GEELONG and Patrick Dangerfield have arrived as Toyota AFL Grand Final challengers to a Richmond team looking to cement its dynasty at the Gabba on Saturday. 

After three preliminary final losses in four years, the Cats broke through to set up the first all-Victorian AFL Grand Final since 2011, when Geelong last played in the decider.

The 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final will be a battle of two established groups – a Geelong team that has repeatedly put itself in contention but fallen short and a ruthless Richmond hunting for its third flag in four seasons. 

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There will be milestones everywhere and history beckoning when the teams run out at the Gabba, which will host its first Grand Final as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Such a central figure in this Richmond era, Trent Cotchin could become the only captain to lead the club to three VFL/AFL premierships, one week after playing his 250th match.


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Coach Damien Hardwick, who famously survived an external club review after a disastrous 2016 season, could now win a third flag and sit only behind Tom Hafey for premierships coached at Richmond. 

It has been a challenging season for the Tigers, who left their homes and have spent more than 100 days in the Queensland hub, playing just four games at the MCG this season. 

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Embarrassing off-field incidents have punctuated their season, but they steadied in the run to finals and are in control of their game after a brutal preliminary final win against Port Adelaide. 

A 13th VFL/AFL flag would deliver the dynasty that CEO Brendon Gale predicted 10 years ago as part of a bold vision for the club's renaissance.  

It would also see them join the Brisbane Lions (2001, 2002, 2003), Geelong (2007, 2009, 2011) and Hawthorn (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015) as one of the great teams of the modern era. 

Then there is Dustin Martin, the Norm Smith medallist in the club's previous two premierships and a champion who has established himself as one of the game's greatest big-game performers. 

Friday night's preliminary final opened up for the Tigers whenever Martin had the ball. He kicked the opening goal with a clean take at speed and a right-foot snap and finished with 21 possessions and two majors. 

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Geelong's backline was magnificent against the Lions, but finding an answer for Martin on the biggest stage will be a new challenge. 

Dangerfield, in his fifth season at Geelong after crossing from Adelaide at the end of 2015, will finally have his opportunity in a Grand Final. 

The Cats have lost preliminary finals to Sydney (2016), Adelaide (2017) and Richmond (2019) since Dangerfield's arrival, but they have persisted. 

Eyes on the prize: Patrick Dangerfield will play in his first Grand Final next weekend. Picture: AFL Photos

The 2016 Brownlow medallist will be a central figure in the Grand Final, with intrigue around how he splits his time between midfield and forward. 

The 30-year-old has willed his team forward through this finals series, but the Cats got the job done on Saturday night without an outstanding performance from him. 

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Champion Gary Ablett, meanwhile, was influential with two third-quarter goals, progressing to his fourth Grand Final after playing in the Cats' 2007 and 2009 flags and 2008 loss. 

Strong, clean and reliable against the Lions, the dual Brownlow medallist is expected to retire at the end of his 19th season. Watching him play one last time will be something for fans to savour. 

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Geelong's warrior leader Joel Selwood will also be celebrated as he captains the club for the 200th time.  

The circumstances of a season like no other initially framed this for some as a premiership that would have an asterisk next to it. 

But for Richmond and Geelong, this will be a monumental prize given all they have sacrificed and overcome.