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Five things we learned: Chris Scott, you were wrong

Highlights: Richmond v Geelong The Tigers and Cats clash in the second preliminary final
1. Chris Scott, you were wrong

Geelong coach Chris Scott engaged in some mind games in the lead up to the clash by declaring the Tigers weren't as good as they were last year despite winning their previous 10 games. If the Tigers aren't better, then they are certainly hungrier, which they demonstrated emphatically in the second half after clawing back from a 21-point deficit at half-time. The dim prospect of losing a second successive preliminary final after being hot favourites on both occasions just wasn't an option for Damien Hardwick's driven team as it seeks redemption for its 2018 failure. The Tigers will take on the winner of Saturday’s twilight preliminary final between Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney and will enter the game as the favoured team. Meanwhile, since Scott guided the Cats to the 2011 premiership they have won just four of their past 15 finals.

2. This is why Lynch became a Tiger

In eight years on the Gold Coast, Tom Lynch never came within a tiger's roar of playing a final. In his first season at Richmond, the former Suns co-captain has now played two finals and starred in one at a packed MCG. The power forward bagged five goals and looms as a potential matchwinner in next week's Grand Final. Lynch's first four goals came at the Punt Road end – two in the space of a minute in the first quarter, and two more in a superb third term in which he also missed a regulation set shot and gave another major to Dion Prestia to give Richmond the momentum by the last change. His fifth put Richmond 11 points up midway through the last quarter. The 26-year-old clunked big marks, led hard and moved freely. His early-season knee issues, after a limited pre-season, seem an eternity ago.

TIGERS INTO ANOTHER GF Full match coverage and stats

3. 'Razor Ray' isn't afraid to make a big call on the big stage

Just before half-time Geelong led by 15 points and could easily have been five goals up. A Jason Castagna set-shot conversion had broken a run of five successive goals by the Cats when umpire Ray Chamberlain made a courageous decision. After a marking contest 50 metres from Geelong's goal, Chamberlain blew his whistle to award a free kick to Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield. However, Tiger defender Bachar Houli believed he was the beneficiary and beckoned his skipper Trent Cotchin to give him the ball, and Cotchin obliged. Chamberlain's whistle sounded again and he delivered a 50-metre penalty and the easiest of goals for Dangerfield to the boos of Tigers fans. Late in the third term Chamberlain again incurred the wrath of the yellow-and-black army when he failed to award an apparently obvious 50-metre penalty when Tiger Tom Lynch was lining up from the arc.

 
4. Tomahawk's absence made the Cats less predictable

Following Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins' one-game suspension, there was much discussion about how the Cats would restructure their attack. And there appeared several potential options to partner high-leaping youngster Esava Ratugolea, including redeploying superstar midfielder Patrick Dangerfield or flexible veterans Harry Taylor or Lachie Henderson. The job went to Henderson, who was recalled for just his sixth AFL appearance this season and he enjoyed some good moments, kicking an important goal on the three-quarter-time siren. The major feature in the Cats' forward half, apart from the aerial threat presented by Ratugolea, was the enterprise of their smalls, led by Gryan Miers (two first-quarter goals) and Tim Kelly (31 possessions and three goals), both of whom were among the game's top three players in the first half.

5. Wounded Tigers are warriors

If Richmond was going to win it was probably always going to be narrowly given their injury woes. Early in the first term defensive runner Jack Graham suffered a dislocated right shoulder. After going down into the rooms for treatment for about 20 minutes the youngster returned to ensure his team wasn't down a rotation. There was a concern in the third term when captain Trent Cotchin hurt his lower leg after a collision with Cats skipper Joel Selwood, but Cotchin also fought on despite being sore. Also in the third quarter defender Nathan Broad copped a knock to head and didn't play any further part. Graham appears highly unlikely to play in the Grand Final while Broad will be monitored closely.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs