Friday night footy doesn’t get much bigger than this.
An epic under lights against the reigning Premiers is just hours away; the adrenaline is moments away from being released.
Coming up against the formidable Richmond – who have added two Premierships to its cabinet in the space of three years – is an undoubtedly ominous proposition.
But the Saints are riding a wave of confidence after last week’s exhilarating triumph over the Bulldogs, and they’ve taken the Tigers’ number from earlier in the year.
And if there’s one thing we’ve learned this season, it’s not to write St Kilda off.
WATCH: Nick Dal Santo and Sam Edmund present a special pre-game show, featuring guests Bradley Hill and Aaron Hamill
Richmond v St Kilda
Friday 9 October
Metricon Stadium, 7:50pm AEDT
Watch the game live and free on Channel 7, or on Fox Footy, Kayo or with the official AFL Live Pass.
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Last time we met…
Round 4, 2020
Saturday 27 June
St Kilda 15.3 (93) def. Richmond 10.7 (67)
The fifth Maddie’s Match was made all the more sweet after St Kilda toppled the reigning Premiers by 26 points at Marvel Stadium.
While Richmond burst out of the blocks a goal in the game’s opening 10 seconds, the slick Saints offered their own reply with a pressure-driven, fast-paced and consistent four quarter performance which steered them towards their second win of the year.
Richmond brought the heat to challenge the Saints’ resolve all throughout the match, but spirited bursts and end-to-end plays showed the home side weren’t going to retreat into their shells.
ST KILDA 5.2 8.2 12.2 15.3 (97)
RICHMOND 4.1 6.3 9.5 10.7 (67)
St Kilda: Butler 3, Membrey 3, Marshall 2, Lonie 2, Kent 2, Hill, Marsh, Battle
Richmond: Lynch 2, Bolton 2, Castagna, Edwards, Higgins, Nankervis, Riewoldt, Stack
Saturday afternoon belonged to Dan Butler, who turned it up against his old side with a best-on-ground performance, complete with three goals.
The electric forward’s brilliance was awarded with the Ian Stewart Medal after polling maximum votes from Nick Riewoldt and Anthony Hudson.
Butler was joined by fellow smalls Dean Kent (two goals) and Jack Lonie (two) in packing a punch in attack, while Tim Membrey led the charge with a tide-turning three of his own.
Bradley Hill’s (19 disposals, one goal) running power was superb as Jack Billings (25 disposals) and Jack Steele (10 tackles) stood tall, Rowan Marshall (15 disposals, 25 hit-outs, two goals) starred flying solo in the ruck, while Jake Carlisle was terrific down back; a superb spoil running back with the flight over a dangerous Tom Lynch his defining moment from the game.
Seb Ross and Callum Wilkie were equally influential in their team roles, joining forces to limit Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin to 18 disposals and no score. Ben Paton also pulled off his first big scalp of the year to keep Kane Lambert to 11 touches.
Even with Martin out of the picture, it did little to faze the Richmond midfield as Dion Prestia (24 disposals), Trent Cotchin (23) and Shane Edwards (24) rolled up the sleeves to get the engine room firing.
Bachar Houli and David Astbury took charge of the defence as Lynch booted two up the other end, while Toby Nankervis battled well against the in-form Marshall.
Moment of the match…
A centimetre-perfect, long-range snap from Dan Butler rubbed salt into the wound as he and the Saints ramped up their charge towards a momentous victory over the reigning Premiers.
The September record…
St Kilda and Richmond have met three times in finals, with the ledger currently sitting 2-1 in the red, white and black’s favour.
The two sides first met in September in 1939 – St Kilda’s first finals win in 26 years -before clashing again in 1971 and 1973, the latter of which put the Tigers on the path to its eighth Premiership.
|1939||Semi-final||Richmond 6.6 (42) def. by St Kilda 10.12 (72)|
|1971||Preliminary final||St Kilda 16.12 (108) def. Richmond 12.6 (78)|
|1973||Preliminary final||Richmond 15.18 (108) def. St Kilda 9.14 (68)|
The ins and outs...
The magnets have been moved around at Noosa, with the Saints forced to make three changes for Friday night’s sudden-death showdown.
