Both Port Adelaide and Richmond will take unchanged sides into Friday night’s preliminary final after the Tigers opted against taking two specialist ruckmen into the game to target Port’s big men Scott Lycett and Peter Ladhams.
As Richmond prepares to face the Power on Adelaide Oval for the right to keep their hopes of back-to-back premierships alive, speculation had been rife Mabior Chol would be recalled, but instead Toby Nankervis will shoulder the ruck load.
Instead, Richmond will be unchanged for just the second time this season.
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Richmond assistant coach Adam Kingsley said the Tigers’ coaching panel thought long and hard about whether to play two rucks.
“Certainly Port’s two ruckmen (Lycett and Ladhams) are good quality ruckmen, particularly the advantage they could give their midfield at the centre bounce,” he said.
“It’s something we discuss(ed).”
The AFL’s reigning premiers arrived in Adelaide on Friday and had a captain’s run on Adelaide Oval in the afternoon ahead of official team selection, where Dustin Martin gave nothing away as to whether he’d spend more time in the forward line, or midfield.
Kingsley said where “Dusty” would play out the game, would be determined by his in-game impact.
“He can make his impact in both areas of the ground,” he said.
“Pretty much where he’s having his impact we tend to leave him, he’s very good around stoppages, very good through the midfield, but also a goalscoring difficult match-up, so we’ll see how the game pans out to see where we play him.”
Chol, Josh Caddy, Jake Aarts and Oleg Markov have been named as emergencies.
The Tigers’ only other unchanged line-up in 2020 was for their Round 7 clash with North Melbourne.
Power coach Ken Hinkley said the expected rain to hit Adelaide on Friday would have no bearing on the outcome of the match.
“Our team form has been really strong all year, we’ve been a really consistent team as have they been,” he said.
“It’s line ball it’s a prelim final, there’s no favourites, there’s no underdogs just four teams playing off for a place in the Grand Final.”
Hartlett ramps up verbal war against Lynch
Power coach Ken Hinkley added to the pre-match mind games by declaring his defenders would not be afraid to go up against the aggressive Tigers star.
Lynch has been criticised by former greats for continually becoming embroiled in behind-the-play clashes since joining Richmond last year.
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He was fined $750 by the league’s match review officer last week for dropping his knee on St Kilda opponent Dougal Howard during the Tigers’ semi-final victory over the Saints.
“(Lynch) obviously gets caught up in the emotions of the game a probably a bit more frequently than others do,” Hartlett told Adelaide radio station FIVEaa.
“I guess others are able to control their instinct and reactions perhaps on their emotions a little bit better than what Tom does.
“I think there’d be plenty of people out there who would like to see his season come to an end… I’ll leave it at that.”
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick defended Lynch’s on-field aggression this week.
He said “good luck” to any opposition player willing to standing in his star forward’s path at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
But Hinkley said his tall defenders Tom Jonas, Tom Clurey and Trent McKenzie weren’t at all afraid of going up against the Tigers star.
“That’s what key forwards do (be aggressive), Dimma was right and Charlie (Dixon) up the other end is not dissimilar,” Hinkley said.
“But Tom Jonas will stand in the way of anything, any of our defenders will stand in the way of anything.
“We expect key forwards to play that way, Dimma expects that too.”
The Power will go in unchanged from their win over Geelong in the qualifying final with veteran Justin Westhoff again on the sidelines ahead of his retirement at the end of the season.
Hinkley said because of Westhoff’s service to the Power it was difficult to not pick him at times.
“It’s hard to leave him out there’s no doubt about that, with a servant like Justin has been to our footy club it is really difficult not to have him in the team,” he said.
“But we also have to respect that we have to pick a team that we think gives us the best chance and we think this 22 can give us the best chance.
“Westy understands that, as much as he is really, really keen to be out there he knows where he is sitting.”
Todd Marshall will play after hurting his shoulder in the opening minutes of the Cats clash.
The young key forward was able to play out the game and kick a crucial goal at the end of the match, and Hinkley said Marshall’s impact on the Power needed to be looked outside of raw stats.
“Output from numbers only is one thing but you have to be the whole thing and for us Todd brings some things to our whole team, we’ve got a great record with Todd in the side,” he said.
“There’s so many times that you need to be in the right spot and that’s what some people don’t see, the stats don’t purely tell you that, they don’t purely tell you what we are trying to achieve and Todd is a really important part of that.
“Todd is a really fast thinking forward and I think that gets unnoticed.”
