THE freakish talent of Dustin Martin has led Richmond to a 47-point win over Brisbane and their third AFL preliminary final in as many seasons.
Playing in front of a 37,478 crowd – the biggest attendance at the Gabba for an AFL match – Martin booted an equal career-best six goals on Saturday night in a dominant display as the Tigers stormed to an 18.4 (112) to 8.17 (65) win.
Martin’s haul is the highest by a Tiger in a final since the 1980 decider when Kevin Bartlett kicked seven and David Cloke booted six against Collingwood.
Lions defender Marcus Adams will probably wake up in cold sweats after the 2017 Brownlow medallist made mincemeat of him in several contests, picking up 14 disposals along with his goals as the Lions had little answer to his strength and presence.
He wasn’t alone, however, with Shane Edwards a strong contender for best on ground with 29 disposals and a goal, as he and Dion Prestia (32 disposals) allowed Martin to roam forward and wreck havoc.
Tom Lynch kicked two majors in his first finals appearance, while Dylan Grimes once more shut down Lions goalsneak Charlie Cameron.
Daniel Rioli, who didn’t have a touch in the first quarter, ended the match with two goals including a breakaway effort in the third term sparked by a clever tap on by Martin.
Jack Riewoldt kicked three majors, including a fourth-quarter effort that came from a pass by Martin on the boundary line that looked suspiciously like a throw.
Josh Caddy also had two for the Tigers, while Lachie Neale and Allen Christensen were the only multiple goalkickers for the Lions with two each.
A shellshocked Brisbane were made to pay for poor decision-making in defence and errant goalkicking in their first final since 2009.
The Lions held a 12-point lead at quarter-time but that had turned into an 11-point deficit after a goalless second term.
Daniel McStay, Cameron Rayner, Oscar McInerney and Jarrod Lyons were all guilty of missing gettable set shots and the Tigers made them pay with Rioli, Lynch, Martin and Shai Bolton all kicking goals.
The tide turned fully in the third quarter and, by the time Hugh McCluggage kicked the Lions’ first goal since the opening term, they were down by 41 points.
The loss is Brisbane’s second at the Gabba this year and their first in 13 finals at the ground.
It also extend’s Richmond’s winning run over the Tigers to 14 matches over 10 years.
Lions veteran Luke Hodge wound back the clock to his Hawthorn days in his first September foray since a 2016 semi-final against the Western Bulldogs for the Hawks.
The 35-year-old picked up 27 disposals and nine marks as well as winning two one-on-one contests with Martin to be the Lions’ best on ground.
Neale couldn’t match his 51 touches from the round-23 clash with the Tigers at the MCG, but ended with a game-high 37 disposals on top of his two majors.
Premiership favourites Richmond will have a week off before hosting a preliminary final at the MCG against the winner of next weekend’s semi-final between Geelong and West Coast.
The Lions will be out to bounce back when they host GWS in a sudden-death semi- final at the Gabba.
© AAP 2019
RICHMOND 3.0 7.3 14.4 18.4 (112)
BRISBANE LIONS 4.6 4.10 6.14 8.17 (65)
Goals: Richmond: D Martin 6 J Riewoldt 3 D Rioli 2 J Caddy 2 T Lynch 2 J Castagna S Bolton S Edwards. Brisbane Lions: A Christensen 2 L Neale 2 C Cameron C Rayner D McStay H McCluggage.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Mathew Nicholls, Craig Fleer.
Official Crowd: 37,478 at Gabba.