AEST, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Watch on Seven Network, Fox Footy
Richmond Tigers: Fifth
North Melbourne Kangaroos: Eighth
Richmond Tigers: 15-7-0
North Melbourne Kangaroos: 13-9-0
Last five matches
Richmond Tigers: LWWWW
North Melbourne Kangaroos: WWWLL
CAN you hear that roar?
God help us all if they lose!
But, in all seriousness, despite the fact that Richmond ($1.63 with CrownBet) accounted for a depleted North Melbourne side just last round, 16.12 (108) to 10.7 (67), this game is shaping up as a beauty.
The Roos rested several senior players in last week’s clash and will be hoping they can come back into the side fresh from a break and turn the tide after the Tigers’ confidence boosting 41 point win.
None of star ruck man Todd Goldstein, goal machine Shaun Higgins, midfield jet Nick Dal Santo, enigmatic forward Jarrad Waite, captain Andrew Swallow, lock down defenders Scott Thompson and Michael Firrito, hard man Ben Cunnington and up and coming mid Sam Wright played against the Tigers in last week’s loss.
All are expected to return for this one and the punters are snapping them up at $2.35 with WilliamHill.com.au thinking the loss meant nothing with none of those men involved.
The bookie’s Tim Ashworth reports the Roos are holding more than four times the money than the Tigers, who are $1.60 in the head to head market.
“All the punters are expecting a fairly defensive display with the $1.88 on offer for Under 170.5 points to be scored proving a popular pick,” Ashworth said.
In last weeks clash, the Tigers sputtered through three quarters against a sub standard Roos line up, before turning on the jets in the final term to cruise home.
The last quarter was the Tigers best for the season as they booted nine goals to four.
The man who has gone from villain to hero, Ty Vickery, booted three goals, as did gun midfield forward Dustin Martin, who also collected 21 possessions.
Captain Trent Cotchin led the way for Richmond, grabbing 30 possessions, while fellow prime mover Brett Deledio had 26 – to go with 10 marks – and young buck Brandon Ellis had the same figure.
With few experienced heads to turn to, Jamie Macmillan was the best Roo, grabbing 27 touches, while Sam Gibson had 21 and Shaun Atley 20. No other Kangaroo had more than 19 disposals. Young buck Kayne Turner led the way with three goals as gun forward Drew Petrie was shut down by perhaps the best defender in the competition in Alex Rance.
They’ll want more out of Petrie in this one, but it might be futile – Rance just doesn’t have goals kicked on him.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick was pleased his team made it through the match without injury.
“We got through unscathed, we won, we move on and we look forward to our next challenge, which is the same side,“ Hardwick said.
His opposite number, Brad Scott said fatigue had caught up with his players, hence his decision to rest them.
“In 2012 we had to win a lot of games just to qualify for the finals and then got bundled out in the first week (by 96 points against West Coast at Domain Stadium) with a pretty fatigued playing group,” Scott said.
“But I think we can also reference last year in having to win two pretty dynamic and tight finals (against Essendon and Geelong).
“That meant we travelled to Sydney for a preliminary final with a team that had been good for two weeks, had good momentum, but was pretty fatigued and played against an opposition that were fresh after a week off.
“If you’re going to get to the grand final, you’re going to have to play four really tough games, potentially interstate, so freshening players up certainly was part of our thinking.”
With the disastrous Adelaide trip of 2014 still hanging over their heads, the coach says his side has matured greatly.
The infamous Cotchin ‘kick into the breeze game’ ended in a 57 point hammering at the hands of Port Adelaide in last year’s Elimination Final and left the Tiger supporters shattered.
In that game, the Power used the breeze to kick the first seven goals of the match, effectively killing off the contest, ending in a 20.12 (132) to 11.9 (75) result.
“This group’s come a long way since last year,” Hardwick said.
“We’ve introduced some new players into our side, their maturity level has improved and we’re a better side.
Hardwick tried not to buy into North’s resting of players.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate, we’ve played a lot of Friday night games,” he said.
“It’s amazing when you have a Friday night game, mentally they become ‘freshener upperers’, so to speak.
“They trained above the ground at the moment, we were running over the top of it at the end of the game, I think you saw.
The Tigers will have a game plan for the Roos, with a whiteboard in the Richmond rooms revealed in the media this week.