PORT ADELAIDE v RICHMOND
Friday October 16, 7:50pm (edt) at Adelaide Oval
B: R.Burton, T.McKenzie, D.Houston
HB: H.Harlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-Jones
C: X.Duursma, O.Wines, K.Amon
HF: Z.Butters, T.Marshall, B.Ebert
F: C.Rozee, C.Dixon, R.Gray
FOLL: S.Lycett, T.Rockliff, T.Boak
I/C: S.Powell-Pepper, S.Motlop, T.Clurey, P.Ladhams
EMG: R.Bonner, B.Woodcock, J.Westhoff, J.Lienert
B: D.Astbury, D.Grimes, N.Balta
HB: L.Baker, N.Vlastuin, B.Houli
C: K.McIntosh, D.Prestia, M.Pickett
HF: K.Lambert, J.Castagna, D.Martin
F: T.Lynch, J.Riewoldt, D.Rioli
FOLL: T.Nankervis, S.Edwards, T.Cotchin
I/C: J.Graham, J.Short, S.Bolton, N.Broad
EMG: O.Markov, J.Caddy, M.Chol, J.Aarts
MORE PORT V RICHMOND
TIGERS SHED LIGHT ON DISGRACED DUO’S FUTURE
Damien Hardwick has called suspended pair Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones “two or three times” since they were booted from Queensland in disgrace.
Hardwick said Stack and Coleman-Jones were still “Richmond men” and backed them to enjoy long careers at Tigerland once their 10-game bans expire next season.
Hardwick had previously stopped short of guaranteeing their futures, saying last month: “We’re disappointed in the actions, so we don’t want to sit there and make assertions on what it’s going to look like moving forward”.
Both players fall out of contract next year.
But Hardwick indicated they wouldn’t be leaving Punt Rd and the club wants to keep them connected as they chase another flag.
“It’s a bury-or-plant-it situation. They can either sit there and think about what they’ve done and dwell on it, or they can grow from it,” Hardwick said.
“We’ll continue to support those boys. We love what they bring when they’re at their very best.
“They made a mistake. (But) they’re going to be good players over a long period of time for us.
“I’ve spoken to them two or three times along the journey, I’m sure our players have as well.”
Stack, 20, and Coleman-Jones, 21, will be free to play AFL in Round 5 next year if Richmond beats Port Adelaide on Friday night.
A loss in the preliminary final would see their 10-game bans expire in Round 6.
The pair were kicked out of Queensland after they were evicted from a strip club and involved in a fight outside a Caville Ave kebab shop at 3am.
With the luxury of a nine-day break, the Tigers had been celebrating the birthdays of Jack Ross (20th) and Ben Miller (21st) over a few beers in their hub when Stack and Coleman-Jones decided to break AFL protocols by venturing out.
NO GOALS, NO WORRIES FOR JACK
Richmond says Jack Riewoldt’s aerial strength trumps the stats sheet, with coach Damien Hardwick giving his scoreless spearhead’s semi-final performance a tick.
Riewoldt, 31, warmed up for Friday night’s preliminary final against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval with just four disposals and his first goalless game since Round 3.
Barring two games where Riewoldt suffered an injury in the first 15 minutes, he has never had fewer disposals in his 281-game career.
But Hardwick said Riewoldt’s influence went underappreciated by those outside the club as the best team of this year prepares to host the best team of the past four years for a place in the Grand Final.
“It’s a measure of how we measure his game. The stats sheet will say that he’s quiet, but he didn’t get beaten in any marking contests, he brought the ball to ground really well,” Hardwick said.
“A lot of people won’t see what he does for our side and how he does operate – but we do. That’s why he gets a game for us every week and that’s why he’s one of our most important players.
“Everyone likes to be kicking goals, but the fact of the matter is Jack plays his role and it’s really valuable every week.”
Riewoldt neutralised the three one-on-one marking contests he was involved in against St Kilda.
The Tigers have shed more than 30 staff members as they hunt their third premiership in four years.
They are budgeting for COVID-19 to affect the start of next season and expect to be operating at a reduced capacity until 2023.
But the Tigers have embraced taking the long road to the final four, wary of how their players would’ve handled so much downtime had they won the qualifying final.
Richmond would’ve entered its preliminary final having played just once in the past 28 days if it earned the week off.
“Our guys have enjoyed the fact we’re consistently playing,” Hardwick said.
“I still would’ve loved to have won the first final. (But) we’re not too sorry the way we’ve gone about it.”
WAG WHACK: HUB PARTY SPARKS FURIOUS OUTBURST
They celebrated their 100th day in the hub on Tuesday, whereas Port and Brisbane have enjoyed sleeping in their own beds.
The Tigers recorded season-worst differentials for disposals (-80), contested ball (-43), inside 50s (-31) and points from turnovers (-18) against Port in Round 11, while their -18 for clearances was their second-worst result.
But Richmond has been the AFL’s best learners in their golden run, reversing home-and-away results in big finals against Geelong, GWS and Adelaide in 2017, Geelong in 2019 and St Kilda this year.
The Tigers used metal barriers to mark out Adelaide Oval’s dimensions for training at Metricon on Wednesday, as they did before beating the Crows in Round 18.
Hardwick said the territory battle would be critical, given Port’s ground was so easy to defend.
Richmond is ranked No.1 for territory this year, with Port ranked No.2.
The Tigers are expected to go in unchanged although Hardwick said five or six players were ready to come in and they would consider bringing back Mabior Chol as a genuine second ruckman.
Defender David Astbury was used to pinch-hit last week, but against 202cm pair Scott Lycett and Peter Ladhams that is unlikely to pay off again.
