Round 4 – Richmond v Brisbane: The State of the Lions

 

So, what’s the state of the Lions around the world?

 

South Morang won the Northern Football League Division 3 premiership in 2011, were promoted to the second tier, but found themselves relegated back to Division 3 in 2013. Millwall, Tim Cahill’s club, is currently sixth in the English Championship and vying for the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League, a place they haven’t appeared in since 1990. American football team the Detroit Lions are part of the NFL. Mirroring the fate of their city, which descended into bankruptcy after the collapse of its car manufacturing industry, their last title was in 1957 and they have never appeared in a Superbowl final. The Indomitable Lions, the national soccer team of West African nation Cameroon, are idolised by their compatriots. Despite having appeared in seven World Cups they missed the cut for the 2018 tournament in Russia, plunging the nation into mourning.

 

The Brisbane Lions are always welcome guests of the Tigers when they venture south from Queensland. They haven’t beaten Richmond since 2009 and the Tigers have won all ten clashes since that dark day at the MCG. Now it’s a meeting between the 2017 premiers and the club which finished last.

 

The Lions have been competitive this year despite the fact they sit in seventeenth position on the ladder and have zero points from three rounds. They took it up to both St. Kilda and Melbourne and  fell short by only five points to Port Power at the Adelaide Oval last weekend. Still, the boys from up north can’t be pleased with the wintry conditions they face in Melbourne today, with rain, a freezing wind and possible hail to follow.

 

The problem for bottom teams is that sometimes they play like bottom teams. Today is such an occasion for the Brisbane Lions. Their ball use is acceptable enough when they transfer to the opposite side of the ground or pass short into space. But they are unable to pierce Richmond’s defensive wall and their delivery into their forward half is completely off target. Lions commit numerous skill errors and fumble under pressure, enabling their opponents to tackle and regain possession. Their playmakers in Zorko, Beams and Cameron are ineffectual. Stefan Martin has won plenty of admirers in recent weeks but today’s only noteworthy feature is the fact he wins an astonishing nine free kicks, which must surely be a record.

 

The Tigers, on the other hand, hardly have a weak link. Cotchin, Conca, Grigg, Lambert, Astbury, Short, Grimes, Prestia and Houli do as they please. If this was an under elevens match report ‘the whole team’ would be cited as best players. It’s old fashioned ganging up on a struggling, inexperienced outfit. Richmond supporters have raided their wardrobes for scarves and jackets following the change in the weather and settle in for a pleasant afternoon. Dustin Martin spends considerable time at full forward as he is not required in the midfield, where Richmond ragdoll the opposition. He boots a career-best six goals.

 

Brisbane has a mere four behinds on the scoreboard at half time and trails by 52 points. The focus is now on whether Richmond can keep the visitors goalless. Late in the third quarter a high ball is lobbed in the direction of Stefan Martin in the square. A maniacal Dylan Grimes has obviously discussed the matter with his defensive counterparts. He launches himself backwards to spoil a certain mark, tackles the big man as he attempts to recover and wins the free. By the 26-minute mark of the term the Tigers have eleven on the board before Nankervis drops a mark he might have taken in dry conditions and Zorko swoops to fire in a low dart for the Lion’s first major. Number one draft pick Cameron Rayner adds another in the last quarter as the Tigers press on to a century score as well as a potential 100-point win.  They reach the first target but fall just short of the second. The final margin of 93 points is Richmond’s most substantial win over the Brisbane Bears/Lions and the Lions’ final score of 2-5 (17) is their equal lowest ever.

 

How did the other Lions fare on the weekend? South Morang had a two-point win at home over Mernda. Millwall kept their promotion hopes alive with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United. The Detroit Lions are in their pre-season and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions haven’t played since last month when they overcame Kuwait with a 3-1 scoreline.

 

So, it isn’t all grim if you’re a Lions fan. It all depends on which Lions you barrack for.

 

Comments

  1. Stainless says:

    John
    Nice comparison with the Lions around the world. Another comparison closer to home is this game with a number of blowout results this weekend that would be alarming for the AFL at such an early point of the season. Brissy, Gold Coast, Carlton and St Kilda already looking non-competitive.
    Difficult to know what to make of the Tigers from this game except to say they got their defensive mojo back. Whoever says watching a strong defence is boring should have a close look at this group and appreciate their skill, balance, judgement and teamwork. I hope amidst all the ongoing adulation of Dusty, the Tiger faithful recognise what we’ve got here.

  2. Joe De Petro says:

    Nice piece, John. That lunge by Grimes was wonderful, given that no one would care if he just watched Martin kick a goal and then give him a little one to go on with. Maniacal is a good word to describe it.

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