AFL West Coast Eagles vs Hawthorn Hawks Live Stream AFL Grand Finale 2015 Online AFL Football Online, AFL Grand Finals West Coast Eagles vs Hawthorn Hawks Match will be kick off at Melbourne Cricket Ground Stadium (MCG), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Saturday 03 October 2015 online, 14.30 pm (AEDT) and its broadcast on Channel Seven, Foxtell.
Hawthorn and West Coast at the MCG to determine the 2015 AFL premiers. If you tipped this at the start of the year, my hat goes off to you.
Not the Hawthorn part of course. After last year’s grand final no one would’ve blamed you for just tipping Hawthorn to win the next five or ten. That’s the degree to which they embarrassed the Sydney Swans in 2014 – despite going in as the underdogs.
But to see West Coast in the grand final is something probably not even the most hardened Eagles fans would’ve genuinely predicted at the start of the season.
It’s been a long journey for the Eagles. Something that you will probably hear me say a lot, especially if they win tomorrow, is that I tipped them to win the flag back in 2013.
It was a reasonable enough tip at the time. They’d had a top-four finish in 2011, and performed pretty well in finals in 2012, despite some serious injuries in their forward line. In that year Josh J Kennedy played just seven games, while Mark LeCras missed the entire season. With both players back in 2013, I reasoned, they would be kicking goals like no one’s business and were a serious chance to win the flag.
True to form with my predictions, West Coast missed finals entirely and the coach wound up moving on at the end of the year. So it turned out terribly, thanks for asking.
The difficulty is that the form of 2011 and 2012 had really just been that nice dovetail between one generation of champions finishing up and another beginning. The likes of Andrew Embley and Daniel Kerr fell away in 2013 and it left West Coast without the depth they needed to contend.
On top of that, John Worsfold seemed to lose his passion for the job.
Now of all the things I rabbit on about, one that doesn’t get rabbited on about enough is just how much I admire John Worsfold. To put it short, he’s an old-school coach, one who really loves his players, and I like that.
In 2013 though it was becoming clear his heart just wasn’t in it anymore. He’d been coaching West Coast for 12 years by the end of the season, and was one of few ‘favourite son’ coaches in modern history to really deliver, but all things must come to an end.
Now he’s likely to be announced as the next coach of Essendon just days after this game. I guess footy really is cyclical.
In came a new era for the Eagles. They were widely tipped to bring in Peter Sumich for the top job, but instead took a chance on a North Melbourne legend and Alastair Clarkson-trainee in Adam Simpson.
Simpson took a while to work out the kinks in the West Coast line-up, resulting in a disappointing 2014 season, but his 2015 has been pure gold.
Now the student comes up against the master on the biggest stage of all.
The Eagles always had the talent to be a contender, but they needed a little more time for the likes of Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff to develop, and they needed that change and excitement that comes with a new coach.
Was my 2013 flag tip just me being ahead of my own time? No, it was a probably a massive coincidence (though it’s worth noting I tipped Nat Fyfe to win the Brownlow that year too). But if the Eagles win the flag, you can bet I’ll say it was.
As for the Hawks, well, you all know their story. They’ve developed over the years into the best football side in the competition, and if they win, it’ll open up the debate again as to whether we should legitimately consider them the greatest side in the history of the game.
It’s strange to think that just two years ago they were going into a final against the Dockers and we were wondering if they were getting enough out of the talent on their list, success-wise. They’ve since proven that yes, yes they are.
Three in a row is a rare achievement. It just requires so much to go right – one bad twist of fate can throw off a premiership favourite in any year, but to successfully navigate three consecutive seasons and win the flag in all of them is amazing.
So can the Hawks do it? You bloody bet they can. They are in many ways a lot like their opponents, just a few steps ahead. Both teams possess a damaging, multi-faceted forward line, both have great attacking midfields, both know how to heap the pressure on, and both have learned to do very well with often underrated backlines.
On top of that though, the Hawks have experience. This is their fourth grand final in a row, while the Eagles are playing their first one for nearly a decade. The Hawks know the drill here, and they know how to win it. They’re not going to be caught in the headlights.
Only three players in the West Coast side have played in a premiership before – Sam Butler, who played in the club’s 2006 flag, former Magpie Sharrod Wellingham, who played in the 2010 flag, and strangely enough, former Hawk Xavier Ellis, who played in the 2008 win.
Compare that to the Hawks’ best 22, many of whom are two-time premiership players from the last two years, with a smattering of three-time flag players who were also around in 2008.
Add in the fact they’ve got home-ground advantage and it’s not hard to see why the Hawks are favourites going into the game.
So where do the Eagles win it then? Without putting too much weight on one set of shoulders, a dominant performance from Nic Naitanui is essential to a West Coast flag.
It’s the one area of the ground, the ruck, where West Coast can claim a decisive advantage. Ben McEvoy and David Hale are solid citizens but they really just don’t compare to what Naitanui can do when he’s on fire.
If Naitanui gets off the leash, it all starts from there. He can give his midfielders the edge and they can use that to set up more scoring opportunities, and if they do that, the game is theirs, so long as they convert their chances.
On the other hand, if the Hawks manage to curtail Naitanui’s presence, it’ll take a huge effort from the Eagles to get on top. However, if they bring the kind of pressure they did in the qualifying final meeting between these two sides, they could still pull it off.
Much like ahead of that qualifying final, my head says the Hawks, but my gut is wearing blue and gold.
The Eagles to win, thanks to a Naitanui masterclass.
Prediction: West Coast by 24
Norm Smith: Nic Naitanui
First Goal: Luke Breust
B: B.Stratton, B.Lake, J.Frawley
HB: G.Birchall, J.Gibson, S.Burgoyne
C: B.Hill, S.Mitchell, L.Shiels
HF: C.Rioli, R.Schoenmakers, I.Smith
F: L.Bruest, J.Roughead, P.Puopolo
Foll: B.McEvoy, L.Hodge, J.Lewis
Inter: M.Suckling, T.Duryea, D.Hale, J.Gunston
Emerg: J.Ceglar, A.Litherland, B.Hartung
In: Jack Gunston
Out: Billy Hartung (omitted)
West Coast Eagles:
B: S.Wellingham, W.Schofield, S.Hurn
HB: X.Ellis, J.McGovern, B.Sheppard
C: M.Rosa, M.Priddis, E.Yeo
HF: A.Gaff, J.Darling, J.Cripps
F: M.LeCras, J.Kennedy, J.Hill
Foll: N.Naitanui, D.Sheed, L.Shuey
Inter: C.Masten, C.Sinclair, M.Hutchings, S.Butler
Emer: P.McGinnity, S.Selwood, S.Lycett
In:/Out: No changes