AFL Grand Final shines spotlight on Australia's unique brand of football

Posted October 01, 2017

Tigers key forward Jack Riewoldt then kicked three behinds, adding to their worries.

This time past year, the Tigers were reeling after they plummeted out of the top eight, having lost elimination finals in the previous three seasons.

The win means Richmond are AFL Premiers for the first time in 37 years, with their last flag win recorded in 1980.

"We did it", said coach Damien Hardwick, whose job was under threat a year ago after Richmond finished 13th in the 18-team competition.

It's a phenomenon that creates a certain set of problems for both teams - the pressure that comes with the hype could be overwhelming for Richmond, while Adelaide could be forgiven for feeling like the entire country is against it.

Usually composed players like Richard Douglas and Rory Sloane were the worst offenders, but they had plenty of company, as Richmond's "mosquito fleet" of small forwards got to work.

The Crows began the match brightly, with two goals inside the first five minutes.

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"We've spent a long time - and I'm not just talking this year - preparing for this day and that's the opportunity we get tomorrow".

For that reason, Townsend, Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Jack Graham - barely known when the 2017 season started - are now Richmond heroes, while Daniel Rioli, who mixes pressure with the freakish skill his surname is associated with, is the leader of that pack.

Pyke's Crows enter the decider as favourites to win the club's first premiership since 1998.

Martin was now dominating and Trent Cotchin was a battering ram at the stoppages.

Dustin Martin capped what now must be viewed as the greatest individual season in the history of the game by claiming the Norm Smith Medal.

He did not run with the ball as often as he usually does, nor did he break too many lines.

"I've got a chess piece there that I can move at various stages".

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All that's left are premiership and Norm Smith medals to go with his MVP and Brownlow honours.

Riewoldt, who like Cotchin, plays a far more team-oriented style of football than he once did, kicked two goals and could have had many more.

The Tigers had 29 more contested possessions than the Crows in the second half, and 30 more for the game, on their way to a comprehensive 48-point victory at the MCG on Saturday.

Just some of the massive circle that gathered to sing the Richmond song.

Damien Hardwick, the AFL's coach of the year, is a premiership senior coach for the first time, just 12 months after his tenure was in the balance.

"It's easy to just focus on the 22 guys who are out there", Pyke said.

For once, Richmond are completely united.

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