The Statscrunch 2015 Grand Final Preview

It’s here.

The culmination of the AFL season.

The one day in September October.

The Grand Final.

This year, it’s being contested by Hawthorn, who is going for the threepeat, and West Coast, who’s looking to take the cup back to Western Australia for the first time since 2006.

Here is the Statscrunch preview.

PREVIEW

This has been one of the greatest AFL seasons I’ve ever seen, and it now comes down to this.

Hawthorn, perhaps the greatest team of the 21st century. Unparalleled in attack and midfield.

West Coat, plucky challengers with attacking firepower and the famed ‘Weagles Web’ defence.

This is going to be a very good game.

Hawthorn’s attacking has been sensational, scoring over 110 points per game on average. The defence has been nearly as good, conceding just 1548 points to give them a dizzying percentage of 158.4%.

The Eagles don’t have quite the attack and defence prowess of the Hawks, but still have a percentage in the high 140s. They also, notably, average more hitouts than the Hawks.

There have been two games between the Eagles and the Hawks this year, both in the west. Hawthorn won the first by 14 points, but the second was a 32-point loss in the qualifying final. That game told us a lot about the weaknesses of Hawthorn, and that the Eagles may be just slightly more polished.

The Hawks certainly do have Grand Final experience, with 24 listed players having been in a Grand Final. West Coast has just four.

There will be a crucial player matchup today: Matt Priddis v Sam Mitchell. Both Priddis and Mitchell average 28.8 disposals per game against their opposition today, and they finished second and third in the Brownlow respectively. The winner of this battle will probably win the game for their club.

Despite all of the talk, this game is a battle of stars. You can see my prediction at the bottom of the page.

PREVIOUS GRAND FINALS FOR THESE CLUBS

All of these can be broken into chunks. Have fun working out which years these clubs dominated for.

This is Hawthorn’s 18th Grand Final, and West Coast’s 6th. Hawthorn has a 12-6 win-loss record, while West Coast’s is 3-2. The only time this clubs have met in a Grand Final is 1991.

HISTORY BETWEEN THESE CLUBS

Last 5 matches

  • QF2, 2015: West Coast 14.12.96 d Hawthorn 9.10.64, Patersons Stadium
  • R19, 2015: Hawthorn 13.10.88 d West Coast 11.8.74, Patersons Stadium
  • R12, 2014: Hawthorn 19.9.123 d West Coast 12.7.79, Aurora Stadium
  • R13, 2013: Hawthorn 19.9.123 d West Coast 16.7.103, Etihad Stadium
  • R2, 2013: Hawthorn 23.10.148 d West Coast 15.8.98, Patersons Stadium

Finals matches

  • QF2, 2015: West Coast 14.12.96 d Hawthorn 9.10.64, Patersons Stadium
  • EF1, 1992: West Coast 14.16.100 d Hawthorn 12.15.87, Patersons Stadium
  • GF, 1991: Hawthorn 20.19.139 d West Coast 13.8.86, Waverley Park
  • QF, 1991: Hawthorn 18.16.124 d West Coast 15.11.101, Patersons Stadium

1991 Grand Final

1991 grand final

The ’91 Grand Final was held at Waverly Park, the only Grand Final not to be held at the MCG since 1945. Hawthorn was playing its eighth Grand Final in 9 seasons, compared to West Coast, who hadn’t ever featured in a GF and only joined the then-VFL in 1987.

The Eagles had lost just three games for the entire season, while Hawthorn had lost six. All that counted for naught in the finals, as Hawthorn beat West Coast and then Geelong to sail to the Grand Final. The Eagles lost to the Hawks, and then had to beat Melbourne and Geelong to make it there.

The match was tight throughout the first three quarters, with the margins 9 to the Eagles, 10 to the Hawks, and 10 to the Hawks. Then Hawthorn blew away the game, kicking eight goals in the last quarter, including four from Jason Dunstall, to win the premiership. Paul Dear, with 26 disposals and 2 goals, won the Norm Smith Medal.

THE STATS SAY

As you may have guessed, we will be using our analysis to try and predict the winner.

When it comes to records against the top 8, Hawthorn’s is much better, earning it 0.73 points to West Coast’s 0.58.

Classing this as a home game for Hawthorn, they earn 0.03 points for the home/away difference, while the Eagles lose 0.09.

West Coast’s form is marginally better, earning 0.28. Hawthorn gets just 0.2.

Form v Opposition is the clincher. This gives Hawthorn 0.2 points and penalises West Coast the same amount.

Hawthorn also has better finals, prelim, and grand final experience (teams get 0.1 points for a premiership and 0.05 points for a loss in the past 10 years). They earn it 0.9 points, compared to 0.3 for the Eagles.

The score for and against differentials are good for both teams, but stacked in Hawthorn’s favour. They receive 0.42, the Eagles receive 0.35.

We’re throwing in two new differentials, because this is the Grand Final. The more stats, the better.

One of them is accuracy in front of goal, earning +0.01 for every percent above the average they are. This doesn’t make much difference, however. Hawthorn gets 0.05, the Eagles get 0.01.

And the last is the weather. For every degree above the average September temperature in Melbourne and Perth (I’ve chosen September because the Grand Final is on just the third day of the month), teams will lose 0.01. That loses Hawthorn 0.11 and the Eagles 0.07.

The final result is…

If you're wondering why the top cell is slightly larger than the others, it's because I've got all of my screengrabs from the same spreadsheet. Row A currently has HAWTHORN and WEST COAST in bolded size 20.

The algorithm predicts Hawthorn to win comfortably. I’m hoping that’s not the case.

MY VERDICT

All in all, this promises to be an enthralling Grand Final. However, I think that West Coast’s polished system of play, and Hawthorn’s defence not being quite elite enough, means that they will have a slight advantage. West Coast by 10.

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