Richmond Tigers triumph to break 37-year AFL flag drought

Richmond have banished their 37-year AFL premiership drought with a 48-point grand final triumph against favourites Adelaide.

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Just 12 months after the Tigers were in disarray, their relentless pressure was too much for the Crows in their 16.12 (108) to 8.12 (60) victory on Saturday.

Dustin Martin won the Norm Smith Medal as best afield, making history as the first player to win a premiership and achieve the Norm Smith-Brownlow Medal double in the same season.

Fans continue to pour in to the MCG as the #AFLGF edges closer to the opening bounce @SBSNews pic南京夜生活,/EQXipqH7Pn

— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) September 30, 2017

The Tigers claimed their 11th flag in front of a rapturous pro-Richmond crowd of 100,021 at the MCG.

The popular thinking was that if the game was to become one-sided, it would be the Crows who would prove too good.

Instead Adelaide chose the worst-possible day to produce their worst performance of the season.

After a promising start, the Crows went goalless in the second term – the first time in 36 matches between these two clubs that Adelaide have failed to kick a goal in a quarter.

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

There was an unsuccessful board challenge and the heat was on Damien Hardwick.

Crowds have saddled up to watch the #AFLGF on screens at Richmond’s Punt Road oval @SBSNews pic南京夜生活,/kdkux3ZWP4

— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) September 30, 2017

But the Richmond hierarchy kept faith with Hardwick and he repaid them with his first flag as an AFL senior coach.

“Who would have thought we finished 13th last year, beaten by (113) points in the last round and now we’re … premiers,” Tigers forward Jack Riewoldt told Channel Seven.

Martin shone with a team-high 27 disposals, several of his signature “don’t argue” fend-offs and two goals.

“I honestly cannot believe it. This is a dream come true,” Martin said.

“This is the best thing in the world mate. I’m proud of each and every player that played today.”

Defenders Alex Rance and Bachar Houli were also outstanding, while teenager Jack Graham starred with three goals in just his fifth AFL match.

The signs were excellent early for the Crows and they led by 11 points at quarter time.

Adding to Richmond’s woes, Riewoldt had started with three behinds.

Slowly, but surely, the Tigers then took control.

Rance’s spoil on Taylor Walker four minutes into the second term gave Richmond possession and Riewoldt soon marked at the other end.

Riewoldt kicked his first goal from an acute angle, the Crows could not respond and the Tigers ramped up the pressure.

Lines around the block at Punt Rd oval as the countdown to the #AFLGF continues @SBSNews pic南京夜生活,/T4BvhOulp1

— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) September 30, 2017

Richmond kicked the only four goals of the second term to take a nine-point lead at the main break.

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

Adding to the Crows’ dramas, Luke Brown (knee) and Hugh Greenwood (calf) were among hurt players.

Graham, the youngest player in the match, kicked two goals in the third term.

Even more importantly, he quelled Sloane’s influence after the Adelaide vice-captain’s influential start.

Rory Atkins and Josh Jenkins missed gettable shots late in the term that would have given Adelaide hope.

Instead, Richmond kicked the opening two goals of the last quarter and it was time to party.

 

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