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AFL Preliminary Final: Five things we learned from Richmond vs GWS (23 September)

Richmond have stormed their way into a grand final for the first time in 35 years, with a hard-fought win in front of 94,000 members of the Tigers' faithful.

Richmond are in a grand final, and it is remarkable. They did so with a 36 point victory in front of a crowd that never let their guard down, screaming and clapping for the full four quarters. Trent Cotchin led from the front in a game that will cement him as one of the league’s best captains, with his will to win every single ball leading his team into an unprecedented grand final appearance.

Richmond started like a house on fire, kicking two goals in the first minute of the game. However the quick start didn’t last long, with GWS kicking the next three goals to assert their early dominance and looking too quick for Richmond. GWS found themselves in too much space, but let Richmond off the hook with some costly mistakes. 

The margin was one point at half time in Richmond’s favour, with everything to play for. Similar to Richmond’s victory a fortnight ago, it was the second half that set up the victory. Six goals to one in the third term gave Richmond a match winning lead at three quarter time. They would not let it slip. 

After Richmond’s amazing performance, the thousands of members of the Tiger Army in the stands were left belting out their song long after the siren sounded to end the contest. They face Adelaide next week in the big dance – what a game we have to look forward to.

  1. 1 We have seen the definition of a captain's performance

    Trent Cotchin produced his best game in a Richmond jumper, a performance that will go down as one for the ages. Every single 50/50 ball was made a Richmond ball, due to Cotchin's will to win and desire to grab the football at all costs. He was hard at it, fierce and ferocious, a role model for the rest of his team; just as a captain should be. 

    His work off the ball to get to every single contest and produce quality every time he had the footy, led others to do the same. He even took one of the great marks this season, fighting off his opponent to pluck the footy with just one hand. Cotchin finished the game with 26 possessions and a game high nine tackles, summing up a near perfect performance from the captain. 

    As he sprinted off the ground late in the final quarter to a standing ovation from the entire Richmond army, it was known that this game was Richmond's for the taking, and they couldn't have asked for a better performance from their captain. Will he be there next week though? Boy, Richmond would sure hope so.

  2. 2 Daniel Rioli is a bonafide superstar

    If previous performances haven't shown the footy world what this kid can do, then this one did. Daniel Rioli has officially announced himself as one of the most exciting players in the AFL, with a performance that kept Richmond going when GWS looked as if they had the ascendancy. The kid is just 20 years old, but is it fair to say he is the best Rioli in the competition? Maybe not now, but he certainly has the potential to be. 

    Rioli booted four great goals, including one in the second quarter that completely tore the house down. Complimenting his own impact on the scoreboard, he had nine goal assists and six tackles in an arguably a best on ground performance. 

    He is a part of the forward line that many said couldn't work in the big games, but they are yet to falter in finals footy. The output from such a young kid will bring excitement to every Richmond fan, with still such a young squad that will compete in a grand final. 

  3. 3 GWS' game looks as if it doesn't suit finals footy

    GWS are at their best when they can spread, move the ball quickly and possess the footy at all costs. These three things are qualities that you don't really characterise with finals football, especially against a team such as Richmond. GWS had more of the ball, quite a lot more of it. They had 59 more possessions, and even ran at a higher efficiency. 

    Their kick to handball ratio was nearly 1:1, with Richmond's being closer to 2:1. GWS over-possessed it, trying to use their skill to get them out of tight situations. That game plan simply could not withstand the pressure that Richmond applied. GWS started great early on, when Richmond gave them too much space and allowed them to have everything their own way.

    However when Richmond began chasing and closing down space quicker, the Giants struggled to move the ball with any real effectiveness. They are probably the best technical team in the competition, but they have found two years in a row that their game struggles to hold up against teams in finals who are hard at the footy. 

  4. 4 Some of Richmond's better players didn't have as much impact as normal, a positive for next week

    Richmond were brilliant, but is it wrong to think that they can lift one more gear? There are always going to be players who have games that are maybe less than average, but this time it was players who normally play so well that didn't have their best games. 

    This isn't a negative, because it was the bottom six or seven players of a team that are needed to win a premiership, but it shows that Richmond can certainly bring more to the table come next Saturday. None of their star players were bad by any means, but there were a few who can turn it up on the big stage. 

    Jack Riewoldt was well held by the GWS defence, only kicking the one goal and having little impact on the game. Brandon Ellis only had the 12 touches and Shaun Grigg just 16, two players who normally rack them up quite comfortably each and every week. Richmond certainly have room to move for their clash next Saturday, where they will have to lift a gear or two in order to test the Adelaide Crows. 

  5. 5 No other sport in the world can produce that atmosphere

    Where else can you see fans screaming and chanting at the top of their lungs, for the entirety of a two hour game, with that much passion? Nowhere. 

    The 94,000 people at the MCG certainly lived up to the hype that we all expected, with the pro-Richmond crowd riding every single moment of this famous victory. Every time a GWS player touched the footy, there were an overwhelming amount of boos. You couldn't even hear the GWS song when they graced the MCG. 

    The cries of 'go you Tigers' erupted every time a Richmond player made a tackle or broke one, or even made a good pass. The noise even after the national anthem, it was something that words cannot really describe. You could barely hear yourself think as the game went on, and the roar at the final siren was deafening. As the Richmond song was sung all the way from the MCG to Flinders Street Station, it was as if a whole city was behind a team wearing yellow and black. Remarkable. 

  1. Which team will win the flag in 2017?

    1. Adelaide
    2. Richmond
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Jarrod Febbraio

A sports journalism student from Melbourne. Die-hard tigers fan with a passion for all things sport.

AFL Preliminary Final: Five things we learned from Richmond vs GWS (23 September)

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