AFL preliminary final weekend sees a fresh Richmond unit looking to brush past the rejuvenated Cats, while a similarly rested Collingwood face a depleted GWS.

Richmond v Geelong @ MCG

Friday 20th September, 19:50 (AEST)

Astbury, Broad, GrimesBHenderson, Taylor, Kolodjashnij
HBHouli, Vlastuin, ShortHBBlicavs, Stewart, O’Connor
CEllis, Prestia, CaddyCMenegola, Selwood, Kelly
HFRioli, Cotchin, LambertHFAtkins, Ablett, Dahlhaus
FCastagna, Lynch, RiewoldtFMiers, Ratugolea, Parfitt
FOLNankervis, Edwards, MartinFOLStanley, Dangerfield, Guthrie
I/CSoldo, Baker, Graham, BoltonI/CTuohy, Henry, Narkle, Bews

Played 195: Richmond 88 v Geelong 104 (3 draws).

Last Meeting: AFL Round 12, 2019: Richmond 5.7 (37) lost to Geelong 16.8 (104) at MCG.

Final Thoughts:

Richmond focus

The Tigers enter their third-straight preliminary final fresh and full of confidence. Of the four sides remaining in AFL season 2019, Damien Hardwick’s side are most fancied to take home the premiership cup next weekend, currently $2.10 with Palmerbet. It’s quite the story having dropped to ninth mid-season, at which stage they were length $18 hopes for the flag.

Hardwick’s side were electric in their qualifying final win over Brisbane – none more so than superstar Dustin Martin who bagged six through the midfield. But while Martin was the standout (and the new Norm Smith Medal favourite), it was the all-round effort that most pleased the tiger army, proving that they’ve peaked at the right time. But momentum doesn’t always translate to results, and it was this exact stage last season that Richmond slipped up, losing to Collingwood in a memorable prelim at the MCG despite starting as strong favourites. And while their previous clash against the Cats didn’t make for pretty viewing (a 67-point loss), Hardwick knows he was missing over a third of his best 22 that day. All eight missing (David Astbury, Shai Bolton, Nathan Broad, Brandon Ellis, Kane Lambert, Toby Nankervis and Jack Riewoldt) should play on Friday night.

Geelong focus

Cats coach Chris Scott didn’t pull any punches in his midweek press conference ahead of Friday night’s clash, declaring not only that they are in better shape than at this stage last season, but that Richmond are in worse.  “Our players aren’t looking back and thinking we can’t beat them. We do have a method that troubles them,” Scott said. “I am not a big fan of looking too far back but I don’t think we were anywhere near as good a team as we are now last year and I think they were a better team last year than they are now.”

But pre-game chest puffing should be the least of Scott’s worries this week as he ponders how to replace the *almost* irreplaceable Tom Hawkins. The full-forward starred in last week’s win over the Eagles, booting four goals. But a one-week suspension via the AFL tribunal means his side are all of a sudden bereft of big forward options. Esava Ratugulea will split his time both in the ruck and forward 50, and Patrick Dangerfield is likely to spend slightly more time closer to goal. But should they fail to have a constant outlet, the Tigers could run all over the minor premiers.

Tip: Margin: Richmond by 1-39 points @ $2.00

Collingwood v Greater Western Sydney @ MCG

Saturday 21st September, 16:35 (AEST)

Noble, Roughead, HoweBDavis, Shaw, Taylor
HBCrisp, Moore, MaynardHBCorr, Haynes, Kennedy
CPhillips, Pendlebury, SidebottomCTaranto, Kelly, Finlayson
HFThomas, Mihocek, Hoskin-ElliottHFKeeffe, Himmelberg, Perryman
FElliott, Reid, StephensonFTomlinson, Cameron, de Boer
FOLGrundy, Treloar, AdamsFOLMumford, Lloyd, Hopper
I/CAish, Brown, Mayne, WillsI/CWilliams, Daniels, Reid, Hill

Played 9: Collingwood 6 v GWS 3.

Last Meeting: AFL Round 18, 2019: GWS 19.8 (122) defeated Collingwood 11.9 (75) at Giants Stadium.

Final Thoughts: 

Collingwood focus

After a torrid 2017 in which they finished 13th, the Pies all of a sudden have a chance to make a second straight AFL Grand Final. It’s a remarkable achievement under coach Nathan Buckley, who has turned around the on-field fortunes of the storied club.

The Pies go into this one as strong $1.33 favourites with Palmerbet for a variety of reasons. Firstly, their strong showing in the qualifying final win over Geelong gives them enormous confidence. Second, the win ensured a week’s break at a pivotal time of the season, whilst a battered and bruised Giants outfit saddle up for a third-straight week. Third, a home final at the MCG gives them 90,000+ fans on their side, something that can’t be discounted in September. And fourth, perhaps most importantly, the Giants have been decimated by injuries and suspensions to key personnel (see below).

GWS focus

The Giants have been decimated this week, with a triple dose of bad news. Toby Greene’s one week ban has been upheld by the AFL tribunal, Stephen Coniglio hasn’t proven his fitness, and now Lachie Whitfield has been ruled out after having his appendix removed on Wednesday. It’s a cruel blow to Leon Cameron who missing three of his biggest stars on the biggest stage. Saturday afternoon’s prelim is the third time in four years the Giants have made it this deep into the AFL season.

The abensce of the aforementioned three (plus Callan Ward and Brett Deledio) means Cameron needs a huge output from those capable of lifting on the big stage, namely stars Josh Kelly, Jeremy Cameron and Nick Haynes plus the experience of Phil Davis, Heath Shaw and Matt de Boer. The Giants should take confidence in their round 18 win over the Pies, after a fast start saw them run out 47 points winners. But a packed house at the cauldron that is the MCG is likely to be a different proposition altogether…

Tip: Line: GWS +20.5 @ $1.90