After a third term when we seized the initiative and Geelong seized up, I watched the last huddle of the season with rapt impatience. We could probably win this without Riewoldt or Lynch but it would sure help if they joined in. Nank got things off to a flyer with a splendid 55 metre pass down Lynch’s throat; but nothing came of it. Then there was this handpass.
Toby is such an unassuming gun footballer. Matt Zurbo used to coach him and wrote this fantastic piece in the Almanac earlier in Grand Final week, inspired by his outstanding prelim final performance against Port.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
For one so young, Baker is a serious finals performer. He kicks a genius submarine pass to Riewoldt who’s in acres of space in forward 50, and via quick ungainly transfers it goes through Graham, George, and Lambert to Prestia running along the boundary, who goals from near the point post [Bruce credits it to Graham]. Really only the last pass was cultured and conventionally accurate. 52-44, we have six of the last seven goals.
Astbury is putting on a masterclass for any defenders with a daunting match-up. Hawkins looks like Micky Conlan would if he was scaled up to the height of John Ironmonger. But there’s something early-Richo-like about Hawkins’ lack of resilience in games. Miss a shot early and they are almost a liability. Now Astbury is rag-dolled out of the way but Hawkins drops the ball; and in there I am crediting Astbury with making it just hard enough for mentally-gone Hawkins to fail.Embed from Getty Images
Geelong are not putting anything together. Their isolation from each other is Crows-at-the-2017-anthem-like. Making a very rare inside 50, Gryan Miers gallops forward, chased by Houli at calf-tearing pace, and kicks while too far out with no mates there to catch it, so Broad does.
Shai flashes into the game with a mark, play on, and astonishing stop-start mosquito run that gives him space to bomb it to Lynch in the square. Tom is on the board, 59-44 and the margin really feels like more.
Soon Cotch is lining up for another one after taking possession and going looking for Harry Taylor’s elbow with his head in classic Selwood fashion. 45m out on a steep angle we know he is no chance but the comms are quite excited that he might be getting us one goal away from being uncatchable. He misses.
Shorty is having a hell of a game. Everything he does has a lightness to it. He is probably the model rebounding halfback in the game now. Look at this kick, the physics of it is beautiful.
Dusty is front and centre all on his own and kicks his third after barely shrugging to dislodge O’Connor’s tackle, and its 66-44. He stretches his jumper in celebration. Hard to see where a Cats goal will come from. Hard to remember how they got to a grand final. This quarter the umps are giving them nothing; we are getting all the line ball calls and getting away with murder at times. Eg Nank takes the ball out of the ruck, gets caught: another ball up.
Now the Cats go forward and Menegola marks bravely running with the ball but unfortunately poleaxing Sam Simpson. He’s out cold and there’s a 7-minute delay, while TV replays the incident in stomach-churning detail.Embed from Getty Images
The teams get into huddles, but the Cats break up quite quickly and seem to all be staring into their personal darknesses alone. Meanwhile the cameras catch the Tiges in 3s and 4s talking animatedly. That’s winning and losing I suppose. But there are nearly 8 minutes left on the clock and only 22 points in it.
After an eternity Sam Menegola kicks the goal professionally, and I was really happy for him that he did, in these circumstances.
As Simpson is placed on the cart the spidercam shows a few Tigers come over and wish him well.
Riewoldt kicks a point, then we have five minutes where we look wobbly. Not like we are going to lose, but not like a team that “can do no wrong”. We can do wrong.
Danger is trying to rally his side by staging, really flopping about looking for high contact. As noted above he is not the only player doing this.
Stewart has been Geelong’s best, and he is trying to rally his side by kicking very very long and accurately.
Baker has had a great game, now with amazing fingertip control he manages to slam ball on boot and hit Riewoldt lace out. Jack nails the shot from the boundary 48m out, and gets the crazy eyes in the celebration. 90 seconds to go.Embed from Getty Images
Now Martin kicks his 4th. The hapless Rhys Stanley fumbles again and again while running out towards Danger in the pocket. He finally gets away something like a handpass to Danger, but it’s plucked right off his hands by the sharking Martin, also running towards the boundary.Embed from Getty Images
He stops, shrugs off Dangerfield who is rotating around him like a naughty kid on a Hills Hoist; and just hooks it through for one of the all-time great poacher’s goals. 80-50.
There’s time for Riewoldt to clunk another one. His set shot is always missing as Brian intones “Riewoldt is on target…”. BT’s dedication to being clearly wrong has been a real 4-quarter effort.
By now Richmond staff are massing on the boundary. Unlike the sight of happy players, even very happy players, seeing happy coaches hugging and high-fiving is very rare. For Richmond people to have been able to enjoy that sight twice more after the delirious breakthrough of 2017, is really special.
Richmond 2.1(13) 3.2(20) 7.4(46) 12.9(81)
Geelong 2.2(14) 5.5(35) 6.8(42) 7.8.(50)
It’s taken me ages to write up this game, so first apologies for that. In 2017 I designed a bumper sticker as part of my celebrations of the win. In 2019 and 2020 I had to follow up with new ones, and both times it really got in the way of me celebrating the win; having this job to do with people waiting. Knowing that we are certainly still in the mix to win more premierships, I’m going to announce now that that’s the end of my premiership merch career. The 17, 19 and 20 items will stay on sale for anyone who wants one; but I think there are plenty of other people doing wonderful designs and I will leave it to them to cover our 2021
three-peat hat trick and our subsequent flags.
5: Dustin Martin – Australian Rules’ greatest ever big game player. His first three goals were each desperately needed footholds as we clung onto the mountain; his fourth was just the perfect celebration of our total mastery of Geelong. Dusty has again taken out the Benny with 41 votes.
4: Jayden Short – had 25 touches including 18 exquisite kicks, made 7 inside 50s and laid 6 tackles.
3: Shane Edwards – 27 touches, covered every blade of grass, a quiet leader
2: Toby Nankervis – followed up last week with another complete ruck performance, 6 tackles.
1: Shai Bolton – just a highlight package isn’t he? Had some glorious moments, 7 tackles. And he is runner-up in the 2020 Benny.
18: Grimes, Vlastuin, Graham
13: Lambert, Edwards
10: Riewoldt, Baker
9: McIntosh, Prestia
7: Pickett, Nankervis
6: Soldo, Lynch
5: Higgins, Eggmolesse-Smith, Chol
1: Castagna, Astbury
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy for Tackles
This year won by Jack Graham with 72