Random notes for the 2020 AFL Preliminary Finals

Lincoln McCarthy’s Big Ride – The last time Brisbane and Geelong played at the Gabba

True story, Friday night’s Preliminary Final could be the only AFL game played on my birthday during my lifetime.

You sweet little autumn & winter kids HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT’S LIKE.

1st Preliminary Final

Port Adelaide vs Richmond at the Adelaide Oval, Friday 7:20pm ACDT

The fight for the coveted Jay Schultz-David Rodan Cup.

The minor premiers meet the defending premiers at the Adelaide Oval for the second time in 2020, having last met in Round 11, when Port Adelaide held the Tigers scoreless in the last quarter to win by 21 points, and Peter Ladhams did this a minute into the game.

Ah ruckmen, they don’t think like us midgets.

Tigers fans canpoint to the fact that Trent Cotchin didn’t play in that game, along with Bachar Houli, Shane Edwards, David Astbury, Toby Nankervis and Jack Graham, who are all set to play on Friday night.

Going through the history books, the only other final the Power and Tigers have played prior to Friday was the 2014 Elimination Final, which was memorable on several fronts:

Richmond had won 9 consecutive games to storm into 8th spot, while Port were allowed to wear the Prison Bars for what was the first AFL final at the Adelaide Oval, to avoid an apparent clash with the Tigers half-arsed clash strip.

Then, when it came down to the coin toss, in a display of classic ‘Richmondry’, Trent Cotchin made the decision to kick into a tough wind in the opening quarter, a decision on par with Nasser Hussain choosing to bowl at The Gabba to start the 2002-03 Ashes.

To cut a long story short, Port kicked 7 goals in the opening 20 minutes, they led by as much as 87 points and eventually won by 57, and we still have no idea why Trent thought kicking into a stiff breeze was a sound idea.

Hopefully for Cotch’s sake, he doesn’t make that same mistake 6 years later, in what will be his 250th game, becoming the 16th Tiger to achieve the feat.

Ending on the subject of Preliminary Final records, Port Adelaide are 2-3 in Prelims since they entered the AFL, losing all 3 Prelims they’ve played interstate (2002-03 & 2014), but winning both times in Adelaide (2004 & 2007) at the old Football Park, while this will be the second time Richmond have played a Preliminary Final outside of Melbourne, after they played Brisbane at the Gabba in 2001, being well beaten by the eventual Premiers.

Still, if the Tigers win, they’ll join the list of teams to travel interstate and win a Preliminary Final; the 1991 Eagles (vs Geelong), the 1997-98 Crows (vs Footscray x2), the 2003 Lions (vs Sydney), the 2005 Swans (vs St Kilda), the 2006 Eagles (vs Adelaide), the 2015 Hawks (vs Fremantle), the 2016 Bulldogs (vs GWS), and the 2019 Giants (vs Collingwood).

If you want to get technical, the 2004 Lions also did it, as you’ll see below.

2nd Preliminary Final

Brisbane Lions vs Geelong at the Gabba, Saturday 6:40pm AEST (7:40pm AEDT)

Putting aside Geelong’s recent Preliminary Final horror stories since the 2011 Premiership, if this game is anything like the last Brisbane-Geelong game at the Gabba, then we should be in for something special.

Of course, this is the second time the Lions and Cats have met in the finals, and just as it was in 2004, they meet in a Preliminary Final, and Gary Ablett Jnr is running around in the hoops.

That night, the Lions won a tense contest by 9 points, although the game is better remembered for the fact that the Lions were made to play a ‘Home’ Prelim at the MCG instead of the Gabba, thanks to the AFL’s contract with the MCC that stipulated at least one final be played at the MCG in every week of the finals, leaving Lethal Leigh Matthews and those Lions players ropeable for eternity.

It was also Ben Graham’s last game before he went to the NFL

Obviously the AFL contemplated the idea of moving the entire MCG to Brisbane, but they settled on transporting that pissy little 3×1 square metre patch of the City End goalsquare.

So that said, while it is the Lions first Preliminary Final since 2004, it’s the first Preliminary Final played at the Gabba since 2002, when the hosts trounced minor premiers Port Adelaide by 56 points.

Then-Lions vice-captain Chris Scott didn’t play in that Prelim, although he returned the next week and played in the second Lions premiership team, and fast forward 18 years, Scotty brings up the milestone of 450 games as a player/coach against his old club, with this being his 235th game in charge of Geelong, to go with the 215 games he played for the Brisbane Bears/Lions.

Funnily enough, his 400th combined game was also against the Lions, in Round 18 of 2018.

In his 14th season, Joel Selwood will become the first player to play in 10 Preliminary Finals, and Harry Taylor becomes the 5th player in VFL/AFL history to play in 30 finals, joining Michael Tuck, Shaun Burgoyne, the aforementioned Selwood, and Gordon Coventry.

The Lions-Cats contest back in Round 6 at the SCG was the first AFL game after the Victorian exodus north of the Murray River, and on a wild Thirsday night, the Lions actually won 3 out of the 4 quarters, but the Cats kicked 7.3-45 to 1 behind in an utterly dominant 3rd Quarter, eventually winning by a comfortable 27 points after being 22 points down, with that 3rd Quarter score on it’s own almost being enough to defeat Brisbane, who kicked 6.10.

7.3-45 is still tied for the highest-scoring quarter by any team this season, alongside North Melbourne in the 4th Quarter of Round 9 against Adelaide.

The Brisbane barometer will probably be Charlie Cameron, who kicked 5 goals for Adelaide against the Cats in the 2017 Prelim, and another bag of 5 in Round 22 of 2019, but was blanketed for just 6 disposals and 1.2 in Round 6, not having a huge influence on the game, to Chris Scott’s delight.

Final note – The only team to defeat the Brisbane Lions in a Preliminary Final is North Melbourne, who did so in 1999, and they also defeated the Brisbane Bears in the ’96 Prelim, in what was the Bears’ last-ever game before the merger with Fitzroy.

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