And then there were four!
The AFL’s preliminary finals are upon us, with two high-stakes, must-watch games set to determine who will play each other in the 2019 grand final.
Both matches pit sides who had the week off, Richmond and Collingwood, against teams who won semi-finals to keep their season alive.
Geelong and Greater Western Sydney will be boosted by those triumphs and will leave no stone unturned in their bid to reach the final Saturday in September.
Can they upset the favourites, though?
Richmond and Collingwood will have a home-ground advantage and passionate crowds roaring them on.
Another intriguing weekend is on the cards.
Read on for our full preliminary final preview!
Watch Live: Kayo Sports
Friday, September 20, 2019
Richmond v Geelong Cats
Venue: MCG | Start: 7:50 pm (AEST)
Richmond head into this clash on the back of 10 straight wins, a 47-point qualifying final win over Brisbane earning them a well-deserved week off. The Tigers fell at this stage of the season last year, though, and that defeat – a 39-point loss to Collingwood – also came off the back of a streak of wins (seven). Key to Richmond’s recent run of form has been their miserly defence, just one side (West Coast, 13) kicking more than 10 goals against them in their last 10 matches. Dylan Grimes has done an outstanding job marshalling the backline and with Dustin Martin in great form in the midfield and forwards Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt in the goals, the Tigers have winners on every line.
The only concern might be the fact they will enter Friday’s match having played just twice in the past month, given their week off and the pre-finals bye. But Richmond did not lack any sharpness against the Lions, Martin kicking six goals in a convincing finals win. Sydney Stack will not play with an ankle injury for the Tigers. Another huge crowd will pile into the MCG to watch Richmond, who have won their last seven matches at the venue.
Geelong were responsible for Richmond’s last MCG defeat and they won convincingly, keeping the Tigers to just five goals in a 67-point win in Round 12. Richmond’s injury list was extensive then, though, and that was the Cats’ eighth win in a row. Since that victory they have failed to win two matches in a row, winning six and losing six. Geelong still finished on top of the ladder but were beaten by 10 points in a qualifying final against Collingwood. Joel Selwood led the way in a 20-point triumph over West Coast at the MCG last week, meaning the Cats will be a little more match-hardened than the Tigers.
But Geelong will be without key forward Tom Hawkins, who received a one-match suspension for striking Will Schofield. Hawkins kicked four goals last week and also booted four in that win against the Tigers earlier this year. Patrick Dangerfield had 38 possessions in that clash, while Mitch Duncan, who is injured, had 34. Richmond won the three meetings before this year’s clash but prior to that, were beaten 13 times in a row by the Cats. The Tigers are a much better side than they were from 2007 to 2017, though, and are in excellent form. And although the Cats, who have lost their last three preliminary finals, have some big-name stars of their own, Richmond should be too strong in this encounter.
Head to Head: Richmond
Win Margin: Richmond 1-39
Line: Richmond -18.5
Total Points: Over 146.5