There is no lack of finals experience for either Geelong or Richmond with both sides contesting for the better part of the last decade. However, this will be only the third time to two will square off against each other in a Grand Final. The first time was 1931 when the Cats thrashed the Tigers. The Tigers turned the tables in 1967 with a narrow nine point victory.
Two days prior to the scheduled start of round one, the AFL advised all leagues and Auskick centers across the country. that all activities and operations will be postponed until the end of May. The recommendation also applies to AFL community matches, AFL community training sessions and face to face AFL, WAFC (West Australian football) and SANFL (South Australian) education courses. Among the affected programs affected are the Rio Tinto program, the Bachar Houli programs, the junior Boomerang team, the international cup, and wheelchair league.
in a statement released by the AFL, the league is "... determined to be part of the ... response to slow the COVID-19 virus down and ... help the broader community and our health systems manage the situation as effectively as possible."
At half time in Friday night’s Preliminary Final against Geelong, Richmond looked to be in trouble. Just a year after failing badly in the same game against Collingwood despite being hot favorites, the Tigers trailed by 21 points and looked a shadow of the team that was riding a 10 game winning streak. Adding further doubt to any potential comeback was a shoulder injury to 2017 Premiership hero Jack Graham, plus collision injuries to Captain Trent Cotchin and star midfielder Dustin Martin that had slowed both players in the first half.
Geelong on the other hand was magnificent. The Cats were making a mockery of their label as underdogs, taking the game on and converting up forward despite missing key spearhead in Tom Hawkins through suspension. The half time scoreline seemed unlikely after the Tigers rallied in the back end of the first quarter.
The Richmond Tigers sent a roar through Optus Stadium and to the rest of the competition when they tore apart the Fremantle Dockers on the Dockers’ home turf. The Tigers entered the game without some key personnel and lost two players to injury before half time, but still destroyed the Dockers in the third term to run out convincing winners.
The big movers on the AFANA AFL Power Poll this week were the Tigers and the Saints up four places each, while the Adelaide Crows fell four spots after a disastrous loss to the previously winless Kangaroos. Other notable happenings over another topsy-turvy round of footy were the Demons notching their first win for the season up in Sydney, while the previously unbeaten Cats were ambushed late by an impressive Giants outfit despite losing Callan Ward to a nasty knee injury in the first quarter.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
In a quirky scheduling twist this week, round eleven – celebrating Australia’s Indigenous heritage - saw the top eight teams pitted against the bottom eight, giving the top teams the chance to stretch their advantage while those struggling had the opportunity to make up some ground. Fast forward to Monday, and with all of the games in the books, the top six teams on the AFANA Power Poll all had wins, keeping them at the top of the tree.
Just days after one of Australia’s largest online betting sites paid out on Hawthorn winning the 2015 Premiership - more than two months before the Grand Final is to be played - the raging favorites have been upset by Richmond in front of a massive MCG crowd.
Richmond bounced back from last week’s disappointing loss to the Western Bulldogs with a scrappy 79-point victory over a struggling Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night. Brisbane was looking to fire after a demoralizing 82 point loss at the hands of North Melbourne in round two, but despite a solid start could not match the rampaging Tigers who took control of the game late in the second quarter. Both teams were missing gun midfielders through injury, Brisbane without clearance machine Tom Rockliff while Brett Deledio failed to pass a mid-week fitness test for the Tigers.
The first quarter saw Richmond dominate possession, with captain Trent Cotchin leading the way as the Tigers took the lead through a Ben Griffith goal. Taylor Hunt and Kamdyn McIntosh were also racking up plenty of touches early as Richmond held a massive 10-3 advantage on possessions inside 50 meters, but the Tiger forwards failed to turn the advantage into a big lead. At quarter time, Richmond led by just nine points.
Richmond players faced St Kilda at the MCG in the final game of Round 22, knowing their fate was well and truly in their own hands. Riding the wave of an incredible seven game winning streak that included on the road wins against the West Coast Eagles and Adelaide Crows, the Tigers had to beat the Saints to keep their slim Finals' chances alive. After Round 14, Richmond held a 3-10 win-loss record, placing them 16th on the AFL premiership ladder. Fast forward to Sunday, and as the Tigers ran out onto the hallowed turf of the MCG, a win would send them to 11-10 and into the Top Eight with one round to play.
Round Ten's clash at Spotless Stadium between the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants and the Richmond Tigers would have been a major talking point in AFL media circles no matter the result. Richmond, struggling with a 2-6 record, found itself under massive media scrutiny all week, not only due to its ongoing poor form but also because key forward Jack Riewoldt had questioned Coach Damien Hardwick’s game plan in a press interview during the week. GWS players had been under pressure of their own, putting together a six game losing streak highlighted by a 111-point belting at the hands of the West Coast Eagles in Round Nine. To say both of these teams needed to win would be a massive understatement.