33 disposals, 10 tackles) was also terrific partnering Petracca in the midfield. Angus Brayshaw (25 disposals, one goal) had perhaps the best game of his season, while half-back Christian Salem (27 and one) set things up. Ruck pair Max Gawn and Luke Jackson were influential, Jake Bowey was busy early and Ed Langdon's relentless run was on show.

    10 TALKING POINTS Dee-structive third quarter, was Max robbed?

    Melbourne had the Bulldogs rattled to start. Jack Viney flattened Jack Macrae at the opening stoppage, Salem was physical and Mitch Hannan was floored by Steven May. The hits reverberated around the Bulldogs, who were shaky in defence, fumbly at ground level and simply out of sorts.

    The Dees jumped to a 21-point advantage by quarter-time, with Petracca's swivel and long bomb opening proceedings. Bailey Williams had two bad moments in defence that led to goals to Charlie Spargo and then Fritsch.

    Beveridge sent Adam Treloar into the middle to start the second term in an inspired move to match Melbourne's dynamic midfield. The former Magpie slotted two smart snaps in the opening three minutes and then helped set up another one out of the centre that saw Aaron Naughton kick the Bulldogs' third in four minutes.

    00:42 Mins
    Published on

    Treloar catches fire and sparks life for Dogs

    Adam Treloar produces his tantalising best when the Dogs needed it most, scoring two consecutive goals in the second-quarter

    Published on

    Melbourne's momentum, so hard won in the first term, had dissipated as the Dogs booted six goals to one for the quarter in a dominant turnaround. Dogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli was central to it – he converted his two big inside-50 marks into goals and had nine disposals for the term.

    BRILLIANT BONT, WHERE’S WEIGHTMAN? Every Dog rated out of 10

    A controversial umpiring decision went against the Dees when Gawn's set shot was ruled a behind when he believed it had sailed through, but the Dogs had lifted.

    00:29 Mins
    Published on

    Gawn mystified after shot ruled a behind

    Controversy ensues after Max Gawn believes his effort on goal sailed through the big sticks

    Published on

    Bailey Smith took that into the third term and Treloar continued to press, setting up Jason Johannisen's mark and goal. When Bontempelli spun and kicked his third goal in the middle of the term, the Dogs had stretched their lead to 19 points. More heartache loomed for the Dees.

    But on the canvas, Melbourne threw its biggest swing, with Fritsch kicking back-to-back goals and Petracca's clearance leading to Ben Brown's second goal.

    PERFECT PETRACCA, FANTASTIC FRITSCH Every Demon rated out of 10

    Within an instant, the game was back on level terms, but the Dees weren't done there. Brayshaw added a goal to his hard-running game, Petracca trickled his second through from the boundary, Tom Sparrow kicked one on the run and Oliver's major on the siren was a killer blow.

    The fourth quarter was party time as the Demons kicked nine goals for the term – and 15 of the final 16 of the game – in front of adoring red and blue faithful in attendance. After so many years of football hell, the Demons were finally in heaven.

    MELBOURNE                   4.5     5.9     12.11     21.14 (140)
    WESTERN BULLDOGS     1.2     7.5     9.5     10.6 (66)

    GOALS
    Melbourne: Fritsch 6, Brown 3, Petracca 2, Neal-Bullen 2, McDonald 2, Spargo, Brayshaw, Sparrow, Oliver, Langdon, Jackson
    Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 3, Treloar 3, R Smith, Naughton, Hunter, Johannisen

    BEST
    Melbourne: Petracca, Fritsch, Oliver, Brayshaw, Salem, Gawn, Jackson
    Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Daniel, B.Smith, Treloar, Macrae, Liberatore, Dale

    INJURIES
    Melbourne: Nil
    Western Bulldogs: Nil

    SUBSTITUTES
    Melbourne: Jordon (unused)
    Western Bulldogs: Vandermeer (unused) 

    Crowd: 61,118 at Optus Stadium

    NORM SMITH MEDAL VOTING
    15 - Christian Petracca, Melbourne - 33333
    10 - Bayley Fritsch - 22222
    3 - Clayton Oliver - 111
    1 - Christian Salem - 1
    1 - Caleb Daniel - 1

    Luke Hodge (Chair) – C Petracca, B Fritsch, C Oliver.
    Harry Taylor – C Petracca, B Fritsch, C Salem.
    Tania Armstrong – C Petracca, B Fritsch, C Oliver.
    Andrew Krakouer – C Petracca, B Fritsch, C Daniel.
    Callum Twomey – C Petracca, B Fritsch, C Oliver. 

    01:13 Mins
    Published on

    Raw emotion on the siren as Demons break drought

    Enjoy the thrilling moment the Melbourne Demons end their 57-year premiership drought

    Published on
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