Richmond v St Kilda, Friday night, Metricon Stadium
WHY THEY'RE HERE
Richmond have been subjected to their first semi-final since 2001 after an upset loss at the hands of the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Friday night. Richmond had a lot of players down on their best, in particular star defender Dylan Grimes, who had his colours lowered to Lions goalsneak Charlie Cameron.
Dustin Martin is tackled by Lachie Neale.Credit:Getty Images
St Kilda won a final for the first time in a decade by staving off the fast-finishing Western Bulldogs at the same venue on Saturday. The Saints dominated the aerial battle as their talls starred across the ground. There is room for improvement, though, with many of St Kilda's midfielders – including All-Australian Jack Steele – relatively subdued.
HOW THEY MATCH UP
These sides last met in late June, in a freewheeling game under the roof at Marvel Stadium. On that occasion, St Kilda's slick ball movement cut through the Tigers. The Saints' small forwards were on song, with St Kilda getting seven majors combined from Dean Kent, Jack Lonie and ex-Tiger Dan Butler who was arguably best afield. Dustin Martin was subdued, while Jack Riewoldt finished with 1.3. Remarkably this was Saints coach Brett Ratten's seventh straight win against Richmond counterpart Damien Hardwick, following a 6-0 scoreline when Ratten was at the helm of Carlton.
Dustin Martin, left, tackles Zak Jones, right, during the Tigers’ round four loss to St Kilda. Credit:Getty Images
Richmond will almost certainly regain spearhead Tom Lynch, and not a moment too soon. The struggling Mabior Chol is the man who will most likely make way for the former Gold Coast co-captain, who will ironically play a final at Metricon Stadium before the Suns have managed to do so. Dual premiership players Josh Caddy and Nathan Broad were both emergencies against Brisbane and on the cusp of selection. Broad has been trialled in the ruck at the lower level and could theoretically support Toby Nankervis. Jake Aarts was quiet against Brisbane and looks the most vulnerable of Richmond's small forwards.
The Saints have lost Paddy Ryder to a hamstring injury, while Jake Carlisle is in doubt as he considers leaving St Kilda's hub to be with his heavily pregnant partner. Ben Long has been offered a one-match ban for his bump on Jack Macrae. Josh Battle should come straight back in if fit but that is no guarantee as he deals with a foot issue. If the Saints opt to retain their balance of talls, Jonathon Marsh looms as a likely inclusion. Dylan Roberton isn't strictly a key position player but has been in the selection frame and could be used to replace Carlisle. Shane Savage is the likeliest replacement for Long at half-back.
Geelong v Collingwood, Saturday night, Gabba
Gary Ablett in action against the Magpies earlier this season.Credit:Getty Images
WHY THEY'RE HERE
The Cats' inaccuracy – particularly by Coleman Medal winner Tom Hawkins – had a huge impact on the qualifying final loss to Port Adelaide. At the other end the Power locked Geelong into their defensive 50 for long periods and kept banging the ball inside. Then, at ground level, the likes of Steven Motlop feasted.
Nathan Buckley's side was efficient with the ball and did a good job at keeping it out of the hands of West Coast's intercept markers in their elimination final upset. They didn't over-handball, and standout goals from Brody Mihocek, Mason Cox and Jordan De Goey provided the forward class they've lacked this year. A win for the ages, given quarantine arrangements, and another chapter in a famous modern rivalry.
Mason Cox celebrates a goal with teammates.Credit:Getty Images
HOW THEY MATCH UP
These sides have three wins each from their past six matches, dating back to the start of 2017. The Pies won the only final in that run – the 2019 qualifying final – and defeated the Cats comfortably in Perth in round seven. The only reason West Coast were in the semi-final with the Pies for so long was because of Nic Naitanui's ruck dominance. Respectfully, that should not be so much of an issue against the Cats' Rhys Stanley.
Geelong need a big lift from Gary Rohan and the man who has tormented the Pies in big finals before; Gary Ablett Jnr. It could be his last game. The Cats were clearly the better side over the home-and-away campaign but the pressure will be on against a Magpies side with momentum. Geelong have lost 12 of their past 16 finals since winning the 2011 flag, all with Chris Scott in charge. Collingwood thrived on minimal expectations against the Eagles while the Cats' errant goalkicking suggests they had some problems with the pressure.
Cats skipper Joel Selwood's fitness is a concern. He had surgery on Saturday on a dislocated finger. You'd likely need to pull his finger off for him to miss, but questions remain about the discomfort the injury could cause him. Jack Steven (hamstring) looks unlikely to play. Could Esava Ratugolea earn a reprieve to provide another forward option?
Bar Jeremy Howe and Tom Phillips, the Pies are unusually injury-free. Darcy Cameron surely retains his spot in the side after providing relief at important times for Brodie Grundy, who played a lot less game time than usual in the elimination final.
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