AFL 2020: Preliminary Finals, Brisbane vs Geelong, Port Adelaide v Richmond, finals predictions, key stats, Fox Footy Ultimate Preview
Two statistics could well prove vital to determining this year’s grand finalists.
After a year of constant change and uncertainty, footy fans can take some comfort in the fact that the top four teams of 2020 are now the last four teams left in this premiership race like no other.
Unpacking this week’s two mouthwatering preliminary finals, the team on Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview unearthed two surprising stats that could prove the difference in both matches this week.
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For Port Adelaide and Richmond’s battle, the former must be aware of how one of the latter’s forwards fares against them… and it’s not Tom Lynch.
“The problem is if they overcommit and worry about Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt is licking his lips,” St Kilda great Leigh Montagna said on Thursday night.
“In 15 of his 17 games against the Power he has kicked at least three goals.”
So, how do Port Adelaide structure up defensively?
“I think McKenzie will go to Tom Lynch, Tom Clurey to Jack Riewoldt, they’ll rely on Tom Jonas to be that interceptor.”
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One statistic the Power will want to make sure they win is the marks-inside-50 count – they haven’t lost a game this year when winning that stat, while they’re just two wins from five in the games they haven’t.
McKenzie’s stat sheet against Geelong’s Tom Hawkins read favourably by the end of their qualifying final, but if not for wayward goalkicking the story could’ve been far different. How he fares on Tom Lynch, who is coming off a game where he had a stack of scoring shots, will be crucial.
For Brisbane and Geelong, the Lions have been urged to make sure one aspect of the game is in their control – making sure there’s barely any control.
Geelong’s defensive unit is second-to-none, with veterans Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson rock solid in one-on-ones while Tom Stewart leads the charge on the rebound, second only to Patrick Dangerfield for average metres gained per-game.
The best way to unsettle the Cats, it seems, is to opt for the under-used ‘chaos ball’ going inside 50.
“We know how great Geelong are defensively, but they’re good when they’re set up and structured and organised,” Montagna began.
“If you can turn it into a bit of chaos and get a bit of speed on the ground, Geelong are susceptible. They’ve conceded 37 per cent of shots to small forwards, which is the highest percentage in the league.”
It’s a staggering statistic that, as Montagna notes, was proven in the qualifying final when Steven Motlop put them to the sword, along with their Round 18 close shave with Sydney where Tom Papley booted 2.5.
Making that statistic even more appealing to the Lions is the proficiency of their smalls – they’ve scored the most goals of any team from players 184 centimetres tall or less.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. But, with only the four best teams left in the premiership race, perhaps things are becoming slightly less unpredictable.
We’ll find out how much the stats count for this weekend.
FOX FOOTY’S Ultimate Preview airs on Thursday nights during finals at 7.30pm on FOX FOOTY, Channel 504 on Foxtel.