There is arguably no bigger day on the Australian sporting calendar than the AFL Grand Final and the 2016 AFL Grand Final is set to be extra special.
The Western Bulldogs have recorded upset wins over West Coast, Hawthorn and Greater Western Sydney to qualify for the Grand Final for the first time since 1961 and they are the sentimental favourites heading into this clash.
Sydney will go into the 2016 AFL Grand Final as clear favourites and they were simply outstanding against Geelong in the Preliminary Finals.
Can the Western Bulldogs fairytale continue or will Sydney prove too strong? I have analysed both teams and come up with betting suggestions for a host of different markets.
Sydney Swans Vs Western Bulldogs
Saturday 1 October, 2.30pm, MCG
The Sydney Swans have been the most consistent side during the 2016 AFL season and they will go into the Grand Final as clear favourites.
Sydney bounced back from their surprise defeat against Greater Western Sydney to record dominant wins over Adelaide and Geelong and it may have been the loss that they needed to have.
The Swans have a list that is packed full of players with Grand Final experience and the memory of the 2014 Grand Final will ensure that they don’t take anything for granted.
Sydney have won 16 of their past 22 games as favourites for a narrow profit and they are 13-9 against the line in this scenario, while they have won four of their past six games as favourites at the MCG.
The worry for Sydney fans is that their side has lost their past two games against the Western Bulldogs and that is one of many reasons that the Victoria outfit will go into this game as finals fodder.
Very few AFL experts gave the Bulldogs any chance of beating West Coast in the first week of the AFL Finals – myself included – and not only did they do that, but they also accounted for Hawthorn and Greater Western Sydney.
Their performance against Greater Western Sydney was particularly gusty.
There were several occasions when the Giants seized control of the game and looked as though they would run away with things, but the Bulldogs refused to give in and toughed out an historic victory.
The return of Matthew Sucking is a big boost for the Bulldogs defence that was already outstanding against the Giants and he could prove key in what I expect to be a low-scoring game.
The Bulldogs have won six of their past 11 games as underdogs for a healthy profit and they have won all three of their games at the MCG this season.
There is plenty of data to suggest that the Western Bulldogs are more than capable upstaging Sydney and when you add in the momentum they have than they are great value at their current price.
Back Western Bulldogs To Win @ $2.55
First Goal Kicker
Lance Franklin ($7) is the obvious favourite in first goal kicker betting markets and there is then a fair gap to the likes of Jake Stringer ($10), Gary Rohan ($11), Tory Dickson ($11), Kurt Tippett ($13) and Tom Papley ($13).
Franklin kicks plenty of goals, but he is definitely under the odds at his current price – he has not kicked the first goal since Sydney beat Port Adelaide in round 20.
The value for Sydney lies with Gary Rohan.
Rohan has kicked the first goal in three of the past ten games played by the Swans and he is a prolific goal-kicker in his own right.
Clay Smith has been in outstanding form during the AFL Finals to date and he has kicked the first goal in two of the past four games played by the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have proven to be slow-starters this season and they don’t kick the first goal very often, but if they do Smith is generally involved.
Back Gary Rohan @ $11 & Clay Smith @ $15
Norm Smith Medal
Sydney dominated the Norm Smith Medal betting market and Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Lance Franklin and Luke Parker are on top of betting from Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli.
Hannebery, Kennedy, Franklin and Parker all had big games in a losing effort against the Bulldogs earlier this season and it is highly likely that one of those four will be the star if the Swans are successful on Saturday.
The Swans have only played three games at the MCG this season and in all three of those games Hannebery finished with the most disposals for the Swans, while he is a proven big-game player.
I have looked a bit deeper for the value when it comes to a Western Bulldogs player in Norm Smith betting markets.
If the Bulldogs are to win this clash they will have to be excellent in their backline and it would not surprise to see another very big effort from Jason Johannisen.
Back Dan Hannnebery @ $8 & Jason Johannisen @ $26
AFL Grand Final Money Wire
The Ladbrokes Money Wire delivers you information on the big bets, key markets and all the moves ahead of the AFL Grand Final.