The Richmond Tigers are into the 2019 AFL grand final, after defeating the Geelong Cats by 19 points at the MCG on Friday evening.
With 94,423 fans filling the MCG stands, the teams arrived to huge roars, as the coloured alternate bays cheered at every big moment.
The opening term saw Gary Ablett in the action early, before Richmond kicked three goals in response – two to Tom Lynch – and then the Cats finished strong to take the lead.
That margin was extended by Geelong in the second term; they were able to score goals from forward-50 ground balls and held the footy in their forward-half brilliantly.
It was a lucky 50-metre penalty to Patrick Dangerfield that pushed the margin out to 21 points, on the half-time siren.
Damien Hardwick gathered his troops at the main break and challenged them for the second half – it had to be one almighty turnaround, and the Tigers pulled it off.
The first goal went the way of the Tigers and from there it was an onslaught of sorts.
Lynch, Dustin Martin, Jason Castagna and Dion Prestia were among the goal scorers, but it was the trade-mark Richmond pressure and scrap that got them the lead.
The game was still in the balance half-way through the fourth term, but goals to Lynch and Prestia secured the grand final spot for the Tigers.
Richmond won the second half by 40 points and headed down to the rooms elated and to enormous roars, rather than last year’s disappointment.
Bachar Houli picked up 32 disposals, while Prestia had 28 disposals and two goals in a huge performance.
It was Tom Lynch’s first final at the MCG and didn’t he perform well – five goals and 19 disposals, the tall forward was in his element on the big stage.
This Richmond win was a collective performance, made up of many great moments, though.
From Jack Graham’s one-armed attempts to tackle, to Jack Riewoldt’s basketball tap down to Martin in the square, it was the small things that got Richmond up and about.
Tim Kelly was prolific in what will likely be his last game in the hoops, he finished with 31 disposals, three goals and four clearance.
Gryan Miers was composed early on, while Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood ran the show in the first half.
However, many Cats went missing in the second half; they failed to keep their composure in skill execution and could not hit the scoreboard as they had in the first.
Jack Graham dislocated his right shoulder in the opening term, executing a tackle.
It was put back in place, strapped up and he played out the rest of the game, not without plenty of pain and discomfort, though.
Nathan Broad left the ground with concussion late in the third term and did not return to the field.
Dustin Martin appeared to be carrying a corky, which disrupted his first half.
However, as he does, the Tiger pushed through in the third term and was an important player, finishing with 22 disposals and two goals and playing largely in the forward line.
That’s season over for the Geelong Cats, who fall short of September glory for another year.
Tom Hawkins suspension and Chris Scott’s horror finals record will both be talked about in the fall out from tonight’s game.
Who will the Tigers play next weekend?
Their opponent for the big dance will be decided tomorrow afternoon at the MCG, where the Collingwood Magpies and GWS Giants will battle it out for the remaining spot at 4:35pm AEST.
Richmond Tigers 12.13.85
Geelong Cats 9.12.66