IT'S NO SECRET the Richmond team lining up in Friday night's preliminary final will be very different to that which faced Port Adelaide back in round 11. 

But a comparison of the Tigers' centre-square bounce attendances that match and in last week's semi-final win shows just how influential these changes could be.

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Dion Prestia (syndesmosis), Shane Edwards (personal), Toby Nankervis (syndesmosis), Trent Cotchin (rested/hamstring) and Jack Graham (unselected) weren't present in the midfield which was belted by the Power in their only clash this season.

Defenders David Astbury (knee) and Bachar Houli (personal) were also unavailable. 

Richmond centre bounce attendances in round 11

Shai Bolton

24

Dustin Martin

24

Jack Ross

14

Josh Caddy

11

Sydney Stack

10

Kane Lambert

1

Ivan Soldo (ruck)

19

Mabior Chol (ruck)

9

Richmond centre bounce attendances in last week's semi-final

Dustin Martin

19

Shane Edwards

16

Trent Cotchin

12

Dion Prestia

12

Jack Graham

3

Shai Bolton

1

Toby Nankervis (ruck)

16

David Astbury (ruck)

4

Noah Balta (ruck)

1

The Tigers lost by 21 points back in round 11, having held a slender one-point lead going into the final break. 

That three-quarter time margin had flattered a Richmond who was holding on for dear life, coming off its fourth game in 16 days with essentially a second-string midfield. 

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By the final siren, Port Adelaide had won the centre bounce clearances by 15, which ended up being its highest differential for the season – and Richmond's worst.

The "centre bounce first possession" stat told a similar tale, with the Power's differential of plus nine its equal-best for the year and once again, the Tigers' worst.

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There were only minimal differences in the ruck stats (including the all-important hitouts-to-advantage), meaning the Power midfield core of Ollie Wines (10 clearances), Travis Boak (seven), Tom Rockliff (six) and Sam Powell-Pepper (six) simply dominated at ground level. 

The Tigers have never been a strong clearance side in their current successful era – preferring instead to back their aerial intercept skills and subsequent chaotic forward ball movement – but they are rarely as beaten up as they were against the Power.

There were promising signs for the reigning premiers in their semi-final win.

The Tigers won the centre bounce clearances by 10, and kicked 4.2 (26) directly from the middle, their highest score from that source for the season.

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Bolton had been dangerous in the midfield in Edwards' absence, but upon returning to the forward line, his ability to turn on a dime has added another dimension in attack.

Friday night's test against the minor premiers will be a much stiffer task than St Kilda, but with a first-choice midfield core now at its disposal (injured ruck Ivan Soldo aside), we're unlikely to see a complete engine room thumping again.

Stats courtesy of Champion Data