AFL grand final: Guy McKenna says experience and midfield edge will help tip Western Bulldogs over the edge
Dual West Coast premiership hero Guy McKenna has tipped the underdogs to be top Dogs, with grand final experience set to be a factor in tomorrow’s decider - as it was for the Eagles in 1991.
A young West Coast outfit went to three-quarter time just 10 points adrift of Hawthorn in their inaugural grand final showing, before the battle-hardened Hawks rode the breeze to storm home and win by 53 points.
While Melbourne’s outfit takes an average age of almost 25 into the Optus Stadium decider - compared to the 1991 Eagles’ average of 24 - McKenna said the Bulldogs having 11 players with grand final experience against the Demons’ one had significance.
“I still thought we were a big chance to roll over the top of Hawthorn, but unfortunately, that was my lesson in experience,” he said on the Hard Ball Gets podcast.
“Dermott Brereton, Paul Dear, (Darrin) Pritchard, (Jason) Dunstall... these guys just went to another level, and we were sort of left in our blocks - we just couldn’t go with them.
“It’s like the old rope-a-dope. You could almost argue Hawthorn just had to survive our body shots, which they did until three-quarter time, and then they got off the ropes and started swinging and we had no answer.”
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Nine Bulldogs with 2016 premiership experience will line up tomorrow, as well as recruits with grand finals under their belt in ex-Hawk Taylor Duryea (wins in 2014 and 2015) and Adam Treloar (a loss with Collingwood in 2018).
In contrast, Jake Lever (Adelaide in 2017) is the sole Demon to have played in a grand final.
McKenna said while Melbourne had the edge at either end of the ground, a hardened Bulldogs outfit with a superior engine room was in line to cause an upset as his grand final tip.
“If you look across the ground - I reckon it’s plus-one to the Doggies in the middle, and then you go backs versus forward, and Melbourne are plus-one at either end,” he said.
“So it’s plus-two versus plus-one, but (the one) is the midfield, so you’ve got to ratchet that up a bit.
“And the Doggies have had almost half their team who have been there and know what to do.
“Jake Lever has been there, but didn’t have a great experience, so it’s not like the Melbourne fellas are going to be turning to him too much to ask him what it was like. He’ll add some insight potentially, but it’s not going to have any great relevance.
“That certainly helps the Doggies.”
McKenna, who went on to win premierships in 1992 and 1994 after the Hawthorn loss, said the Bulldogs’ outside users in the midfield were superior to what Melbourne could provide on the spread.
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