It’s finally here. 23 home and away rounds and three weeks of finals will culminate this Saturday, when Richmond face Adelaide in the battle for the premiership cup. We will watch the Adelaide Crows, who have clearly been the best team all year and are rightly the favourites in this contest, face the Richmond Tigers, who has performed high and above expectations in season 2017. Richmond deserve to be here just as much as Adelaide do, with their wild supporter base being the tale of this finals series so far. They are in with a genuine chance to lift the cup come Saturday evening and they are not just happy to have made it this far; they have the desire to bring success back to this footy club.
Home ground advantage
There’s no doubt that the fact this game is at the MCG, means that Richmond immediately get some type of advantage. While Adelaide are and have been the best side out of the two for the entirety of the season, the MCG evens things out. Richmond have only lost two games at the MCG all season, against a valiant Sydney side on the up and to a David Mundy goal after the siren. They have proven that their home form is good enough to take them all the way to the cup, especially with their past two finals performances against two top four teams, in games where all the expectation has been on their shoulders. On the other hand, Adelaide have not been exposed to the MCG a lot, having played just three times there this season. They did have two wins in this time, but they came against lower ranked sides. Carlton tested them all the way to the final siren and Hawthorn fell short against them early in the season, when they couldn’t buy a win. Their third game was a draw against Collingwood, where they came back from 50 points to salvage the draw. It is safe to say that if Richmond are up by 50 points on Saturday, they will not let it slip. If this game was played at the Adelaide Oval, there would only be one result. However, at the MCG, the Tigers have somewhat of an advantage.
Their forward line
There have not been many occasions this season where Richmond’s forward line has been worked out, however there have been many questions about it all season. Many questioned whether the forward line consisting of Jack Riewoldt as the only real big man could stand up in the big games, but they have proven that it is possible. Josh Caddy has become a revelation in the past two months, despite many Richmond supporters feeling that he wasn’t giving Richmond what they paid for in the earlier months of the season. Jacob Townsend is putting in the hard work that all Richmond fans are happy to see, and how can we forget about the smaller trio? Rioli, Castagna and Butler have consistently shown us that they can get the job done. They have all contributed evenly to this Richmond improvement, and all their forwards are giving opposition defences something to think about. Richmond may not have the advantage in their defensive half or even in their ruck stocks, but they may be able to win this game based off their forward pressure and their ability to kick a winning score.
In the past two games, Richmond have played with more aggression than they have shown in recent memory, and it is simply way too hard to handle for an opposing team. Their tackling pressure has proven too much for Geelong and GWS, where they have given their opposition little time on the ball, forcing the mistake. While they haven’t been drastically winning the tackle count, their tackles have seemed to mean a lot more, with many holding the ball decisions going their way. How about their captain, Trent Cotchin? His past two games in the yellow and black have arguably been his best as a Tiger, with him leading from the front with his desire and willingness to win every single ball. The Tigers showed in the first minute on Saturday that they were going to intimidate the Giants, kicking two goals and not letting GWS have any free ball. The second goal summed this up, with Heath Shaw looking frightened to grab the footy as four Tigers pounced on his every move. This led to a Josh Caddy goal, and set the tone for what was to come. If the Tigers come out like this again, they can win this game.
The Brownlow Medalist deserves his own talking point, surely. This man can turn any game on its head, whether that is through his ability to break a tackle in the middle of the ground, or his knack of kicking a clutch goal. The superstar kicked three second half goals on the weekend, when the game was on the line. It is hard to see Richmond falling short of winning the game if Dustin Martin can produce a game like he has several times this season. Will any Adelaide player be able to stop the man that can’t be tackled? He will be the most dangerous player on the ground come Saturday, and if he is on song, it will be a great day for Tiger fans.
Yes, Richmond will go into the Grand Final as the underdogs, but they certainly have the ability to beat the Crows on Saturday. Most things will have to go right for them, but if they come out with the same mindset and intensity that have come out with throughout this finals series, the Crows will find it hard to get into any sort of rhythm. This could be the greatest day in every Richmond fans life, if the Tigers can grab the premiership cup.
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