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'Heaviest rain in months': Weather wreaks havoc on AFL grand final

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Heavy rain, pictured here lashing the Gabba hours before the AFL grand final.
Heavy rain lashed the Gabba hours before the AFL grand final. Image: BOM/Getty

The Gabba was hit by a torrential downpour just hours before the AFL grand final, sparking fears the first bounce will be delayed because of the threat of lightning.

The covers were placed on the middle of the ground as heavy rain fell around Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

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Parts of the ground, as well as the streets outside it, were partially flooded.

Up to 89 millimetres had fallen near the Gabba as of 5pm (AEDT), sweeping through to soak the playing surface just as the Bureau of Meteorology delivered an official thunderstorm warning for a host of regions including Brisbane city.

The rain is reportedly set to ease by the time the grand final starts at 7.30pm (AEDT), but the threat of thunderstorms could mean first bounce is delayed.

Under the league’s Extreme Weather Policy, a match can be stopped if lightning is present within 10km of a ground.

The match will only be restarted if the lightning stays outside a 10km radius for at least 30 minutes.

“Under the lightning rule they can delay the match by up to an hour,” an AFL spokesperson said on Saturday.

“It has happened before, but it’s very rare.”

AFL reporter Damian Barrett said the pre-game entertainment could be cancelled, while Channel 7's Tom Brown said: “The weather is threatening to cause chaos and havoc with some of the entertainment, particularly the symphony orchestra, if there's lightning. The AFL is monitoring that.”

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, there is a 70 per cent chance of showers during the game and a 20 per cent chance of lightning within the 10km radius.

“We’re expecting severe storms, squall lines with heavy falls, but also damaging winds and flash flooding,” Sky News Weather chief meteorologist Tom Saunders said.

“Some areas will see their heaviest rain in months, potentially we could see the heaviest rain since earlier this year for many parts of eastern Australia.”

Grand final coaches ready for wild weather

Amid fears of thunderstorms ruining the Gabba grand final spectacle, Geelong coach Chris Scott has given up trying to predict Queensland's weather.

The 44-year-old spent 14 seasons in Brisbane as a player and admits he never worked it out.

But his Cats are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them and Richmond after the 7.30pm AEDT bounce down.

“(Wet weather) would change the way we play against anyone, but it would be the same for the opposition as well,” Scott said.

“They (Richmond) have got a bit of recent experience with slippery conditions over in Adelaide, but I've given up forecasting the weather.

“I've made too many mistakes year after year and it's become a bit of an in-joke with our coaching team.”

Heavy rain, pictured here hitting Brisbane before the 2020 AFL grand final at the Gabba.
Heavy rain hits Brisbane before the 2020 AFL grand final at the Gabba. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a shower or two with possible evening thunderstorms and a top of 27C in Brisbane on Saturday.

“My experience is it's either going to rain all night or it will come and go really quickly and there won't be much in between,” Scott said.

“We'll think about it, obviously, but we're not going to get confused by trying to forecast difficult-to-predict weather.”

Rain and slippery conditions would add another layer to Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s theory that the grand final will be a tough, contested affair.

“Finals have been built on the back of the fundamentals of the game for a long time and I think this game will be no different,” Hardwick said.

“The strength of Geelong is around contested ball and it's something we do reasonably well, as well.

“We've got two really good sides that are going to go at it and whoever's system stands up the longest will come away with (the premiership).”

with AAP

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