The Tigers are in unaccustomed territory. A big Anzac day clash on the Sunday night with the focus of an entire state upon the match. As for Fremantle, perhaps it is fitting. After all, Western Australians from the tenth battalion were among the first ashore on that tumultuous morning back in 1915.

The Dockers are the shortest priced favourites in the history of their club for the meeting with Richmond. How will they handle the heightened expectation? They had confounded the football world in the first weeks of the season, winning three from four. They had upset the Cats at Subiaco and gone close to following suit against St. Kilda in their previous outing. How would they saddle up after going head-for-head in an epic, bruising encounter with the Saints?

As for Richmond, after getting no closer than 55 points to any of their opponents in the first four rounds, would they be able to supplant the notion that they were at least nine goals adrift of every other team in the competition?

Everything is turned on its head in the first term.

The Tigers boot the first five goals of the game and claw their way to a 27-point lead by the 26-minute mark. Robin Nahas creates havoc for Dockers defenders with his blistering pace. Nobody expects a midget to tackle so fiercely. He boots two majors, as does Alex Rance, after earning two frees with  fearless, head-first attacks on the ball. Martin grubbers another through the legs of the pack from the square. Deledio, Newman and Tuck sweep across half-back and make express deliveries into the forward zone. Nathan Foley, making his first appearance since round 14 of 2009, is back on the job with his quick hands and lightning reflexes. Cousins gathers possessions at a rate too fast to be noticed by hometown supporters, who are itching for a chance to welcome him home to the West. Simmonds at least gets in Sandilands’ way in ruck contests and is able to blunt the man mountain’s effectiveness. Richmond players turn the tables on the Dockers in terms of pressuring the ball carrier.

The wayward wharfies, on the other hand, fluff their first five shots at goal. I can only put it down to a visiting Tiger fan sporting a leather magnet just left of the goals. If only he can remain undetected for the entire evening. The natives are growing restless. They blame their predicament on a conspiracy of eastern seaboard umpires.  It is not until time-on that Hill breaks the spell and lands Fremantle’s first goal.

In the second term, a constant purple wave threatens to dissolve Richmond’s lead. The Dockers lift their intensity and the Richmond game plan begins to unravel. Pavlich is isolated in Fremantle’s forward half with only McGuane to guard him. He boots a couple and looks poised to stamp his presence on the game. Reiwoldt is moved back by Hardwick to assist but looks totally bewildered in his new role.

The Tigers fail to raise two flags but the Dockers continue to squander their chances, despite continually storming the goal front. Somehow Richmond clings to a four-point lead at the main break. The teams get into the Anzac spirit with a spot of pushing, shoving and name-calling before leaving the arena.

The Dockers extinguish Richmond’s fragile lead when Duffield scores at the five-minute mark of the third quarter.  It is part of an unbroken run of eight goals that inflates their lead to 31 points by the 20-minute mark. Simmonds and Vickery no longer have the energy to cannon into Sandilands. He reverts to his days of towering over classmates in the school playground. Pavlich takes a break from staging for frees and boots his fourth. The belligerent Hayden Ballantyne gets under the skin of the visitors, lays some crunching tackles and snaffles three goals.  Fifth-gamer Michael Barlow demonstrates that his outstanding debut in the first round was no fluke. McPhee gives every indication that it might not be a bad idea after all to get him back from Essendon. They have found another good one in Nathan Fyfe. That skinny kid can certainly take a mark.

So much for a team that has been severely criticised for its recruiting in recent years.

Although the Tigers rally slightly and draw to within 14 points early in the final term, the home team supporters are content. They know they have this one in the bag and contemplate the biffo on the following weekend when they tangle with cross-town rivals, the West Coast Eagles. The only remaining question is whether the Tigers will restrict the final margin to a total under the magical 50-point barrier. They settle for a semi-respectable 39 points, thanking their lucky stars for the Dockers’ wasteful return of 15-22 (110).

The occasion might have been different, but for the Tigers, the result is depressingly familiar one.

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