'Freaking amazing': Stunning comeback sees Richmond win AFL grand final

Andrew Reid
·5-min read
Dustin Martin is seen here celebrating Richmond's grand final win.
Dustin Martin was huge for Richmond in their grand final win over Geelong. Pic: Getty

The Richmond Tigers have won the AFL premiership after a dramatic second half comeback against Geelong in a rain-drenched Gabba grand final on Saturday night.

Richmond added another chapter to their stunning legacy by winning a third premiership in four years, courtesy of a 31-point win against the Cats.

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Dustin Martin also cemented his status as one of the game’s greatest players by winning his third Norm Smith Medal after being voted as the best on ground.

The Tigers, sparked by their superstar Martin, overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to claim the flag with a 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) win in Saturday's historic decider at the Gabba.

Richmond lost defender Nick Vlastuin inside a chaotic opening five minutes that also saw retiring Geelong champion Gary Ablett leave the field with a shoulder injury.

Vlastuin was knocked out after being hit by what appeared to be an accidental elbow from Patrick Dangerfield, during a contest for the footy.

Geelong came flying out of the traps and jumped out to a 22-point lead at one stage in the first half, before the Tigers reduced the deficit to 15 points at the main break.

However, Richmond's big-game nous came to the fore as they gradually hauled the Cats in, with Martin influential as always.

By three-quarter time it was the Tigers that had wrestled the advantage away from the Cats to take a slender two-point lead into the premiership quarter.

Richmond's momentum gathered more steam after a series of quick-fire goals in the early stages of the final term.

With just under eight minutes to go, Martin broke clear of some would-be Geelong tacklers to boot his third goal of the match to all but extinguish Geelong's hopes.

It left Richmond with a 22-point lead and the Cats with what turned out to be an impossible mountain to climb.

Jack Riewoldt iced the sensational comeback win with a 50-metre goal from a tight angle on the boundary line, before Martin added his fourth to send fans wild.

Martin cemented his legend as a big-game specialist, starring with 21 disposals and four goals in front of a restricted crowd of 29,767.

It is Richmond's 13th flag, drawing them level with Hawthorn and now only three behind leaders Essendon and Carlton (16 each).

The Tigers' win came after they and Geelong both spent more than 100 days in interstate hubs, having left locked-down Victoria in July to carry on with the pandemic-affected season.

There was carnage in an explosive opening to the decider as Ablett (shoulder) and Nick Vlastuin (concussion) were hurt in the first five minutes.

Ablett - playing his 357th and final AFL match - injured his left shoulder in a tackle from Richmond captain Trent Cotchin and was hindered throughout the night.

Tigers defender Vlastuin copped an accidental elbow to the head from Patrick Dangerfield and lay motionless for several minutes before being driven off the field on the medicab.

Two ground invaders held up play for about a minute soon after.

The Tigers kicked the opening two goals but the Cats dominated the midfield battle for most of the first half and opened up a 22-point lead before the main break with Mitch Duncan, Cam Guthrie and Tom Stewart all influential.

But they managed just one of the next nine goals as Martin and Shane Edwards - who had 27 disposals and nine clearances - took it upon themselves to lift Richmond.

Pictured here, a dejected Gary Ablett after Geelong's grand final defeat.
There was no fairytale ending for retiring Geelong champion Gary Ablett. Pic: Getty

Geelong midfielder Sam Simpson was taken off on the medicab after a huge collision with teammate Sam Menegola late in the match.

Jack Riewoldt and Dion Prestia kicked two goals each.

Martin put the exclamation mark on the win with an awesome interception, shrug off a Dangerfield tackle and snap from the boundary in the dying stages.

It is the first time in Richmond's four-year period of success that they have won the premiership the 'hard way' - bouncing back with three straight wins after losing the qualifying final.

with AAP

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