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Team Selection: Preliminary final

6:20pm  Sep 20, 2018

Fans turn out for open training

2:52pm  Sep 20, 2018

Edwards at open training

12:30pm  Sep 20, 2018

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No change for Tigers

Richmond will take an unchanged line-up into Friday night’s preliminary final against Collingwood at the MCG.

6:25pm  Sep 20, 2018

Clear skies for MCG prelim final

Friday night's preliminary final between Richmond and Collingwood appears unlikely to be interrupted by rain, with just a five percent chance of any precipitation at the MCG.

4:45pm  Sep 20, 2018

Gallery: Preliminary final open training

See a selection of the best images from this morning's open training session at the Swinburne Centre, Punt Road Oval.

2:47pm  Sep 20, 2018

How the GF was won: Black and yellow plague prevails

Peter Ryan, AFL Media  October 7, 2017 1:57 PM

GF: Highlights Watch the highlights from the 2017 premiership.

RICHMOND won the premiership playing old-fashioned football in a clash jumper built for modern times.  

The black sash crashed and bashed and clashed its way to a flag.

Adelaide was hit with wave after wave after wave of Richmond tacklers as its players tried to move the ball.  

As a result, the normally fluent Crows became as disorientated as a dumped board rider in wild surf, their rushed handballs as hopeful as a panicked swimmer desperately gulping for air.

The Crows simply could not move the ball, kicking just one goal in the Grand Final via a defensive-half chain.

Richmond legend Francis Bourke described Richmond as a "black and yellow plague just swarming all over them."

The word Tigers coach Damien Hardwick used to describe Richmond's brand of football was "manic".

He was spot on, as he watched a unified group terrorise the opposition in the same manner he once played as a half-crazed half-back flanker in Essendon and Port Adelaide premierships.

"Our pressure in the first quarter was a little bit off. They were probably kicking more so and we couldn't exert that influence but then we started to get up and going," Hardwick said.

In the third quarter the pressure was ferocious and four key playmakers for the Crows – Brad Crouch, Rory Laird, Rory Atkins and Jake Kelly – ended the game with more handballs than kicks, a reflection of how Richmond compressed Adelaide's time and space.

"We know if we play a certain way we're going to give ourselves a chance to win," Hardwick said.

Richmond's basic plan heading into the game was simple.

The Tigers had to stop Adelaide's ability to gain territory by keeping the battle for the ball congested and forcing the football forward. 

That was the responsibility Trent Cotchin took, acting as a battering ram, smashing into packs to spill balls while Dion Prestia ran forward to take handballs in space. 

Richmond's dominance of contested ball meant the Tigers always had the ascendancy in general play, which made old-fashioned football inside the forward 50 possible.

The Tigers earmarked defensive forward Jacob Townsend to quell Jake Lever's marking power and wanted the small forwards to worry Laird and Atkins enough that they stopped running.

When full-forward Jack Riewoldt lunged midway through the first quarter and dragged Laird down in a tackle, he signalled the Tiger intent that would lead to Richmond winning the forward tackle count 18-8.

This was the Riewoldt his coach had dreamed of seeing when he began to tinker with his role around 2012-2013.

Richmond knew if the ball hit the ground inside 50 it had the advantage on the ground with speedsters such as Jason Castagna, Dan Butler and Daniel Rioli able to hunt a loose pill.

The Tigers won the ground balls 119-88, the season-long feature Hardwick described as "our one wood", the asset which took them to their first flag in 37 seasons. 

In defence David Astbury took Taylor Walker while Nick Vlastuin and Bachar Houli rode alongside key defender Alex Rance like pillion passengers marking the ball as he kept Andy Otten and Josh Jenkins occupied.

Those four stopped Adelaide winning territory, ensuring that anytime the Crows went forward with a kick that was high and deep they marked it. 

At times the football was as pretty as a dropped pie but it was effective and tough.

The Tigers even conceded the ruck, losing the hitouts 55-28, prepared to sacrifice that first touch to win the ball at ground level with an extra number.

The joker in the pack for the Tigers was Dustin Martin. 

The brilliant footballer was strong in tight, winning them and wearing them early without really breaking the game apart.

But he showed his footy smarts during the second quarter, sneaking forward when Kyle Hartigan momentarily left the ground, and taking a mark when matched up on Luke Brown and kicking a goal. 

For a player who has won more than 50 per cent of his one-on-one contests this season – more than any other player – it was an easy steal but it took belief in his teammates to make the move.

For the rest of the quarter Martin disrupted the Adelaide defence as the only player in the forward half of the ground, leaving a nervous Hartigan and Daniel Talia 20 metres in front of him.

He might not have had anyone near him but everyone knew where Martin was as he lurked in his area like a Tiger on a treeless plain, happy to let the Adelaide giraffes rest in peace as long as they didn't get too close.

It was fascinating to watch because his movement loosened the Crows press as they kept him within striking distance, not willing to push too far up in case the ball went over their head.

In the end, Martin had 29 disposals and kicked two goals to be best on ground. He didn't have to do that much to be the most influential player on the MCG.

"It was a finals footy game, contested ball, tackle pressure, surge the ball going forward," Hardwick said.

"As much as coaches like me think it's rocket science, the reality is it's not really."

This flag was about a group with a unified purpose executing a plan with ruthless efficiency when it mattered.

It was the Tigers of old.