Ranking the AFL Grand Finals of the 2010s
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
With another decade drawing to close in the AFL, just which was the best grand final in the last ten years?
Let’s take a look at each of the 11 grand finals since 2010 and find out.
#11 – 2019: Richmond 17.12.114 defeated Greater Western Sydney 3.7.25
This turned out to be an absolute snoozefest. The first ever appearance by GWS resulted in their lowest score ever in their eight year history and the lowest grand final score since 1960. After a fairly tight first quarter, the Tigers dominated the entire game to claim their second Premiership in three years and send the Tiger army ballistic. The game was notable for the fairytale debut of Marlion Picket, but outside of that incredible story there really wasn’t much else to take away from this clash.
#10 – 2015: Hawthorn 16.11.107 defeated West Coast 8.13.61
Hawthorn were never in doubt to claim their three-peat on a hot September day in Melbourne. The game was over in the opening quarter and West Coast just looked as though they had left their playing ability back in Perth. Chris Isaak and Bryan Adams were pretty good before the game right? So that was perhaps a small highlight.
#9 – 2014: Hawthorn 21.11.137 defeated Sydney 11.8.74
This one had so much hype going into it after the sides had put on an epic showdown for the Premiership just two years earlier. There was also the ‘Buddy factor’, with Lance Franklin facing off against his old side for the first time in a grand final. But the Hawks were able to pull away in the second quarter and put to bed any hope that we could get a repeat of the 2012 showdown.
#8 – 2010 Replay: Collingwood 16.12.108 defeated St Kilda 7.10.52
After such a classic the week before, neutral fans were let down a week later as Collingwood waltzed to their first Premiership in 20 years. The game was well and truly over by half time, with St Kilda only managing a single goal before the big break and a hungry Collingwood ensuring they wouldn’t let their chance slip for a second consecutive week. Heath Shaw’s rundown of Nick Riewoldt however will always remain a classic grand final moment, meaning there was at least something incredibly memorable to take from this game.
#7 – 2017: Richmond 16.12.108 defeated Adelaide 8.12.60
I’m sure I’ll get a lot of hate from the long-suffering Richmond supporters not putting this higher as this ranks as probably the greatest day of their life. However while it was great to see the Tigers finally win a Premiership for the first time in 37 years, the game faded away into a one-sided affair in the second half. Before that it was an entertaining match, with the Crows and Tigers trading goals and momentum for most of the game. The remainder however turned into party time for Richmond, and for neutral observers it didn’t exactly make for a great match to watch.
#6 – 2013: Hawthorn 11.11.77 defeated Fremantle 8.14.62
For some this was a bland grand final that many expected with Ross Lyon’s Dockers. However for most of the match it was tight and intense, with no clear winner emerging until the final few minutes. Fremantle were in the game from the beginning, but just couldn’t break through a strong Hawks outfit who were desperate to avenge their own tight loss a year previously. An inaccurate Fremantle also didn’t help their cause, in what was one of the most unique grand finals in recent history.
#5 – 2011: Geelong 18.11.119 defeated Collingwood 12.9.81
The scoreline doesn’t do this game justice. The first three quarters were incredibly tight, with both teams involved in a titanic battle to maintain their lead with some great footy played between two great sides. Geelong finally kicked into gear in the fourth, holding the Magpies scoreless as they kicked five of their own to take their third flag in five seasons. For the Magpies, they found themselves once again staring at a grand final loss.
#4 – 2016: Western Bulldogs 13.11.89 defeated Sydney 10.7.67
The fairy tale grand final of the decade, the Bulldogs defied all odds to claim their first Premiership in 62 years. A mostly tight game, the Dogs finally kicked out to an unassailable lead in the final minutes, with not a dry eye at the MCG among long-suffering supporters who finally saw the cup coming home. The tears flowed after the game as well, with Dogs coach Luke Beveridge selflessly giving his medal to injured captain Bob Murphy in one of the most memorable grand finals ever to be played.
#3 – 2012: Sydney 14.7.91 defeated Hawthorn 11.15.81
A classic from start to finish. The two best teams in the competition put on a show for every footy fan around the world, and Nick Malceski sealed a famous victory for the Swans with one of the most famous grand final goals in the final minute. With countless lead changes, moments of madness and THAT race between Cyril Rioli and Lewis Jetta, this grand final went down as one of the all-time greats.
#2 – 2018: West Coast 11.13.79 defeated Collingwood 11.8.74
Somehow Collingwood lost this game – somehow. After leading all match and booting the opening five goals of the game, the Magpies somehow brought back the ‘Colliwobbles’ and left empty handed. West Coast were resilient all day, with memories of their 2015 loss spurring them on to remain forever in touching distance in every quarter. Then Dom Sheed created a perfect legacy for himself by taking a mark in the forward pocket and slotting the ball through the posts 40m out on the tightest of angles to bring the Premiership Cup back to Perth for the first time in 12 years. It was an ending fitting of an epic, and one that Eagles fans will be talking about for their rest of their lives – and one that Magpies fans will be forgetting about just as quickly.
#1 – 2010: Collingwood 9.14.68 drew St Kilda 10.8.68
Only twice in the 114 year history of the AFL had a grand final ended in a draw before 2010, but with this classic it brought about a third occasion. Collingwood had been the best side all season and faced up against a St Kilda side who had lost in heart-breaking fashion the previous season and were finally looking to win their first Premiership in 44 years. Collingwood looked the more polished side for most of the match, but a late surge by the Saints saw them move within striking distance, before one of the greatest grand final marks of all-time by Brendan Goddard helped put them in front and taste that second Premiership. But the Magpies regrouped, scored the next goal and the Saints watched on as the footy gods once again showed how cruel they could be with a bounce in front of Stephen Milne costing them a goal and instead tying the scores up with a behind. The seconds soon ticked away and the siren went, with every player slumping to the ground in shock – sharing a similar feeling with everybody watching as to what they had just witnessed. This was the greatest grand final of the decade.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here