Palmerbet Sports Team asks five key questions ahead of what is set to be an enthralling AFL Grand Final on Saturday afternoon.

1. Can the Eagles banish their 2015 GF demons?

Plenty has been written this week about West Coast’s 46-point loss against Hawthorn in the 2015 Grand Final. In truth they were shell-shocked that day, and several stars failed to deliver. Jack Darling’s dropped chest mark at a key point in the third term is now seen as reflective of the entire performance – a wasted effort. The fabled ‘Weagles Web’ couldn’t deliver when it mattered most. “Everything was new. I didn’t really know what to expect that week,” forward Mark LeCras said this week, reminiscing. This year, however, they do. More than half the side now have Grand Final experience, and nothing will be ‘new’ in the build-up. Adam Simpson has learned from the experience, and can prepare his troops as such. At $2.20 (currently) with Palmerbet in the head-to-head markets, the Eagles look a strong shout.

2. Can Mason’s merry men repeat their efforts?

Mason Cox was a standout performer last week, with three second-term goals and eight contested marks. To put that into perspective, Richmond’s whole side could only manage nine. Damien Hardwick had him best on ground, and the plaudits have flowed. But can he do it again? He was completely out-muscled in the qualifying final loss, and may struggle against the likes of Jeremy McGovern. There’s less of a worry around Jordan De Goey (four goals last week) who is seemingly built for the big occasion. West Coast’s defenders did a strong job on Jaidyn Stephenson and Will Hoskin-Elliott in both clashes earlier this season,  and will need to do so again. De Goey is $9 with Palmerbet to repeat his preliminary final effort and kick the first goal on Saturday.

3. Will West Coast’s forwards monster the Pies’ back line?

Collingwood go in slightly undersized against West Coast, most notably in the backline. Nathan Buckley has reportedly resisted the urge to bring in an extra tall to deal with the twin-towers of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling. Whether they can deal with the pair will depend largely on the pressure Collingwood’s midfielders can put on the ball. “It would be nice if our midfielders got them using the ball poorly, (put) pressure on the ball, so mongrel kicks coming in, not giving them time and space to hit them lace out,” defender Tyson Goldsack said this week. Kennedy is paying $1.83 to kick three or more goals with Palmerbet, while Darling is currently at $3.20.

4. Can the Eagles hatch a plan to stop Brodie Grundy?

Brodie Grundy’s ruck domination against Richmond was a key determining factor in his side’s preliminary final win. When he gives Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Taylor first access to the footy, the Pies become extremely difficult to beat. Had Nic Naitanui not done his ACL (coincidentally, against the Pies) in Round 17, Grundy may not have been as much of a factor. But Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy now have a huge job to do. Grundy’s tank is arguably his biggest asset. Thus, the pair need to simply get ready to run. Reports suggest Naitanui has been working with them this week. He’ll need to impart all his wisdom if they are too succeed. If you fancy the Pies big man to claim Norm Smith honours, he’s currently at $26 with Palmerbet.

5. Can Hutchings stop the Norm Smith favourite?

West Coast’s Mark Hutchings has morphed into one of the league’s best run-with players. And Adam Simpson needs him at his best on Saturday should the Eagles prevail. He’ll go straight to Steele Sidebottom, who has had arguably risen above all others this AFL Finals series. Hutchings kept Sidebottom to a season-low 18 disposals in their Round 17 clash, but the Collingwood star edged proceedings three weeks ago with 27 touches in the qualifying final. After three dominant AFL Finals performances, Sidebottom is a deserved $6 Norm Smith favourite with Palmerbet. And his matchup with Hutchings could well decide the result if things get tight in the final term.

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