Brisbane look up against it in Thursday night’s elimination final, with Richmond a genuine dark horse to challenge for yet another premiership.
This rivalry has been anything but a rivalry of late, with Richmond simply owning Brisbane over the last decade.
The Tigers have won 17 of the last 19 head-to-head and covered in six of the last eight, including in Round 20 at the MCG. At the Gabba, the visitors have won and covered in five of the last seven, although the Lions did pinch a final against the Tiges in 2020.
Recent form favours Richmond as well. They are are 10-4-1 since Round 7 with an average losing margin of 3.8 points. Brisbane are a very ordinary 7-6 over their last 13 and have conceded 108.7 points in losses.
The Lions’ well-publicised struggles in finals are also a major concern. Chris Fagan’s side have only won one of their last six September appearances. Richmond’s form in finals is, of course, stunning, winning and covering the start in nine of their last eleven since 2017. They’ve also helped themselves to three flags through that time, including the 2020 premiership won at the Gabba.
The home team’s hopes took another hit at the tribunal with both Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth suspended for a week. Key defender Marcus Adams is also likely to miss the rest of the season with concussion. (UPDATE: Dependable midfielder Jarryd Lyons will also miss for Brisbane.) Richmond will welcome back the best finals player of this century in Dustin Martin, who should play majority forward off an interrupted lead-in.
The Tigers are the league’s best team at scoring from turnover and meet a side here struggling to defend ball movement. They’ll utilise this to quickly deliver plenty of opportunities to their red-hot forward line which should overwhelm Brisbane’s flimsy backline. It’s a nightmare recipe for the Lions who look destined for another ugly finals failure.
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This should be a shootout between the two teams that have played in the highest scoring games in 2022, both averaging 179 points per game. The last six head-to-head have all gone over the total as have the last 12 Richmond away games.
Noah Cumberland has been a brilliant inclusion for the Tiges in the second half of 2022. The former Brisbane Academy product was overlooked by the Lions in the 2019 draft and he handed them a painful reminder in Round 20 of what they gave up, booting five goals. He’s kicked 2+ goals in five of his last six.
Liam Baker has recorded 20+ disposals in eight straight games.
As discussed, Richmond go to another level in September and Brisbane… do not.
Richmond’s average winning margin in finals since 2017 is 40 points. Brisbane’s average losing margin in their six finals losses has been 25 points.
The Lions have been belted twice by Melbourne over the last nine weeks, by 64 and 58 points respectively.
The average winning margin increases from 30 to 36 points between home-and-away season games and finals (over the last five years). So if you like a team for a comfortable win in September, as we do here, it can pay to back them for a larger win than usual.
If the Lions are down by a margin at three quarter time with nothing to play for, this could easily become a blowout.