AFL Grand Final preview: Season's star teams go to battle in mammoth MCG event

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AFL Grand Final preview: Season's star teams go to battle in mammoth MCG event
AFL Grand Final preview: Season's star teams go to battle in mammoth MCG event
AFL Grand Final preview: Season's star teams go to battle in mammoth MCG event
Profimedia
Over 100,000 adoring and raucous fans are expected to cram into Melbourne’s colossal MCG this Saturday for, arguably, the biggest single event in the Australian sporting calendar - the AFL Grand Final.

After the past two Grand Finals were held in Brisbane (2020) and Perth (2021), this should be the first crowd over the 100k mark since the 2019 Grand Final, with the MCG officially a sell-out this for Saturday’s match.

The final will see this season’s two best teams, the Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans fight it out to be crowned AFL premiership champion for 2022.

Road to the Grand Final

The AFL campaign consists of a 22-game home-and-away regular season contested by 18 teams. This is then followed by a finals series comprising the top eight teams in the table. 

Geelong topped the table after the regular season and so won the so-called minor premiership. Sydney finished in third, level on points with last year’s premiers, the Melbourne Demons, but behind the Demons on points percentage (the number of points a team has scored throughout the season divided by the points conceded, multiplied by 100).

Finishing in the top four means that teams have an easier route to the Grand Final overall. They can afford to lose their first final series game and still progress. 

As it turned out, both the Cats and Swans won their qualifying final (the first round of the finals) and so skipped straight through to the preliminary final stage, which was last week. The winners of the preliminary finals progress to the grand final. 

On Friday, Geelong eased past the Brisbane Lions in their match with a thumping 18.12 (120) - 7.7 (49) win in front of almost 78,000 in Melbourne.

Sydney, meanwhile, scraped past Collingwood by just a single point, 14.11 (95) - 14.10 (94), at the SCG on Saturday with just shy of 46,000 in attendance. It looked as if the Magpies were about to clinch it, having roared back into the match in the fourth quarter, but the Swans held on at home in a classic.

Whilst the Cats were the minor premiership winners, there really isn’t much between these two teams and Saturday’s final should be an epic contest. Both teams are in fantastic form. Geelong have won 15 games straight while the Swans have won nine on the trot.

These two sides have met just once earlier this season, back in round two. Sydney won that affair at the SCG, 17.5 (107) - 10.17 (77), but the game will go down in the memories of Swans fans, and footy fans alike, for other significant reasons.

Sydney forward, and living AFL legend, Lance “Buddy” Franklin (35) became only the sixth player to kick 1000 goals in the AFL (or its previous iteration, the VFL) ever in the fourth quarter of the game. It was an achievement that saw fans pouring onto the field mid-match to celebrate with the Swans' hero.

Franklin won two premierships with Hawthorn Hawks earlier in his career and will be hoping to cap off his record-breaking season with his first for Sydney. It’s 10 years since the Swans last won a Grand Final, coincidentally, that was against a Hawthorn side including Franklin.

Geelong, meanwhile, broke a 44-year premiership drought back in 2007 and then went on to win the competition in 2009 and 2011 as well. However, they have not tasted ultimate success since then. 

They have been getting closer in recent years, though, with a minor premiership in 2019, a preliminary final loss last season and a grand final appearance in 2020. This time, with their star man, the delightfully named Patrick Dangerfield (32) in imperious form, their fans will be expecting them to go one better. 

The Cats go into the game as the bookmakers' favourites but anything could happen in what promises to be a battle of gladiatorial proportions. 

The last game between them, their home-and-away season records, their finals results - all of that goes out the window on Saturday when the Swans and Cats walk out to more than 100,000 spectators packed into an MCG that will heaving with energy and emotion. 

Heroes will rise, legends will be written, and a new AFL premiership champion will be crowned.

Follow all the action from the AFL Grand Final on Flashscore.