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4 Points: Who can go the distance with Tiger Dustin Martin?

Martin had Jarrod Berry for a while. Berry is quicker than Adams but shorter and lighter. He didn’t last long in the job.

They moved Luke Hodge to him. Hodge was Brisbane’s best player on the night, and it might say something about how they went that a 35-year-old champion was their best player. But this was vintage Hodge. Finals footy brought out the best in him in a way that it could not with peer Gary Ablett on Friday night.

Touch of class: Luke Hodge (left) spoils a marking attempt by Richmond's Jack Riewoldt.

Touch of class: Luke Hodge (left) spoils a marking attempt by Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt.Credit:Getty Images

Hodge had the strength and smarts to match Martin. He also had an aura to compare with Martin’s. Martin is like Shane Warne in that he worries some opponents out of the game before the ball comes to them. Hodge didn’t fret.

Hodge was as close to the ideal match-up as you can have. There are other players similarly equipped, but unfortunately one of them was playing for Richmond at the other end of the ground. Dylan Grimes has the rare pace, size, strength and overhead game to be the complete defender, tall or small. Just ask Charlie Cameron.

Collingwood, who are through to a preliminary final, did have a match up for Martin. It was Levi Greenwood, who went down with a knee injury on Friday night.

The prospects for any team playing Richmond are significantly influenced by whether they have the player, or players, who can play on Martin.

In their preliminary final Richmond will confront either West Coast or Geelong. The Eagles’ Mark Hutchings’ tagging when on the ball has been as effective as GWS’s Matt De Boer at containing the best players.

Geelong used Jake Kolodjashnij on Jordan De Goey on Friday night and he did well until De Goey suffered his injury. Kolodjashnij physically is a good match up for Martin when forward.

Ordinarily Martin would have rotated into the midfield more than he did on Saturday night, but a few things conspired against that, one being that he was hot as a forward and didn’t want to move.
Shane Edwards said when Martin is in that frame of mind and the goals are coming he just shakes off the player looking for a rotation.


The second was that he felt he had a mismatch for his opponents and was exploiting it.

What he offers Richmond is a plan C up forward. Richmond’s new structure with two rucks and two key forwards was not working for much of the first half. They couldn’t win the territory battle and couldn’t score.

They changed to the pre-Tom Lynch style where the forward line sucks up the ground and balls get sent forward into space for the small runners – Dan Rioli and Shai Bolton, in particular – to stream forward for goals.

Then they put option C into action: send Dusty to the goal square and let him work it out.
Martin remains the most dynamic and dangerous player in the finals because, right now, not one of the finalists has a player who can go with him over the ground. Knowing this, he rolls up and down to exploit the match-up he has.

Top sides defy stats

Collingwood won by a small margin that felt like a much bigger one. Richmond won by a big margin that felt smaller.

Neither side though won three normally critical areas. Both lost the contested possession count, clearances, and inside-50s.

It pointed to the fact these were defensive games. Yes, Brisbane fluffed their lines more than Geelong did but it remains true the two top-four winners – Collingwood and Richmond – are hard to score against.


Both won the tackle count and the inside-50 tackle count.

Saturday night’s qualifying final between Brisbane and the Tigers produced the best finals footy of the weekend.

West Coast-Essendon on Thursday night was a blowout and the only interest was watching the way Lewis Jetta kicks the ball.

Friday night was essentially over in the first quarter, the Giants’ defeat of the Bulldogs was flat but Saturday night – ignore the margin – was very good.

Pies are tastier, just

The Magpies had Jordan De Goey this time last year but didn’t have Jamie Elliott or Darcy Moore.

They’d like them all but the ins still outweigh the outs.

Eye on the ball: Magpie Jamie Elliot keeps delivering since his comeback for Collingwood.

Eye on the ball: Magpie Jamie Elliot keeps delivering since his comeback for Collingwood.Credit:AAP

Yes, Mason Cox is out too, but like last year’s preliminary final his good form is just a memory.

Elliott was superb against Geelong on Friday night. Moore was better. The two of them, and the recruit in Jordan Roughead, make this a better side, if not completely balanced, than this time last year.


It’s hard to work out how much of Collingwood’s second half inability to get the ball forward was down to the two injured players on the bench and how much was the absence of a tall player to kick to coming out of defence.

Collingwood will have to consider bringing Matt Scharenberg back into the side for Greenwood and potentially shifting Roughead forward again as a target who can mark the ‘get out’ kick on the wing.

Cats off pace again

This was again the Geelong that arrives in finals flattering to deceive. Win at home and achieve a bloated sense of standing.

One week of finals looks to have re-set the reality of where they sit. It was Geelong losing off a bye, again, Geelong losing a game in the first 15 minutes.

Mixed fortunes: Geelong's Gary Rohan struggled for form, but Darcy Moore's strong comeback from injury was another great sign for the Magpies.

Mixed fortunes: Geelong’s Gary Rohan struggled for form, but Darcy Moore’s strong comeback from injury was another great sign for the Magpies.Credit:AAP

This was again the Geelong that is turgidly slow and adventureless with the ball playing like they hoped not to have to kick too many goals rather than force the opposition to have to kick a score.

They were defensively loose and let Collingwood kick through them. They had the All-Australian forward on the ground and yet he again remained goalless.

Geelong has four ruckmen on their list and chose not to play one of them. Against the All-Australian ruckman.

In round 23 Rhys Stanley was ruckman, Mark Blicavs was in defence and Zach Tuohy a forward. Next game Stanley is out, Blicavs in the ruck and Tuohy a defender again.

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