Can Richmond keep their dynasty alive?
Or will St Kilda spoil the party with a monumental upset?
Last time they met
In a mature performance, unforgiving pressure helped St Kilda to a 26-point upset over Richmond, 15.3.93 to 10.7.67. Ex-Tiger Dan Butler continued his hot-start to the season with 13 disposals and three goals, whilst Tim Membrey (13 disposals, three goals) and Jack Lonie (16 disposals, two goals) also impressed.
As the Tigers look to bounce back, Tom Lynch and Nathan Broad will return at the expense of Jake Aarts and Mabior Chol.
Paddy Ryder’s devastating injury, Ben Long’s suspension, and Jake Carlisle returning home for the birth of his child are St Kilda’s big outs. Jonathon Marsh, Josh Battle, and Shane Savage have earnt call-ups.
Why Richmond can win
They’re serious contenders, and going for three premierships in four years. A straights sets exit would be unprecedented, unexpected, and embarrassing. Richmond are a proven finals side, and these are games they just win. No ifs, buts or maybes.
Why St Kilda can win
Pressure can be the opposition’s worst enemy, and its absence is the biggest advantage for underdogs. Richmond are a calm side that handles pressure better than anyone, but the Saints aren’t expected to win, and don’t have pressure to handle. They beat Richmond last time they met, proving they have the capability.
Players to watch
Dan Butler has been quiet in the second half of the season, and kicked just one goal last week. There seems to be no love lost between Butler and the Tigers, but he was down the pecking order, and would love to put his best foot forward against them.
In the wake of Paddy Ryder’s season-ending injury, Rowan Marshall will be taking on more responsibility than he has this year. Against Toby Nankervis, it will be interesting to see how he performs.
What’s at stake?
A dynasty. If Richmond were to bow out in straight sets, you can throw ‘the greatest team of the modern era’ talk out the window.
A finals win in the Saints maiden campaign is above par, knocking off the reigning premiers would be the stuff of legends, with a strong shade of 2016 Dogs. 2020 has a big tick already, and they’re not expected to win. Frankly, nothing’s at stake, which is why they’re so dangerous.
St Kilda will come out swinging. But it’s a game the Tigers can’t, and won’t, lose.