Photo: Caspar McLeod
Safe to say, the finals series has not disappointed! The Eagles and Dogs crash out, Geelong’s finals struggle continues, and the Lions have broken their 11-year drought against the Tigers.
Heading into week two, we have a pair of blockbuster games to enjoy.
Richmond v St Kilda
First up on Friday night (7:50 pm AEDT) it is the reigning premiers up against the Saints.
Richmond are coming off the back of a disappointing loss to Brisbane at the Gabba. Early on, the match was an arm-wrestle with both teams having leads throughout the first half. But by the backend of the second quarter, the Lions grabbed the lead and did not look back. Richmond went on to lose by 15 points but are still one of the favourites given their record of two premierships in the last three years. With Tom Lynch coming back this week, the Tigers will be bullish about their chances.
St Kilda, on the other hand, have returned to finals footy after nine long years. Despite a major scare late in the last quarter, they managed to hold on for a three-point win over the Dogs. The unfortunate news for St Kilda was the hamstring injury to Patrick Ryder, which means he will miss the rest of the finals series. However, St Kilda will still be in high hopes as earlier this year they managed a 26-point win over the Tigers.
As good as it has been to see St Kilda back in the finals, I am backing Richmond to redeem themselves on Friday night.
PREDICTION: The return of Tom Lynch will help spur Richmond to victory by 21 points.
Geelong Cats v Collingwood
Saturday night hosts the 2011 Grand Final rematch at 7:40pm (AEDT).
For Geelong, it was always going to be difficult to beat Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. They put up a good fight, only losing by 16 points. This loss against Port Adelaide takes Geelong’s record in finals to four wins and 12 losses since the 2011 Grand Final against Collingwood. Against Port Adelaide, Geelong kicked themselves out of the game - converting only one of their nine set shots. This was an unusual occurrence for a side usually strong from set shots. If Geelong can turn that around they will have a strong chance against Collingwood - a side who do not score very highly often.
Collingwood are coming off the back of a shock victory at Optus Stadium. In contrast to Geelong’s poor set shot kicking, Collingwood were perfect, slotting eight from eight - something they have not been overly consistent with. Mason Cox started off with a remarkable first quarter, kicking three goals in a performance similar to that against Richmond two years ago in the preliminary final. However, Collingwood just snuck over the line after conceding two late goals in the final quarter and blowing their early lead. Collingwood has a history of losing from winning positions, so they need to try and minimise mistakes like these.
This match could go either way, but I am going to back Collingwood - who have beaten Geelong in their last two encounters.
PREDICTION: Chris Scott’s finals record will continue to worsen with Collingwood getting up by 13 points.
If last week’s matches are anything to go off, then we should strap ourselves in for some great and unpredictable action.