2016 AFL Grand Final
The two teams in their huddles prior to the first bounce


Western Bulldogs
10.7 (67) 13.11 (89)
1 2 3 4
SYD 1.2 (8) 7.3 (45) 8.5 (53) 10.7 (67)
WBD 2.0 (12) 7.1 (43) 9.7 (61) 13.11 (89)
Date1 October 2016, 2.30 pm
StadiumMelbourne Cricket Ground
UmpiresMatt Stevic, Simon Meredith, Scott Jeffery
Coin toss won byWestern Bulldogs
Kicked towardCity End
Pre-match entertainmentSting, The Living End, Vance Joy, Mike Brady
National anthemVika and Linda Bull
Post-match entertainmentThe Living End, Vance Joy
Norm Smith MedallistJason Johannisen
Jock McHale MedallistLuke Beveridge
Broadcast in Australia
NetworkSeven Network
CommentatorsBruce McAvaney (host and commentator)
Hamish McLachlan (host)
Dennis Cometti (commentator)
Cameron Ling (expert commentator)
Wayne Carey (expert commentator)
Matthew Richardson (boundary rider)
Tim Watson (boundary rider)
Leigh Matthews (analyst)
Luke Hodge (analyst)
← 2015 AFL Grand Final 2017 →

The 2016 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested between Sydney and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 1 October 2016. It was the 121st annual Grand Final of the Australian Football League (formerly the Victorian Football League),[1] staged to determine the premiers of the 2016 AFL season. The match, attended by 99,981 spectators, was won by the Bulldogs by a margin of 22 points, marking the club's second VFL/AFL premiership victory and first since 1954. It was the first time in VFL/AFL history that a team won the premiership from seventh place on the ladder. Jason Johannisen of the Bulldogs was awarded the Norm Smith Medal as the best player on the ground.


See also: 2016 AFL finals series

Major premiers for the ninth time,[2] the Sydney Swans finished the home-and-away season with a 17-5 record. They were defeated by the GWS Giants in the qualifying final by 36 points,[3] but bounced back with a semi-final victory against Adelaide,[4] and then a 37-point preliminary final win against Geelong at the Melbourne Cricket Ground[5] for their third grand final appearance in five years.

Injuries ended the 2016 season for key Western Bulldogs players: captain Robert Murphy (round 3) and Jack Redpath (round 18) ruptured their anterior cruciate ligaments, and midfielder Mitch Wallis (round 18) fractured his left tibia and fibula.[6][7] Jason Johannisen[8] and Matt Suckling also sat out for extended periods.[9] The Bulldogs nevertheless won 15 games to finish 7th on the home-and-away ladder and qualify for the finals for the second consecutive year.[10] Against the odds, they eliminated both 2015's grand finalists, West Coast and Hawthorn, in the elimination and semi-finals respectively.[11][12] The Bulldogs then beat the Giants at Spotless Stadium by six points in the preliminary final to qualify for their first grand final appearance since 1961.[13][14] In doing so, the Bulldogs became the first team since Carlton in 1999 to reach a grand final after finishing the home-and-away season outside of the top four and the first team to do so under the current finals format that was introduced in 2000.[15]

Sydney and the Western Bulldogs met in round 15 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Returning from injury and with just four seconds remaining, Bulldogs defender Johannisen kicked a goal to defeat the Swans 11.13 (79) to 13.5 (83).[16]

The AFL had introduced a pre-finals bye in 2016 to discourage teams from resting players en masse in the final round of the home-and-away season.[17] Therefore, rather than on the traditional last Saturday of September, the Grand Final was held on the first Saturday in October.

Media coverage

The match was televised by the Seven Network. The match commentary was conducted by Bruce McAvaney and Dennis Cometti for the Seven Network, marking it the duo's eighth grand final appearance together as commentators since 2008 and their twelfth overall. It was Cometti's eighteenth grand final and McAvaney's sixteenth. This was the final match of commentary by Cometti after he announced that 2016 would be the end of his 30-year commentary career.[18]

The sports film Year of the Dogs, which covered the Western Bulldogs' turbulent 1996 season in which they finished second-last, was aired on 7mate the day prior to the Grand Final.[19]

All four radio partners, 1116 SEN, 3AW, ABC Grandstand, and Triple M broadcast the match live,[20] with Triple M simulcasting nationally to their local channels and to 92.5 Gold FM in the Gold Coast and Mix 94.5 in Perth.[21]

