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UPDATE 2-Australian Rules-Martin shines as Tigers maul Cats to claim back-to-back AFL titles

Reuters logo Reuters 10/24/2020

(Adds more details, new quotes)

MELBOURNE, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Dustin Martin etched his name into Australian Football League history with a Grand Final masterclass as the Richmond Tigers surged to a 31-point win over the Geelong Cats and claimed back-to-back championships in Brisbane on Saturday.

Tigers talisman Martin booted four goals and racked up 21 disposals, firing his side to a third AFL title in four seasons in front of 30,000 spectators at the Gabba.

Martin iced Richmond's 12.9 (81) - 7.8 (50) win with a sumptuous goal from the boundary line and earned a record third Norm Smith medal as best-on-ground in a Grand Final, having won the accolade in his team's 2017 and 2019 triumphs.

Trailing by 15 points at halftime after a muscular Geelong side dominated the second quarter, the Tigers rallied brilliantly before mauling the Cats with five goals in the final term.

Richmond have forged their dynasty with class and toughness, and those qualities proved decisive again as they negotiated one of the most challenging AFL seasons.

They clinched their 13th premiership cup after spending more than three months in a biosecure bubble in Queensland state, having been forced out of their Melbourne home by an outbreak of COVID-19 mid-year.

"It's been incredible, you know, 110 days or so being up here," Tigers captain Trent Cotchin said.

"I didn't expect it to be this way but everyone's treated it like an adventure and it's been a lot of fun.

"There's been some challenges but nevertheless, we've been very grateful to be a part of it."

Cotchin and coach Damien Hardwick won their third AFL championships and were presented with the winners' trophy by women's world number one tennis player Ash Barty, a mad Richmond supporter.

The Grand Final, delayed by a month due to COVID-19, was the first held outside Melbourne in the league's history and also the first staged at night.

It was the first time two teams from the AFL's heartland state of Victoria had met in the decider since the Cats defeated the Collingwood Magpies in 2011.

But with Melbourne still under lockdown and Victorians barred from leaving the state due to the pandemic, home fans were forced to watch the match on devices in their living rooms.

Geelong battled to remain within two points of Richmond at the end of the third quarter but ultimately capitulated at the end of a bruising contest.

Retiring Cats champion Gary Ablett bowed out in pain and disappointment in his 357th game, having nursed a shoulder injury after a hard tackle in the opening minutes.

Geelong's star midfielder-forward Patrick Dangerfield kicked an early goal and put Richmond's Nick Vlastuin out of the game in a high-speed collision in the opening term.

But Dangerfield was blanketed after half-time by a disciplined Richmond defence, and the 30-year-old's wait for a maiden premiership medallion will extend to at least a 14th season. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


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