KEY MATCH-UPS FOR 1ST AFL ELIMINATION FINAL BETWEEN RICHMOND AND NORTH MELBOURNE:
IVAN MARIC (Tigers) v TODD GOLDSTEIN (Kangaroos)
Goldstein has enjoyed one the best seasons of his career, to the point he’s become part of the Brownlow Medal conversation along with Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe. The big Roo has had 50 or more hitouts six times this year but the combative Maric is no pushover. His numbers aren’t quite as eye-catching but his appetite for the contest is undoubted. Maric, a popular figure with teammates and fans, won’t stop working, which should make this a battle to savour.
TAYLOR HUNT (Tigers) v BRENT HARVEY (Kangaroos)
Hunt has carved out a niche at Punt Road since leaving Geelong and part of that role involves annoying Harvey to within an inch of his life. The Tiger tagger pounced on the evergreen Kangaroo when he took off the green sub’s vest last week and expect them to renew hostilities. Harvey has had to make changes to his game this year but he still has the ability to torch an opponent as evidenced by his four goals against leaders Fremantle in round 21.
ALEX RANCE (Tigers) v DREW PETRIE (Kangaroos)
Petrie added a bit of spice when he accused Richmond defenders of using illegal tunnelling tactics in their round-23 clash. The Tigers, of course, rejected this claim out of hand but the tensions still simmer. To the great delight of Damien Hardwick, Rance signed a new long-term deal earlier this year and he’s earned that pay day with another All Australian-calibre season. Petrie has gotten better as the season as has progressed but he’ll need to improve on the one-goal returns he’s managed in two games against Richmond this year.