6.5 million in-home viewers watched some part of Seven's telecast across the day. A peak audience at 5.2 million viewers tuned-in at one stage, with an average of 4.089 million across the metro cities and regional homes during the game. It was the most-watched football match since the network attained free-to-air grand final screening rights a decade earlier, and the fifth most-watched match in VFL/AFL history.[22]

International coverage

Region[20][23] Rights holder(s)
Asia Australia Plus, Eurosport
Canada TSN2
Caribbean ESPN
China CCTV5
Europe Eurosport
India Australia Plus
Ireland BT Sport, Eurosport
Latin America Claro Sports
Middle East Orbit Showtime Network
New Zealand Sky Sports, TVNZ
United Kingdom BT Sport, Eurosport
United States Fox Soccer Plus


The banners for the Western Bulldogs (left) and Sydney Swans (right)

Similar to previous grand finals, the 2016 AFL Grand Final provided both pre-match and post-match entertainment. Artists to perform were Melburnian musicians Vance Joy and band the Living End,[24] and British rocker Sting.[25] Sister duo Vika and Linda Bull performed the national anthem, and Mike Brady performed a new version of his famous football song "One Day in September".[26]

Match summary

First quarter

Easton Wood won the coin toss for the Bulldogs and chose to kick towards the city end. The Swans had an early injury scare when Lance Franklin was taken off the field with a suspected foot injury after four minutes; he returned later in the quarter and played out the full game, but needed medical attention at quarter time. The Swans were the first to score (a behind) in the 10th minute with Kieren Jack taking a courageous mark before colliding into the incoming Wood.[27] The first goal came in the thirteenth minute to the Swans as Luke Parker scored from a distance of 35 m (38 yd). The Bulldogs' first score came in the 20th minute, when Zaine Cordy scored a goal from the boundary line; three minutes later, the Bulldogs scored again via a mark from Tory Dickson, to take a four point lead. There were no other scores in the low-scoring first quarter, and the Bulldogs led 2.0 (12) to 1.2 (8) at quarter time.[28]

Second quarter

In a much more high scoring second quarter, goals came at regular intervals. Tom Boyd opened the scoring for the Bulldogs after three minutes. Nick Smith kicked Sydney's second goal in the 6th minute, before two goals to the Bulldogs from Dickson (10th minute) and Liam Picken (12th minute) extended the Bulldogs' lead to 16 points. Sydney then put on a run of four consecutive goals in eight minutes to take an 8 point lead: Tom Mitchell (13th minute); Gary Rohan (16th minute); and two to Josh Kennedy (18th and 20th minutes), whose work in the midfield was also largely responsible for the Swans revival, with 22 first half disposals. The Bulldogs fought back in time-on, Tom Boyd kicking his second goal for the Bulldogs in the 27th minute, Tom Mitchell kicking his second for Sydney in the 29th minute, and Toby McLean kicking his first for the Bulldogs in the 32nd minute. At half time, Sydney led by two points, 7.3 (45) to 7.1 (43).[28]

Third quarter

Dickson kicked his third goal to take the lead for the Bulldogs after four minutes. Thereafter began an arm-wrestle of a quarter, in which only two more goals were kicked: in the 17th minute, Toby McLean conceded a fifty metre penalty against Kennedy for a late bump in a marking contest, and Kennedy converted the kick into his third goal, giving Sydney a 1-point lead; three minutes later, Clay Smith kicked a goal for the Bulldogs. For the remainder of the quarter, the Bulldogs attacked relentlessly, managing four behinds but no further goals. At three quarter time, the Bulldogs 9.7 (61) lead Sydney 8.5 (53) by eight points.[28]

After accurate goalkicking had dominated the first half, the third quarter saw several missed shots on goal for both teams, but particularly for the Bulldogs – who dominated general play but managed only 2.6 (18) for the quarter to Sydney's 1.2 (8). Bulldogs' forward Jake Stringer was particularly off target, with one behind and three shots out of bounds on the full to this point in the game.[28]

Final quarter

The reaction of the players and supporters moments after the final siren
The Bulldogs team on the podium with the premiership cup

Early in the final quarter, Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery suffered an injury to his left knee when he collided awkwardly with Easton Wood who had gone in low to claim the ball on the ground. He was promptly helped off the field for treatment and attempted to continue playing after having his knee strapped, only to return to the bench after taking a free kick with the injured leg.[29]

Despite this, Sydney attacked early, and when Lance Franklin kicked his first goal – the first and only goal kicked by one of the Swans recognised forwards in the match – the Bulldogs' lead was narrowed to one point. Jake Stringer extended the margin to 7 points with his only goal in the 11th minute, and George Hewett scored another for the Swans to draw the margin back to 1 point in the 13th minute, the score at that stage reading Bulldogs 10.7 (67) leading Sydney 10.6 (66).