Messages for the players to take out onto the field included:
“Boomer (champion Brent Harvey) is a sook when stopped.”
“Goldstein went missing after slapped by Jordan Lewis.”
Try the old seagull if (Tigers ruck man Ivan) Maric is getting beaten in the ruck – ie call Goldy’s name around contest.”
“Get into (midfielder Nick) Dal Santo about jaw surgery – he’s obviously very vain.”
The mind games have well and truly started. Will the Tigers overcome their demons and go one better this year or do the Kangaroos have their measure.
Either way, it’s sure to be a good old fashioned blockbuster on the MCG.
Elimination Final betting predictions
Match result: Richmond Tigers win ($1.63 with Crownbet.com.au)
Line: North Melbourne +8.5 ($1.92 at Sportsbet.com.au)
We’re backing this one in to be a low-scoring match, with the Tigers just getting over the line in a thriller. Yes, we know exactly what the Tigers tend to do come finals time – wet the bed – but surely the hoodoo has to end one day. We’ve said it before in our previews that we feel like the Tigs have matured greatly and really turned it around. While they’ve still lost games this year that they should have won, there seems to be a new found resilience about this playing group and the distance between that upper echelon of Cotchin, Deledio, Martin and Riewoldt and the lower end has been drawn a bit closer. The likes of Brandon Ellis, Shane Edwards and Reece Conca have really stepped up and we think that will translate to a Richmond win. Rance needs to shut down Petrie and the Tigers need to keep a handle on Lindsay Thomas and Andrew Swallow and they’ll go a long way to ending the Kangaroos’ finals run in the first week. In saying that, it’s hard to write the Kangaroos off. It’s not like that have an AFL list to envy, but they just keep on keeping on in this competition, sneaking into the finals and then causing trouble. Don’t be surprised if they do something similar to last year. They have the form to do it.
Tigers vs. Kangaroos top goal scorer tips
Jack Riewoldt ($4.60 with CrownBet)
Became the first man in Richmond Football Club history to kick 50 or more goals in six straight seasons with his two against the Roos last week, but has really struggled in front of the sticks since he bagged six against Sydney in round 13. The Tigers have been looking for different avenues to goal and it has reaped its rewards, but we think, if they are to win this game, Jack needs to stand up against the North defence and have a big game. Any one who can kick 50 goals or more in six straight season commands respect in goal scorer markets and, despite his short odds, Jack is the starting point for punters here.
Dustin Martin ($10 with sportsbet.com.au)
Yep, it seems like every time we preview a Tigers game we pick Martin to kick the first goal or most goals. What of it? The guy is one of the best players in the game and certainly one of the most dangerous in front of the big sticks. He’s just a flat out gun. He’s combined his goal kicking with finding plenty of the footy this season. He is great kick, either from set shots or on the run and if he ends up in a one on one contest, it’s pretty much over for the defender. The Roos defence is uninspiring to us and we reckon Martin is primed to capitalise on whoever goes to him. Booted three goals against the Roos last week, making it the third time in five weeks he had reached that mark. Back him in.
North Melbourne Kangaroos
Brent Harvey ($13 with Crownbet.com.au)
Wait until you see the final teams in this one, but we reckon Boomer will avoid the subs vest. They’ll want his experience and calming influence from the start in this game and that means he becomes a prime candidate to kick a bag of goals at good odds. This is a guy who has kicked 479 goals over the journey, remarkable for a fellow so small and you can bet he will be wanting to put his best foot forward against the Tigers. Despite chalking up his 400th game in 2015, he’s still managed 21 goals on the season. Last week he was held goal less, after he had managed 13 goals in the previous six weeks. There’s no retirement parade yet, as he is going on next year, but we’re on him to make the most of it against the Tigers.
Ben Brown ($9 with Crownbet.com.au)
The towering curly haired 22-year-old has had a rough time of it of late, alternating goal-less performances with braces in the past six weeks. Seems to have a mortgage on that tall forward option, despite his inconsistency, and, with Rance expected to shut down Petrie, we’re going with a bit of value in Brown. Brown Booted four goals against the Bombers in last year’s elimination final to help North Melbourne advance against the odds, can he do it again against the Tigers and stamp himself as a September specialist?
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