Finals Week 2 – Richmond v St Kida: Bounding off the safety net





by John Green



In the Battle of the Big Top in the AFL Travelling Circus, the Tigers were clawed by the Lions last weekend and plummeted from the high wire.


But they landed in the safety net, courtesy of the double chance they fought so hard to attain. They’re poised to leap off and tangle with the Saints in a trapdoor semi-final. It’s at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, something of a home away from home for the cast from Punt Road and only 400 metres from their resort accommodation. The Saints made the bus journey from Noosa. And those Saints are missing some key members of their congregation. Paddy Ryder tore his hamstring against the Dogs in the elimination final with only minutes remaining after a best-on-ground performance. Jake Carlisle left the hub to be present at the birth of his third child and Ben Long was dis-fellowshipped by the Match Review Officer after his hit on Jackson Macrae.


Long Tom Lynch returns for the Tigers.


It’s only the fourth time that Richmond has met St Kilda in a final, an event that last occurred in 1973.


The Tigers are copping some bad reviews. Accusations of arrogance, ill-discipline and labelled as bullies who can’t stand up to the treatment when it’s dished out to them.


Maybe the defeat to Brisbane in the qualifying final was the loss that Richmond needed to have. A painful yanking of the tail may help them regain focus, intensity and the distinctive strengths that elevated them to premiership favouritism. No more down time in the hub, no vacant weekend and the opportunity to put some more game minutes into recent additions in Edwards, Prestia and Astbury. The mission is adjusted to three games and three wins in their bid to bring the flag south.


Chol has been omitted. Who will support Nankervis in the ruck? Astbury takes on the secondary role and Balta remains at full back to oppose Matt King. Bolton reverts to a role in attack.


Cotchin clears the ball at the opening bounce and locates Lynch for the first goal of the game. The Richmond brand is on display. Apply extreme pressure, seize the ball, attack and get it forward by any means possible. St. Kilda is acutely conscious of the aerial threat posed by Riewoldt and Lynch. A posse of Saints fly at every contest, presenting ample opportunities for Richmond’s crumb gatherers. Edwards darts one home. Bolton is hemmed in. He spins, weaves and swerves before letting fly from outside fifty. It bounces though. He gathers at a stoppage and kicks another one from the outside of his boot. The smiling felines from last week have become the snarling Tigers. A free kick is awarded to St. Kilda for a high tackle and Cotchin exploits the situation by continuing his own tackle on Zac Jones, slinging him to the ground. Jones takes a while to regain his feet. Richmond‘s lead extends to 23 points until Dan Butler scrambles one just before the siren after the time has run out on the TV match clock. A case of the timekeeper being slow on the button?


The margin grows to 32 points in the second quarter when Bolton scores his third. It’s the magical five-goal gap in this season of reduced game time. I start to relax a little. Sinclair takes a shot which seems to avoid a flailing Nick Vlaustin and bounce on the line, before being rushed through for a behind. Score review. Did the ball cross the line in the first instance? Vlaustin is most unconvincing when he claims to have touched the ball. This is how the goal umpire calls it.  We look in vain for evidence of Vlaustin’s vibrating fist in the replay. The verdict goes our way and the behind stands! At last, after years of frustration, a dodgy score review in our favour! Then Lynch, who is proving a handful for the beleagured St Kilda defence, momentarily presses his knee into the shoulder of a prone Dougal Howard. Cue outrage. The Tigers are up by 31 points at half time while a breathless reporter breaks the news that Lynch might come under the scrutiny of the match review officer again. There are a thousand and one incidents in game of footy where competitive players dish out little stingers like this one. Howard didn’t bat an eyelid. No case to answer and it looks as though the Tigers have enough on the board to get themselves to Adelaide for a preliminary final clash with the Power.


Are we about to witness a runaway win? You have to hand it to the Saints. They are significant improvers. They have a number of surges in which they control proceedings with pace and precise ball movement. But they regress to their standards of the previous few years and their kicking for goal is about as reliable as a three-month weather forecast. Battle, King and Marshall miss sitters in the third term and utterly torch their chances. It’s nothing like the astonishing 15-3 they finished with at Marvel Stadium when they knocked off Richmond earlier in the year.


Richmond find a way to win at the centre bounces, clearances and stoppages, and they respond each time the Saints resist. I only become a little testy when my wife criticises the redoubtable Bachar Houli for a couple of uncharacteristic fumbles. I’m very protective of my boys.


Welcome home Tom Lynch. We missed you. Stand and applaud our stellar performers in Edwards, Martin, Bolton, Baker, Nankervis and McIntosh. Acclaim the whole lot of them, this Cirque de Tigre, this band of brothers, about to play in their fourth preliminary final in four years.




RICHMOND   5.1       9.1       10.4     12.8 (80)
ST KILDA       2.2       3.6       5.11     6.13 (49)


Bolton 3, Lynch 2, Edwards 2, Castagna, Martin, McIntosh, Prestia, Rioli
St Kilda: Battle, Butler, Kent, Ross, Savage, Steele


Edwards, Martin, Bolton, Baker, Houli.
St Kilda: Clark, Steele, Coffield, Ross.


At Metricon Stadium


To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



  1. 4 prelims on the trot is a decent effort, John

  2. Smokie – I remember feeling very envious of North Melbourne in the 90s when they made 7(?) Prelims in a row. Never thought back then that the Tigers would get to this point.
    John – it’s not beyond us this week, but it’ll be a massive challenge.

Leave a Comment