With only seven minutes of playing time remaining, Liam Picken kicked his second goal from broken play in the Bulldogs forward line in the 18th minute to extend the margin to 7 points. The Bulldogs attacked again from the next centre bounce, and a minute later, Jason Johannisen pounced on an errant Sydney rebound and kicked a score from 50m which was initially called a goal, but changed to a behind on video review after being touched on the goal line by Jeremy Laidler (Sydney). The ensuing kick-in was turned over, resulting in another touched behind to the Bulldogs. Then, in the 22nd minute, Dale Morris (Bulldogs) tackled Lance Franklin in the centre square, and Tom Boyd gathered the loose ball to kick his third goal and put the Bulldogs 15 points ahead with five minutes to play.[28]

Sydney won the ensuing centre clearance, ending with Ben McGlynn mark and set shot from 40m which missed narrowly to the left. It was Sydney's last score and last time inside its attacking 50m arc, as the Bulldogs rebounded, and finished with three more scores: a behind to Boyd, Liam Picken's third goal in the 27th minute, and a behind on the final siren to Toby McLean. The Bulldogs kicked 3.4 (22) against Sydney's 0.1 (1) in the final seven minutes of playing time, and won the game 13.11 (89) d. 10.7 (67).

Norm Smith Medal

Norm Smith Medal Voting Tally
Position Player Club Total Votes Voting Summary
1st (winner) Jason Johannisen Western Bulldogs 10 3,3,2,2
2nd Josh Kennedy Sydney Swans 8 3,2,1,1,1
3rd Tom Boyd Western Bulldogs 7 3,3,1
4th Liam Picken Western Bulldogs 5 2,2,1

Jason Johannisen was named the Norm Smith Medallist (best on ground) with ten votes, having spend much of the game playing a rebounding role across the middle of the ground, accumulating 33 possessions and launching nine inside 50s. Johannisen won the award ahead of Sydney midfielder Josh Kennedy with eight votes (34 disposals and 3 goals), Tom Boyd with seven votes (6 contested marks and 3 goals) and Liam Picken with five votes (25 disposals, 3 goals).[30]

Chaired by Michael Voss, the voters and their choices were as follows:[31]

Voter Role 3 Votes 2 Votes 1 Vote
Michael Voss Former AFL Player Jason Johannisen Liam Picken Josh Kennedy
Wayne Carey Channel 7 Tom Boyd Liam Picken Josh Kennedy
Jay Clark Herald Sun Josh Kennedy Jason Johannisen Liam Picken
Brad Johnson Fox Footy Jason Johannisen Josh Kennedy Tom Boyd
Emma Quayle The Age Tom Boyd Jason Johannisen Josh Kennedy


During the official on-field presentation, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge invited injured Bulldogs' captain Bob Murphy – a popular Bulldogs' stalwart who had played with the club continuously since 2000, but who had missed all but the first three games of the premiership season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament – onto the podium. Beveridge then gave his own Jock McHale medal to Murphy, and urged Murphy to hoist the premiership trophy alongside acting captain Easton Wood instead of following the tradition of the captain and coach hoisting the cup.[32] Murphy chose to return the medal to Beveridge the following day, and Beveridge then donated the medal to the Western Bulldogs club museum.[33]

Best players

Among the star players were Tom Boyd (six contested marks, three goals and two points), Picken (25 possessions and three goals) and Jack Macrae (32 possessions). Kennedy was the stand out player for the Swans taking a total of 34 possessions and three goals. Statistically, Dane Rampe was effective in defence (24 possessions and nine rebound 50s), as were Jack (22 possessions) and Mitchell (26 possessions and two goals) in midfield.[34]

Impact of Essendon supplements saga

Stewart Crameri missed being part of the Western Bulldogs' premiership win after being suspended for twelve months in January for being part of the controversial supplements and sports science program that took place at his former club, Essendon, during the 2012 AFL season.[35] He had only been permitted to return to club training in the week leading to the Grand Final.[36]


