SATURDAY'S AFL Grand Final will pit two teams with drastically different methods in 2017 premier Richmond and Greater Western Sydney against one another.
What they have in common is seriously significant star power at the top and an army of role players beneath them.
Without further ado, here are the questions and numbers that matter ahead of this year's decider.
What decided the clubs' two clashes this year?
The Tigers lost Jayden Short seven minutes into the game and Trent Cotchin barely played in the final term, while Giant Tommy Sheridan appeared for only 15 minutes. GWS outscored Richmond by 44 points from turnovers – the Tigers' worst result this season – and its 89 points from this source were the most against Damien Hardwick's side. The Giants also scored from 51.7 per cent of their inside 50s, which was better than any Richmond opponent in 2019, and won 62 more uncontested possessions (fourth-worst for Tigers).
Beating the Giants at their own game was the key here. The men in orange scored just 21 points from clearances (fourth-fewest in 2019) and from just 14 per cent of clearance wins (second-worst percentage in any game this season). On top of that, the Tigers scored from 26.5 per cent of their clearances, which equated to the equal-third-best percentage in any match this year. Richmond racked up 34 points from defensive-50 chains – its most this season and the highest number GWS conceded – while scoring from 49.2 per cent of inside 50s. That latter effort was the equal-second-best percentage by a Giants opponent.
Which player on each team has been the statistical star in September?
Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin might have been a bit hampered on Friday night, but he's been crucial in the Tigers' two finals wins. Martin's 9.5 score involvements per match and involvement in 40 per cent of scores are No.1 at Richmond. His average scoreboard impact of 29 points is second in the finals behind only Eagle Jamie Cripps' 29.5. Fast-rising onballer Jacob Hopper is proving to be the Giants' Mr September. Hopper ranks first at GWS for disposals (25.7), contested possessions (15.7) and clearances (5.7) during the finals.
Who are the unsung heroes?
David Astbury: Has won 40 per cent of his defensive one-on-one contests, ranked eighth of the top-75 one-on-one defenders.
Nick Vlastuin: The Tigers defender has amassed the fourth-most intercepts in the AFL this season.
Jason Castagna: His 36 forward-50 groundball-gets this year ranked equal 25th in comp.
Greater Western Sydney
Brent Daniels: Has more goal assists than any other player this year and ranks 16th for forward-50 groundball-gets.
Heath Shaw: The ex-Pie's been outmarked in only three of his 51 defensive one-on-one contests this season, which is the eighth-best result of the top-75 one-on-one defenders.
Matt De Boer: His 10 centre clearances during the finals is the equal-most of any footballer.
What difference will Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield and Stephen Coniglio make?
Greene (suspension) is certain to return, reigning club champion Whitfield (appendicitis) is highly likely to and Coniglio is a 50-50 shot. That's an enormous amount of quality potentially coming into the Greater Western Sydney line-up on Grand Final day. They are all influential in generating the Giants' scoring opportunities when they play.
Which Tiger should Giants stopper Matt de Boer tag?
De Boer is the AFL's No.1 tagger and kept Dustin Martin to 15 goalless touches in round three but was absent for the round 17 rematch. Martin's frustration boiled over to the point he was suspended for an off-the-ball strike to de Boer's teammate Adam Kennedy. The 2017 Brownlow and Norm Smith medallist is the most common tagging target at Punt Road. He's had six 40-plus-minute match-ups this season and his output is 40 per cent down on those occasions. On the other hand, Dion Prestia – another potential option for de Boer's attention – has had only two such match-ups, against Luke Parker and Liam Shiels. Interestingly, Prestia performed 75 per cent better than usual in those circumstances. The only other Tiger to cop a tag in 2019 was Shane Edwards, who comfortably handled Blue Ed Curnow.
Will Richmond's turnover talents or the Giants' stoppage superiority prevail?
As pointed out at the top, these teams succeed in very different ways. Richmond generates 65.6 per cent of its scores from turnovers (No.1 in the AFL), whereas GWS scores just 51 per cent from this source (18th). The Giants make up for that by producing 45 per cent of their points from clearances (No.1) compared to the Tigers' 31 per cent (18th). Richmond has won all 13 games when it outscored the opposition from clearances and is 16 from 17 in matches where they rack up more points from turnovers than its rival. GWS' respective numbers are 14 from 16 and 11 from 11.
Game winning percentages
SCORE MORE FROM TURNOVERS
SCORE MORE FROM CLEARANCES
How can Greater Western Sydney win?
In simple terms, the Giants' hopes will skyrocket if they are up at quarter-time. They have a perfect record from 11 games this season when they lead at the first break. GWS is also unbeaten in 2019 when it: outscores the opposition from turnovers (11 matches), has more metres gained (13) and scores more accurately (10). Other key performance indicators for the Giants are higher disposal efficiency (11 wins from 12 contests) and out-pressuring the opposition (10 from 11).
How can Richmond win?
Sobering for the Giants' record when they have a fast start is the fact the Tigers have won 15 of 16 games when they win the second quarter and all 14 times they've won the third term. The 'premiership' quarter could be pivotal, with Richmond having a 3-7 record when it loses that period. Away from the quarter-based statistics, the Tigers are unbeaten when they: have more metres gained (16 matches), outscore the opposition from clearances (13), and win more disposals (12), uncontested possessions (11), contested possessions (six) and clearances (four).
Statistics provided by Champion Data