Can Brisbane break an 11 year drought? Not just the last time they beat Richmond, but the last time they won a final.
Or will the Tigers put themselves two wins away from their third flag in four years?
Last time they met
In round 10, Richmond has 22 scoring shots to Brisbane’s 21, but won by 41 points. As is the tale of their season, the Lions were plagued by inaccuracy. Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt kicked seven goals between, whilst Dustin Martin and Shai Bolton racked up 24 disposals apiece. As per usual, Lachie Neale was one of the best on ground, but Richmond extended their reign of dominance making it 15 straight wins over Brisbane
In eerily similar circumstances, these sides met in last season’s corresponding qualifying final. Having finished in the same ladder positions, and met at the same venue, Richmond cruised home by 47 points on that occasion.
Much earlier than initially thought, Harris Andrews has recovered from a hamstring injury to get back in time for finals, joined by Jarrod Berry as two valuable inclusions for Brisbane. Jack Payne and Cam Ellis-Yolmen make way.
For Richmond, Josh Caddy and Jack Ross have been brutally axed. Reigning best and fairest Dion Prestia returning for his first game since round five, and Shai Bolton are their two big inclusions.
Why Brisbane can win
Like many teams, the Lions have a serious point to prove. They’ll be better for last year’s taste of finals, and hellbent on avoiding back to back straight sets exits.
Why Richmond can win
Been there done that. The Tigers are experienced operators come finals, and know how to get the job done. The Gabba is their new MCG, and without a full crowd the Lions home ground advantage counts for little.
Players to watch
We know Mitch Robinson can talk the talk, now the hard-nut must walk the walk. After voicing Tom Lynch “went to a good team to get success”, the Lion will have the heat on him. It’s a real shame Tom Lynch isn’t playing.
The AFL’s best big game player. It’s guaranteed Dusty turns up for the finals. When he does, you don’t want to miss a second.
Shai Bolton. The 21 year old smooth-mover has taken his game to a new level since his midfield switch. Has the aura of a big game player, and serious game-breaking potential.
Richmond's back six is formidable, and a big performance from Charlie Cameron, or Eric Hipwood, or both, would be huge for the Lions.
Brisbane’s goalkickers. More specifically, anyone in a Brisbane guernsey kicking for goal. Goalkicking has been the Lions Achilles heel, and it’s incredibly difficult to knock off the league’s power-houses if you don’t make the most of every opportunity. It’s been much better the last few weeks, but finals pressure could take its toll.
What’s at stake?
Everything is at stake for the Lions. After a straight sets exit last year this is their golden opportunity to pick up a finals win without sudden death bearing over them. If they suffer the same fate as last year, there’ll be no excuses to hide behind. Did we mention it’s 11 years since they beat Richmond? If they go deep into October, they could very well meet the Tigers again, and would love to have the hoodoo broken by then.
Richmond will be just as determined to extend the hoodoo as Brisbane are to end it, and would love to make Robinson pay for his Tom Lynch remarks.
The time for Fagan’s Lions is now. They’ll come with a plan to try and nullify Martin when he goes forward after last year’s qualifying final. It’s impossible to keep him quiet in a final, but he shouldn’t be as rampant.
Brisbane have so much at stake and can’t afford to lose. The hunger will be there, and they’ll find a way. Still expect to see Richmond very deep in October.