A five-goal to zero blitz in the second quarter has proved the difference-maker in a very lop-sided grand final, as Richmond scored their second premiership in three seasons with a dominant 89-point over the GWS Giants.
Jack Riewoldt kicked five goals – including three in the pivotal second quarter – to prove the difference up forward. Dustin Martin was awarded the Norm Smith medal as best on ground with 22 disposals and four goals, while debutant Marlion Pickett stood up on the big stage, with 22 disposals and a goal of his own. Jason Castagna could’ve have made the margin that much bigger, but finished extraordinarily with 0.5 for the day – with another set shot curling horribly out of bounds on the full.
There were few winners for the Giants, with Tim Taranto (30 disposals), Heath Shaw (29) and Toby Greene (23) some of the very few who could hold their heads high.
After surrendering the first goal of the game late in the first quarter, the Tigers kicked 12 goals in a row from that point until the dying stages of the third quarter to set up an unassailable 62-point lead at the final break.
Surprisingly, it was the Giants who looked odds-on to kick the first of that fateful second when Tim Taranto’s hurried kick inside 50 found Harry Himmelberg, but the gettable set shot was pushed across the face. Richmond got it back down their end, where Riewoldt converted a free kick in the forward pocket to put the Tigers 13 points clear.
The MCG threatened to collapse after the next clearance, with Marlion Pickett unleashing a sensational spin move in the middle before sending a great ball inside 50 to Jason Castagna – but the small forward hit the post.
But the pressure Richmond had exerted was clearly getting to the Giants. Another entry inside 50 saw Sam Taylor misjudge a bounce badly and lose his footing at the worst possible time, allowing Dustin Martin to dribble through Richmond’s fourth major in a row. It was alarm bells in the GWS coaching box when another clearance win to the Tigers – kickstarted by Pickett – saw Tom Lynch take a mark on the lead and convert the set shot to make the margin 26 points.
The underdogs offered some resistance over the next few minutes, but they squandered some more chances before Riewoldt made them pay at the other end with a set shot of his own before he put the exclamation point on an incredible second quarter with a stunning set shot from just outside 50 – his third of the half.
The third quarter was a continuation of what we’d seen before, with Richmond hemming the Giants back inside their own 50 and gobbling up the turnovers off the hurried exit kicks. While they sprayed a few of their early chances, the dam wall broke eventually as Tom Lynch converted an easy set shot to put the Tigers up by seven goals.
A horrible turnover from Jeremy Cameron on the wing was punished severely yet again, with Daniel Rioli doing well to keep the ball alive close to the boundary line in the forward pocket, before handballing to Martin, who unleashed an incredible no-look snap around the body to put the game to bed.
The biggest moment of the third quarter came soon after, when Martin selflessly sent a ball across the forward line to debutant Pickett. The first-gamer speared through the set shot to elicit the biggest roar all day. It only unravelled further for GWS from there, with another turnover off half-back allowing Kane Lambert to stroll in and kick another from 45.
Damien Hardwick’s men could have very easily opened up a bigger advantage in the third quarter, but missed a host of gettable opportunities. Jacob Hopper eventually snapped from 20 metres out after a marking contest to finally end the run of 12 straight Tiger goals.
Any hopes of a miraculous GWS comeback were snuffed in the shadows of three-quarter time, after yet another turnover off halfback was quickly turned into a set shot goal for Ivan Soldo.
Himmelberg finally got a goal for his efforts early in the fourth quarter, but normal programming resumed shortly after yet another GWS turnover saw Shai Bolton convert a simple set shot and extend the lead beyond ten goals.
From there, Riewoldt put through his fourth, Cotchin applied another layer of icing late, before the final siren mercifully sounded.
Earlier, the first quarter suggested we’d be in for anything but a free-flowing goal-fest, with both sides struggling to convert their chances in an arm wrestle of an opening period.
Richmond had all the early ascendancy, winning plenty of the ball in the middle and piling on early pressure, but they could only put three behinds on the board for their effort.
GWS started exerting some pressure of their own in the first quarter, but they too could only manage a handful of minor scores.
In the end, it took until there were just four minutes left in the quarter for Jeremy Cameron to put the first goal on the board after he dobbed an incredible set shot from just outside 50 on a 45-degree angle.
Richmond got themselves back in the contest soon after, however. After Lachie Whitfield was caught holding the ball on the defensive side of the wing, the kick back inside 50 found Martin uncontested at full-forward, who then played on to put his side’s first on the board. Rioli then sent the Tigers into quarter time with all the momentum when his running shot from right on 50 sailed through as the siren sounded.
Ultimately, the Tigers made the most of that momentum to set up a matchwinning lead before half time.
Selection drama threatened to derail the Giants before the bounce, with speculation rife on the fitness of skipper Phil Davis. The key defender was put through his paces prior to the game, nursing a calf injury he picked up last week and, while he was given the all-clear to play, he was no match for the Richmond spearhead.
Richmond – 2.3 | 7.5 | 12.9 | 17.12 (114)
GWS Giants – 1.2 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.7 (25)
Tigers: Riewoldt 5, Martin 4, Lynch 2, Rioli, Pickett, Lambert, Soldo, Bolton, Cotchin
Giants: Cameron, Hopper, Himmelberg
Tigers: Houli 26, Vlastuin 22, Prestia 22, Martin 22
Giants: Taranto 30, Shaw 29, Haynes 24, Greene 23