1. Richmond deserves clear premiership favouritism
The Tigers' roll continues. Two weeks after beating Brisbane at the MCG, Damien Hardwick's men made the trip to the Gabba and left with the same result, this time taking a 47-point victory. They progress to the preliminary final and will return to their Melbourne fortress. On a 10-game winning streak, Richmond's emphatic qualifying final victory over the Lions was the most impressive win of the first week of the finals and will see it head into the last four as the clear premiership fancy. It will have some selection questions to ponder over the break next week, particularly around its ruckmen and whether it continues with both Ivan Soldo and Toby Nankervis. Last year's preliminary final loss against Collingwood would have haunted the Tigers over summer, but a chance at retribution against the Magpies looms in this year's Grand Final.
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2. Dylan Grimes has Charlie Cameron's measure
The Lions approached the AFL's umpiring department after the clubs' round 23 meeting to discuss some of Grimes' negating tactics on Cameron, but Grimes is simply outplaying the lethal small forward. The All Australian pair renewed acquaintances on Saturday night, with Grimes again leaving with the honours. Cameron, who has booted 54 goals this season and been pivotal to the Lions' sharp rise, managed just seven disposals and 1.2 and had little influence on the game. Grimes won crucial one-on-one battles, and also dragged in six marks as a key part of the defensive set-up. Cameron was given a free kick close to goal early in the game, but it was controversially reversed after Brisbane's Eric Hipwood lightly shoved Grimes, who fell to the ground and drew a poor decision from the umpires.
3. In finals, it's even more important to take your chances
There are countless sides who will rue poor goalkicking in big finals. Brisbane can add itself to the list. The Lions were excellent at the Gabba early on Saturday night, but couldn't make it matter on the scoreboard. They opened their night with five straight behinds before booting another four points in the second quarter without registering a goal. At the other end, Richmond kicked 4.3 in a crucial second term despite having 14 fewer inside-50s for the half. Instead of having a healthy lead at the main break, the Lions trailed by 11 points and had handballed the momentum to Richmond. The Tigers' final score line – 18.4 – was the second most accurate score in finals history, while the Lions finished with 8.17.
4. Dustin Martin in attack is the Tigers' ace card
The biggest story of last year's shock preliminary final was Collingwood's American import Mason Cox being the surprise hero. The second was the output of Martin, who was struggling with a leg injury and limped to the end of the season. If any player personified Richmond's exit from the 2018 premiership race, it was Martin. He had a glint in the eye against the Lions and was at his brilliant best. With an equal career-best six goal haul, Martin was dominant spending more time in attack, getting back to his commanding 2017 form. Heck, Martin was even so good he got away with a blatant throw in the third quarter that led to a Jack Riewoldt goal.
5. Luke Hodge should play on next year
A decision hasn't been made on whether the Hawthorn great will play for the Lions next year, but it should be clear as day after his effort against the Tigers. Hodge should be playing again in 2020. The hardened veteran, who was playing the 24th final of his storied career, was Brisbane's best player in the defeat. He was deft and smart by foot, had control and composure that outweighed that of his younger teammates in the hot tempo, and he showed his classic tough streak when required. Hodge originally went to the Lions for two years, having retired at Hawthorn at the end of 2017. He will turn 36 next year but needs to reconsider that initial plan and be out there again for what would be his 19th AFL season.
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