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VFL Preview: Qualifying Final v Williamstown

McRae on VFL finals Craig McRae speaks to SEN's VFL Show ahead of Richmond's Saturday night VFL qualifying final against Williamstown.

Richmond (14-4) defeated Frankston in the final round of the VFL home and away season, securing the minor premiership and booking in a Saturday night qualifying final against Williamstown (13-5) at the Swinburne Centre.

Williamstown is arguably the form side of the competition and enters this finals series riding a wave of momentum after a six-match winning streak, which will carry it from Hobsons Bay to Punt Road.

The Seagulls have trumped the Tigers on both occasions in 2018, and remarkably Richmond hasn’t beaten Williamstown since early in the 20th century.

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Make of that what you will.

In their most recent encounter, Williamstown eclipsed Richmond by 44 points at the same venue the pair will meet at this Saturday night.

Tigers’ coach Craig McRae is weary of what the Seagulls will bring under the tutelage of their wily coach, Andy Collins.

“They’ve beaten us twice this year, and just recently only two weeks ago, so we got a good look at what they’re capable of,” McRae said.

“I’ve got such admiration for Andy Collins and the way he goes about it and I’m sure he’ll have a few tricks up his sleeve, that’s the way he is.

“We’re going to have to improve on what we produced against them recently, but I think we’ve learnt a lot and I think we’re up for the challenge.”

One of the key areas of strength for the Seagulls is their clearance work, which they bested the Tigers on both occasions this year.

However, Richmond was without lion-hearted ruckman, Ivan Soldo on both of those occasions, and McRae is more than happy to have Soldo available this time around.

“This year he’s been the go-to guy at VFL level playing 80% of the time in the ruck,” McRae said.

“He’s a big strong man now having had four years in the system, he’s been so important to us and we haven’t played with him in our team against Williamstown this year.

“I’m looking forward to having him in our team.”

A strength of the Tigers, and a key reason for their success this year has been their club-wide connection and the sterling form of their VFL-listed players

Jake Aarts’ form this year has made AFL recruiters stand-up and take notice - a member of Richmond’s VFL leadership group, Aarts looks primed to make a profound impact on the finals series.

You can hear the love in Craig McRae’s voice when he talks about his tenacious leader.

“I have such admiration for the young man, he’s a labourer—gets up early, works hard and then gets to training and trains even harder,” McRae said.

“He had an enormous pre-season and he’s played 50-odd VFL games now…he really set-up his season well and he’s playing above the level.

“I talk to our AFL players about coming to the VFL and looking like AFL players, well he’s pretty much done that for the whole year.”

AFL premiership forward Dan Butler has been named in the side to take on the Seagulls, the exciting Tiger will play managed minutes as he returns from ankle surgery. Also making his return to football, dashing half-back Oleg Markov is set to resume playing after a second knee injury has seen him sidelined since round 16 of the VFL.

16 AFL listed Tigers will line up against Williamstown on Saturday night, while hard-running winger Tom Silvestro will play his 50th game in the Yellow and Black.

1st Qualifying Final
Saturday 1st September 2018
Swinburne Centre (Punt Road Oval)
Gates open at 5:30pm
7:10PM (Channel 7) 


B: 78. D. Coffield, 42. R. Garthwaite, 46. B. Miller
HB: 37. C. Menadue, 31. O. Markov, 51. S. Morris
C: 45. P.  Naish, 26. A.  Miles, 64. T.  Silvestro
HF: 48. L. Baker, 38. N. Balta, 44. T. Stengle
F: 58. J. Aarts, 36. C. Moore, 7. D. Butler
R: 47. I. Soldo, 32. C. Ellis, 27. S. Lloyd
Int: 54. J. Ballard, 53. H. Beasley, 40. C. Coleman-Jones, 61. J. Fletcher, 56. B. Grewar, 52. S. Mannagh, 43. D. Smith , 57. B.
23P: 60. C. Thompson

In: D. Butler, C. Thompson, S. Mannagh, L. Baker, O. Markov, S. Morris
Out: J. Townsend,  B. Lambert

- Finals tickets are Adults $15, concession/pensioners $10 and kids under 15 free
- Tickets are available via
- While a limited number of tickets will be available at the gate, we strongly encourage fans to pre-purchase tickets to avoid any queues.
- Please note children U15 will be free entry, but must order a ticket at the above link. These tickets will be checked upon entry, and only children U15 will be provided access with these tickets.

- Available at Yarra Park Gate 5 from 4:30pm. No parking will be available at Punt Road Oval. $10 cash for entry.

What’s on
- Food trucks; Hot Dogs, Chips, India, Steak Burgers, Burritos
- Coffee cart
- Licensed Bar
- Face Painter
- Balloon Artist