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BARRETT: It's showtime for Dusty's Tigers and Toby's Giants

Dustin Martin and Toby Greene will take centre stage in the Grand Final - AFL,Tag-Opinion,column,Richmond Tigers,GWS Giants,Dustin Martin,Toby Greene
Dustin Martin and Toby Greene will take centre stage in the Grand Final

THE CLUB with everything to lose versus the one with nothing to lose.

The club with a 134-year history against the one with just eight years of AFL life.

REVENGE ON THEIR MINDS Can Tiger-flavoured Giants make up for 2017 heartbreak? 

The club with Dusty versus the one with Toby.

It's not the Grand Final match-up anyone expected, but in so many ways, Richmond-GWS presents as the perfect 2019 finale.

Jack Riewoldt celebrates a goal in the round 17 win over the Giants. Picture: AFL Photos

There is intrigue everywhere, even a possibility of a player making his AFL debut. Should the Tigers determine that Jack Graham's popped shoulder is too risky to take into a Grand Final, then Marlion Pickett has mounted a very strong case for inclusion after a six-week VFL stint, culminating with a best-afield performance in the VFL Grand Final on Sunday.

FIRST IN 67 YEARS? Tiger bolter pushes for GF debut

Richmond has been the dominant team of the past three seasons, but a loss in the Grand Final would leave it with just one premiership in that period.

GWS was a Grand Final afterthought as recently as the Saturday afternoon start time of its preliminary final against Collingwood. But one of the most courageous finals wins in VFL/AFL history has convinced the Giants they belong in this weekend's match.

With Greene and Lachie Whitfield to be added to the preliminary final-winning team – Greene after a controversial suspension and Whitfield after emergency appendicitis surgery last week – fresh, top-shelf, worrying-for-Richmond class will be added to the Giants' mix.

It is unlikely Stephen Coniglio will be given medical clearance to return for his first match after a knee injury suffered in round 17. But the Tigers have long known they would be without their best player, Alex Rance, balancing out the injury ledger in this match.

The forward lines of both sides pose massive problems for opponents, Tom Lynch and Jeremy Cameron spearheading the respective line-ups. Both are in sparkling form and were crucial to preliminary finals wins.

Lynch's 61 goals from his 24 matches has helped cover the injury and form issues of Jack Riewoldt (19 goals from 12 matches in 2019).

Tom Lynch celebrates in front of a heaving Richmond crowd on Friday night. Picture: AFL Photos

Giants key defenders in Nick Haynes and Phil Davis have been crucial all season, and their roles on Saturday will shape the result.

Haynes may be the most underrated player in the competition.

Nick Haynes juggles the ball ahead of Josh Thomas on Saturday. Picture: AFL Photos

Then there's the swagger, the celebrity, the box office of Dusty and Toby.

Martin has been to this day before, resoundingly leading his Tigers to a win against Adelaide in 2017 and winning the Norm Smith Medal.

Greene hasn't, but he was born for this stage. Suspended from the preliminary final after consecutive weeks of roughing up the opposition's best player (Marcus Bontempelli in an elimination final and Lachie Neale in a semi-final), he will almost certainly, in his own smug way – and I'm not using that description as a negative – attempt to get inside the minds of Martin and Trent Cotchin.

 

In a match full of intrigue, Greene is the AFL's most intriguing player.

And if Dusty is Brad Pitt at the box office, then Toby is Leonardo DiCaprio.

Once Upon A Time At The MCG … coming to your screens this Saturday.

A mistake is a mistake

Not sure what was worse.

The failure of the AFL Review Centre to detect Giant Lachie Keeffe's finger touching the ball kicked by Pie Josh Thomas in the last quarter of Saturday's preliminary final. 

Or the bet-each-way public explanation delivered on Sunday about the error, which saw Thomas' kick awarded a goal.

The ARC was belatedly introduced to the AFL match-day machinations to protect the game from this very moment – a goal incorrectly being awarded at a key time of a high-stakes match. The system, just three weeks old, failed at its first point of stress, which is a worry from a Grand Final perspective.

Paraphrasing a four-paragraph explanation released the day after the mistake, the AFL statement effectively read: "The ball was touched but the reviewer applied correct process."

The official statement was spin, a cop-out. It should have called it for what it was, an error, and it should have read: "The ARC got it wrong with the Thomas review." 

The AFL dodged a bullet with the ramifications of the error, simply because Collingwood lost.

Twitter: @barrettdamian

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