RICHMOND was on its haunches.
The Tigers had conceded five straight goals, they trailed by 21 points and, for perhaps the first time in their dominant four-year stretch at the summit of the entire competition, they needed a lifeline.
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The looming half-time interval wouldn't just give Damien Hardwick's side a chance to catch its breath and regroup, it would provide a salvation. Hope wasn't lost, but it was dangling by a thread.
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But when you have Dustin Martin, the greatest finals performer of his generation, you are always going to have belief. And at that moment, the moment when Richmond needed him most, belief is exactly what Dusty gave the Tigers.
Martin swept on the footy, shrugged aside the attentions of Jake Kolodjashnij with ease and, having not yet even grasped the ball with his full control, hooked an extraordinary right-foot kick around his body and through for a goal.
All of a sudden, the spark had been lit.
Yes, the deficit was still 15 points. Yes, Geelong was still in the ascendancy. But just like that, the momentum of the match had shifted. Just like that, doubt had been cast into the minds of the Cats at half-time.
Just like that, history – in Martin becoming the first ever player to claim a third Norm Smith Medal – had started to unfold.
In this, the most unprecedented of seasons – and in this, the most unfamiliar of venues, times and environments for a Toyota AFL Grand Final – there would at least be some semblance of familiarity in Martin's brilliance.
Never a player to simply pad the stats sheets, Martin's genius stems from his influence, his impact and the unique moments that only he can create. On Saturday night, that was the first of four moments that defined the Grand Final.
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As the Tigers piled on eight of the next nine goals to march to a thrilling third premiership in four years courtesy of a 30-point win over the Cats, Martin's fingerprints were etched across every significant moment in Richmond's remarkable run.
He kicked the first goal to start the comeback, he kicked the fifth goal to reclaim the lead for Richmond, and he kicked the eighth goal to ensure that there would be no doubt as to the home of this year's premiership.
Martin would add a fourth goal in the game's dying moments to put the cherry on top. But at that point, it was simply party time. The damage had been inflicted, and the name 'Dustin Martin' had been carved into the Norm Smith Medal once again.
While Martin's first of the evening was the moment Geelong might have started to question the strength of its foothold within the game, his second was the moment the Cats probably knew an unstoppable tide was sweeping over them.
Another clean pick up, and another simply awesome finish – this one dribbled through with the outside of his right boot – was Richmond's fifth straight major of the match and, delivered midway through the third term, gave the Tigers their first lead since the opening quarter.
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The Tigers wear teams down like no other, this was just another example of that. But when they do, Martin is the player who ensures there is no escape when they have you in their grasp.
Having added two more to make it seven straight goals, Richmond soon stretched its lead to 16 points midway through the final quarter on the back of Martin's heroics. Now, it just needed to land the killer blow. And who better to deliver that?
Receiving the handball from Kane Lambert, Martin produced the signature fend-off on Mark O'Connor, he produced the signature pinpoint accurate kick from beyond 50m, and he produced the now signature tug-of-the-jersey celebration to mark another Grand Final win for the Tigers.
At that point, there was no way back for Geelong. Richmond's supporters had begun the slow chants of 'Du-sty' in the crowd, while Hardwick was making his way down towards the bench to kickstart the celebrations.
Hopefully, for his sake, he still witnessed what was to come.
With just 75 seconds on the clock, Martin pinched the ball from the hands of Patrick Dangerfield, slipped his attempts at a tackle and, pressed deep inside the forward pocket on the boundary line, bent a simply remarkable snap home.
His fourth big moment was his fourth big goal, and he had undoubtedly saved his best for last. All of this would equate to history in a third Norm Smith Medal.
It was breathtaking, brilliant and, ultimately, quite fitting. What better way to cap a season like no other than to celebrate the brilliance of Dustin Martin, a player like no other.