The teams were announced on 29 September 2016. Sydney made two changes to its lineup from the preliminary final, with co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and Rising Star winner Callum Mills both returning from injury. They replaced Aliir Aliir, who suffered a knee injury in the preliminary final, and Harrison Marsh, who was omitted. The Bulldogs remained unchanged from its preliminary final.[37]

W. Bulldogs
B: 44 Jake Lloyd 39 Heath Grundy 40 Nick Smith
HB: 14 Callum Mills 11 Jeremy Laidler 24 Dane Rampe
C: 15 Kieren Jack (c) 12 Josh Kennedy 3 Jarrad McVeigh (c)
HF: 6 Tom Mitchell 23 Lance Franklin 26 Luke Parker
F: 41 Tom Papley 8 Kurt Tippett 21 Ben McGlynn
Foll: 35 Sam Naismith 4 Dan Hannebery 5 Isaac Heeney
Int: 16 Gary Rohan 10 Zak Jones 29 George Hewett
42 Xavier Richards
Coach: John Longmire
Western Bulldogs
B: 39 Jason Johannisen 30 Joel Hamling 5 Matthew Boyd
HB: 24 Shane Biggs 38 Dale Morris 10 Easton Wood (c)
C: 7 Lachie Hunter 4 Marcus Bontempelli 42 Liam Picken
HF: 11 Jack Macrae 12 Zaine Cordy 9 Jake Stringer
F: 29 Tory Dickson 17 Tom Boyd 14 Clay Smith
Foll: 23 Jordan Roughead 6 Luke Dahlhaus 21 Tom Liberatore
Int: 16 Toby McLean 18 Fletcher Roberts 20 Josh Dunkley
35 Caleb Daniel
Coach: Luke Beveridge

The umpiring panel, comprising three field umpires, four boundary umpires, two goal umpires and an emergency in each position is given below. The most notable appointment was field umpire Scott Jeffery's selection for his sole grand final.[38] An AFL review of the umpiring post game found it was not up to the standard expected, with three or four key decisions incorrectly going against Sydney among an overall free kick count of 20–8 favouring the Bulldogs.[39] The differential of 12 was the biggest in a Grand Final since the three-umpire system was introduced.

2016 AFL Grand Final umpires
Position Emergency
Field: 9 Matt Stevic (4) 21 Simon Meredith (4) 29 Scott Jeffery (1) Justin Schmitt
Boundary: Ian Burrows (7) Chris Bull (1) Rob Haala (3) Michael Marantelli (2) Matthew Konetschka
Goal: Chris Appleton (3) Adam Wojcik (3) Chelsea Roffey

Numbers in brackets represent the number of grand finals umpired, including 2016.


Grand Final
Saturday, 1 October (2:30 pm) Sydney def. by Western Bulldogs MCG (crowd: 99,981) Report
1.2 (8)
7.3 (45)
8.5 (53)
 10.7 (67)
2.0 (12)
7.1 (43)
9.7 (61)
 13.11 (89)
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Simon Meredith, Scott Jeffery
Norm Smith Medal: Jason Johannisen
Television broadcast: Seven Network
National anthem: Vika and Linda Bull
Kennedy 3
Mitchell 2
Parker, N. Smith, Rohan, Franklin, Hewett 1
Goals 3 T. Boyd, Dickson, Picken
1 Cordy, McLean, C. Smith, Stringer
Kennedy, Mitchell, Rampe, Heeney, Jones, Hannebery Best Johannisen, Picken, T. Boyd, Macrae, M. Boyd, Dahlhaus
Franklin (right ankle), Hannebery (left knee) Injuries Johannisen (calf)
Nil Reports Nil

