The marathon that has been the 2020 AFL season will finally draw to a close when Richmond and Geelong battle it out for the premiership.
Both teams have faced similar challenges this year and spent over 100 days in their respective Queensland hubs.
Richmond won its place by travelling to Adelaide and taking down minor premier Port Adelaide in an intense preliminary final that was decided by a goal.
As is often the case, Dustin Martin was the difference, as he continued to prove his case as one of the best finals performers in the history of the game. The star midfielder had 21 disposals but was most damaging when going forward where he kicked two goals.
Kane Lambert also booted a couple of goals for the Tigers, both coming in the final quarter when the game was on the line.
Geelong’s path to the Grand Final was slightly cruisier, as it took down Brisbane at the Gabba, coming away with a 40-point win. It trailed by five points at half-time but put the foot down from there, holding the Lions to two second half goals while kicking seven themselves in that period.
Tom Hawkins was again dangerous and kicked 2.3, while both Gary Rohan (three goals) and Ablett (two goals) caused plenty of problems for Brisbane’s defence.
As it often does, Geelong dominated possession (+65 disposals, +26 uncontested marks and +18 inside 50’s). The Cats were able to generate plenty of shots at goal, and probably should’ve won by more.
It shapes up to be a cracking Grand Final with plenty of great storylines on either side. After having done pretty much everything else in his career, Patrick Dangerfield will finally play in his first Grand Final. Gary Ablett will be playing in his fourth, in what will be his 357th and final AFL game.
Richmond will be attempting to win its third premiership in four years and will go into Saturday night’s decider as deserved favourites. The Tigers have dealt with numerous injury problems throughout the season and also missed star players Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli for long periods due to personal reasons.
These teams last played on September 11th, when Richmond came away 26-point winners. Geelong had kicked just one goal to three quarter time, and Richmond’s 22 scoring shots to the Cats’ 11 probably paints a clearer picture of the game.
Jack Riewoldt had one of his best games for the season, kicking four goals while carrying the load up forward with Tom Lynch missing with a hamstring injury.
Ivan Soldo (ACL injury) is the only player that’s clearly in Richmond’s best 22 that will be missing, with fringe players Sydney Stack (suspension) and Jack Higgins (calf) also unavailable.
Jack Steven (hamstring) is the only Cat to have played in 2020 currently on the injury list, but that being said, he had fallen out of favour late in the season and tweaked his hamstring playing in a scratch match.
As it has been proven consistently throughout the season, anything is possible, and nothing is off the table come Saturday night. After having won two of the past three flags, it’s very hard to tip against Richmond but hopefully this is a cracking contest and the 2020 season finishes on a high note.
Richmond by 13-24 points.