The AFL grand final treated viewers to a great intense match as the players left everything on the field with plenty of heavy casualties and physical battles.
Geelong had no answer in the second half to stop Richmond’s resurgence and after the result had a few days to simmer down, here are my takeaways from the game.
Dustin Martin is the GOAT
Dusty proved to the world that we are witnessing greatness before our very eyes. After Richmond trailed heading into halftime, the Tigers needed a lift to come back against Geelong.
In comes Martin who takes over the game and kicks a total of four goals for the match which were momentum changing. That would lead the Tigers to their third flag in four years.
As a result, Martin won his third Norm Smith Medal, and he is the first player in AFL history to do so. His ability to work and weave around the midfield while kicking timely goals has been instrumental to Richmond’s success. His strength and skills are unmatched, and he makes the game look so easy.
In all three grand final appearances and victories, Martin has averaged 24 disposals while kicking ten goals and two behinds. Amazing and consistent. He definitely has been the driving force behind Richmond’s dynasty in the recent years.
Dustin Martin. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
Richmond put the clamps defensively on Geelong
While lots of talk of Dustin Martin being a game changer will be mentioned and rightfully so, it was Richmond’s relentless pressure that was the catalyst of their resurgence.
Richmond made 73 tackles to Geelong’s 51 and really put the clamps on limiting the disposals and clearances from the Geelong midfield. Richmond usually love pushing the ball and bombing it forward to get as many inside 50s as possible. But this time, the Tigers had turned defence into attack.
Geelong had no answer and were suffocated from Richmond’s swarming defence. Everyone was getting involved for the Tigers as six players had at least five tackles or more led by Shai Bolton, Toby Nankervis and Jayden Short.
Geelong’s midfield did not show up
The Cats had a great first half and positioned themselves to win the flag however when they were needed in the second half, the midfield had crumbled.
Richmond placed relentless pressure around the ball and Geelong could not cope. The Cats looked helpless and couldn’t generate quality attacking opportunities. Richmond had 27 inside 50s and kicked nine goals compared to Geelong’s 17 inside 50s and two goals in the second half.
There were just no answers against a quality team in Richmond.
The likes of Cameron Guthrie, Patrick Dangerfield, Zach Tuohy, Sam Menegola and Tom Hawkins severely underperformed.
They were all under their average for number of disposals in the game and it also didn’t help that Gary Ablett Jr had an injury early in the contest.
The Richmond Dynasty is here to stay
It shouldn’t be far-fetched to say that the Tigers will still be contenders in 2021 as they look to go for a three-peat of championships. In terms of contract situations, Bachar Houli, Toby Nankervis and Nathan Broad are the most notable names off-contract for next season.
With Marlion Pickett potentially re-signing for another two years, the Tigers will have a majority of their core remaining.
The beauty of the team makeup for Richmond is that their roster is still fairly young. They only have three players over the age of 30 in Shane Edwards, Houli and Jack Riewoldt who are all quality players.
Geelong need to decide the direction of the franchise in the coming years
It’s the end of an era with Ablett Jr retiring in 2020. But more importantly, with an ageing roster, the Cats have important decisions regarding the future plans of the club.
Coming off contract for 2021 most notably is Tom Hawkins, Lachie Henderson, Brandan Parfitt, Zach Tuohy, Harry Taylor and Rhys Stanley. While Hawkins, Tuohy and Parfitt are most likely going to re-sign, the Cats need prepare for life after their ageing veterans move on.
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield will be well over 30 years of age in the coming seasons as well as Hawkins, Henderson, Tuohy and Taylor should they return. Whoever takes the reigns from these stars is yet to be seen.
With reports of Jeremy Cameron wanting to join the side, Geelong could continue to remain as contenders in the years to come.
It will be most interesting to see whether they will acquire quality players through trades or free agency.
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