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Five things we learned from Geelong v Richmond

Highlights: Geelong v Richmond The Cats and Tigers clash in Qualifying final 2

1. The Tigers are back and they're making a mighty noise
Richmond has booked a dream run to its first Grand Final since 1982 and the Tiger Army can dare to dream after years of torment. Lost finals between 2013-15 hung over this group like a black cloud, but they were banished to the past on Friday night as a new breed of Tigers stamped themselves as contenders. Richmond will play one of Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide or West Coast in an MCG preliminary final in two weeks and should be favoured to get through to the decider. Not only can the Tigers make it, they can win it. Their supporters turned the MCG into a cauldron, booing the Cats as they ran onto the ground and roaring on the final siren. The crowd of 95,028 was a weapon for the Tigers and their army will be deafening through September.

WATCH: The victorious Tigers scream out the song

The Tiger army greets its heroes after a famous victory at the MCG. Picture: Michael Willson

2. The Cats have a mountain to climb 
While Richmond bid farewell the monkey that had been sitting on its back, Geelong welcomed one. The Cats now have a 2-7 record in finals under Chris Scott since the 2011 premiership and they will be taking the long road to the Grand Final if they do get there. The Cats will be at home next week, but Sydney or Essendon loom as tough opponents. The Swans have won five of their past six clashes against the Cats, including a preliminary final last year, and the Swans progressing past the Bombers is the worst case scenario for Geelong, regardless of the venue.

Full match coverage and stats

3. Dustin Martin is worth every penny
Friday night's match needed a hero, and 'Dusty' knew it. He began asserting himself on the game late in the third quarter but he really got rolling at the start of the fourth. Every time he touched the ball he did something purposeful and the Cats had no answer for him. His highlight came when he fended off both Mitch Duncan and Tom Stewart 60m from goal before launching a bomb to Shaun Grigg in the goalsquare. It was the goal that broke the Cats' back and the Tigers went on a five-goal run. Martin's finals appearances have netted him 19, 29 and 21 possessions, but he has flourished as a superstar of the competition since his last September appearance. He had 28 with nine inside 50s and six clearances and will carry the Tigers on his shoulders through this month.

GAME-BREAKER: Super Dusty sticks a dagger in the Cats

 

4. Geelong needs to find some firepower 
The Cats made a controversial call in leaving Daniel Menzel out of Friday night's team and it didn't pay off. With 38 goals for the season – only behind Tom Hawkins (48) – Menzel would have given the Cats the spark they lacked inside 50. His absence stood out when the Cats were stranded on 0.4 late in the second quarter, with no-one capable of troubling a rock solid Tiger backline. With Hawkins roaming up the ground, Harry Taylor was the deep forward Geelong relied on, but Alex Rance easily had his measure. If the Cats are to avoid a straight-sets exit they need more firepower and Menzel shapes as the obvious answer. 

 

5. 'Dangerwood' kept the Cats in it
Geelong was on the ropes late in the second quarter, having kicked just 0.4 and facing a 21-point margin that seemed like so much more. While Steven Motlop's goal was the drought-breaker, what came next was the biggest moment of the first half. As the Tigers cleared the danger-zone deep in defence, Joel Selwood intercepted courageously and fed the ball to Patrick Dangerfield 50m from goal. Off a couple of steps, Dangerfield kicked a magnificent goal that cut the margin to just nine points. The Cats could have gone into half time with their spirit broken, such was the Tigers' dominance, but their midfield duo delivered. Dangerfield provided another highlight when he ran with the flight of the ball late in the third quarter to take a courageous mark. He finished with 31 touches in his 200th game.