Tigers roar to second AFL Premiership in three years

RICHMOND waited 37 long years for premiership success. It now has two flags in three seasons.


The ‘Dimma Dynasty’ started on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the MCG. It was just as invigorating and exciting two years on, as Damien Hardwick’s remarkable group brushed aside Grand Final rookies Greater Western Sydney on its way to an emphatic 89-point win.

The Tigers tackled, harassed and drove forward with the relentlessness they have become renowned for throughout their three years of dominance, inspired by an unstoppable mix of genius coaching, tremendous individual talent and astonishing team cohesion.

Richmond’s 17.12 (114) to 3.7 (25) Grand Final victory was the product of that combination – a demonstration of all that has made it the best team of 2019.

Hardwick thwarted his opposite number Leon Cameron, particularly in an outstanding second-quarter display where the Tigers completely overwhelmed the Giants in all areas of the ground to kick five unanswered goals and lay the foundations for their emphatic win.

He also had the players to execute his vision.

Dustin Martin, once again, was sublime. Whether it was in the midfield, where he collected 22 disposals and three clearances, or forward, where he slotted four goals and had eight score involvements, he was the game’s most influential figure.

A second Norm Smith Medal – making him just the fourth player to be a dual winner of the award behind Gary Ayres, Andrew McLeod and Luke Hodge – was just reward for his stunning display, as the Richmond favourite etched his name in the record books.

Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch – the League’s most dominant forward duo – combined for seven goals. Riewoldt had three in the second quarter alone and finished with five for the match, while Lynch was a constant presence to haul down seven big marks.

Bachar Houli (26 disposals) and Dion Prestia (22 disposals) were their prolific selves, while Shane Edwards, Kane Lambert and Nick Vlastuin were also typically consistent.

Then there was the Grand Final debutant, Marlion Pickett. One game, one flag.

The 27-year-old was lively, involved and, at times, special. He repaid Hardwick’s faith and then some, finishing with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s, nine score involvements and a maiden AFL goal on an unforgettable afternoon for the club’s boom recruit.

One game, one flag: Pickett’s stunning Grand Final debut

But the manner in which they were able to showcase their individual flair, without ever straying from Hardwick’s methodical and trained system, was evident from the outset.

In fact, it helped stamp their authority on the contest.

While the Giants had become renowned for their pressure throughout September, it was the Tigers who were turning the tables throughout the opening stages on Saturday.

They hunted in packs, chased relentlessly and tackled as though their lives depended on it.

The only problem was, they couldn’t take advantage of their dominance.

Richmond kicked three behinds from its first 10 entries to start the match, allowing GWS to regain some composure and resulting in a nervous period of flux for both sides.

Turnovers and lamentable mistakes became the order of the day, until Jeremy Cameron flushed a shot from beyond 50m for the game’s first goal – 21 minutes into the match.

All of a sudden, the Tigers needed a spark. Enter Martin.

Pushed deep forward, he wriggled clear of Heath Shaw, marked strongly and bent his shot around the corner to eventually get the yellow and black faithful back on their feet.

Daniel Rioli followed it with a bomb on the buzzer and the momentum carried Richmond into the break and beyond, as the Tigers stormed away with the contest.

Pickett was blind-turning tacklers, Jason Castagna was leaping above defenders, Riewoldt was bending them around corners and Dusty was just being Dusty.

The result was a 35-point lead in a flash by half-time.

Each Tiger goal – all five of them, kicked one after the other – was met with exceedingly raucous cheers, as the Punt Road end celebrated what was quickly becoming inevitable.

The Giants went some way to stemming the bleeding by the break. However, in reality, they quite simply couldn’t lay a glove on the Tigers. They were held goalless for the entirety of the second quarter, as a disaster unfolded in front of them.

But if they thought the main change would end the nightmare, they were wrong.

Lynch added the first of the second half, before Martin snapped another from deep inside the boundary. The third was the cream on top of a yellow and black cake.

Martin delivered to Pickett, who slotted his first goal in senior footy in typically calm fashion. All 18 Richmond players on the field immediately swarmed the debutant.

It became a training drill for the Tigers, who ultimately booted 11 straight goals – the large majority of which were slotted under very little pressure – before the Giants responded.

But the response was tame, to say the least.

While youngster Tim Taranto (30 disposals, seven tackles) fought hard all day and veteran Shaw (29 disposals, 14 marks) was tireless, it was unsurprisingly not enough.

And with a 62-point deficit at three-quarter time, there was little left to play for late.

Instead, it became a Richmond party, as players lined up for their shot at goal. They added five more in the final term, with captain Trent Cotchin’s – delivered from beyond 50m out after a couple of bounces – resulting in perhaps the biggest cheer of the afternoon.

The final siren mirrored that joy, sparking yet more wild scenes of Richmond celebrations.

Once a rarity, September success now seems like a regular Tiger occurrence.

RICHMOND                                2.3     7.5     12.9     17.12     (114)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     1.2     1.6     2.7     3.7     (25)

Riewoldt 5, Martin 4, Lynch 2, Rioli, Soldo, Pickett, Lambert, Bolton, Cotchin
Greater Western Sydney: 
Cameron, Hopper, Himmelberg 

Richmond: Martin, Riewoldt, Prestia, Pickett, Edwards, Vlastuin, Houli
Greater Western Sydney: 
Taranto, Shaw, Haynes, Hopper, Williams


Story – AFL.com.au