St Kilda XXII
Hello everybody and welcome to week two of the AFL finals. We’re into vomit on sweater (mom’s spaghetti) territory in this weirdest of seasons with just five sudden death contests remaining. The six sides remaining dare not lose the opportunity of a lifetime.
Tonight provides a fascinating clash of narratives. In the yellow and black corner serial winners Richmond are aiming to put a chastening defeat to Brisbane behind them and remind the competition why they’ve spent the majority of a year chasing a third flag in four seasons as premiership favourites. Meanwhile the boondock Saints are already in rarefied air after winning their first final in ten years last time out against the Bulldogs. For the Tigers tonight is about composure and handling expectation. For St Kilda it’s about showing the world they belong at the highest level – win or lose.
Richmond will go in as clear favourites. They finished higher on the ladder, carry decent form into the finals, and are battle hardened at this stage of the season. They didn’t disgrace themselves in defeat to the Lions last week, and may well have enjoyed a week off had they converted their territorial dominance into goals midway through the second quarter. The inclusion of Tom Lynch tonight will help matters on that score.
St Kilda will relish the underdog tag and Brett Ratten will have spent all week encouraging his troops to enjoy an occasion in which they have nothing to lose. It is unfortunate they go in somewhat undermanned with a host of factors conspiring against them, but they will carry the confidence of victory the last time these sides met, back in round four. On that night they kicked a remarkable 15.3 and won despite losing the inside-50 count. They will probably require a similar quirk of fate if they are to earn a trip to Adelaide Oval.