IT WOULD be fair to say Richmond and Geelong don't necessarily like each other.
Success breeds animosity, so for two of the League's winningest sides of the modern era there are plenty of reasons why the Tigers and the Cats have found themselves at odds over the last decade.
From the near 20 years of Geelong dominance, to Richmond's recent resurgence, Chris Scott and Damien Hardwick's teams have often been the last ones standing at the pointy end of the season.
For that, there is plenty of spite – and plenty of respect – as one of the competition's fastest growing modern rivalries has formed.
Ahead of a new chapter in their rivalry being written on Friday night in last year's Grand Final rematch, here are the five key moments from the last five years that have shaped these fierce foes.
THE ORIGINS OF A GROWING RIVALRY
For 16 years, it was all Geelong. In fact, that might be an understatement considering its dominance against Richmond between 2001 and 2017. The Cats put together 13 straight wins against the Tigers. Go back further and the triple-premiership heroes won 20 of 21 straight games against their hapless opponents. But they weren't just routine victories, they were hammerings of the highest order. Within that 21-match run, there were six Geelong victories by more than 10 goals. There were two by more than 100 points. There was one, under the roof at Docklands, where the Cats led by a triple-figure margin at half-time on their way to a score of 35.12 (222) in a 157-point demolition. Richmond, so often bullied by its superior opposition, sensed the tables turning.
CHAOS AT KARDINIA
There were a few reasons Richmond didn't want its 2017 clash with Geelong played at Kardinia Park. The Tigers had won four straight games heading into the round 21 encounter and, with just a handful of matches remaining in the home-and-away season, sat half a game clear of the Cats in third place on the ladder. In a pivotal top-four encounter, Richmond argued Geelong's home ground couldn't comfortably accommodate its 70,000-plus membership base. Not only that, but having lost 12 straight against Geelong by this point, Richmond was closing the gap. After a series of hammerings, the last three matches against the Cats had been decided by margins of five, nine and four points. The Tigers could sense an upset, but the venue would hinder those chances. Ultimately, despite Richmond's fight, a 14-point defeat extended the losing streak against Geelong to 13 matches. Speaking afterwards, Hardwick threw in another barb for good measure, saying: "Absolutely… the home crowd gets behind them. Have a look at the free kick count. It is what it is. What I will say is you've got a significant home ground advantage."
REVENGE IS SERVED
Just 27 days after that Kardinia Park clash, Richmond finally got its revenge. In a thrilling qualifying final, the Tigers snapped the 13-game losing streak – and broke a 16-year finals drought – with a trying win. For long periods throughout a titanic game, Richmond's profligacy kept Geelong in the contest. The Tigers held the Cats goalless to quarter-time, but kicked 3.7 (25) to half-time and led by just 13 points at the final change despite their complete control over the match. However, the dam wall eventually burst. Richmond kicked seven goals in the final term to set up the 51-point win, releasing a tidal wave of emotions after such a long period in the football wilderness. The Tigers rode the momentum of the victory through September, vanquishing every challenge standing in their way in order to secure premiership success for the first time in 37 years later that month.
Plenty had happened in the two years between their finals bouts of 2017 and 2019. There had been Gary Ablett's late miss on the run in a three-point Geelong loss in 2018, and Patrick Dangerfield's heroics in a 67-point Cats victory against an undermanned opponent earlier in the 2019 campaign. But this preliminary final had plenty of spice, before it had even kicked off. In the week before the do-or-die battle, Scott had claimed: "I don't think we were anywhere near as good a team as we are now last year, and I think they were a better team last year than they are now." It stoked the flames ahead of the highly anticipated match-up, with Geelong going some way to proving its coach correct when it claimed a 21-point lead at half-time. But Tom Lynch's goal just 40 seconds into the second half sparked an almighty comeback. The Tigers kicked eight of the 10 goals after the interval to roar to victory, setting the stage for their 89-point hammering of the Giants the very next week in the season decider. Not as good? Or definitely better?
THE DUSTY SHOW
All this rivalry needed was a Grand Final. And, in 2020, it finally got one. Meeting at the Gabba to end a remarkable season for both sides, the stakes were the highest they had ever been. In a way, this was the decider the campaign was meant to have. Before the season, Scott had again remarked: "We’re in an era where Richmond are a really good team … but with the greatest respect to them, they’re not Hawthorn." It was a line repeated throughout the year, as the Tigers ultimately joined the Hawks with their third flag of the decade. The match followed a similar pattern to the previous year's preliminary final. The Cats led by 15 points at half-time, but the Tigers responded with nine of 11 goals after the main break to secure a sweet victory. At the heart of it all was Dustin Martin, who etched his name into the record books by becoming the first player to ever win three Norm Smith Medals. His performance, which included 21 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five clearances and four goals, was the stuff of legend.