Finals matches between the Demons and Bulldogs have been sparse over the years. Of course, the Demons are well ahead of the Bulldogs with 12 premierships to two. The first finals match was a semi-final in 1946 which Melbourne won 17.18 (120) to 15.12 (102). They played a Preliminary Final in 1961. The Bulldogs won it 13.7 (85) to 8.10 (58). In between those two matches was the 1954 Grand Final - the only Grand Final between the Demons and Bulldogs until now. The Bulldogs prevailed 15.12 (102) to 7.9 (51) for their first premiership since entering the competition in 1925. The Demons went on to appear in four more Grand Finals since 1954, winning two against Collingwood in 1960 and 1964 and losing two against Hawthorn in 1988 and Essendon in 2000.
The Bulldogs have not been so fortunate, with just one more Grand Final appearance in 1961. However, they lost to Hawthorn. While there were plenty of finals appearances after that they failed to get to a Grand Final until their triumph in 2016.
The two sides met twice in 2021 with a win each. In Round 11, Melbourne defeated the Dogs 13.9 (87) to 8.11 (59). The Bulldogs turned the tables in Round 19 winning 13.7 (85) to 9.11 (65). In the first match, The Demons led throughout and were never seriously challenged. In the return game, the Bulldogs had to fight off a Melbourne comeback, kicking the last three goals to snatch victory.
With a loss in 2020 and two wins in 2019 and 2020, it would seem the Bulldogs have a slight edge over the Demons. Since 1925, the Bulldogs' record against Melbourne leaves a bit to be desired with 79 wins, 89 losses, and one tied game.
The Bulldogs have nine players who were there in 2016 - Easton Wood, Tom Liberatore, Jason Johannisen, Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley, Zane Cordy, Caleb Daniel, Jack Macrea, and Toby McLean. In contrast, the Demons have no premiership players in their midst. Their last finals campaign was in 2018. They made it to the Preliminary Final but lost to the Eagles. Players from that team who are still with the Demons are Sam Weideman, James Harmes, Max Gawn, Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney, Charlie Spargo, Christian Petracca, Aaron vandenBerg, Michael Hibberd, and Clayton Oliver. Nathan Jones played in that game as well but just retired.
Gawn put on an awesome display in the Preliminary Final against Geelong. Not known for his goal prowess, he kicked five in that match and was influential throughout, especially in the third term with eight disposals and three clearances
Has become a star in the past two seasons, knows how to win the ball, can break away from opponents with his speed, and is deadly in front of goals
One of the best defensive interceptors in the game and can turn defense into attack. He will be crucial if Steven May can't recover from the hamstring injury he suffered in the Preliminary Final
Led the club for goals last year with 22 and his goal smarts continued in 2021 with 46. A dangerous player that will have to be contained
Debuted last season and proved a real livewire with his lightning speed and goal smarts. Has a big leap for a small player
The Bulldogs' captain carried knee soreness into the Preliminary Final but was still able to have an impact with 20 disposals and two goals. Always leads from the front to inspire his teammates
A three-time All-Australian with his consistency a strong suit. Gathered less than 30 possessions in just two games in 2021 and was among the best for the Bulldogs throughout the finals campaign
Perhaps the best contested mark (catch of the ball) in the game, when "on song", he is nearly unstoppable. On top of that, he is an accurate kick for goal. He notched 15 last season and 22 this year. He will be crucial in the absence of Josh Bruce who required a knee reconstruction in August
The Demon coach knows about winning premierships, having been a member of Adelaide's Grand Final sides in 1997and 1998. This will be his first as a coach.
Etched his name into the history books when he took the Dogs to their second premiership in 2016. This is only the second season the Dogs have won finals during Beveridge's seven-year tenure, but if he can repeat the four finals wins of 2016, he will truly be entrenched as a club legend. Ironically, started his playing career at Melbourne with 42 matches 1989-92. In that time, the Demons played in six finals games for three wins and three losses.
Many Grand Final previews have predicted close games, but that has not always been the case. This should not disappoint. Both sides have young guns on the rise and experienced players to lead the way.
Sources: afl.com.au, AFL Record Season Guide
Article last changed on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 6:28 PM EDT