Brodie Mihocek celebrates a goal during Collingwood’s preliminary final win over Richmond last year. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images.
Brodie Mihocek celebrates a goal during Collingwood’s preliminary final win over Richmond last year. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images.

Would Tigers-Pies grand final be the biggest ever?

Brace yourselves, Melbourne

It's a promoter's dream and the prospect of a Richmond versus Collingwood Grand Final on September 28 is now very real.

The two huge Melbourne rivals are through to preliminary finals, putting them both in the box seat to progress to the big dance.

 

 

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And what a big dance it would be.

The AFL Grand Final sells itself.

Last year there were just two empty seats at the MCG, with 100,022 fans in the stands to witness West Coast knock off Collingwood by five points.

But just imagine the hype in Melbourne - and the fight for tickets - if the Magpies and Tigers do face off.

The bookies have been quick to install the pair as the two teams they consider most likely to be there - $1.50 a pop to make the big day.

As one Richmond official put it in the wake of last night's blistering defeat of the Lions, "can you just imagine?!".

Brodie Mihocek celebrates a goal during Collingwood’s preliminary final win over Richmond last year. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images.
Brodie Mihocek celebrates a goal during Collingwood’s preliminary final win over Richmond last year. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images.

Finals are about daring to dream - about results, performances … even storylines.

What a week it would be for Melbourne.

After the scenes in Swan Street after the Tigers' 2017 triumph, a citywide lockdown might well be required.

"I'm glad I'll be in New York for Grand Final day … not sure I want to be here if it's Richmond/Collingwood," one footy fan wrote on Twitter.

Two of the top-three biggest clubs in the competition based on membership, with a combined 185,584 members, simply doesn't go in to an MCG capacity of 100,024.

The two teams played off in a preliminary final last year in front of 94,959 fans - their first September meeting since the 1980 Grand Final which saw 113,461 fans through the gates.

From the past four meetings between the Magpies and Tigers, each side has won two.

From the past 20 games, the Magpies hold the upper hand 11-9.

From the past 50 games, it's 24-26 in favour of Collingwood.

During the home and away season this year, Richmond won 16 games and Collingwood won 15.

The Tigers ranked as the sixth-best attack, with the Magpies seventh.

Collingwood ranked as the second-best defence, with Richmond fourth.

Both sides are unbeaten from their past five games - the Tigers from their past 10.

While it's not a given that both will win their preliminary finals, history suggests it is far more likely to happen than not.

Jack Riewoldt goals during Collingwood’s preliminary final win over Richmond last season. Picture: Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images.
Jack Riewoldt goals during Collingwood’s preliminary final win over Richmond last season. Picture: Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images.

Since 2007, teams that have gone straight through from the qualifying finals to the preliminary finals have made the Grand Final 18 out of 22 times.

Collingwood will meet the winner of the semi-final between Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney at the MCG with a distinct home-ground advantage either way.

Richmond will host the winner of Geelong and West Coast, with the Tigers having won 33 of their past 36 games at the home of football.

Should it be West Coast that progresses through to meet the Tigers on Friday, September 20 at the 'G, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick will need his ruck pairing humming against literal and figurative giant Nic Naitanui.

Toby Nankervis was recalled for Saturday night's clash with the Lions and paired with Ivan Soldo.

It was only Nankervis' second senior game since Round 8, and while Hardwick admitted he had taken a little while to warm into proceedings, he backed the two-pronged attack.

"I thought he got better as the game went on - once again, the difference in speed from AFL to VFL is quite significant and he just got better," Hardwick said.

"He's such a brute and I think our players play better having him in the side. I was really pleased with both Soldo and Nank.

"Probably could have gotten a couple of marks up inside 50 - we just couldn't quite grab them. But I'm sure going forward he'll be a lot better for the run. He's important to us."

His first-time finalists in Shai Bolton, Liam Baker, Soldo and Tom Lynch all did their bit, too to give him confidence they're up to September.

One thing's for sure - the executives at AFL House would be licking their lips.

 

 

News Corp Australia


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