Brisbane could not be better placed to break its drought over premier Richmond, coming into the finals on the back of a seven-game winning streak. However, all the pressure will be on the home team, trying to not only learn the harsh lessons from a straight games' finals exit last year, but also snap a 15-game losing streak to the Tigers. This is a rematch of last year's qualifying final, won handsomely by Richmond.
WHERE AND WHEN: the Gabba, Friday October 2, 7.50pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Round 10: Richmond 12.10 (82) d Brisbane 4.17 (41)
As the scoreline suggests, the Lions were guilty of frittering away chances in front of goal and the Tigers did not need a second invitation. Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch kicked seven goals between them and Dustin Martin and Shai Bolton were prolific midfield performers as the premier punished a wasteful Brisbane for the second straight time.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Although it preaches team defence, someone has to be responsible for Dustin Martin when he goes forward. The dual Norm Smith medallist ripped the corresponding game apart with six goals last year and has often feasted against the Lions. Darcy Gardiner, or more likely Brandon Starcevich, should get the nod there. Brisbane will not want to get caught up in Richmond's helter-skelter style, so don't be surprised if they slow the ball movement down, particularly if it concedes successive goals.
The Tigers have killed their counterparts on turnover the past couple of matches, taking advantage of a Lions' defensive unit that really tries to compress the ground. Any turnover is countered by two to three forward handballs into the corridor and away the Tigers go. Noah Balta may be the least experienced of the key backline players, but he kept Eric Hipwood to just six disposals in round 10, so watch for him to get the initial match-up against the Lions spearhead.
WHAT THE STATS SAY
1. Richmond has the perfect record at the Gabba in the past decade – 7-0 against the Lions and 9-0 overall (including wins over Sydney and Gold Coast this season). Its average winning margin over that stretch has been 39 points a game.
2. The Tigers don't care too much for clearances. They are ranked 17th in the competition for clearance differential and 16th for scores from stoppages. They do however score more points than any other team from turnovers.
3. When Brisbane kicks the ball inside its forward 50 it wants Dayne Zorko doing so. The Lions retain the ball 62.5 percent of the time and take a mark 31.3 percent of the time when their skipper does so – ranking No.1 in both measures of the top 50 players for total kicks into the forward 50.
4. Nick Vlastuin is a Tiger to keep an eye on. Vlastuin won a tick over seven intercept possessions a game this season, third in the competition, and just more than three intercept marks a game, good enough for fourth in the AFL.
5. Former No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner comes into these finals as the biggest improving Lion over the past month. Rayner has gone from an average of 6.2 AFL Player Ratings points a game in the first 13 matches to 10.1 over the past four.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
Brisbane doesn't need him to have a big game to win, but success for Charlie Cameron against the Tigers – a team he has battled with – would give the home team a huge lift. Like many of his teammates, goalkicking has let the 2019 All Australian down against the Tigers in recent meetings.
Perhaps more the icing on the cake, but it's a big ask that your first game since round five is a qualifying final, however, that's what Dion Prestia faces after recovering from his syndesmosis injury. If anyone can handle it though, it's the super-fit midfield dynamo who won the Tigers' best and fairest in 2019.
PREDICTION: Richmond by 11 points. A proven record of pressuring for longer and taking its chances.