Round 4 – Brisbane v Richmond: Misplaced nerves
AND THE GABBA MAKES FOUR
Almost without exception I can recall the last occasion that Richmond has fallen to an opposition club. This is not difficult, as most of these defeats were suffered during a traumatic 2016 campaign. It’s a bit harder for Gold Coast (opening round 2014). But for Brisbane? I am compelled to trawl back through the results from recent seasons. It was actually back in round seven in 2009, the last year the Lions made the finals. They won by 26 points at Etihad Stadium. I assume that I was present but am unable to remember a single detail from that game in a forgettable season that yielded only five wins and a draw along with the demise of Terry Wallace. The Tigers have won their last nine clashes against the Queenslanders. The last time they lost at the Gabba was in 2004. It’s like the northern gods have smiled upon Punt Road for the willingness of then president Alan Bond to move the whole operation to Brisbane back in 1986.
So how can the Tigers possibly go down today? The same way that Sydney lost to Collingwood, the Bulldogs to Fremantle and Hawthorn to Gold Coast in the previous round. Or when I fantasised about quietly wagering the entire budget for our recent UK trip on the certainty of Geelong vanquishing Melbourne at Skilled Stadium at very generous odds. I resisted the urge, the Cats inexplicably lost the match and a possible gambling addiction was nipped in the bud. Upsets happen. A defeat at the Gabba will nullify Richmond’s promising start to the season with wins in the first three rounds. If the Tigers prevail, it will be their best start to a season since 1995, when they won their first seven and played off in the finals for the first time in 13 years. Get ‘em in the bank while the sun shines, I say, before we meet with the inevitable setbacks of winter.
One day I’ll see Richmond take on the Lions at Vulture Street. The only time I’ve been inside the stadium was when I was in Brisbane for a work conference back in 1995. I watched Robert Walls putting the Bears through their paces in an afternoon session before they played St. Kilda on the following weekend. I was the only spectator. Suspicious glances were cast my way by the coaching staff, who no doubt assumed that I was on a spying mission for the Saints. But on this Easter Sunday it’s a late afternoon in front of the TV.
Richmond carry on their encouraging form and control proceedings in the first half. The match is played in periods of silence punctuated by the cheers of the travelling supporters. There’s an air of inevitability and the home fans seemed resigned to their fate. In fact this fate was delivered to them in stages every time a high draft pick packed his bags in recent years and headed south again. They just can’t hold ‘em. The Lions win their share of contested ball, Stefan Martin is overcoming Toby Nankervis in the ruck and they move the ball efficiently enough through the midfield. But their delivery into fifty is woeful and they keep handing the ball over to grateful Tigers. Richmond, on the other hand, is more poised, more clinical and able to ruthlessly exploit errors. They are seven goals up at half time and cruising for a percentage booster.
I tuck into my pie and potato wedges secure in the knowledge that the Tigers have placed win number four in the pouch with their airline tickets. One day Brisbane will beat us again, but not this time.
The Lions rally with consecutive majors to Zorko, Taylor and Dayne Beams in the third term and a period of inactivity from Richmond, but it’s only temporary. The Tigers show their claws again. They simply have too many dominant players. Riewoldt and Castagna with four goals each, as well as Cotchin, Houli, Grigg, Astbury, Grimes, Brandon Ellis and McIntosh. Last year I strongly doubted the wisdom of snaring Daniel Rioli as Richmond’s first selection in the 2015 draft. So much for my expert opinion. While still a work in progress, he adds pace, goal sense and a manic attack on the opposition ball-carrier to Richmond’s armoury. Curiously, Dusty Martin is having a quiet one, with Mitch Robinson having the better of him. It’s a good opportunity for Martin to take an R.D.O, as his services were not really required today.
It’s always pleasant to score a convincing win over sides less fortunate than yourselves. But sterner tests await in the coming weeks with bouts against Melbourne, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs.
The world would be a much nicer place If we played Brisbane every week.