So here we are, one game to go. The two best teams face of in the Grand Final, Pies v Saints.
The Pies are in awesome form. Its as simple as that. They smashed the Dogs and they destroyed the Cats. Thus far no one has been able to counter there high pressure game plan.
The Saints are more flexible than the Cats and have now seen the Pies at their very best, that will hold them in good stead.
They are happy to play the waiting game, something Geelong is not happy to do. I must admit it almost looks like MM decided that to win a flag you must beat Geelong, how do you do that? Choke them because they never change their game plan. So he devised this tactic to beat Geelong.
Saints also work very hard to have a free man coming off HF, meaning the Pies will not necessarily be able to have as many in the zone up forward. Saints are happy to kick to a contest further up the ground...with Rooey marking them and Kosi squashing packs (because he is a dud and can't mark) and Milne and Scheinder and mids happy to sweep the ball forward the press shouldn't worry them as much.
The Pies will go wide again when coming off the HB line, and as usual they will move the ball damn quick. The Saints will have to work hard at their own zone to slow the Pies up, and control the tempo.
It will be a grinding game that is for sure. Clearances super important, and quick movement forward from those to seize the opportunity against one on one defence is also key for both sides.
Saints can't allow Pies to have a free man in defence. He has to be manned up. They don't care if there is a lot of congested ball and contests in the air in the forward line, but being out numbered is dreadful. I would tag Maxwell.
The mental aspect is key. Both teams have their issues in that regard. Pies are young and could be overwhelmed (they weren't against Geelong, but maybe they got themselves up to beat the Cats and a GF is a different prospect altogether). Thus far the Pies kids have not been too distracted. The Saints have last year on their mind. If they can focus that for them winning rather than causing doubt, then that will help them too.
Kicking for goal is key. Pies had a night out against the Cats but based on evidence that is unlikely to happen again. Saints can be shockers too. Milne's effort (although I though in general he was very good early when the game was tight last week) and Rooey are examples of what can happen.
So in the end who is going to win? I think overall the Pies have been the best team of the year, and on that basis would be deserving winners, and I think they have enough in the tank to beat the Saints, but I'm not entirely writing the Saints off. If they can keep it low scoring and control the tempo they are a real chance, but I don't think they'll be able to control the tempo for long enough to win. Pies by 11.