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Opinion

Friday night forecast: Geelong vs Richmond

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Expert
10th September, 2020
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Now this is a Friday night game worth getting excited about.

Well, a matchup in general that would make most footy fans eager to tune in.

We are now 17 rounds into an 18-round season and I think 2020 has taught us that maybe each team playing each other once per season is enough.

It’s probably not enough for those of us who eat, sleep, breathe and dream footy, but it’s certainly enough time to figure out the contenders from the rest.

Strange things can happen in final series and teams can truly come out of the woodwork and surprise us (ala Western Bulldogs 2016, however they aren’t the rule, they are the exception).

But by the end of Round 16, it seemed clear that there are probably only five teams who are seriously in with a chance to win the 2020 Premiership.

Two of those are playing tonight.

Of course, 2020 has been anything but normal. However, in a traditional home-and-away season, we would still have six rounds to go…surely that’s way too long to figure out which team or two will make up the numbers in the top eight?

I suppose we will leave that discussion for the end of October.

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But for now, let’s get right into this game.

I’ll cut straight to the chase here.

I feel as though our judgement on Richmond and Geelong’s current form has been clouded (for lack of a better phrase) by what we expect them to produce come finals time.

Sam Menegola of the Cats celebrates kicking a goal

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Just a disclaimer: both Richmond and Geelong deserve all the praise that has come their way throughout the season. Clearly two of the standout sides so far this season.

But I just think that due to Geelong’s previous finals record (more specifically, their inability to win preliminary finals) has resulted in us perceiving them as less of a threat than Richmond, who have won two premierships in three seasons.

When really, I think (and I have been banging on about this for weeks now) that Geelong is the biggest threat going into the finals and are definitely the team to watch, for mine.

Despite finishing on top of the ladder last season after a strong home-and-away campaign, they have taken their game to yet another level this season.

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Heading into the second last round of the season, Geelong is ranked second in the competition for disposals, fourth for tackles, first for points scored and clearances.

They are seriously a force to be reckoned with and there should be no reason why they aren’t the talk of the town…except that inability to make a leap from preliminary finals to the grand final. It’s holding our perception of them back.

I don’t mean to say this to discredit or disrespect Richmond at all.

There is an obvious reason that they are constantly at the front of the media and football’s minds, because they’re seriously good.

Despite all the drama that has surrounded them in 2020, they just keep showing up and performing week after week.

And they’ve got the best depth of anyone in the competition. They keep creating players out of nothing, which is a sign of a strong culture they’ve been able to develop over the past few seasons.

Take Jake Aarts as an example. He made his debut back in Round 5 against the Dees and hasn’t missed a game since.

He doesn’t pull huge numbers each week, but he almost always has an impact.

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He’s exciting, lively and adds something to the side.

That rich culture and genuine competition for spots is actually something that makes both these sides so good.

These opportunities force players to level up and keep their spots, rather than players being gifted games.

While the on-field culture at Richmond may be strong, off-field it looks a little shaky.

I know Richmond will be fresher, coming off a nine-day break, but this is the first time they will take the field since Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were sent home from the Gold Coast and suspended for ten matches for breaching the AFL’S strict COVID-19 hub protocols.

The response from key off-field figures, in particular from President Peggy O’Neil, has been fantastic.

It’s now time for the Richmond leaders to stand up on-field and focus on the task at hand.

Trent Cotchin reacts

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

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Despite the shorter break, I think that Cats really have what it takes and I think they’ll win tonight.

I just love the way they’re going about their football.

Tonight, the Cats will celebrate Zach Tuohy’s 200th game, after his first attempt at the milestone came to an abrupt end last week, as he was a late withdrawal against Essendon.

He becomes just the second Irishman to reach the milestone behind the late Jim Stynes.

And the celebrations don’t stop there.

Richmond favourite Jack Riewoldt will receive his AFL life membership tonight.

It promises to be one of the games of the season and I think Geelong will rise to the occasion and claim the four points.

That’s my Friday forecast. What’s yours?

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