Best On Ground: Can semi-finals live up to week one standard?

MOOVING FORWARD: Proud parents Jan and Don Marshall will watch son Rowan play for St Kilda in Friday night's semi-final. They've painted their cows red, white and black in support. Picture: Morgan Hancock
MOOVING FORWARD: Proud parents Jan and Don Marshall will watch son Rowan play for St Kilda in Friday night's semi-final. They've painted their cows red, white and black in support. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Week one of the final series set a standard the AFL hopes will carry through to grand final night.

The four matches were decided by a combined 35 points but it was the style of play which pleased fans the most.

Nothing separated the elimination finalists - St Kilda held on for a thrilling three-point win against Western Bulldogs and Collingwood stunned West Coast, winning a one-point classic on the Eagles' home deck in Perth.

Port Adelaide and Brisbane put their home crowd advantages to good use against Geelong and Richmond respectively in the qualifying finals.

SEASON OVER: Paddy Ryder will miss St Kilda's semi-final against Richmond with a hamstring injury. Picture: Morgan Hancock

SEASON OVER: Paddy Ryder will miss St Kilda's semi-final against Richmond with a hamstring injury. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Can the Cats and Tigers make the most of their double chances or will momentum help carry the Saints and Magpies through to the preliminary final stage?

St Kilda knows it goes in as underdog against Richmond at Metricon Stadium on Friday night.

Its inspiring win against the Dogs came at a cost.

Influential ruckman Paddy Ryder tore a hamstring tendon in the dying stages of the game and finished on the bench in tears.

Key defender Jake Carlisle left the Saints' Queensland hub to be with his pregnant wife and half-back flanker Ben Long was suspended.

The Saints will come up against a fired up Richmond; the reigning premier hoping to regain key forward Tom Lynch from injury.

POSITIVE IMPACT: Brett Ratten has led St Kilda to a semi-final in his first season at the helm. Picture: Morgan Hancock

POSITIVE IMPACT: Brett Ratten has led St Kilda to a semi-final in his first season at the helm. Picture: Morgan Hancock

The Saints' preparation entering a cut-throat semi-final has been less than ideal.

But, given the impact Brett Ratten has had in his first season as coach, they will carry an inner belief into the match.

Don Marshall, whose son Rowan will carry the ruck duties in Ryder's absence, said St Kilda was embracing the challenge.

"We spoke to Rowan before the game on Saturday and (my wife) Jan said 'I bet you're a bit nervous about the big game'," Don said.

"He said 'we're not really nervous, we're just excited' and I thought that was a good thing because you can waste a lot of energy being nervous."

Can the Saints maintain that momentum?

This week's edition of Best On Ground was written by Warrnambool Standard journalist Justine McCullagh-Beasy

THE FOOTY NEWS YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO MISS:

SEMI-FINALS

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9

  • Richmond v St Kilda, Metricon Stadium, 7.50pm

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10

  • Geelong v Collingwood, Gabba, 7.40pm

PRELIMINARY FINALS

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16

  • Port Adelaide v Richmond/St Kilda, Adelaide Oval, 7.50pm

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17

  • Brisbane v Geelong/Collingwood, Gabba, 7.40pm
This story Can AFL's semi-finals live up to week one standard? first appeared on The Standard.