Richmond destroyed a hapless Greater Western Sydney Giants to win its 12th Premiership flag in style. The 89-point margin was a true reflection on the complete dominance the Tigers had over the Giants. A tight first quarter that promised a competitive match, but Richmond was having none of that. The fierce and determined Tigers took complete control after quarter time and strangled the Giants with the manic brand of football that has made Richmond the best team in the competition over the last three seasons.
The Giants had performed brilliantly to win two tight contests on the road, but when Richmond asked the question for the third time, Greater Western Sydney simply had nothing left to give. The Tigers were hungry for the contest, determined to avenge a 2018 season where they were the best team all season but fell short after going out in the Preliminary final.
The complete domination that Richmond had in the game was not evident early, despite the Tigers having six forward entries early to just a single one for the Giants. The tightness of the contest was reflected in the fact it took a full 20 minutes of play before a goal was scored, and it went to the underdog Giants through a brilliant finish by Jeremy Cameron from outside the 50 meter arc.
The joy of the Orange Army of supporters was to be short lived. With the Richmond ruck duo of Toby Nankervis and the greatly improved Ivan Soldo jumping all over a tired looking Shane Mumford, the Tigers hit back quickly through the brilliant Dustin Martin. With the game on a knife’s edge as the seconds ticked down to quarter time, Daniel Rioli set the crowd alight with a 50 meter snap that sailed through the goals as the siren sounded. Richmond took a seven point lead into quarter time and would never look back.
The Giants had the first opportunity of the second quarter through Harry Himmelberg but his shot was unsuccessful, opening the door for the Tigers. A free kick to Jack Riewoldt, looking for a big game after a few quiet weeks, gave the spearhead a chance to extend the lead and he did not let his team down. The next minute produced one of the most memorable scenes in Grand Final history, as Marlion Pickett, taken as a 27 year-old with a checkered history in the mid-season draft, spun a full 360 degrees to avoid Lachie Whitfield before setting up a great mark by Jason Castagna. The brash move by Pickett was made all the more exciting by the fact that he was playing his first game of senior football, in a Grand Final, with over 100,000 supporters looking on. The fact that Castagna missed his shot on goal could not take away from the incredible moment. Pickett was the first player to debut at the AFL level in a Grand Final since 1952.
The roar of the crowd after Pickett’s move and Castagna’s mark were the catalyst for a Tiger onslaught. Dustin Martin played a bouncing ball perfectly to fool the Giant's Sam Taylor before dribbling a trademark goal. Crunching tackles by numerous Tigers ended with one of the best by Bachar Houli who nailed Adam Tomlinson to spill the ball to Daniel Rioli, who in turn hit Tom Lynch on the chest. Lynch nailed the shot on goal and the alarm bells were ringing for the Giants. Riewoldt added two more to his tally and the half-time gap had blown out to 35 points.
A week earlier in their famous win against Collingwood, the Giants turned it on in the third quarter, setting up a match winning lead. They would have to repeat the dosage in the Grand Final or be consigned to watching the Tigers have the box seat to Premiership glory.
There would be no comeback today. From the first bounce after half time, Richmond upped the ante with their trademark fierce tacking pressure and the Giants simply could not compete. The Tigers most consistent player of 2019, Dion Prestia, fed Tom Lynch who finished straight and true and the margin was out to 42 points. Shai Bolton repeated the dosage, finding Martin for goal number three after a sloppy centering ball from Jeremy Cameron. The game was iced when debutant Pickett burst out of the center to set up Dustin Martin about 45 meters from goal. Picket followed up and drifted into space 35 meters out where Martin spotted him and pulled his kick to nail Pickett perfectly. The crowd went wild in anticipation of what was to come. The biggest cheer of the day went out from Tiger fans as Pickett completed his fairytale debut with a goal that split the center to put the game well and truly to bed.
Jacob Hopper finally kicked a goal for the Giants to a cacophony of Bronx cheers after Kane Lambert had added another for the Tigers, and the three quarter time siren sounded to a 62 point Tiger lead. Richmond continued the party throughout the final quarter, with Riewoldt adding a couple of goals to finish with five, Martin adding his fourth and Captain Trent Cotchin sending the crowd into further frenzy as he pumped his fist after a rare goal of his own.
Dustin Martin locked in his second Norm Smith medal for best afield, becoming just the fourth player to do so in Grand Final history. The Tigers strolled to victory, their 12th in a row since a depleted team was defeated by the Crows in Adelaide in round 13. At 7-6, there were pundits who not only said the Premiership was out of reach for Richmond, but finals were also unlikely.
Richmond played a combination of brutal and at times attractive football that was simply too good for the Giants, and every other team in the back end of the season. While the Giants could not compete on the day, it is unlikely it would have mattered who the opponent was, the result would surely have been the same. The Tigers premiership draws them level with Melbourne, behind only Carlton, Essendon, Hawthorn and Collingwood with twelve in history.
In a gesture that shows how tight the Richmond club is throughout, members of the Richmond VFL premiership team were asked to wear their guernseys and join in the post-game celebrations. It was a stark reminder to the other 17 teams that this is a galvanized group that is hungry to continue to wash away decades of disappointment and strive to keep the good times coming in future seasons.
Tiger fans celebrated long into the night just a short walk from the MCG in suburban Richmond, their heroes having won a second premiership in just three short seasons; hard to believe from a team that finished a lowly 13th on the ladder in 2016.
Scoreboard: Richmond: 2.3 7.5 12.9 17.12 (114) Greater Western Sydney: 1.2 1.6 2.7 3.7 (29) Best Players: Richmond: Martin, Riewoldt, Prestia, Pickett, Edwards, Vlastuin, Houli. Greater Western Sydney: Taranto, Himmelberg, Shaw, Haynes, Hopper, Williams. Attendance: 100,014 Norm Smith Medal: Dustin Martin
Article last changed on Friday, October 25, 2019 - 11:48 AM EDT