It was a fantastic weekend of finals footy as the qualifying and elimination finals gave us some thrilling matches. The action continues this week with two big semi-finals set for Friday and Saturday night. The Tigers and Saints kick off proceedings on Friday night and as usual, PuntingInDanger has you covered with a full preview and betting tips for the clash below.
Metricon Stadium, Friday 7.50pm (AEDT)
The Tigers were favourites in the qualifying final against Brisbane at the Gabba but it seems as though a year filled with injuries and player unavailability through other means finally caught up to them. The Tigers looked good in the first quarter, taking a one goal lead into the quarter time break, but the Lions piled on four goals to one in the second and never gave the lead back.
The Tigers were without Tom Lynch for the clash but the key forward will be back in the line-up to take on the Saints. Maboir Chol was in contention to make way for Lynch, however, with the Saints lacking big men at the moment, Damian Hardwick could opt to keep the Tigers talls in the line-up in an attempt to stretch the St Kilda defence.
Dion Prestia was arguably the Tigers best when the two sides met back in Round 4, racking up 25 touches and six tackles in the loss. Prestia played his first game since Round 5 in the qualifying final against Brisbane and had 20 touches, expect him to increase his workload this week and shouldn’t get much attention from the Saints defensive mids.
A six minute laps of concentration at the end of the game meant that St Kilda just scraped through the elimination final with a three point win over the Western Bulldogs. Up until that point, however, they absolutely dominated the contest. The Saints took 21 contested marks and looked way too big for their opponents, piling on seven goals to two in the middle quarters to all but ice the game.
That height advantage could dissipate this week against the Tigers though, with ruckman Paddy Ryder suffering a hamstring injury and defender Jake Carlisle exiting the hub due to the birth of his first child. Josh Battle will likely return to fill the void left by one of the big men, while the other roll could very well be filled by one of the out of favour defenders in Jimmy Webster or Dylan Roberton, who would be playing their first game for the year if selected.
Defender Ben Long will also miss with a one game suspension.
Dan Hannebery and the finals experience he has brought to the Saints side was on display against the Dogs. He was rock solid in the midfield, racking up 20 touches and not looking overwhelmed by the stage whatsoever. Should have a big role in the midfield once again and is a proven ball winner in finals footy.
The Saints were too good for the Tigers back in Round 5, securing a 26 point win but finals footy is a different beast and there is no doubt that this will be a completely different Richmond team coming into this clash. If the Saints are to be successful, they can ill afford to have a six or seven minute lapse in concentration like they did against the Dogs.
Richmond predictably start as favourites and while we think they will win to force their way into a fourth straight preliminary final, we think the 19.5 point line is a little too hefty for what should be a ferocious contest. The highest winning margin in Week 1 was just 16 points and we expect this to be another relatively close one.
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