See also


  1. ^ In 1897 and 1924 there were no grand finals and instead the premier was decided by a finals play-off. In 1948, 1977 and 2010, there were grand final replays after initial draws.
  2. ^ "Sydney Swans embarrass Richmond Tigers by 113 points to cement AFL minor premiership". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 August 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  3. ^ Hinds, Richard (10 September 2016). "GWS Giants come of age to upset Sydney Swans in first qualifying final". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  4. ^ Buckley, James (18 September 2016). "Sydney Swans advance in 2016 AFL finals after overcoming Adelaide Crows at SCG". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  5. ^ Bilton, Dean (24 September 2016). "AFL Finals: Sydney Swans thump Geelong by 37 to book grand final ticket". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  6. ^ Pierik, Jon (11 April 2016). "'I felt the pop,' says Bob Murphy". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  7. ^ Swersky, Tiarne (25 July 2016). "Western Bulldogs' injury curse eerily similar to past finals-bound AFL sides". Fox Sports (Australia). News Corp Australia. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  8. ^ Ralph, Jon (17 April 2016). "Jason Johannisen could be out for at least eight weeks as Western Bulldogs sweat on scan results". Herald Sun. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  9. ^ Cherny, Daniel (28 July 2016). "Western Bulldogs v Geelong: Dogs hurt by injuries to Matt Suckling and Matthew Boyd". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  10. ^ Elborough, Brad (29 August 2016). "Pavlich farewelled as Fremantle show Bulldogs new tricks". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  11. ^ Australian Associated Press (9 September 2016). "AFL finals: Western Bulldogs shock West Coast with 47-point elimination final win". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  12. ^ Edmund, Sam (17 September 2016). "Western Bulldogs eliminate Hawthorn with stunning semi-final win, Hawks' four-peat hopes dashed". Herald Sun. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Grand Finals". AFL Tables. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  14. ^ Sygall, David (24 September 2016). "Match report: Dogs become Giant killers to advance to Grand Final". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  15. ^ Connolly, Rohan (25 September 2016). "Western Bulldogs v Sydney Swans in the 2016 grand final: A romance we had to have". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  16. ^ Curley, Adam (2 July 2016). "Match report: Bulldogs sink Swans in thriller". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  17. ^ Vaughan, Roger (29 October 2015). "AFL introduces pre-finals bye". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  18. ^ Australian Associated Press (10 February 2016). "Dennis Cometti to retire from AFL commentary after 2016 season". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  19. ^ Perry, Kevin (29 September 2016). "Grand Final Friday Night Special: Bulldogs Road to Glory on Seven". Decider TV. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  20. ^ a b "2016 AFL Broadcast Guide". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Archived from the original on 29 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  21. ^ "Triple M Rocks Footy!". Triple M. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  22. ^ Styles, Aja (2 October 2016). "AFL Grand Final 2016 has highest footy ratings for Channel 7 in a decade", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  23. ^ "2016 AFL Grand Final – International Broadcast Schedule". World Footy News. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  24. ^ King, Travis (31 August 2016). "Homegrown acts to headline Grand Final entertainment". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  25. ^ Navaratnam, Dinny (9 September 2016). "Sting to rock the 'G on Grand Final day". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  26. ^ Thompson, Matt (23 September 2016). "Sister act confirmed for national anthem at Grand Final". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  27. ^ "As it happened: Bulldogs prevail over Swans in grand final classic". ABC. 1 October 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  28. ^ a b c d e Jackson, Russell (1 October 2016). "Western Bulldogs beat Sydney for first AFL premiership in 62 years – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  29. ^ Wu, Andrew (3 October 2016). "AFL grand final 2016: Banged up Sydney Swans await news on Dan Hannebery's knee injury".
  30. ^ "Norm Smith: Bulldog Jason Johannisen springs a medal surprise – AFL.com.au". AFL. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  31. ^ "AFL Grand Final 2016: Norm Smith medal to Jason Johannisen, stars on MCG". Fox Sports. 1 October 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  32. ^ Larissa Nicholson (2 October 2016). "AFL grand final 2016: Luke Beveridge gives Bob Murphy his premiership medal". The Sunday Age. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Bob Murphy returns premiership medal handed to him by coach Luke Beveridge on Grand Final day". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  34. ^ "Match report: Dogs dust Swans to snap 62-year drought – AFL.com.au". AFL. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  35. ^ Travis King (12 January 2016). "Guilty: court bans the Essendon 34 for 2016". Australian Football League. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  36. ^ Quayle, Emma (10 February 2017). "Western Bulldog Stewart Crameri opens up on emotion-charged AFL grand final weekend". The Age. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  37. ^ "AFL Grand Final teams: All of the ins and outs for Sydney Swans v Western Bulldogs 2016 decider". Fox Sports (Australia). News Corp Australia. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  38. ^ Guthrie, Ben (27 September 2016). "Veteran gets his turn as Grand Final umpires named". AFL.com.au. Telstra Media. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  39. ^ "Grand Final free kicks Sydney Swans, AFL's review of Grand Final finds umpiring was not up to expected standard". Fox Sports. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2020.