Richmond are through to their first VFL Grand Final as a standalone club after thrashing the Box Hill Hawks before a vocal crowd in the Preliminary Final at Fortburn Stadium in Port Melbourne. The Tigers burst out of the blocks booting the first seven goals of the match and were never headed, winning by 65 points - 18.11.119 to 8.6.54.
The Tigers goals were shared around with fourteen goalkickers in an even team performance, Callum Moore kicking a game-high four goals and Ben Lennon with two were the only multiples. The Tigers fielded nineteen AFL listed players and are riding the yellow and black wave, mirroring their senior AFL teammates, who are hoping to make their way into the AFL Grand Final this Saturday.
With their teammates in the stands watching on, the Tigers were unstoppable. It wasn't until the ten minute mark of the second quarter before the Hawks finally registered their first goal thanks to skipper David Mirra. They did boot the next two to offer some sort of fight back, however still trailed by 34 points at the main break - 9.6.60 to 4.2.26.
Richmond's bigman brigade in Shaun Hampson and Ivan Maric reigned supreme in the ruck against Hawks counterparts Marc Pittonet and Connor Nash. The Hawks missing former Tiger and rucking forward Tyrone Vickery through a one week suspension.
The Tiger party continued in the third term as they booted another six goals to Box Hill's one, to put the game beyond doubt at the final change leading by 64 points. Small forward Sam Lloyd continued his fine VFL form with 30 disposals while Oleg Markov (26 possessions) is keeping his AFL season alive after being dropped for the AFL qualifying final.
The Tigers didn't allow the Hawks any freedom and run with their tough and aggressive pressure at the ball carrier. Anthony Miles was again superb with a game-high 34 disposals and Jayden Short (22 touches) worked hard across half back and the wing. The Hawks matched the Tigers in the last quarter booting three goals with Oliver Hanrahan, Brendan Whitecross and Will Hams all working hard till the end. Pittonet battled manfully against the more experienced pair of Maric and Hampson while Mirra (2 goals) and defender Kurt Heatherley tried hard to make life difficult for their opponents.
It is the first time Richmond will play in a VFL Grand Final since 2007 when they were aligned with Coburg. The Tiger army will be hoping their side can finally get some silverware with their last flag in the VFA/VFL dating way back to 1905. They face stand-alone club Port Melbourne who upset minor Premiers Williamstown in the other Preliminary Final on Sunday.
For full match details log onto the VFL website here