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Richmond have stunned a vastly disappointing Adelaide Crows to win by a more than comfortable 48 points, and claim their first AFL premiership in 37 years.
All the wash-up from the 2017 AFL Grand Final
» BUCKLAND: Richmond go from rabble to flag
» Six talking points from the match
» Richmond Tigers player ratings
» Adelaide Crows player ratings
» Watch video highlights from the match
In a game that can be considered a fairly disappointing spectacle for neutrals (and Crows’ fans!), the Tigers shook off a competitive Adelaide to dominate for the best part of three quarters and hold off a late challenge from a desperate Crows to claim their first premiership of the AFL era.
The first quarter was the most competitive of the game. It was Adelaide with the fast start, slamming two goals – through Rory Sloane and Eddie Betts – onto the board in the opening minutes, before Richmond made their advance – something which was decisively hampered by three consecutive behinds from Jack Riewoldt.
When they eventually became accurate, goals to Josh Caddy and Bachar Houli momentarily put them in front, but the Crows immediately struck back and took an 11-point lead into the first break.
That was probably the final time Adelaide fans felt confident this afternoon, though. Their second quarter was one of their disappointing of the year, scoring just the five compared to Richmond’s four goals. Richmond’s quarter was a whirlwind – combining lesser-known names such as Jacob Townsend (how good was this bloke in recent weeks?!) and fifth-gamer Jack Graham with their biggest stars such as Riewoldt and Brownlow Medalist Dustin Martin (all of whom booed a goal apiece to claw the Tiger’s back into the lead).
That said, the Crows were only nine points down at halftime, and really just needed the break to regroup and come back strongly.
Unfortunately for the South Australians, Richmond wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. Five more goals, and a lot more domination, meant their lead kept growing and growing in the ‘premiership quarter’. Adelaide, though trying, were simply unable to get their hands on the ball, and managed just one major (through Taylor Walker), and their deficit was a worrying 34 points come the final break.
The final quarter was more of the same: five more goals to the Tigers, but a mini-comeback (if you could describe it as such) from the Crows, who managed three majors of their own.
Honestly, though, the game had been in the bag for Richmond for a while by the closing stages of the game, and Martin’s 23rd-minute goal was the cherry on top of a delicious premiership cake for Tigers fans.
The Crouch brothers, as you’d expect given their seasons, gave their all for the Crows: 35 touches for Matt, and 27 and a goal for Brad. Laird (with 25) and Sloane (20 and 2 goals) were also decent, as was the captain in Walker (2 goals), but for the most part, it just wasn’t the Crows day.
The Tigers were very well served by Martin (28 touches, two goals, a Norm Smith and innumerable ‘don’t argues’!), Prestia (25 touches and a goal), Rance (six marks in a typically commanding performance in defense), Houli (23 touches, 9 marks and a goal in a fine performance). Jack Graham – a fifth gamer! – booted a game-high 3 goals in a memorable performance.
Adelaide Crows: 8.12 (60)
Richmond: 16.12 (108)
The Adelaide Crows – a team who’ve been through so much adversity in recent years – are up against the Richmond Tigers, but only one team can (finally) capture premiership glory. Join The Roar for the 2017 AFL grand final from 2:30pm (AEST).
It’s first versus third, two teams who’ve won 17 games apiece, and two teams that haven’t won a premiership this millennium.
Adelaide have been the best offensive team in the competition, and an ominous side to face – and not just at their Adelaide Oval fortress. For those adamant the ‘G will advantage Richmond, the Crows played on the ground three times this season for two wins and a draw.
Adelaide’s forward line is ominous on paper, and unequivocally effective in action. Their midfield isn’t the best in the competition, but it’s got to be close to it.
But Richmond have quietly (okay, maybe not that quietly!) had a very good year themselves, but where the Crows are a commanding offensive force, the Tigers are powerful in defence.
They kept Geelong and Greater Western Sydney – a duo of generally decent attacking sides – to 40 and 67 points respectively in their first two finals through debilitating defensive pressure.
And while the Crows have some non-household names who form a brilliant team, the Tigers have some massive individuals but as a collective are questionable.
The biggest of those individuals? Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Alex Rance. You’d expect the trio to produce some of their very best footy to inspire their team on these hallowed grounds.
In the team selections, Adelaide are unchanged – Mitch McGovern, unfortunately, joining Brodie Smith on the sidelines, meaning Andy Otten remains in the team – while Richmond, too, have no changes.
Wayne Milera, Alex Keath and Rielly O’Brien are the trio of emergencies for the Crows, while Shaun Hampton, Corey Ellis and Jayden Short fulfil the same roles for the Tigers.
It’s not an original observation, but this will come down to whether Richmond’s defensive pressure can triumph over Adelaide’s offensive power, and which team withstands the spotlight of such an important game – remember, there won’t be a player in either final 22 that’s played in a grand final before, which hasn’t happened since the inaugural decider in the 19th Century!
However, given the dominance Adelaide have displayed in both of their finals, it’s difficult to tip against them. They’ll win, but it’ll be close, and Richmond will be more than gallant the whole day.
Adelaide Crows by 9 points.