The Richmond Tigers are heading into the finals looking to prove the road to the title runs through them.
Teams will be looking to prevent Richmond from winning the premiership for the third time in four years.
Realistically there are probably four teams with a chance to play spoiler to Richmond: Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong and West Coast.
Early on, the Tigers had their share of struggles, but they have stabilised to win 12 of their last 14 games. Every time a contender has faced them, Richmond have been able to win. They did suffer one loss, to the ladder-leading Port Adelaide back in Round 11 after a fourth-quarter collapse.
It will be interesting to see how teams will deal with Richmond’s surge mentality in the finals. The Tigers love to get the ball forward and try to play the game at their end of the field. Their best form of defence is their aggressive attack.
Richmond are one of the top teams in inside 50s and marks inside 50. They apply relentless pressure around the ball as they aim to suffocate teams and create scoring chances in their half.
Richmond have done well to overcome off-field adversity. Having dealt with backlash of some COVID-19 breaches, Damien Hardwick has got his team focused on the major goal.
“What I’ve been incredibly proud of is our resilience our players have shown. It’s been a completely different year,” Hardwick said speaking about the differences in the finals campaign from the past to now.
Richmond are one of the most complete sides in the AFL. Up front you can always rely on the tandem of Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch. Throw in X factors Dustin Martin and Jack Higgins and they have plenty of firepower going forward.
Duo Dylan Grimes and Dave Astbury have also done well to protect the Richmond backline. Meanwhile, Jayden Short has been the driving force in terms of gaining metres forward an having elite disposal and kick rates.
Just like the other top teams, Richmond’s midfield is also strong, as led by the likes of Shane Edwards, Kane Lambert and Dion Prestia. But one of the stories to watch is the emergence of youngster Shai Bolton. His development has been huge for Richmond as he provides the midfield with a dynamic edge.
Having suffered a few injuries, getting their players, including Astbury and Edwards, fit for finals has been huge for the team. Additionally, they expect Lynch, Bolton and Prestia to be ready for Week 1. It will certainly create some positive headaches for the Hardwick in picking his side
“There’s going to be some good players miss out, but your list has got to run deep to go as far as you can,” he said.
Overall, the make-up of their team puts Richmond up there in terms of talent. They aren’t afraid of anyone and they have tackled every challenge that has been thrown at them this season.
Who can step up and hamper the Richmond dynasty? With championship experience, the Tigers are hoping that they can outmatch their opponents both physically and mentally.