WITH Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs evenly matched for star power it is their bottom six that could decide which players end the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final in glory.

It is said it isn’t the team with the best six players that wins a premiership but the team with the better bottom six.

This is especially likely this year with both Grand Finalists boasting a brilliant midfield and sharing six of the top-eight players in the competition, according to the official AFL Player Ratings.

GRAND FINAL PREVIEW Demons v Bulldogs, stats that matter, who wins and why

The onball battle between the Bulldogs' Marcus Bontempelli (ranked No.2), Tom Liberatore (No.5) and Jack Macrae (No.7), against the Demons’ Christian Petracca (No.3), Clayton Oliver (No.4) and Max Gawn (No.8) could decide which club claims the flag.

Or the impact of the top-end talent on each team could cancel each other out.

Jack Macrae tries to break clear of Clayton Oliver in round 11, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Looking beyond the six stars, the Bulldogs have three more players ranked in the top 50, including a surging Bailey Smith (45) and Therabody AFL All-Australian Bailey Dale (49), and another two players in the top 100.

The Demons only have All-Australian defensive duo Jake Lever (37) and Steven May (82) also in the top 100, and their sixth-ranked player is Ed Langdon at 107.

It is in the next tier that the Demons’ even spread becomes a strength, with eight more players including All-Australian squad members Christian Salem (131) and Bayley Fritsch (161) ranked in the top 200, compared to the Dogs’ six.

ONE-STOP SHOP What time does the Grand Final start?

The Dees also come out on top with a bottom six ranked higher than those at the Bulldogs.

The six unheralded Demons selected for the Grand Final are Charlie Spargo, (No.268), Michael Hibberd (356), Tom Sparrow (372), Ben Brown (425), Harrison Petty (428) and Jake Bowey (564).

The Dogs’ bottom six sits lower in the AFL Player Ratings with Mitch Hannan (No.349), Easton Wood (359), Roarke Smith (384), Cody Weightman (397), Stefan Martin (481) and Josh Schache (572).

Josh Schache played a crucial role in the Bulldogs' 2021 preliminary final win. Picture: AFL Photos

The official AFL Player Ratings, compiled by Champion Data, take into account a player’s last 40 matches within a two-season block.

The Demons even have a better bottom half-dozen despite six of their Grand Final team still to play and earn points in 40 career matches, compared to only two for the Bulldogs.

AFL Player Ratings points are earned or lost every time a player is involved in a passage of play, with considerations ranging from goals and disposals, to intercepts and ‘one-percenters’.

Official AFL Player Ratings rankings: 2021 Grand Final

1-10 (Melb 3, WB 3)

2.  Marcus Bontempelli (WB) - 584.9 points
3.  Christian Petracca (Melb) - 572
4.  Clayton Oliver (Melb) - 565.8
5.  Tom Liberatore (WB) - 545.4
7.  Jack Macrae (WB) - 535.6
8.  Max Gawn (Melb) - 528.9

Marcus Bontempelli and Christian Petracca during the 2021 AAMI Community Series. Picture: Getty Images

11-100 (Melb 2, WB 5)

37. Jake Lever (Melb) - 410.2
42. Caleb Daniel (WB) - 402.6
45. Bailey Smith (WB) - 395
49. Bailey Dale (WB) - 389
71. Tim English (WB) - 359.9
82. Steven May (Melb) - 346.7
98. Bailey Williams (WB) - 332.5

101-200 (Melb 8, WB 6)

107. Ed Langdon (Melb) - 323.4
114. Jack Viney (Melb) - 318
131. Christian Salem (Melb) - 306.6
134. Lachie Hunter (WB) - 305.7
144. Kysaiah Pickett (Melb) - 302
147. Alex Neal-Bullen (Melb) - 301
153. Josh Dunkley (WB) - 297.9
160. Adam Treloar (WB) - 292.8
161. Bayley Fritsch (Melb) - 292.7
163. Tom McDonald (Melb) - 290.7
168. Angus Brayshaw (Melb) - 285.1
184. Alex Keath (WB) - 276.6
185. Aaron Naughton (WB) - 275.6
188. Jason Johannisen (WB) - 272.8

201-300 (Melb 4, WB 2)

225. Trent Rivers (Melb) - 248.5
261. James Harmes (Melb) - 230.5
266. Luke Jackson (Melb) - 227.5
268. Charlie Spargo (Melb) - 225.7
269. Zaine Cordy (WB) - 225.5
291. Taylor Duryea (WB) - 212.5

Trent Rivers gets a kick away in round 11, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

301-400 (Melb 2, WB 4)

349. Mitch Hannan (WB) - 168.5
356. Michael Hibberd (Melb) - 162.7
359. Easton Wood (WB) - 159.8
372. Tom Sparrow (Melb) - 151.8
384. Roarke Smith (WB) - 143
397. Cody Weightman (WB) - 137.1

401+ (Melb 3, WB 2)

425. Ben Brown (Melb) - 121.1
428. Harrison Petty (Melb) - 119.8
481. Stefan Martin (WB) - 94.8
564. Jake Bowey (Melb) - 51.5
572. Josh Schache (WB) - 47.2