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Punt Road to Glory: Qualifying Final

Punt Road to glory: QF Highlights of the Qualifying Final against Geelong.
Josh Caddy celebrates his final quarter goal against Geelong in the qualifying final - Richmond Tigers,Geelong Cats,MCG
Josh Caddy celebrates his final quarter goal against Geelong in the qualifying final

Richmond’s road to premiership glory in 2017 will be re-lived at through our match reports and video highlights of each Tigers win during the season.

In a special off-season series until Wednesday, November 22, you can again savour the sweet taste of Tiger success, culminating in the sweetest of them all – the Grand Final victory over Adelaide. Today we look back to Richmond's first finals win since 2001 in the qualifying final against Geelong...

RICHMOND has rediscovered its finals roar after a 16-year silence, mauling Geelong with an unrelenting brand of pressure that carried them to a 51-point win in the second qualifying final at the MCG on Friday night.

Before Friday night's game, the Tigers hadn't won a final since 2001, nor a game in the first week of the finals since 1982, but Damien Hardwick's men looked at home on the big stage from the opening bounce, dominating the match with their frenzied attack on the ball and the man.

The only thing that kept Geelong in the game was Richmond's failure to convert its dominance of general play on to the scoreboard, and it looked like the Tigers might pay a heavy price for its 3.7 return in the first half when the Cats levelled the scores midway through the third term after a rare dominant burst.

If Richmond carried any finals scars, this is when they would have surfaced. But the Tigers class of 2017 proved it's made of the right stuff and, with superstar Dustin Martin leading the way yet again, they piled on 10 of the last 12 goals to notch what in time will become a famous 13.13 (91) to 5.10 (40) win.

If there were any doubts, Martin underlined how his mix of brute force and class is tailor-made for September. The Brownlow Medal favourite finished with 28 possessions, nine inside 50s, seven tackles and six clearances, but it was his game-high six score assists – double that of any other player – that best reflected his influence.

Martin set up goals on either side of three-quarter time – the first to Shane Edwards after he shook off Tom Stewart at half-back and the second to Shaun Grigg after he broke two tackles and hit his teammate with a pin-point 50m pass – that put Richmond 20 points up and broke any last remnants of Geelong resistance.

Richmond captain Trent Cotchin (20 possessions, nine tackles, seven clearances and one goal) was also outstanding and set a ferocious standard with five clearances and five tackles in the first term.

Alex Rance avenged his poor round 21 performance on Harry Taylor with a classy performance in defence, Dion Prestia was an able sidekick for Martin and Cotchin in the midfield, while Kane Lambert and Josh Caddy were dangerous in attack and Nick Vlastuin was impassable across half-back.

In winning just its third final since 1982, Richmond also broke a 13-game losing streak against Geelong that had begun with its 157-point loss in round six, 2007, at Etihad Stadium.

Although Richmond's 2017 playing group might not be as burdened by the club's sorry recent finals history as long-suffering Tigers fans, most of the group were part of three elimination finals losses under Hardwick from 2013-15.

After slumping to 13th last season, Richmond is through to its first preliminary final since its 2001 loss to the Brisbane Lions.

Geelong's loss continued its poor finals record since claiming the 2011 Grand Final, the Cats having now lost seven of their past nine finals. 

Constantly tackled, chased and harassed, the Cats looked ragged and flustered. Unable to find space or generate fluent passages of play, they went goalless in the first quarter for the first time in 2017.

It then looked like Geelong would be held goalless in a first half for the first time since round 12, 1977, before Steve Motlop goaled at the 26-minute mark of the second term.

Mitch Duncan (29 possessions, 11 tackles and seven clearances) was the Cats' best player, while Zach Tuohy (27 possessions and six rebound 50s) generated rare run from half-back.

Patrick Dangerfield (31 possessions and one goal) and Scott Selwood (27 possessions, eight inside 50s and seven clearances) battled all night, but Joel Selwood (19 possessions) understandably looked underdone after returning from a month off with an ankle injury.

Geelong: Cameron Guthrie went into the Cats' rooms early in the third term with a right calf injury and did not take any further part in the game. 

Richmond: Alex Rance came from the ground midway through the first term with a head cut after ducking into a tackle from Harry Taylor. The key defender returned soon after being cleaned up on the interchange bench.

The Tigers are through to a preliminary final in two weeks' time at the MCG, where they will play one of Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide or West Coast. The Cats will host the winner of the Sydney-Essendon elimination final at the MCG on Friday night.

GEELONG        0.4       2.4       4.9       5.10 (40)
RICHMOND     2.4       3.7       6.10     13.13 (91)

 Motlop, Dangerfield, Parsons, Hawkins, Taylor
Richmond: Townsend 2, Caddy 2, Butler, Vlastuin, Edwards, Prestia, Grigg, Lambert, Castagna, Cotchin, Riewoldt

Geelong: Duncan, Tuohy, Dangerfield, S.Selwood, Lonergan, Smith  
Richmond: Martin, Prestia, Rance, Cotchin, Vlastuin, Lambert

Geelong: C.Guthrie (calf)
Richmond: Nil  

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Nicholls, McInerney

Official crowd: 95,028 at the MCG