Port Players thanks the supporters as they leave Adelaide Oval for the final time in the 2015 season during the Round 23 AFL match between Port Adelaide Power and the Fremantle Dockers at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Saturday, Sept 5, 2015.
Port Players thanks the supporters as they leave Adelaide Oval for the final time in the 2015 season during the Round 23 AFL match between Port Adelaide Power and the Fremantle Dockers at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Saturday, Sept 5, 2015. AAP Image - Ben Macmahon

All-WA AFL grand final robs of Vic fans of perfect timing

QANTAS won't be firing up the A380 just yet, but the airline may need the world's biggest passenger jet in about three weeks' time for a flight out of Perth.

Wouldn't it be ironic that in the first year Victorians get an AFL grand final-eve holiday, they have two West Australian teams battling it out on the hallowed turf of the 'G' for the flag.

An all-WA premiership-decider is something Victorians have feared since Fremantle joined West Coast in the competition in 1995.

Those fears were laid to rest for some time while the Dockers battled for relevancy, failing to make finals and winning a couple of wooden spoons in their first nine seasons.

But, it did almost occur in 2006 when Fremantle and West Coast contested preliminary finals after winning home semi-finals the previous week.

In the end, only the Eagles made it through and would go on and claim their third flag, over Sydney, reversing both the result of the previous season's grand final and the week-one qualifying final at Subiaco.

The stage, though, is set for a Fremantle-West Coast finale after the pair finished a clear one-two on the ladder and received home qualifying finals.

Win those and they will get home prelims, with the AFL not obliged to have the MCG host a match in the penultimate week as it has already met its quota of finals over a five-year period.

The league thought it had a headache in 2013 when the Dockers reached the big one, thousands of fans having to take flights via Singapore and Bali to get to Melbourne while thousands more drove across the Nullarbor.

Can you imagine the carpooling between Dockers and Eagles supporters this year?

Of course, there is every chance neither one of the WA teams will make it, with the battle-hardened Hawthorn and Sydney imposing opponents this week. And history has shown it's not beyond them, Sydney having knocked over West Coast in a Perth qualifying final in that aforementioned 2006 series, and Hawthorn overcoming the Eagles at home in 1991.

Last year's grand finalists do have their share of issues though, and it's not just having to enter the furnace of Domain Stadium.

Both are counting the cost of their final-round wins.

While the Dockers will welcome back a host of well-rested stars, including Nat Fyfe, Swans co-captain Kieren Jack has joined Luke Parker (fractured fibula) on the sidelines with a knee injury. Then there's superstar Lance Franklin, who continues to struggle with a back complaint.

Suffering a knee injury of his own was Hawk wingman Isaac Smith, whose pace on the wide open spaces of Subiaco Oval would be missed. The Hawks at least have Billy Hartung waiting in the wings, and will regain skipper Luke Hodge, Luke Breust and Cyril Rioli.

But, in Bob Hawke fashion, WA premier Colin Barnett might yet have to make Friday, October 2 a holiday for his own state.

RECENT QUALIFYING FINAL UPSET RESULTS

St Kilda (third) beats Geelong (second) in Melbourne, 2010

Sydney (third) beats Adelaide (second) in Adelaide, 2012

Fremantle (third) beats Geelong (second) in Geelong, 2013


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