Richmond started the season with a lot of people thinking they would follow typical Richmond fashion and miss out on September football once again, but they proved everyone wrong by becoming the 2017 AFL premiers after finishing third on the ladder.
It was mostly highs for Damien Hardwick’s Tigers as they were consistent throughout the year, never dropping out of the top eight.
The ultimate prize in AFL football is to win the Grand Final and against the odds Richmond did that with a very convincing 48-point win which saw the premiership return to Punt Road for the first time in 37 years. The Tigers continued from there very impressive second half in their Preliminary final against GWS.
The low-light of the season however, was in Round 16 when they went down by 67 points to St Kilda, only managing to score one goal in the first half of football. They managed to claw the margin back by outscoring the Saints in the second half, but it was too little too late as the Saints were just too good in the opening two terms. It is a game that the Tigers will definitely want to forget, but it perhaps proved somewhat of a catalyst for the rest of the year.
They did manage to go on and win four straight games including a 19 point win over GWS before losing to Geelong in round 21 at Simonds Stadium.
Playing in a total of 22 games this season, Kane Lambert was Richmond’s most improved, improving all his key stats from last year as well as spending a lot more time in the midfield. The running ability from Lambert proved to be key to his game and despite some concern about his fitness, he replicated that in the Grand Final and brought the trademark pressure he became known for this season.
Best and Fairest:
Arguably the best player in the AFL and he proved it this year with an impressive set of achievements with the greatest achievement being the Brownlow medal with a total of 26 votes. He also became the first player to win both the Brownlow and Norm Smith medal in the same year.
Adding to his list of 2017 achievements was of course a premiership medal, an All-Australian guernsey, the AFL coaches association player of the year and the Leigh Matthews trophy which is given by the AFL players association to the most valuable player. The year was topped off with Martin receiving the Jack Dyer medal as expected.
What does Richmond’s off season look like?
The hardest part of Richmond’s off season was starting to look like they were going to have to find a replacement for Dustin Martin but before the finals he and the club announced that he had signed a deal that would keep him for the next seven years, rejecting deal worth around $1.5 million per season from North Melbourne.
2018 Crystal Ball:
The Tigers proved this year they can show some consistency and proved doubters wrong by winning the Grand Final. Even though success has come, a premiership hangover looms, as the Bulldogs can attest to. Despite winning the flag, Richmond still aren’t the best team in the AFL, they had a good end to the season and credit to them but next year its doubtful they will have a season like this again.
Prediction: 6-7th place finish