A cracking start to the finals series last week which featured four tightly contested games.  I read on twitter that the combined margins of the four games (35 points) was the smallest combined margin ever for week one of the finals since the introduction of the final eight system.  The previous smallest margin was 57 points in 1994!

One of the big questions leading into last week was whether Port Adelaide and Brisbane could stand up under finals pressure.  Both clubs passed with flying colours and have earnt themselves a week off as they wait to find out who will they will face in a preliminary final next week.

Richmond and Geelong on the other hand need to bounce back quickly from losses to the two clubs mentioned above.  They now face do or die finals against the winners of last weeks elimination finals – St Kilda and Collingwood.  Both of these sides keeping their premiership dreams alive with nail biting wins last Saturday.

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Qualifying Final 1 – Richmond $1.28 v St Kilda $3.75

  • Line Richmond (-20.5) v St Kilda (+20.5)

The first of this weeks semi finals will be played on Friday night when Richmond faces St Kilda at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast.

Richmond appeared in control of their Qualifying Final against Brisbane for most of the first half before a couple of undisciplined 50 metre penalties let Brisbane back into the game.  Credit must also go to the Lions for their resolve and determination to scrap and stay in touch of Richmond, something they were not able to do in last years qualifying final.

The inside 50 count was +4 in Richmond’s favour but they struggled to turn these entries into scoring shots.  The Tigers were clearly missing key forward Tom Lynch who is expected to return from a hamstring injury this week.   One of the few positives to come out of the night for Richmond was the impact the returning Dion Prestia was able to have on the game.  Dustin Martin was good in the first half too and I am expecting him to have a massive game this weekend.

The narrow margin probably didn’t do justice to St Kilda’s dominance in their win over the Western Bulldogs.  For close to three quarters they owned the Bulldogs, especially in the ruck which we talked about last week as having the potential to have a huge impact on the end result.  It really would have been a heartbreaker for Saints fans were the Dogs to pinch it at the end.

Moving forwards, St Kilda will have new found belief after proving to themselves and the competition that they can stand up under finals pressure.  I was particularly impressed by some of their younger players, Nick Coffield who was good down back and young forward Max King provided glimpses of what is to come over the next 10 years.

Unfortunately the Saints are going to lose three of their better performers from Friday night.  Defender Jake Carlisle will return home to Melbourne for the birth of his third child, Ben Long was sighted by the AFL tribunal for a high bump and the Saints have since been unsuccessful in their attempt to have that ruling over turned.  And the biggest loss of all veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder, who many had as best a field last week, injured a hamstring late in the game and has returned home to Melbourne for surgery.

The last time these sides clashed was in round three of this season and the Saints won easily.  Matthew Lloyd highlighted on Footy Classified St Kilda’s exposure of Richmond’s leg speed or lack there of on that occasion so there is no doubt that the Saints will look to use that Blueprint again.  However, finals footy is played under a different intensity and it may not be as easy to execute as it was in an early season game under the roof at Marvel Stadium.

I am expecting a rampant Richmond, fuelled by a loss and bolstered by the inclusion of Tom Lynch to be too much for the Saints to handle on Friday night.  I cant help but think that last week was the Saints grand final and they may have used up all of their the petrol tickets in winning that game.  I am suggesting a bet on Richmond to cover the line of 20.5.

Qualifying Final 2 – Geelong $1.6 v Collingwood $2.35

  • Line Geelong (-6.5) v Collingwood (+6.5)

Brisbane will host Richmond at the Gabba on Friday night in the second of the qualifying finals.  This is a replay of last year’s qualifying final.  To refresh, Richmond made easy work of a young and inexperienced Brisbane team on that occasion.

Huge injury news broke on Monday with Richmond declaring star forward Tom Lynch would not be available for this game due to an ongoing hamstring injury.  To an extent, this nullifies Brisbane’s loss of All Australian defender Harris Andrews who also remains on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Richmond won the 2017 grand final without Lynch; he was still a Gold Coast Sun at that stage.  Jack Riewoldt was the main focal point of the Tigers forward line then.  Now in the twilight of his career, I have my doubts whether Jack can have the same impact solo as he did in 2017.

Chris Fagen’s Lions have won seven straight and are full of confidence.  They have backed up their 2019 season with another terrific year and have a huge opportunity this year to play in a home Grand Final, were they to make it.

The knock I have on the Lions is their recent history against the Tigers.  Not only did the lose poorly in a final last year but when met in round 10, Richmond were far too good again, 41 points the margin.

In summary, the Tigers form has been faultless towards the back end of the season and they have an incredible finals record in recent years; the Lions on the other hand are yet to prove themselves in finals or against Richmond.  With the odds so close the bet for me is Richmond at the Line.

Lewis’ Betting Strategy

Richmond v St Kilda – Richmond Line (-20.5)

  • 1.5 unit @ $1.9