TWO OUT of three ain't bad, but three out of four is a whole other level.
Richmond has claimed back-to-back premierships, and made it three of the last four flags, after coming from behind to beat Geelong by 31 points in the historic first ever Toyota AFL Grand Final at the Gabba. It etched the Tiger dynasty into football history as one of the most dominant sides of this century.
TIGERS v CATS Full match coverage and stats
Dustin Martin, Richmond's inimitable, incredible midfielder, also made history by becoming the first player to win three Norm Smith Medals as the best on ground in the 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) win by booting four goals from 21 disposals.
The under lights Gabba clash had it all: injury carnage, a remarkable recovery, a comeback, two stretchers, pitch invaders, pyrotechnics and an entertainment package that will make the debate for day Grand Finals a harder sell in 2021.
UNFORGETTABLE Gabba delivers a night Grand Final to savour
But mainly it again illustrated the brilliance of Martin and the Tigers, who came from 15 points down at half-time to secure their 13th flag and first consecutive flag since their 1973-4 triumphs. It was their third premiership under coach Damien Hardwick and skipper Trent Cotchin.
After more than 110 days on the road living in Queensland after COVID-19's second wave forced the competition to relocate out of Victoria, the Tigers will return with the premiership cup later this week after storming home in the second half.
TIGERS PLAYER RATINGS No passengers on the Tiger train
Gary Ablett's farewell did not go as hoped, with the champion Cat injuring his shoulder in the opening minutes immediately after Tigers defender Nick Vlastuin was concussed in a wild piece of play.
Ablett returned later in the quarter after receiving medical attention in the rooms, but continued to nurse the injury throughout the game, struggling to use his arm for the rest of the night and enduring serious pain throughout. His hope of ending his glittering 357-game career with a third flag was dashed as the Tigers booted nine goals to two in the second half.
In a game full by superstars on both sides, it was Richmond's who rose to the occasion. Martin was again exceptional, following his 2017 and 2019 deciders with another standout game. The game's best player proved it with a high-impact game across half-forward, while Patrick Dangerfield, Geelong's own match-winner, was subdued. Geelong Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins kicked one goal from 10 disposals, with Mitch Duncan (25 disposals, one goal) the Cats' best.
CATS PLAYER RATINGS Was age a factor as the Cats faded away?
There was drama everywhere in the first term. Six minutes into the game it changed: Vlastuin was knocked out by a stray Dangerfield elbow (which will certainly come under Match Review Officer scrutiny) and in the following contest Ablett's shoulder dislocated as he was tackled by Cotchin.
THINGS WE LEARNED Tigers skipper writes his name into club folklore
As Vlastuin was taken by stretcher from the field, Ablett left cradling his arm. The shock left the players and crowd stunned, and after a six-minute break in the game, it resumed to more action, including two fans who ran onto the field that almost got involved in the play.
Although the Tigers kicked the first two goals, the Cats settled to take a one-point lead into the first change. Ablett, too, returned to the field – a sight that looked unimaginable minutes earlier after what appeared set to be an anticlimactic end to his phenomenal career.
Geelong took that momentum into the second term, dominating Richmond in the pressure stakes and using their strength at the contest to push aside the Tigers. The Tigers, so renowned for their tenacious attack, were being beaten at their own game.
The Cats kicked three goals to one in the quarter but should have been further ahead after some straightforward misses. They are sprayed kicks which will linger in the minds of the Cats well beyond the final siren.
Richmond's single goal came via Martin – an astonishing snap while fending off some Cats opponents – with the Tigers struggling in attack.
Key forward pair Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt combined for one kick in the first half as Geelong's defence, led by the insurmountable Tom Stewart and veteran Harry Taylor, controlled proceedings.
But Richmond wasn't done. Riewoldt kicked the opening goal of the third term after a free kick, before a Jason Castagna outswinger curled through. Martin's brilliance again rose to the top, with the key Tiger's on-the-run checkside trickling through to give Richmond a two-point edge by three-quarter time.
TIGERS PLAYER RATINGS No passengers on the Tiger train
The Tigers powered home in the final quarter, kicking five goals to one to end up comfortable premiers. The final goal came, of course, via Martin in the last two minutes, who shrugged off a tackle from Dangerfield pinned up against the boundary line and snapped an amazing goal. In doing so, the Tigers’ tattooed champion confirmed his status as perhaps the best big-game player in football history.
RICHMOND 2.1 3.2 7.4 12.9 (81)
GEELONG 2.2 5.5 6.8 7.8 (50)
Richmond: Martin 4, Prestia 2, Riewoldt 2, Castagna, Lambert, Lynch, McIntosh
Geelong: Menegola 2, Dangerfield, Duncan, Guthrie, Hawkins, Miers
Richmond: Martin, Short, Edwards, Prestia, Cotchin, Bolton
Geelong: Duncan, Stewart, Selwood, Menegola, Dahlhaus
Richmond: Vlastuin (concussion), Houli (calf)
Geelong: Ablett (shoulder), Simpson (concussion)