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‘Never before’: Richo dumps on AFL first

Footy legend Matthew Richardson says the AFL will be under pressure to scrap the contentious bye week leading into finals after a historic preliminary final wipeout. Richardson’s call came as Channel 7’s Luke Darcy said it was the first time in “history” that two teams — Richmond and Geelong — had both won through to…

Footy legend Matthew Richardson says the AFL will be under pressure to scrap the contentious bye week leading into finals after a historic preliminary final wipeout.

Richardson’s call came as Channel 7’s Luke Darcy said it was the first time in “history” that two teams — Richmond and Geelong — had both won through to the grand final after losing earlier in the finals series.

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The top two finishing clubs after the regular season, Port Adelaide and Brisbane, were both eliminated in their grand-final qualifiers after winning their qualifying finals and taking another week off.

On the back of recent years where teams enjoying a week off in the finals have repeatedly struggled to win preliminary finals, Richardson said the debate will begin all over again after the Power and Lions both lost.

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The AFL introduced the contentious bye week before the start of the finals series in 2016 in a bid to stop clubs resting star players for Round 23 before the finals.

Since it was introduced, the teams that have won qualifying finals and taken a second week off as a result of progressing straight to the preliminary finals have won just four of the 10 preliminary finals played, including losing both games this season.

Richardson said the AFL will be forced to address it again for the 2021 season.

“I would be surprised if it happens again next year because I don’t think it benefits the teams that win in that first week,” he said.

“You have worked so hard in that year to get the double chance. You win, go through to a prelim and you only play one game in a month. It is clear tonight the two teams that are supposed to get the benefit in Brisbane and Port Adelaide didn’t really get that.”

Darcy said it will become a focus for the AFL after pointing out the Cats and Tigers will create history in Saturday’s grand final as the first time the AFL will have two grand finalists that lost during the finals.

He said it was clear the two weeks off in the space of four weeks impacted the momentum of Port Adelaide and Brisbane.

“This is the first time in the history of the game, that both sides going through to a grand final lost. That has never happened before.”

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