Despite winning the 1927 flag, the 1928 season held significant hurdles for the Magpies to overcome – contentious pay cuts, a threatened player’s strike, allegations of bribery against two team members and a long injury list contributed to a late-season slump. Still, they managed to top the ladder by the end of the season, winning 15 of 18 home-and-away games.
In contrast, Richmond was in excellent shape at the end of the home-and-away season. The side finished second on the ladder, and defeated Carlton by 53 points in the First Semi-Final. Collingwood and Melbourne contested a draw in the Second Semi-Final, forcing a replay the following week which was won by Collingwood by four points. As such, Richmond had a three-week break between its Semi-Final and the Grand Final.
This season was played under the amended Argus System. If Richmond had won this match, Collingwood would have had the right to challenge Richmond to a rematch for the premiership on the following weekend, because Collingwood was the minor premier. The winner of that match would then have won the premiership.
Collingwood saw Richmond as a skillful, confident team, but also vulnerable to being distracted as well. They set out to taunt the Tigers with name-calling and other verbal challenges while maintaining the ball as their first objective.
The first quarter was a scramble, and the defenses of both sides held. Collingwood used all six of their followers in the ruck for the first half, saving Percy Rowe for the second half. A blistering 10 minutes in the 2nd quarter saw Collingwood seize control of the match to lead by 21 points at half time, with Gordon Coventry kicking 4 goals for the quarter. Rowe repeatedly absorbed the pressure from Richmond’s backs to provide protection for Coventry run to the ball. Despite the Tigers reducing their opponent’s lead to 16 points at 3-quarter time, the Magpies banged on 2 quick goals early in the final quarter to effectively seal the game. Collingwood won by 33 points, and Coventry finished with 9 goals, a Grand Final record that stood for 61 years, until equaled by Gary Ablett in the 1989 VFL Grand Final.