2016 TIV Cup – Richmond v St Kilda

Saint versus Tiger. Man versus Beast. Holy undertones in a battle to the death in the jungle. TIV blogger Aaron Lord previews this Saturday’s epic TIV CUP final between the Tigers and Saints.

What’s the biggest accolade in AFL Football? Premiership? Brownlow Medal? All-Australian selection?

Close, but none of the above. It’s a well-known fact among the AFL playing population that Football’s greatest prize is undisputedly the Trade Institute of Victoria (TIV) Cup.

The game’s best kept secret will be decided this Saturday afternoon in front of a packed house at the MCG, and what two better clubs deserve the honour of such a monumental occasion than the Tigers and Saints.

It’s been one of the most amazing seasons on record, and after 21 rounds of blood, sweat and tears we are left with two outstanding combatants in Richmond and St. Kilda, going head to head in what most experts predict will be one of the closest TIV Cups in recent history.

Both teams have a near full strength list to choose from and go into the game in red hot form, and when you consider some of the mouth-watering match-ups on every line, this is all set up to be a battle of epic proportions.

Stacked with talent, courage, skill and hunger, these two clubs epitomize what TIV represents and encompasses. The fact that neither of these clubs have won a TIV Cup since its inception back in 2007 adds another subtle twist to this weekend.

So where will the Cup be won or lost?

Richmond’s forward line is a potent and destructive as any in the competition. Sam Lloyd has had an outstanding breakout year and looms as the real x-factor on the back of his mark and goal of the year performances this season.

Jack Riewoldt continues to treat opposition defenses with contempt, enjoying a purple patch of form and hitting the scoreboard heavily at the right time of a third Coleman medal year.

Throw Ben Griffiths into the mix as the third tall, and all of a sudden you have a seriously powerful scoring trio that will have a significant influence on the outcome of this match.

St. Kilda’s defense however, should not be underestimated, and if the Tiger forwards think they will have it all on their terms, they better think again. By far the most disciplined and stingiest back six in the league all season, the Saints, if anyone, are more than capable of stopping the Tiger juggernaut.

All-Australian stalwart Sam Gilbert will again get the Herculean task of quelling the influence of Jack Riewoldt. The dour Tom Lee will wear Sam Lloyd like a glove, and Tom Hickey will need a defensive mindset on the enigmatic Ben Griffiths (when forward) in an otherwise fascinating ruck duel.

History says however, that TIV Cups are won and lost in the midfield – and this weekend will be no exception. Statistically, the two clubs are very evenly matched, but stats will mean little on Saturday afternoon at 2.10pm, when more than 100,000 die-hard supporters will witness history in the making for one of these teams.

Maverick Weller’s brilliance will attract the attention of the number one run-with player in the game, Taylor Hunt after Weller’s podium finish on Brownlow medal night earlier this week.

Expect ball magnets Luke Dunstan and Kamdyn Mcintosh to go head-to-head and rack up more than 60 possessions between them, and young gun Eli Templeton to get the job on the dynamic running machine Nick Vlaustin.

There is sure to be no love lost when Tom Curren renews hostilities with Jacob Townsend either, if their recent fiery semi-final encounter is any indication.

The St. Kilda forward set-up is crucial, and will need to fire on all cylinders this weekend to kick a winning score. Josh Bruce has elevated himself to one of the premier forwards in the competition with a 75-goal season, but will need something special this week with the reliable Jake Batchelor breathing down his neck.

All Australian defender Jayden Short will shadow the much improved Nathan Freeman at ground level – the young Saint becoming a household name overnight with a goal after the siren on debut to win last week’s Preliminary final against the Hawks.

The TIV Cup is now one of the premier events in the sporting capital of the world – Melbourne.

The Tigers are by far the more experienced group, and have had 12 months together to lick their wounds and prepare for this week after the pain of coming so close last year. They have been building and constructing momentum all season, and now have the tools and experience to build bridges and achieve greatness. They also have the added motivation of their inured teammates Jason Castagna and Todd Elton who are in the club’s long term injury list.

The Saints on the other hand are the new kids on the block. Fresh, raw, energetic and hungry for success. What they lack in experience they make up for in enthusiasm and genuine passion for one another. If they can settle their nerves on such a big stage and get through the mental challenge of the first few contests, they will relax, enjoy the occasion and be almost unstoppable.

The Bill Spencer medal will once again be awarded to the best player on the ground. Players are judged on their overall performance on the day, with a particular emphasis on brilliance, courage, tenacity, and the verbal sprays they deliver to the opposition.

Author: Aaron Lord


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