For the first time since 2011, two Victorian teams will meet in a Toyota AFL Grand Final. And it proves to be a corker more than 1600km away from the MCG. Two of their generation's best players Dustin Martin (Richmond) and Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) will go head-to-head, while rival spearheads Tom Lynch and Tom Hawkins will lead their respective attacks. The Tigers are chasing their third premiership in four years in what would rubberstamp one of the most remarkable dynasties in the modern game. At the Cats, champion Gary Ablett is looking to finish his epic 357-game career with a third flag.
WHERE AND WHEN: Gabba, Saturday October 24, 6.30pm AEST (local), 7.30pm AEDT
WEATHER: Brisbane is expected to reach a maximum of 28c throughout the day with a 40 per cent chance of rain from late morning.
HOW MANY WILL BE THERE? Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the crowd has been capped at 30,000. After corporate tickets and members were allotted seats, tickets went on sale to the general public Tuesday and sold out within 20 minutes.
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
ENTERTAINMENT (split pre-game and half-time): Rising rock trio DMA'S will headline a contingent of Australian artists that includes Cub Sport, Sheppard, Electric Fields, Wolfmother lead singer Andrew Stockdale and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
WHO WILL PRESENT THE CUP AND MEDALS? World No.1 tennis player and Tigers fan Ash Barty will present the cup to Richmond if successful, while Geelong champion Ian Nankervis is in line to take the honours should the Cats salute. 2004 Norm Smith medallist Byron Pickett will present this year's medal, while dual Adelaide premiership coach Malcolm Blight will hand over the Jock McHale Medal to the winning coach.
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Round 17: Richmond 7.15 (57) d Geelong 4.7 (31)
The Tigers' manic pressure kept the Cats to their lowest score of the season. Emerging youngster Shai Bolton collected three Brownlow Medal votes for his 18 disposals on a night Jack Riewolt kicked four majors. The Cats were without Joel Selwood, Rhys Stanley, Gary Rohan and Gary Ablett, while the Tigers were missing Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia and David Astbury.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Tigers' extra emphasis on winning the clearances compared to round 17. Despite winning that night over the Cats, they lost the stoppage count by 16. The Tigers were ranked 17th in the competition for clearance differential (-5.6) during the home and away season but have jumped to become the No.1 team this finals series with an average of +4.7 on their opponents. On the flipside, the Tigers have gone from the best team in scoring from opposition turnovers (45.4 points per game) to the third-worst in finals with 29.7 points per game.
Can the Cats avoid being sucked into Richmond's pressure and get the game on their terms? The Cats love to control possession but it's gone to a new level during finals with an average of 76 more disposals per game compared to their opponents. While the Cats recorded 32 more touches than the Tigers in round 17, most were while over-possessing trying to get out of trouble. For example, Mitch Duncan had 83 per cent of his touches in the defensive half compared to his season average of 56. There will also be a strong focus on who takes Dustin Martin. When he's forward expect Jake Kolodjashnij or Tom Stewart to get the job and in the midfield it is likely to be split between Cam Guthrie and Brandan Parfitt.
WHAT THE STATS SAY
- The Tigers defenders have been on song this finals series. Dylan Grimes has won six of 10 on-on-one contests to be the No.1 ranked player the category, while Nathan Broad, Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short are yet to lose a one-on-one contest.
- The second-best team for turning rebound 50s into forward 50s during the season at 26.4 per cent per exit, the Tigers have been clogged up in the finals, dropping to 13 per cent.
- Between the two sides, Dustin Martin and Joel Selwood have enjoyed the biggest jump between their home and away season and finals for this year. Martin's Champion Data average player rating has ballooned from 12.6 to 20.1 and Selwood's 8.3 to 13.
- Martin is vying to become the first player in history to win the Norm Smith Medal for a third time. The superstar has two medals along with Hawthorn legends Luke Hodge and Gary Ayres, as well as Adelaide champion Andrew McLeod.
- The Cats are unbeaten from five matches at the Gabba this season with an average winning margin of 53 points. The Tigers are 2-1, losing their last game at the venue in the qualifying final to Brisbane.
- The top-five players for retention of kicks inside forward 50 this finals series belong to the Cats. The Cats have retained 77.8 per cent of Sam Menegola's kicks with Gary Rohan (71.4), Luke Dahlhaus (71.4), Mitch Duncan (70) and Gary Ablett (66.7) the next best.
- Selwood is aiming to become the club's first four-time premiership player. Selwood and Ablett are the only remaining members from the 2007 flag.
- Should the Cats win, Ablett (2009-2020) will hold the third longest stint between flags after Drew Banfield (1994-2006) and Doug Wade (1963-1975).
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
After a quiet 2019 season, Jack Riewoldt exploded in last year's decider with five majors. Can he do it again on Saturday night off a similar form line? Riewoldt has kicked three goals and had just 16 disposals from his three finals to date but will again be an important cog alongside Tom Lynch in attack.
Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield has spoken openly in recent times about not being fulfilled as a player until he wins a premiership. Now at age 30, he gets his chance. Dangerfield starred as a forward in the semi-final win over Collingwood but was quiet by his standards in last week's preliminary final. Don't expect it to last on Saturday night.
PREDICTION: Richmond by five points, only splitting the two teams by the round 17 result.