Richmond will likely have to hold Adelaide to less than 100 points to break its 37-year premiership drought. The Crows were undefeated in the 15 games they scored 100 or more points this year – they drew with Collingwood in round 19 – but won just three of nine games when held to less than triple figures. Richmond’s challenge is formidable. Adelaide averaged a League-high 109.8 points a game during the home and away season and, with Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch and Charlie Cameron, boasts the competition’s most potent forward line. But the Tigers’ defensive pressure has been outstanding this September and they will be banking on it carrying them to victory one more time. Whichever team wins, there will hardly be a dry eye in the MCG. The Tigers faithful’s long wait has been well documented, while the Crows have had to overcome the tragic death of coach Phil Walsh in 2015 and the departures of stars Patrick Dangerfield, Phil Davis, Kurt Tippett and Jack Gunston.
WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday September 30, 2.30pm
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Round six: Adelaide 21.14 (140) d Richmond 10.4 (64) at Adelaide Oval
Both teams were undefeated entering this game and the Tigers took it up to the home team in the first term, kicking six goals to lead by nine points at quarter-time. However, the Crows then assumed total control, kicking 13 of the next 14 goals to set up an imposing 76-point win. Taylor Walker (five goals), Rory Sloane (33 possessions and three goals), Matt Crouch (38 possessions) and Rory Laird (34) were the stars for Adelaide.
LAST FIVE TIMES
R6, 2017, Adelaide 21.14 (140) d Richmond 10.4 (64) at Adelaide Oval
R3, 2016, Adelaide 19.14 (128) d Richmond 13.14 (92) at Etihad Stadium
R19, 2015, Adelaide 11.22 (88) d Richmond 8.4 (52) at Adelaide Oval
R21, 2014, Richmond 10.19 (79) d Adelaide 9.15 (69) at Adelaide Oval
R12, 2013, Richmond 16.14 (110) d Adelaide 10.12 (72) at the MCG
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The Crows are unlikely to assign a specific tag to Dustin Martin, backing their midfield group to take collective responsibility for him, especially around stoppages. Riley Knight is likely to run with Trent Cotchin.
2. Adelaide is one of competition’s most deadly teams by foot and will look to move the ball quickly and directly into their forward 50, aiming to give their forward line stars as many one-on-one contests as possible.
3. If allowed to roam free, Tigers star Alex Rance is a lethal intercept and counter-attacking weapon. The Crows could assign a defensive forward to him, with Andy Otten a candidate if selected.
1. The Tigers’ finals wins over Geelong and GWS were built on three things: pressure, pressure and pressure. They’ll need more of the same to beat the Crows. If the minor premiers are given time and space, their edge in class should prove decisive.
2. Rory Laird starred in the Crows’ round six win over Richmond and last Friday night against Geelong had 32 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency. The 23-year-old is Adelaide’s most potent defensive rebounder, so the Tigers could task Kane Lambert with limiting his influence.
3. Having developed an unfashionable – but highly effective – forward line around Jack Riewoldt and a mosquito fleet, Richmond won’t want to bomb the ball long and high inside its forward 50. The Tigers will try to move the ball quickly into an open forward line, where its band of goalsneaks can run the Crows ragged.
THE SIX POINTS
1. In round six, the Crows outscored Richmond 16 goals to four after quarter-time to turn a nine-point deficit into a 76-point win. Adelaide smashed Richmond in disposals (461-334) and marks (125-58) that afternoon.
2. The Crows were the competition’s highest-scoring side in the home and away season, averaging 109.8 points a game and scoring 100 points or more 15 times. The Tigers were the third-best defensive team, conceding only 76.5 points a game and just two opposition scores of 100 points or more – the fewest of any team.
3. The Crows have set up their finals wins this year in the first half, outscoring Greater Western Sydney and Geelong by a combined 19.14 to 6.13 in the opening two quarters, while Richmond has dominated in the second half, outscoring the same opponents by a combined 20.12 to 7.13.
4. Adelaide has won the teams’ last three clashes after Richmond won four of their five contests from 2010-14. The teams are 5-5 in their 10 games at the MCG, but haven’t played each other there since round 12, 2013, when the Tigers won by 38 points.
5. Adelaide is playing its first Grand Final since 1998 and third overall, having won back-to-back premierships in 1997-98. Richmond is playing its first Grand Final since 1982 and is aiming for its 11 premiership and first since 1980.
6. Both teams have three players in the top 50 of the Schick AFL Player Ratings – Richmond: Dustin Martin (two), Cotchin (15) and Rance (26); and Adelaide: Rory Sloane (four), Eddie Betts (24) and Matt Crouch (38).
WHAT THE COACHES SAY
Don Pyke: “It’ll be a different week, we’ll embrace the week and we’ll prepare as we always do to come ready to play and perform. As much as we’re pleased with [winning the preliminary final], making the Grand Final is not what it’s about. It’s about winning a Grand Final and that’s what we now set our sights on doing.”
Damien Hardwick: “I’ve been waiting since round six to get this opportunity to come back and play them again. There’s no doubt we go in as underdogs, that’s the harsh reality of it. They’re a fantastic side, they’ve put everyone to the sword, but we give ourselves a chance. If we play our best, we’re capable of beating anyone.”
IT’S A BIG WEEK FOR … Toby Nankervis
The Tigers ruckman was smashed by Sam Jacobs in round six, with the Crows big man finishing with 26 possessions, 50 hit-outs, nine marks, eight inside 50s and one goal. Nankervis will be desperate to put up a better showing in the Grand Final and help swing the midfield battle his team’s way.
*Courtesy of AFL.co.au