Rare Sighting Of Tigers In Finals Jungle

Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au
Trent Cotchin was well held last time these teams met. Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au
Last Five Matches

Round 21, 2013 – Carlton 106 d Richmond 96 at MCG
Round 1, 2013 – Richmond 106 d Carlton 101 at MCG
Round 18, 2012 – Carlton 95 d Richmond 91 at MCG
Round 1, 2012 – Carlton 125 d Richmond 81 at MCG
Round 15, 2011 – Carlton 184 d Richmond 81 at MCG


Form

     Rd 19       Rd 20       Rd 21       Rd 22       Rd 23   
Richmond    W  W  L  W  W
Carlton    L  L  W  L  W

Richmond has been up and down the past couple of months with wins over Fremantle and Hawthorn coupled with a loss to their elimination final opponent, Carlton. That 10-point loss in round 21 was one of the Tigers’ worst performances of the season after giving up a five-goal quarter time lead.

Carlton did its best to throw away the golden opportunity of an undeserved finals place thrown their way. Not only did the Blues come in to September with limp losses to Fremantle, the Bulldogs and sorely out-of-form Essendon, it took a monster final term against Port Adelaide to secure eighth spot. Down 29 points at the last change, Carlton stormed home as Mick Malthouse became the first coach to take four clubs to the finals.

The Blues have brought in some heavy artillery with Chris Judd making his return from a knee injury, while Heath Scotland and Brock McLean are back from short layoffs. The Tigers have lost small forward Matt White to a hamstring injury but Jack Riewoldt and Chris Newman are back in.


Key Men

(Tigers) Trent Cotchin – It was no surprise to hear this week Trent Cotchin has been playing through the pain of bone bruising since hyperextending his knee in round five against Fremantle. Heavily fancied for the Brownlow Medal at the start of the season, Cotchin hasn’t been able to follow up his outstanding 2012 effort with the sort of year many pundits predicted. When the Tigers went down to Carlton three weeks back, Ed Curnow did the job on Cotchin holding him to just 14 touches. If he limits Richmond’s skipper again, the Tigers will need Brett Deledio, Dustin Martin and their young guns to stand up big time.

(Blues) Marc Murphy – Much like Cotchin, Mark Murphy hasn’t quite set the world on fire like many expected this year, but few teams’ fortunes fluctuate around the performances of one player like Carlton and its skipper. Last year he averaged 10 disposals more per win than loss; the difference isn’t quite as stark this year (3.4 per game), but importantly in wins he almost kicks an extra goal per match. He starred when it mattered booting three goals in the amazing comeback win over Port last weekend.


Prediction

Carlton’s record against Richmond of late is irresistible winning 10 of the last 11 clashes between the teams. The Blues also have a marked advantage in finals experience across their 22, with most of the Tigers never having experience post-season action given it’s the club’s first September appearance since 2001. In both matches this year, though, Richmond has absolutely dominated Carlton, at times. Whether they can do it for four quarters in the glare of a finals match is the big question. The Tigers’ record against fellow top eight teams this season was 4-5, while Carlton was 3-7. The important thing for the Blues is that two of those wins came in rounds 21 and 23 against the Tigers and Power. On paper Damien Hardwick has more talent and the most consistent team, but this really could really go down to the wire. Richmond by 14 points .

Click here to bet on AFL Week 1 Finals Matches