A GUIDE TO THE AFL SEMI-FINAL BETWEEN RICHMOND AND ST KILDA
When: Friday, 6.50pm AEST
Where: Metricon Stadium
* The form
Richmond (H&A third, 12 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw). Outclassed in a 15-point qualifying final defeat to Brisbane at the Gabba as a series of undisciplined acts led to the Tigers giving up costly goals in a tight game.
St Kilda (H&A sixth, 10 wins, 7 losses). After patchy form leading into the finals, the Saints produced three strong quarters before holding off the fast-finishing Western Bulldogs in a narrow three-point elimination final win.
Overall: Richmond 112 wins St Kilda 72 wins 3 draws
In Finals: Richmond 1 win St Kilda 2 wins
Last time: Round 4, 2020: St Kilda 15.3 (93) bt Richmond 10.7 (67) at Marvel Stadium
* The coaches
Brett Ratten last week guided the Saints to their first finals win in 10 years and has maintained a cool head throughout his first season in charge.
Damien Hardwick is in his seventh finals series as Richmond coach but has oddly never found himself in a semi-final. The Tigers have either been knocked out in week one or advanced directly to a preliminary final in each of Hardwick’s six previous finals campaigns.
* The key duels
Dustin Martin (Richmond) v Callum Wilkie (St Kilda)
Martin is always a threat regardless of where he’s stationed, and Wilkie will be given the huge task of stopping the Tigers megastar when he shifts forward. The Saints defender has kept Martin goalless in their 62 minutes matched up in direct opposition over the past two meetings.
Toby Nankervis (Richmond) v Rowan Marshall (St Kilda)
Marshall has to go it alone in the ruck without injured teammate Paddy Ryder, who has a hamstring injury. But the inexperienced Saint has done it before against this same opponent. In round four, the pair were involved in an enthralling battle as Marshall helped guide St Kilda to an upset victory.
Noah Balta (Richmond) v Max King (St Kilda)
King looms as the Saints’ X-factor in attack after having a big impact in his maiden finals appearance last week. If Balta can keep King quiet and work off him the other way, the Tigers will go a long way to preventing the Saints from kicking a winning score.
* The stats
Only five teams in the last two decades have managed to win the premiership after playing in a semi-final, be that after losing a qualifying final or coming from outside the top four. Richmond are aiming to do it the hard way for the first time in their four-year period of dominance, but first they must beat St Kilda.
* The tip
Richmond by 20 points.