Dominant wins set the scene for a battle of titans

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Steele Sidebottom looks likely to be the player of the finals series. 

sports editor

The 2018 AFL season will reach its climax today as Collingwood and West Coast battle it out for the chance to be crowned 2018 AFL Premiers.

Both sides recorded dominating preliminary final victories, setting themselves up for a repeat of their qualifying final match up a month ago.

Talking points

Jeremy McGovern under a fitness cloud

After suffering a corky in the preliminary final victory over the Demons, McGovern has had a question mark over his fitness that will likely remain through the entire match.

McGovern has had limited training this the week and will likely face a fitness test this morning.

There is no doubting how integral McGovern is to the Eagles side, with the backman being one of the best intercept marks in the competition.

If McGovern doesn’t play or cannot perform to his usual standards, the Eagles will struggle to win their fourth flag.

Result reversal

Every time the grand finalists have met in the qualifying final, the result has been reversed.

Most recently, West Coast beat Hawthorn in 2015, before losing to the Hawks by 46 in the Grand Final.

This year, the Pies lost to the Eagles in the qualifying final, and if the pattern continues, this may help their chances at the ‘G.

Collingwood has only got better since the qualifying final and the Eagles are facing the daunting prospect of having to travel to Melbourne and play away from Optus Stadium. 

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Key West Coast player Jack Darling, with his son, soaked up the adulation at yesterday’s Grand Final parade. 

Key players

Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood): Sidebottom has had a very good finals series and will be one of the favourites to take home the Gary Ayres Medal as player of the finals series. Sidebottom’s 41 disposal game against Richmond earned him another eight votes to take his tally to 23 for the series, only reinforcing how impressive the midfielder has been in September.

Jack Darling (WCE): Darling will be hoping to overcome some of the nightmares of his 2015 Grand Final performance, where he had a shocking day like many of his Eagles counterparts. Part of a lethal forward line along with Josh Kennedy, Darling will be hoping to carry his preliminary final form into the Grand Final, and perhaps write his own redemption story.

Prediction: West Coast by 9 points.