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Grand Final in Review – Pies salute as Bobby dazzles

The 2023 AFL Grand Final saw Collingwood edge the Brisbane Lions by just four points in one of the best showpieces we’ve seen in years.

Collingwood deliver in instant classic

For many, it’s gone straight to the podium of best ever AFL Grand Finals.

Collingwood ($1.75) outlasted Brisbane ($2.10) in a modern classic at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, claiming their first premiership since 2010. It was evident at half-time that the see-sawing battle loomed as a classic Grand Final and it delivered, the Pies’ edging an engrossing encounter by four points. The Lions just covered the pre-game line (+4.5), while the total points line (167.5) was exceeded thanks to a late flurry of goals. While Brisbane lead at one stage in all four quarters, Collingwood led at every change, delivering $2.95 for punters who backed them as the quarter by quarter leader throughout. Many predicted a nail-biting Grand Final, and so it was; punters were rewarded for backing the 1-39 margin with Collingwood $2.30 pre-game.

From starting as $10 AFL Premiership chances in the off-season, Collingwood chipped away at their flag price almost weekly and, with every win — nail-biting or otherwise — proved why they’re the most complete side in the country. Now, they have the ultimate reward for their effort.

Bobby dazzles, delivers for punters

Unlike other Grand Finals where the five Norm Smith medal judges are split on who was best afield, this year saw unanimous backing of one man. Bobby Hill, at one stage $101 to win one of the most coveted individual awards in the AFL, walked away with ‘Normie’ after his game-changing four-goal, 18-disposal and five-tackle effort. In just his first season for the Pies, the livewire has bolstered an already strong Collingwood forward line and was unstoppable on Grand Final day. Some punters backed him to kick the first goal — he didn’t quite get there, kicking the second as teammate Nick Daicos ($26) bagged the first major — but from there he was the most influential player on the field.

Hill’s 18 touches were not only an equal AFL career high, but he was $18 with Palmerbet pre-match to kick 4+ goals. He was also $11.50 to kick the most goals in ‘Group 1’. Just to cap things off, he provided perhaps the game’s biggest highlights with a second quarter hanger after a slingshot Pies attack.

Charting the Pies’ season

Victory on Saturday was the culmination of the Craig McRae revolution at Collingwood. The former Lion has transformed the AFL club’s on-field output since replacing Nathan Buckley as coach. Since Round 9 last season, when the Pies sat at 4-5, McRaw has overseen 34 wins in the club’s next 42 games in an incredible transformation.

Despite their rollicking finish to last season, where they missed out on a Grand Final berth in a one-point preliminary final loss to the Swans, many where still sceptical about Collingwood’s real premiership credentials. The Pies were $10 fifth-favourites with Palmerbet before Round 1 this season. However toppling premiers Geelong in Round 1 before smashing Port Adelaide in Round 2 saw them catapult into favouritism in short time. From Round 3 to 7 the Pies and Melbourne were neck-and-neck in flag betting. But after easily accounting for the Swans in Round 8, Collingwood went ahead as outright AFL Premiership favourites, a tag they didn’t conceded until the final siren sounded on Saturday afternoon.

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