It’s been a long 5,037 days between winning finals for Tiger fans, but boy it must seem all worth it now. A seven goals to one last term meant Richmond had the game won halfway through the last quarter, running out a whopping 51 point winners. Restricting Geelong to just five goals, Richmond’s pressure in all areas of the field was too strong for a Geelong outfit, who seemed to never get going.
While Richmond began the game like a team who hadn’t won a final in 16 years, they still managed to hit the scoreboard early with clutch goals from Jacob Townsend and former Cat, Josh Caddy. However, while their pressure was a mainstay, their ability to hit the scoreboard plateaued. The Cats managed to claw their way back to make scores level in the third term, but never gained the lead.
This set up a ripper final quarter where Dustin Martin played one of his best ever quarters, and where Richmond’s game seemed to flow better than it has all season. Beyonf their wildest dreams the Tigers ended the night 51 point winners and on their way to the Preliminary final, oh how sweet it is.
1 Dustin Martin is worth every penny
1.3 million over seven years? That's a bargain if he is going to perform like this for the years to come. If there were Brownlow votes, it would be hard to not give Dusty the 3. In a highly contested game where players struggled to grab clean possession, a 20 minute spell of brilliance from Richmonds #4 sparked life into the Tigers, leading from the front to take Richmond into a Preliminary final.
Busy throughout the night he collected 28 possessions, four goal assists, seven tackles, nine inside 50s and who knows how many don't argues. The moment when Dusty fended off Tom Stewart, speared a pass to Jack Riewoldt that led to a Dion Prestia goal, was the moment that the tide turned.
Dustin Martin proved that he can be a big game player, and showed Richmond fans that he is worth every single penny. The potential Brownlow medalist went at 75% efficiency also, much higher than he normally does. In slippery conditions, that is almost worth its weight in gold.
2 Pressure can take a toll on anybody
It doesn't matter who you are, it is not easy to handle constant pressure. Patrick Dangerfield managed to grab a game high 31 possessions, but only went at 45% efficiency. He failed to have anything his own way, with nine clangers and only a few periods in which he didn't have a group of players surrounding his every move.
The last quarter started with three changers from Danger, which was a sign of things to come. But it wasn't just Patrick Dangerfield who would succumb to Richmond's brilliant pressure, but the whole side. While Geelong actually won the tackle count, how many times did Richmond manage to catch Geelong holding the ball?
Their tackles seemed to have more impact, especially early on in the game. Their desire and commitment to the task at hand evident in a major discrepancy when it came to inside 50 tackes. The Tigers won this count 21-4, which would be especially embarrasing for Geelong having fropped Daniel Menzel to improve their ability in this area.
Richmond showed that pressure can make anybody crumble, with their effort around the whole ground being the catalyst for their amazing victory.
3 Geelong failed to capitalise on Richmond's nervy start
Richmond started the game like a team who had little finals experience probably would. Their effort could not be faulted, nor their ability to stop Geelong. The one thing that let them down was their composure. Everything was moving extremely quickly and it was as if Tiger players were just getting the ball and putting it onto their boot without even looking.
They struggled to slow the game down hit up easy targets, which should have allowed Geelong to come at them quite hard. Geelong failed to do this, they never really got going. They were unable to make Richmond pay for their mistakes. There were times where the ball was played in between the two 50s, with both teams turning it over consecutively.
With Geelong's experience, they really should have settled down first. To everyone's surprise, it was Richmond who did this. Geelong will rue this, as an early lead to them may have finished off the Tigers quite early. Instead, Richmond were allowed to fumble and make mistakes, setting them up for their cruise to victory.
4 Trent Cotchin managed to do what he hadn't done in his previous three attempts
Trent Cotchin's finals experience hasn't been great, to say the least. We all remember his coin toss fiasco in Adelaide, how about his nine possession performance against North? But this time around, he well and truly put in a captains performance. Five first quarter clearances from the captain set the tone for what was to come, with Cotch stepping out of Dustin Martin's shadow for a minute and showing why he is captain of his footy club.
He finished the game with 20 possessions, nine tackles and one of his best goals in the last quarter. A floater off his left foot was celebrated with every player and supporter, with all of them getting around a player who has copped so much stick in the past. Trent Cotchin produced one of his most influential performances when it mattered most, putting to bed any some of his previous performances. Can he do it again in two weeks time?
5 The lid is OFF
It's been off since about round 3 for Richmond fans, but the lid has flown far far away from Punt Road. While their game was fantastic and most of their fans will be thinking about it for the next two weeks, players must move on quickly.
They must learn from the two qualifying final winners last season, who went on to lose their prelims. Their week off must be used wisely, but what is on the other side of the break? The Tigers will face either GWS, Port Adelaide or West Coast at the MCG. All teams they have beaten throughout the year and opponents against whom they will definitely fancy their chances.
There was a weird sense of belief in the Tiger army after the game at the MCG, where fans were ecstatic; but already looking at their next opponents. The talk around the Punt Road end was more about how far this team can go, rather than how well they had played against the Cats. As one fan left his seat and shouted 'the lid is off', it is clear that the sky is the limit for this Tiger outfit.
What were your highlights from Geelong vs Richmond? Let us know in the comments below.
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