As we head into week one of the AFL finals, the pending storylines are numerous, but there is one lingering storyline that Richmond Tigers fans will be desperately trying to underplay, the Tigers might just finally win a final.
Geelong vs Richmond
Richmond fans have suffered for a long time, for 16 years to be precise; their last finals win came against Carlton in a semi-final in 2001; this Friday night they have the opportunity to skip that phase of the finals series completely with a win against Geelong.
They have even been given the luxury of playing an away final at home, because the AFL is of the opinion that despite Geelong earning the right to play a home final, Kardinia Park is not big enough to host the blockbuster final.
Richmond have not won a Premiership since 1980, and winning this match would be a big step towards breaking that drought.
In 1980, Mick Malthouse was playing for Richmond; he has since retired from playing, started his coaching career, retired from coaching, went back to coach an even less successful team than Richmond in Carlton, broke the record for coaching more AFL games than anyone in the history of the VFL/AFL, and then retired again. In all that time, Richmond have not won a premiership.
This is their best opportunity since 2001 to end that drought, they are only one win away from a home preliminary final, and as the stakes get higher, the memes about the possibility of Richmond losing two finals in a row and going out in straight sets get more frequent.
For both Richmond and Geelong, a loss in this game sets up a date with one of either Sydney or Essendon, and if Sydney is their suitor in the semi-final, the top four team could go into the game as the underdog.
Geelong won three premierships in five years between 2007 and 2011, and after a great regular season, they will be looking to return to the heights they were at not too long ago.
The midfield battle between Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin will be an intriguing one to keep an eye on.
Prediction: Tigers by 13
Sydney vs Essendon
Oh the Bombers, they’ve over-performed like not many people expected them to this season, bouncing back after hitting the canvas faster than a boxer on performance enhancing drugs.
It would be a fairytale for Essendon if they were to win this game, even more so than when they beat West Coast in Round 14 of the 2013 season after a week where there was heavy speculation regarding their drug use, and even heavier scrutiny on their captain Jobe Watson.
Four years later, the Essendon players are at least two years sober and all the drugs they accidentally took are out of their system, so they will be reliant on sheer heart and willpower if they are to beat arguably the most in-form team in the competition.
Sydney gave every other team a head-start at the start of the season, losing their first six games and stunning AFL fans everywhere.
After finally hearing the opening siren after six rounds, the Swans flicked a switch, and have lost only two games out of a possible 16 since.
They have the home-ground advantage in this one, and unfortunately for Essendon and their retiring former captain Watson, Sydney at home will be too much for the Bombers on Saturday evening.
Prediction: Swans by 24
Adelaide vs Greater Western Sydney
We all have that one friend who is impossible to beat at FIFA when playing at his own house. He changes the camera angle, puts the game speed on slow and has a younger sibling that runs in front of the TV just as you’re about to score, almost every time.
Adelaide is the closest thing the AFL has to that friend, they’re near-impossible to beat at home, despite them losing to West Coast at home in Round 23.
The Adelaide players had nothing to play for in that game, and it showed as a West Coast team, that has not convinced many people that they should be in the top 8, beat them by 29 points to sneak into the finals.
The Crows are without Rory Sloane, who has failed to recover from an appendix surgery he had last week, but they will be bolstered by the returns of Daniel Talia and Taylor Walker.
Steve Johnson will not play for GWS, but only because the coach doesn’t want him to; he has been dropped for this game and if GWS somehow manage to win, it’s hard to see him playing another game before he retires at the end of this season.
Adelaide will be too strong though, and depending on the margin, the man known as ‘Stevie J’ may just come back and kick one more ridiculous dribble-kick goal before he retires and moves into the media.
Prediction: Crows by 17
Port Adelaide vs West Coast Eagles
“How did West Coast make the finals?” That’s the question many AFL fans are asking.
Without the help of their leaping ruckman Nic Naitanui, the Eagles have managed to steal a final’s spot, much to the dismay of Melbourne fans, as well as AFL fans in Melbourne, Sydney and anywhere else that isn’t Perth.
According to The West Australian, the injured Naitanui has been helping ruckman Nathan Vardy prepare for the challenge of Port Adelaide’s ruckman Paddy Ryder, but unless Vardy learns how to become Naitanui, Ryder will more than likely overrun the Eagles ruckman.
Ryder is a phenomenal ruckman when it comes to hit-outs to advantage, and that is against first-choice ruckmen, so if on Saturday night he is putting the ball down the throats of his midfielders, do not be too surprised.
Port Adelaide will win comfortably, more comfortably than any other team this weekend.
Prediction: Power by 37
Note: In case it was not blatantly obvious, this article is a product of satirical journalism, so while our predictions and analysis is reflective of our views, don’t take it too seriously.
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