7 REASONS WHY TIGERS COULD TEAR POWER APART
A vastly different Richmond side to that which lost to Port Adelaide in Round 11 is setting itself for a “mighty” preliminary final challenge unlike any the Tigers have faced before.
Richmond held a light training session on the Gold Coast yesterday morning after last Friday’s crushing semi-final win over St Kilda, the club having no fresh injury concerns.
While coach Damien Hardwick has flagged Mabior Chol as a possible inclusion to bolster the ruck stocks, a stable line-up would mean seven changes to the Tigers’ side which suffered a 21-point loss to the Power at Adelaide Oval in Round 11.
Captain Trent Cotchin, David Astbury, Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia, Toby Nankervis, Jack Graham and Bachar Houli all missed that defeat, but are available this week.
The Tigers who played in Round 11 but missed the semi-final were Jake Aarts, Josh Caddy, Derek Eggmolesse-Smith, Jack Ross, Sydney Stack, Ivan Soldo and Chol.
Former Hawthorn and Melbourne champion Jordan Lewis – who played in seven preliminary finals – said Friday night’s crunch clash presented a unique challenge for Richmond.
While the Tigers have played in preliminary finals each of the past three years – winning two on their way to premierships – all have been at the MCG with bumper home crowds behind them.
On Friday night at Adelaide Oval, Richmond will have to contend with 27,000 Port Adelaide fans against it.
“It’s their hardest game for the year,” Fox Footy commentator Lewis said.
“Prelims are very hard to win and I was always at my most anxious going into a game like this because you know what’s around the corner, you know what’s at stake.
“What they’ve had in the past is home prelims.
“This year you go to an environment over in Adelaide where the Port players have stayed in their own beds, they’ve been comfortable in their own surroundings and they’re playing at their home ground in front of their home crowd.
“This is a mighty task. If Richmond gets through this game, they deserve to be in that grand final.”
OMINOUS SIGN FOR TIGERS WITH POWER FULLY CHARGED
Port Adelaide has every player on its list fit, healthy and available for Friday night’s preliminary final against Richmond after Xavier Duursma and Todd Marshall both hit the track at Alberton on Sunday.
Duursma had been nursing a sore chest and neck after he was concussed in the qualifying final win over Geelong while the club was also monitoring Marshall’s shoulder which he hurt in the first quarter but played through against the Cats.
Both trained on Sunday and moved freely with no strapping on Marshall’s shoulder as the club declared him a certain starter.
Incredibly, given the condensed season — which was expected to cause soft-tissue havoc across the competition — Port Adelaide does not have a single player on its injury list this week meaning Justin Westhoff, Mitch Georgiades, Sam Mayes, Boyd Woodcock and Jarrod Lienert who have all played senior footy this season are unable to crack the senior side.
The Tigers’ injury list includes Ivan Soldo and Jack Higgins but their team from the Round 11 loss to Port Adelaide will look decidedly different this week with seven players who missed that game all back in the side including Trent Cotchin, Jack Graham, Toby Nankervis, Shane Edwards, Bachar Houli, David Astbury and Dion Prestia.
While Scott Lycett is the only premiership player on Port Adelaide’s list, 21 of Richmond’s 22 from Friday night’s semi-final win over St Kilda had played in a flag.
CHECK BACK FOR THE LATEST TEAM NEWS FROM EACH OF THE PRELIMINARY FINALISTS
“I think Richmond are a different side to what we played throughout the year, they’ve got some talented guys (who have) come back in and have shown over the last few years they’re a forced to be reckoned with and are in good form,” Port Adelaide’s All-Australian defender Darcy Byrne-Jones told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.
“So we’re going to have to play our best footy to win.
“Training has been pretty good, throughout the finals series we’ve been fortunate to ramp up training and do a bit more contact work and the boys have really relished that, and the contested side of the game is something we pride ourselves on.
“So we’ve tried to generate as much energy as possible because as we found out against Geelong it takes a step up in finals and is probably going to go up another level this week.
“We haven’t really sat down and discussed Tom (Lynch), he’s slightly different to Tom Hawkins, he gets up the ground a bit more so what match-up we go with I’m not too sure but it’s going to be a group effort (from) the back six or seven to try to get in his way and help out in the air, and deal with those small guys on the ground who apply really good pressure.”
Richmond defender Dylan Grimes described the Power as a “terrific side” and would pose a huge test for the reigning premier.
“They’re in great form and to add to that challenge we’re playing them on their home deck and against a hostile crowd,” Grimes said.
“Dimma said it after the (Round 11) game, the scoreboard flattered us last time, we were a fair way off Port Adelaide on the night.
“I felt like one thing they did really well was they just countered every punch that we threw in terms of ball movement and we’ve learnt a lot from that game I feel.
“I think we got a taste of what the challenge will be like in that we’ve seen their system but they’re just a great side, they have so many tricks, so many good players and a great team system so no matter how you look at it it’s going to be a tough game.
“I’m confident but at the same time I’m a realist about the challenge ahead, they finished on top of the ladder for a reason and Charlie Dixon has been in terrific form so you come up against that challenge and you’re fully aware it’s going to be a hard and tough night.”
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