Australian Football League grand finals have historically been either nail-bitingly close dramas decided in the dying minutes or complete blowouts that are over by half time, but only twice before last week’s spectacular contest had they ever been tied. With no provision for overtime during a grand final, the result of last Saturday’s dramatic tussle is another 100 minutes of bone crunching, high adrenaline top of the table football – great for fans, great for the AFL, but presumably not too great for all the players involved.
For Collingwood and St. Kilda, fitness will be the telling factor in tomorrow’s grand final rematch, with both teams exhausted from giving it all in what they thought would be the last game of the season.
Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has made the tough decision to dump out of form mercurial forward Leon Davis for the leg speed and endurance of running half back Tyson Goldsack. For the Saints, ruckman Ben McEvoy comes in for Michael Gardiner, a casualty of last week’s hostilities. Both sides will field players with niggling injuries in roughly equal numbers with neither coach taking the risky strategy of rotating a spate class players for fresh legs.
For the Pies, the real question will be whether iconic bogan supporter Joffa can recover from the week long bender he undoubtedly engaged in after realising the most important moment in the last 20 years of his life had come to nothing. Last week, Joffa sported a white suit and fedora - a hard act to maintain for two weekends in a row. Perhaps he would bring the Pies better luck reverting to traditional Collingwood attire – track suits, moccasins, Oakley sunglasses and a gold-platted link chain.
Luck is about all that splits these two teams at the moment. The Pies have been top of the table all year, but the Saints are surging and showed last week they have the maturity to adjust to adversity and pull a game back under their control.
The fact that both sides have made only one change, Collingwood opting for a speedster while St. Kilda merely replacing an injured ruckman, suggests the Pies may have a crucial tiny advantage moving the ball quickly. Prediction: Collingwood by 18 points.
The grand final rematch kicks off at 11:30am Cambodian time tomorrow.