MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The rampaging Richmond Tigers stormed to their second Australian Football League title in three years on Saturday with an 89-point humiliation of the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the season-ending Grand Final in Melbourne on Saturday.
Showcasing their blitzkrieg brand of power and pressure, the Tigers booted 11 successive goals to kill off the contest shortly after half-time and roared on to a 17.12 (114) - 3.7 (25) win at a heaving Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Veteran forward Jack Riewoldt scored five goals and midfield maestro Dustin Martin added four for Richmond, who claimed their 12th title in the AFL top flight, two years after hammering the Adelaide Crows for the 2017 championship.
Saturday’s win was the third most dominant in 123 Grand Finals dating back to 1898.
Only the Geelong Cats’ 119-point trouncing of Port Adelaide in the 2007 decider and the Hawthorn Hawks’ 96-point defeat of the Melbourne Demons in 1988 have been more one-sided.
“I’m just so proud of this club,” Martin said on the MCG turf as his team mates wrapped each other in bear-hugs.
“They laughed at the (Richmond) board – what was it - 10 years ago when they said we’d have a premiership and 75,000 members. Now we’ve got 100 (thousand) and we’ve got two (premierships).
“It’s just a great bunch of boys. We just love each other, love the coaches, everyone involved.”
While the Tigers sent their black-and-gold army of fans into raptures, Giants supporters will head back to Sydney in gloom after their team’s horror debut on the game’s biggest stage.
In their eighth season in the top flight of Australian Rules football, the Giants had been overjoyed a week ago when they qualified for their maiden Grand Final with a nerve-jangling, four-point win over the Collingwood Magpies at the same venue.
But in a dramatic attack of stage-fright on the biggest day in their history, they were held to their lowest ever score in a championship match since joining the AFL in 2012.
It was also the lowest score in a Grand Final since 1960, when the Collingwood Magpies managed only 14 points against premiers Melbourne in wet conditions.
The Giants could hardly blame the weather, with a crowd of 100,000 bathing in bright spring sunshine for much of the afternoon match.
Instead, it was the Tigers’ relentless pressure that threw them off guard early and saw them turn the ball over repeatedly to swarming midfielders.
Up seven points after the opening quarter, the Tigers blew the lead out to 35 at halftime and 62 by the third quarter break.
The players that smashed Adelaide two years ago savoured a second helping of Grand Final joy, having been denied it last year when they crashed out of the playoffs with a shock loss to Collingwood.
But the day’s biggest triumph may belong to Marlion Pickett, an Aboriginal former convict who made his AFL debut in the game’s showpiece match.
Seven years ago, Pickett, who was raised in government housing amid drugs and domestic violence, was released from jail after a string of burglary offences in Western Australia.
On Saturday, in front of a crowd of 100,000 people, the 27-year-old racked up 22 disposals and kicked a goal in a nerveless display to be among the Tigers’ best.
“It’s been awesome, good win by the boys,” said Pickett, cradling his daughter. “A good team effort.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Taoyuan, Taiwan; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly