Richmond take on Greater Western Sydney in the 2019 AFL Grand Final in front of what is sure to be a Tigers-dominated crowd in Melbourne.
The Tigers are gunning for their second flag in just three years and enter the match as heavy favourites given their 11-match winning streak and imposing MCG record.
But the Giants have won three finals in a row to reach the last Saturday in September and will be boosted by the returns of key players.
So, who wins the big one?
Read on for our full AFL Grand Final preview!
Watch Live: Kayo Sports
Sunday, September 28 2019
Richmond Tigers vs GWS Giants
Venue: MCG | Start: 2:30 pm AEST
Richmond showed exactly what they were about as they overturned a 21-point half-time deficit to beat Geelong by 19 points in last week’s first preliminary final. Tom Lynch was sensational up forward, kicking five goals and taking a host of big marks, while Dion Prestia and Dustin Martin were important in the midfield. But key to Richmond’s winning streak has been a stingy defence, Dylan Grimes and Bachar Houli leading the way in the absence of injured star Alex Rance. In Richmond’s 11 successive wins, only one side (West Coast, 13) has kicked more than 10 goals against them. Richmond’s ferocious pressure has not disappeared, either, and it is a style that appears perfect to stand up on Grand Final day.
The Tigers will be without midfielder Jack Graham (shoulder), the youngster ruled out on Tuesday. He could sensationally be replaced by Marlion Pickett, who has never played an AFL game. Pickett won the Norm Goss Medal for best on ground in last weekend’s VFL grand final, which Richmond won. Jack Ross or Sydney Stack could also slot in as Graham’s replacement. Jack Riewoldt will be hoping for a better game than he produced against the Cats, the forward kicking just three behinds. Lynch’s brilliance ensured it was not a problem but if the Tigers have two big forwards taking marks and kicking goals, they will be awfully difficult to stop.
Key to the result could be the battle between Martin and GWS tagger Matt de Boer. The stopper did a terrific job on Martin in Round 3, keeping him to just 15 disposals and getting him frustrated on several occasions. GWS won that game by 49 points, Jeremy Cameron booting seven goals. De Boer missed the return match at the MCG in Round 17, where 2017 Norm Smith Medallist Martin had 25 disposals and Richmond won by 27 points. It is certain De Boer will be sent to Martin again and if he goes quiet, the reliance on the likes of Prestia and Trent Cotchin will surge. A defensive-minded player could also go to Houli to stop his impact off half-back. Like Martin, Houli was also outstanding in the 2017 grand final. Prestia is in terrific form, having averaged 31 disposals over the past eight weeks and he looks an excellent suggestion if you are having a play in the markets for Norm Smith Medal.
Much intrigue centres on who will take the field for Greater Western Sydney but one big-name return is assured with livewire forward Toby Greene set to play after serving a one-match suspension. Greene is a big-game player capable of turning a match with just a handful of disposals and is integral to the Giants’ chances. For those reasons, he is every chance of winning the Norm Smith Medal if GWS salute. Greene could be joined by both Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield in the Giants team as the pair do everything in their power to return from injury. Whitfield had appendix surgery last week and appears likely to play but Coniglio has not featured since the Round 17 clash against the Tigers, when he injured his knee in the opening minutes. Coniglio and Whitfield are two of the best players in the competition and will likely be given until the last minute to prove their fitness. GWS coach Leon Cameron hinted he may not select both when he said that “we’ve got to be really careful about taking players in that might be a little bit underdone” and Phil Davis is also battling a calf complaint.
What is certain is that GWS will enter the match with plenty of confidence, following successive finals victories against Western Bulldogs, Brisbane and Collingwood. The Giants had to absorb a Collingwood surge in the final quarter to escape with a thrilling four-point preliminary final win. Collingwood kicked the last four goals of the match and bombarded their forward 50 in the dying stages but the Giants held firm to claim a famous victory. Nick Haynes was outstanding off half-back, winning 30 disposals and taking nine marks, while Zac Williams was also excellent for the victors. On a wet night, Cameron kicked three goals and he shapes as a key man for the Giants in this clash.
If the Giants are to beat Richmond, Haynes and Williams will need to play well, and curbing the influence of Riewoldt and Lynch is crucial. Through the midfield, Josh Kelly, Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper have massive roles to play, particularly if Coniglio and Whitfield are not able to help them out.
A look at recent history shows four wins to both the Tigers and the Giants in the last eight meetings between the two sides. All of GWS’ victories have come in New South Wales, though, and the Giants have never beaten Richmond in Melbourne. The weather forecast suggests temperatures will not exceed 16 degrees but that the chance of rain is minimal, the match likely to be played under ‘partly cloudy’ conditions. Both sides are more than capable of playing in the wet, too, but the dry conditions should suit Richmond’s rapid ball movement. The Tigers also appear stronger on every line and have the benefit of a significant home ground advantage. Damien Hardwick’s men have won 34 of their last 37 matches at the MCG and will be boosted by the support of a passionate home crowd.
It all points to a Richmond victory against a Giants side who are likely to be carrying some players who are not match-hardened. It could blow out late, too, making the line a very attractive betting proposition.
Head to Head: Richmond Tigers | $1.40 – Beteasy
Win Margin: Richmond Tigers 1-39 | $2 – Sportsbet
Line: Richmond Tigers -17.5 | $1.91 – Beteasy
Total Points: Under 151.5 | $1.91 – Bet365