We have almost made our way through this rollercoaster ride that is season 2020 and I don’t know how to feel about it.
It was weird, to say the least, and as we approach the end I tend to wonder how this year will be remembered. But more on that another time.
One thing I do know is that we have four quality sides remaining and all four have just about an even shot at winning the 2020 Premiership Cup.
The top four has been set in place since Round 14, with Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Richmond and Geelong playing musical chairs before landing on a final ladder position. It’s been quite obvious since then that these four sides are the very best in the competition and that the rest were probably just making up the numbers.
One week out from the grand final and that point is ringing loud and true. Tonight, we will find out the first of our two grand finalists, one of either Port Adelaide or Richmond.
There are a few talking points ahead of tonight’s clash, so let’s get into it. The obvious place to start is the location.
Port Adelaide clearly has a big home ground advantage, with tonight’s game being played at home at Adelaide Oval. Port has well and truly earned that right. The club made its way to the top of the ladder in Round 1 thanks to a 47-point victory over the Suns and have stayed there ever since.
Fast-forward to the qualifying final and a victory over Geelong saw Ken Hinkley and his men secure a second home final in three weeks.
So far this season (including the qualifier), Port has played a total of eight games in Adelaide for seven wins.
The one loss was to St Kilda back in Round 8, in what was Port’s second appearance at home. They went on to win its next six games at the ground, including a Round 11 victory against Richmond, who they play tonight.
There is no doubt the home crowd will have a major influence on the game and Port’s energy. How could it not? But it is finals time and anything could happen…just ask West Coast how the home ground advantage went for them.
The stage for this evening’s clash should really be the least of Richmond’s worries. If they are a chance to win this evening, then the Tigers are really going to have to step up their game.
They haven’t been overly impressive in their two finals so far. Despite defeating St Kilda by 31 points last week, the Tigers looked slightly off pace.
They registered just one more scoring shot than the Saints in a performance that was far from the dominant. Every time St Kilda gained a little bit of momentum, they should themselves in the foot with their inaccuracy in front of goal.
Otherwise, the numbers around the ground were relatively even. Importantly for Richmond, they did win the inside 50 count (52-40) and the centre clearances (a whopping 15-5). Other than that, the game was mainly about who was better in front of goals.
But that was last week and this is now. Who becomes the first team to make the 2020 grand final?
I’m going with Port Adelaide. It’s more than just the home ground advantage for me.
Honestly, I think they’re better than a lot of people will give them credit for. Despite spending the entire season on top of the ladder and despite the impressive qualifying final victory over Geelong, there are still plenty of critics out there.
Now is the time to stand up and prove what they are made of. We have seen glimpses of it in the past, but they haven’t quite made the cut.
But now the old and the young and playing as a united force and they’re a pretty difficult team to overcome. It certainly helps that most of their best men are on the field, fit and firing too.
Port Adelaide have gone into tonight’s game unchanged, with Todd Marshall and Xavier Duursma overcoming injury concerns thanks to the week off. Richmond too have made no changes to their line-up from last week’s game against St Kilda.
Toby Nankervis will ruck solo for the Tigers this evening, with coach Damien Hardwick electing not to recall Mabior Chol.
While no changes have been made to either team ahead of tonight’s game, the Richmond line up does look quite different since the last time these two sides met.
A number of key personnel are back into the team including captain Trent Cotchin (who celebrates game 250 this evening), veteran Bachar Houli and last year’s Jack Dyer Medallist Dion Prestia.
I like the look of Port this evening, but see why I’m not willing to write Richmond off just yet? I don’t think you can ever do that, or they will make you regret it.
That’s my Friday forecast. What’s yours?