Josh Battle, Jonathon Marsh and Shane Savage have been recalled to tackle the reigning Premiers, with Paddy Ryder (injured), Jake Carlisle (personal) and Ben Long (suspension) making way for the trio.
Friday night will be Battle and Marsh’s first taste of finals footy, while Savage – playing in his fourth – returns to the line-up after just one senior appearance this season.
Richmond are set to welcome back Premiership Tigers Tom Lynch and Nathan Broad after swinging the axe on forward duo Jake Aarts and Mabior Chol.
Lynch will play his first game in 28 days after injuring his hamstring in Round 17 and subsequently missing last week’s qualifying final against the Lions.
From the coach...
The three keys…
Move the ball fast to catch out the defence:
Embrace the heat, bring the pressure and take the game on. Any different, and the Saints won’t be advancing into next week’s preliminary final against Port Adelaide.
Brisbane gave the perfect example from siren-to-siren in its stirring triumph at the Gabba last Friday, with their constant press and swift movement into attack unable to be restrained. That game style isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Saints, who adopted a similar approach in Round 4 during their own dismantling of the reigning Premiers.
End-to-end goals from Bradley Hill, Jack Lonie and Dan Butler came from attacking plays from the back-half, with St Kilda’s run-and-carry bypassing the Tigers’ defensive set-up and creating clean avenues to goal.
Be consistent across four quarters and take opportunities:
While the Tigers of old roared with a blistering goal in the first 10 seconds of this year’s Maddie’s Match, the Saints flipped the switch to match their opposition’s ferocity. But it was an effort that didn’t let up and lasted for the entire four quarters, and is something the red, white and black will need to do tonight if they’re to pinch the win.
Earlier this year, the Saints won the clearance battle, drew level in contested ball and never cracked under Richmond’s renowned hunt and pressure. Brett Ratten’s steely defence didn’t concede a run of more than two goals for the entire game, while the forwards seized their chances with a trio of three-goal bursts to finish the game with a deadly accurate 15.3 (93) scorecard. The Saints also capitalised with 55 points scored from turnovers and 38 points from stoppages – Richmond's second-worst differentials in both categories for the entire season.
Finish the game strong:
St Kilda supporters are no strangers to elevated heart rates late in games, but last week’s stressful finish was in a league of its own. They held on despite the insane levels of pressure, but the Saints can’t afford another situation like that against the reigning Premiers.
Richmond came incredibly close to stealing a narrow win over Brisbane in the dying minutes of last week’s qualifying final, showing that any lapse in pressure – however small – can open the door for them.
Start strong, finish strong.
The terrific Tigers…
As one of the best intercept defenders in the competition this year and a key figure in Richmond’s slicing movement out of defence, shutting down Nick Vlastuin will be critical.
Able to grapple smalls and talls while delivering his intercepting skills as a loose man in defence, the dangerous defender could see skipper Jarryn Geary by his side after the St Kilda skipper shut All-Australian Caleb Daniel out of last week’s elimination final.
Others to watch: David Astbury, Dylan Grimes, Noah Balta
Dustin Martin. The man is built for these types of games.
Everyone knows what he can do on the field – his stellar finals record speaks to that – and if there’s one player to win a game off his own boot, it’s Richmond’s No. 4.
It took two Saints to quell the Brownlow medallist’s influence last time the Saints and Tigers met. In a final made for Martin, it might take something more.
Others to watch: Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia, Shai Bolton
The big guns have come out to play on Friday night, with Richmond set to welcome back key forward Tom Lynch from a hamstring injury.
Strong in the air and with a vice-like set of hands, the prized Tiger looms as the No. 1 target to shutdown for the red, white and black’s defence.
Lynch averaged three goals per game in last year’s finals series (his first), giving potential opponent Dougal Howard a mouth-watering challenge to shut the key forward down.
Others to watch: Jack Riewoldt
On the injury front…
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Paddy Ryder succumbed to a season-ending hamstring tendon injury late in Saturday’s elimination final against the Bulldogs.
Richmond only had to nurse wounded pride after falling short against Brisbane last Friday night, but otherwise came out of their qualifying final unscathed.
The returning Tom Lynch from a hamstring injury will be a welcome addition for the yellow and black, who last week brought Dion Prestia back into the fold after he missed the past three months with a syndesmosis injury.