Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 08:42 PM


It’s ‘Tiger Time’ in Melbourne and Richmond have a serious chance to lift the premiership cup on Saturday at the MCG.

The minor premier Adelaide Crows stand in their way on Grand Final Day, but the case for the black-and-golds collecting their first flag since 1980 is certainly compelling.

The Tigers’ habits of finishing ninth and choking during the finals are over as this group of players have shown they have what it takes – a team that can be successful not only this year, but over the next few seasons.

Richmond have been able to bully their opposition this year, applying mass pressure before blowing teams away in a matter of minutes.

They have replicated this formula over the entire finals campaign, ensuring their opponents have been unable to get their hands on the footy, or applying pressure in defence almost instantly, before flicking a switch and putting the game beyond reach.

Trent Cotchin has led from the front the Tigers’ September onslaught with his outstanding pressure and contested footy, in what has arguably been his best two games of the season. Leading by example, Cotchin has laid 18 tackles in the finals wins over Geelong and GWS, and has averaged 15 contested possessions.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick has had nothing but praise for his captain, saying he is admiring his leadership in his post-match press conference last week.

“I’m very fortunate, I get to watch him on a weekly basis and see a lot of things that a lot of people don’t,” Hardwick said.

“He’s an incredible player.

“He’s taken his game to a new level, which is hard to say when he’s a Brownlow Medallist, but just so glad to have him.

“We just love the way he plays and leads our club.

“I get a bit emotional speaking about him, really, because of the way he plays.”

And let’s not forget the Tigers have a guy called Dustin Martin, who can change the course a game in the matter of minutes.

The 2017 Brownlow winner has been a vital player this season and during the finals. In last week’s preliminary final Martin dominated the first three minutes of the game, setting up the first three scoring plays for the Tigers before going forward late in the game and kicking three goals.

It’s easy to see why he’s the raging-hot favourite to claim the Norm Smith Medal – despite a reigning Brownlow Medal winner never having earned best on ground honours in a grand final before.

The Tigers have the players and the game-plan, but arguably the strongest component in football is momentum and on the MCG they look unstoppable, crafting a 10-2 record at the ground this year.

Plus they have 70,000-plus members behind them, providing the ultimate chance of success against the out-of-town Crows. The support for the Tigers this year has been out of this world. Week in, week out the fans have flocked to support their team and at times have lifted them to victory.

Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt told RSN Radio Network after the qualifying final against Geelong that the team is embracing the groundswell of support.

“On the weekend it was a bit more of a cauldron,” Riewoldt said.

“It truly is an addictive feeling running out of the race for that first time, slapping the captain on the hand and going through the banner and as soon as you go through the banner, just that absolute roar you hear is really addictive.”

Tigers fans have been on a tumultuous ride over the last four decades. But this year is different, they have already ended a 35-year grand final drought by putting together a strong, well-rounded team that can go all the way – a team that looks set to go down in history as the first Richmond side to win the flag in 37 years.

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About the author

Peter Bonadio

Based in Melbourne, Peter has grown up with AFL and Tennis and is passionate about sharing his views about the sports he loves. Peter is also a avid follower of American sports and is a big fan of the Celtics and Patriots. Peter is a final year Sport Journalism student at La Trobe University.

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