In a pair of one-sided preliminary finals, Adelaide send Patrick Dangerfield and Geelong packing back home, while GWS’s Brett Deledio leaves empty-handed in his 250th as his former side Richmond have the last laugh.
Charlie Cameron breakout game burns Cats on Friday night stage
The Adelaide Crows have advanced to their first grand final in 19 years after a 61-point win against Geelong at Adelaide Oval on Friday night. Adelaide took control early after bursting out of the blocks in the first quarter, playing an aggressive style of football and constantly making Geelong pay heavily for its turnovers.
All the fuss before the game surrounded whether Dangerfield was going to start in midfield or up forward for the Cats. And while he started in the forward line, he couldn’t do much from there when Geelong was having trouble moving the ball up the ground.
The Crows’ intensity on Geelong in the first half, led by enforcer Rory Sloane, was sensational as the Cats were guilty of playing into the Crows’ hands of wanting to play quick, moving football. As a result, it was very easy for Adelaide’s forwards like Eddie Betts, Charlie Cameron and Tom Lynch to get away and cause havoc in space.
Cameron, in particular, was close to best-on-ground all night, constantly getting on the good work of his sides slick ball movement. Cameron finished with a career-high five-goal performance. All-Australian Rory Laird was sensational in his 100th game, providing his side with accurate set-ups across half-back and the wing. Laird finished with 32 possessions – with 20 of those being kicks.
While Geelong produced a couple of mini-comebacks led by Joel Selwood and Steven Motlop, Adelaide were always able to respond quickly to keep the lead at a nice five-goal advantage.
Much-criticised livewire Motlop was able to play one of his best games for his side. Motlop was responsible in getting some momentum rolling for the Cats, with his trademark run and carry being a feature as he took the game on and used his long kicking ability to good effect.
The loss is Geelong’s second preliminary final blowout in a row after losing heavily to the Sydney Swans last year. Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan will now head into retirement in an unfortunate ending for two Cats greats.
Adelaide, though, has risen after years of losing their key players and deservedly will have the opportunity to win a premiership on Saturday.
Captain Cotchin leads ferocious Tiger Army past Deledio and his Giants
Richmond has stormed into its first grand final in 31 years after defeating the Greater Western Sydney Giants by 36 points on Saturday evening at the MCG. Tiger fever truly hit Melbourne, as over 90,000 of the crowd supported the Tigers. As a result, Steve Johnson bowed out of the game in what was an ineffective last match.
Richmond started brightly after kicking two goals inside the first minute, before GWS quickly settled in and responded by kicking the next three. The Giants were starting to get a run on by breaking off their opponent and getting a run on through uncontested possessions. Josh Kelly and Callan Ward were strong early in gaining some momentum back.
Richmond failed to make the most of their chances in the second quarter, kicking a wasteful 2.4 as the Tigers’ nerves on the big stage started to show.
The main turning point came in the third quarter, when the Tigers overwhelmed the Giants with intense tackling and slick ball movement by medium/forwards Daniel Rioli, Kane Lambert and Josh Caddy. Second-year star Rioli was sensational up forward for the whole game; kicking a career-best four goals, along with six tackles.
However, despite his heroics in gathering the ball and leading the tackle count with a game-high nine, the main talking point is whether Richmond captain Trent Cotchin will be suspended for the grand final. Cotchin was involved in an incident with GWS midfielder Dylan Shiel in the first quarter.
The ball was in dispute and Shiel was first to the ball, when Cotchin collected Shiel high with a bump first before touching the ball. Shiel was able to get back up and keep playing, before leaving the ground 10 minutes later and was ruled out after suffering a delayed concussion.
The fact that Shiel was concussed as a result of the hit won’t help Cotchin, with Cotchin only needing to receive a fine to be suspended after two lower-grade incidents earlier in the season.
This Cotchin incident will dominate grand final week like never before, as Richmond attempt to overcome years of disappointment to finally get the flag that their fans have desperately craved. It promises to be a mouth-watering finish to an AFL season that has delivered many twists and turns.