Despite going in as underdog, Geelong will be feeling confident they have what it takes to knock off Richmond to win the 2020 Premiership after dominant wins in their past two finals. It will be a strange Grand Final – the first to be played at night and the first away from the MCG since Angry Anderson sang ‘Bound for Glory’ alongside the bat mobile at Waverly Park in 1991.
Richmond were the first team to book their place in the big dance with a gutsy six point win over Port Adelaide in wet conditions at Adelaide Oval on Friday night. Dustin Martin (21 disposals, two goals) again showed he is a big game player and will be looking to add to his two Norm Smith Medals on Saturday. He kicked the opening goal with a clean take at speed and a right-foot snap and finished with 21 possessions and two majors. Noah Balta played the most important game of his short career, keeping Charlie Dixon to a single goal and not allowing him to provide the spark Port’s forward line desperately needed. Balta will likely match up on Tom Hawkins at the Gabba and will hoping to keep the Coleman Medallist just as quiet.
Geelong were convincing winners over a disappointing Brisbane side to complete the Grand Final match up. Gary Rohan booted three goals and Tom Hawkins also kicked two in a strong forward performance, while the Cats’ midfield unit of Mitch Duncan (22 disposals), Sam Menegola (19) and Dangerfield (17) provided the forwards with plenty of opportunity. Tom Stewart in defence was also among the Cats’ best.
The two Grand Finalists last met in Round 17 at Metricon Stadium where Richmond were too good for an out-of-sorts Geelong to record a 26 point win. Jack Riewoldt was important for the Tigers, kicking four goals, but it was otherwise an even performance from the reigning premiers, with Dustin Martin (19 disposals), Shai Bolton (18) and Jayden Short (16) also busy in the tight affair. Tom Stewart was among Geelong’s best but it was a lacklustre showing from the Cats key forwards and midfielders – something they will look to avenge at the Gabba this Saturday.
Staging the season decider at the Gabba will advantage Geelong, having won their five matches at the ground by an average margin of eight goals this season. Richmond will be less familiar with their surroundings, electing to play their semi final against St Kilda closer to ‘home’ at Metricon Stadium.
The best player for both teams come from a similar mould – tall, strong bodied midfielders who drift forward to kick goals at crucial times. The performances of Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield will be instrumental in determining who wins the 2020 Premiership. Martin will play in his third Grand Final, while Dangerfield will finally get to play in his first. Dangerfield has looked hungry in recent weeks and a premiership medal is one of very few accomplishments he is yet to tick off.
The Grand Final will be a battle of two established groups – a Geelong team that has repeatedly put itself in contention but fallen short in preliminary finals and a ruthless Richmond hunting for its third flag in four seasons. Geelong have looked particularly impressive in the past fortnight, while Richmond had a scrappy win against Port and will need to lift to overcome Geelong.
Geelong by 13-24 points
Norm Smith Medal: Patrick Dangerfield