Not many people tipped this as the Grand Final match-up at the start of the year, and even fewer thought it would happen mid-season when both clubs were beset by injuries. Richmond dropped as low as ninth before the bye, but has won an astonishing 11 consecutive games, the second-best streak in club history. Greater Western Sydney has done it the hard way to qualify for the Grand Final, finishing sixth and defeating the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane and Collingwood on the way to the decider. Both sides play high-pressure games with fierce tackling a feature, meaning composure will be the key to premiership glory.
WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday, September 28, 2.30pm AEST
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Richmond was the closest it had been to full-strength to that point of the season, while GWS lost important playmaker Stephen Coniglio to a knee injury. The Tigers got off to a hot start, keeping the Giants to just two points in the first term while kicking four goals of their own, and were never headed.
It was the Jeremy show as Cameron and Finlayson combined for a whopping 12 goals against an undermanned Richmond defence. The Giants kicked six goals to two in the second term to break the game apart. Matt De Boer comfortably nullified Dustin Martin, while Kane Lambert and Dion Prestia battled hard.
LAST FIVE TIMES
Rd 17, 2019, Richmond 13.16 (94) d GWS 9.13 (67) at the MCG
Rd 3, 2019, GWS 19.11 (125) d Richmond 10.16 (76) at Giants Stadium
Rd 17, 2018, GWS 11.13 (79) d Richmond 10.17 (77) at Giants Stadium
2PF, 2017, Richmond 15.13 (103) d GWS 9.13 (67) at the MCG
Rd 18, 2017, Richmond 9.10 (64) d GWS 6.9 (45) at the MCG
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The influence of the classy Shane Edwards (16th overall in AFL Player Ratings) in crucial moments. He is often thrown in the middle when the game needs a spark. Watch his hands closely, he has a tendency to set up teammates in space with clever flicks and handballs.
2. Richmond’s forward-line set-up is a changing beast, with one of Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt or Dustin Martin as the deepest forward. The constant movement can often catch opposition defences off-guard and force mismatches.
3. The Tigers are statistically the worst clearance side, averaging 34 a match, while the Giants are the best with 42. Richmond is used to playing this way, backing its strong defence to rebound and set up attacking forays.
Greater Western Sydney
1. Richmond may pride itself on its strong defensive unit, but the Giants’ is potentially even better. Phil Davis, Nick Haynes, Sam Taylor and Heath Shaw are all strong intercept markers and work well as a unit to cover each other’s players.
2. Jeremy Cameron (58th overall in the AFL Player Ratings) has had a strong recent record against Richmond, booting 10 goals from 49 disposals in two matches this year. He missed the 2017 preliminary final between these two sides with a hamstring complaint.
3. The Giants are one of the best running sides in the competition, and have good depth in the area too, as evidenced by Zac Williams’ successful stint on the wing in the preliminary final. Lachie Whitfield is also poised to return from appendix surgery.
Dustin Martin v Matt De Boer
Martin was rattled in round three, lashing out and striking Adam Kennedy while being held to just 15 disposals by De Boer. The Giant was sidelined with a collarbone injury the last time the two sides met, with Martin jumping to 25 touches.
IT’S A BIG WEEK FOR…
Jack Riewoldt (Richmond)
An uncharacteristically quiet prelim from the Tigers spearhead, missing two late goals with poor set shots, but he did set up several majors for teammates. Riewoldt will be champing at the bit to get on the scoreboard in the biggest game of all.
Toby Greene (GWS)
All eyes are on Toby (pun intended) on his return from a contentious one-week suspension. When Greene is at his best, he is one of the most damaging players in the competition, but he also has a self-destructive streak.
Bachar Houli was unlucky to miss the 2017 Norm Smith and is currently in red-hot form, cherry ripe for a best-on-ground performance.
MOTTSY’s TIP: Richmond by 20 points
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