The Simple Stat That Suggests Collingwood Is Unbeatable Today
The Magpies are the strong bookies' favourites to win the AFL Grand Final against the West Coast Eagles. But there's another reason to lean heavily towards them.
Since the AFL current finals system was adopted in 2000, there have been four instances of teams meeting in the first week of finals, then again in the grand final.
And every single time, the losing team in week one has bounced back to win the only game that matters.
This first happened in 2003, when Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions met in the 2nd vs 3rd qualifying final in week one of the finals. Collingwood won that game by 15 points.
But the Lions had the second chance afforded to top-four teams who lose in week one, and duly won their way through to the grand final, where they claimed a third straight flag by a large margin.
In 2005, Sydney travelled to Perth and lost the 1st vs 4th qualifying final against West Coast They then did it the hard way to come back and beat the Eagles in the grand final at the MCG, thanks in large part to THAT Leo Barry mark.
LEO BARRY, YOU STAR!
In 2006, the most ridiculous thing happened, and we don't refer to the wedding of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.*
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Who hijacked the sports editor's brain?
In week one of the finals, the Sydney Swans travelled to Perth as they had the previous year. Only this time, they won 85-84. Come grand final day three weeks later, they lost to the West Coast Eagles at the MCG by the exact same score. 85-84. Amazing but true.
Ben Cousins was terrific for the Eagles that day. Seems like ages ago now, doesn't it.
Cut to 2015. West Coast beat the Hawks in the 2nd vs 3rd elimination final. The Hawks then went the long way round to the grand final, but once there, they duly had their revenge om the Eagles to make it three straight flags, just as the Lions had in 2003.
None of this means the Magpies will definitely win this year's flag. Just because a thing has happened before, doesn't always mean it must happen again. Or as they say in statistics, correlation is not causation.
But there's clearly something about teams who lose in week one and make it through to the season-decider. They're toughened by the experience of getting there the hard way, and when they meet an opponent in the GF who they've already faced in the post-season, they seem to have an advantage.
Which is potentially not great news for anyone who drove across the Nullarbor or paid through the eyeballs for plane tickets from Perth to barrack for the Eagles at the MCG.