It’s Tiger time again: Richmond topple Cats in AFL grand final

The Richmond Tigers have won their third premiership in four years after beating the Geelong Cats 81-50 in the 2020 AFL grand final

After trailing at halftime, the Tigers turned in a dominant second half to surge past the Cats, led by another outstanding grand final performance from Dustin Martin, who picked his record-breaking third Norm Smith Medal for best on ground.

The Richmond superstar produced the match-turning moment late in the second quarter. After Geelong had opened up a 22-point lead, Martin somehow fended off Jake Kolodjashnij from a stoppage and snapped across his body against the run of play to pull the margin back to 15 at the major break. It was one of Martin’s game-best four goals.

The Tigers carried the momentum from that crucial play into the third, kicking four goals to one before starting the final term with the opening three majors.

While Geelong had beaten Richmond at the contest in the first half and benefitted from the absence of the concussed Nick Vlaustin, the Tigers gained the ascendancy in close and were able to find a more organised defensive set-up after the major break.

A booming Sam Menegola goal from outside 50 with seven minutes to go gave the Cats a glimmer of hope, but Martin’s fourth and Nick Riewoldt’s second put the result well beyond doubt.

Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates kicking a goal

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The match started at breakneck pace, but was brought to a sudden halt after a couple of minutes due to two significant injuries. A stray Patrick Dangerfield elbow collected Vlaustin high, leaving the Tigers defender prone and requiring the stretcher to leave the field. In the same passage of play, Gary Ablett landed awkwardly in a tackle and appeared to dislocate his left shoulder.

Vlaustin didn’t play any further part, but Ablett was able to return in his final game of AFL footy, and, while clearly hampered by the injury, still played a key role for the Cats, setting up a number of goals with some typically classy handballs.

Once the game got back underway, the Tigers kicked the first two majors through Dion Prestia and Kamdyn McIntosh, but the Cats finished the term with a one-point lead courtesy of some excellent set-shot finishes from Cam Guthrie and Mitch Duncan.

Chris Scott’s men threatened to break away in the second quarter, enjoying a far better run of the play but, while jumping out to a 35-13 lead, their dominance wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard. Gryan Miers was one of a handful of Cats to miss goalscoring opportunities, inexplicably playing on and snapping instead of going back for a set shot or running in close to the goalsquare after being gifted possession deep in forward 50.

That and other missed opportunities proved crucial, with the Tigers capitalising on Martin’s outstanding goal late in the term and powering their way to a second consecutive premiership.

2020 AFL grand final match result

Richmond Tigers 12.9 81 (Goals: Dustin Martin 4, Dion Prestia 2, Jack Riewoldt 2, Kamdyn McIntosh, Jason Castagna, Kane Lambert, Tom Lynch) def Geelong Cats 7.8 50 (Goals: Sam Menegola 2, Cam Guthrie, Mitch Duncan, Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkins, Gryan Miers)

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