After a thrilling first week of the 2020 AFL Finals Series, two more mouth-watering match-ups are on the cards this weekend.
From this point, every finals match will be do-or-die. The winners stay on, but there is no next week for the losing sides.
So, can Richmond and Geelong, both beaten in the first week of the finals, bounce back? Or will St Kilda and Collingwood’s momentum carry them through to a preliminary final?
Read on for our full Week 2 finals preview!
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AFL Tipping – Friday, October 9
Richmond Tigers vs St Kilda Saints
Metricon Stadium | 7.50 pm (AEST)
Richmond Tigers – Richmond has lost just two games since Round 8 and both were particularly notable for regular bouts of ill-discipline. The Tigers lost their cool against Brisbane last week, giving up four 50m penalties and several goals. Both coach Damien Hardwick and captain Trent Cotchin bemoaned Richmond’s behaviour in the defeat, and you can expect a major improvement in that department here. The Tigers started brightly at the Gabba but faded considerably, and will be very happy if Tom Lynch, as expected, returns from a hamstring injury. Mabior Chol really struggled up forward against the Lions, while Jack Riewoldt was not helped by Richmond’s delivery inside 50. Dylan Grimes will be keen to bounce back, the star defender beaten by Charlie Cameron, while Shane Edwards was quiet. Richmond know they will have to lift in their quest for a third premiership in four years – and history suggests they will. The reigning premiers opted to play this match at Metricon Stadium, where they have a 6-0 record this season. It is also close to the club’s hub base. The Tigers have won four of their last five against the Saints and should bounce back in this clash. It would not surprise to see Dustin Martin play a key role in that.
St Kilda Saints – The Saints fell in against the Western Bulldogs last week, holding off their fast-finishing opponents to win by three points and claim their first finals success since 2010. Brett Ratten has been forced into making changes, though, with ruckman Paddy Ryder – who was best on the ground – ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Defender Jake Carlisle has the left the hub for the birth of his third child, too, while Ben Long has been suspended for one match for a bump on Jack Macrae. Ratten will have to shuffle his pack as a result, so keep an eye on team news. Ryder was one of many St Kilda’s new recruits that stepped up on Saturday night, with Dougal Howard impressive down back, while Bradley Hill, Dan Butler and Zak Jones all contributed. Ryder’s absence means Rohan Marshall will most likely ruck alone. The Saints will use their Round 4 win over Richmond as belief, St Kilda winning that contest by 26 points. Ex-Tiger Butler and Tim Membrey both kicked three goals in that clash, while Jack Billings had 25 disposals. And while that win ended Richmond’s four-match winning streak against the Saints, St Kilda has won three of its last seven against the Tigers. This appears too much of a stretch for the Saints, with Richmond’s class to be the difference in this one.
AFL Tipping – Saturday, October 9
Geelong Cats vs Collingwood Magpies
Gabba | 7:40 pm (AEST)
Geelong Cats – Geelong’s finals record since that 2011 premiership is not great, but another first-up loss was not as bad as it looked. The Cats were off-colour and kicked poorly – with 5.12 – yet only lost by 16 points to the minor premiers, who were playing on home soil. Some big names were very quiet for the Cats, too, with Tom Hawkins going goalless and Gary Ablett held to just 10 disposals. Coleman Medallist Hawkins was particularly off, kicking 0.5 from six shots on goal. His decision-making around goal was not as good as normal, either, and you would expect a major lift from the star forward in this do-or-die clash. Watch for team news, with Geelong captain Joel Selwood in some doubt due to a finger injury sustained against the Power. The veteran helped bump up the age of Geelong’s team, which with an average age of 28 years and 134 days, was the oldest in VFL/AFL history against the Power. With age comes know-how and big-game experience, and Geelong should be good enough to bounce back and win this. Youngster Brandan Parfitt was good against Port Adelaide, but the likes of Sam Menegola, Cam Guthrie and Tom Stewart – all so good in 2020 – failed to have their usual impact. The only worry is Geelong’s last three performances have all been below-par. Can the Cats hit back?
Collingwood Magpies – Collingwood’s superb effort to down West Coast by one point was one of the best finals wins on the road in recent years. Branded the ‘Dirty Pies’ by the West Australian media, due to Victoria’s ongoing issues with coronavirus, Collingwood arrived at the ground full of determination and motivation – a powerful cocktail. Mason Cox got them going, with a thrilling first-quarter burst that saw him kick three goals in five minutes, and the likes of Taylor Adams, Brody Mihocek and Jordan De Goey all stepped up to ensure the Magpies won a thriller. Adams’ late heroics were key, with his smother on Tom Cole’s kick a potentially match-saving effort. The scenes of jubilation at the final siren were great, but it won’t be easy winning two sudden-death finals in a row. Nathan Buckley needs to get more out of ruckman Heath Grundy, who was comfortably beaten by Eagles star Nic Naitanui in Perth. Ex-Swan Darcy Cameron took some of the crucial ruck contests late in the game, such was Naitanui’s dominance, and Grundy must lift in an admittedly easier assignment this week. Collingwood have the star power to win this and have beaten Geelong on neutral territory as recently as Round 7, De Goey kicking five goals in a 22-point triumph in Perth. Adam Treloar had 34 touches on that occasion, too, while Hawkins was kept goalless. Collingwood also beat Geelong by 10 points in a qualifying final last year, and have won five of the last eight against the Cats. This should be close … Geelong – just!