Heading in the right direction

by Josh Barnstable

When these two sides met late in the season in 2009, there was much speculation about which team would lose, not win. Melbourne needed to lose, that’s right, lose, to gain the priority pick. They did lose, thanks to a kick after the siren from Jordy McMahon (who?) and Melbourne, from that resultant kick, saw Jack Trengove and Tom Scully in their ranks for the 2010 season. Many people say that Melbourne tanked. They might’ve, but if they did, they did it to perfection, as it took a kick after the bell to lose the four points.

Round 19, 2010, and the situation is much different. Melbourne are playing to keep their slim finals hopes alive, while Richmond are wanting to beat their first Victorian nemesis for 2010 to add even more promise onto a season of much joy and heartache for Richmond supporters. The joy has easily outweighed the heartache in the past 12 weeks, which is solid proof that Damien Hardwick is steering the Tigers in the right direction, the first time they have been on the right track in quite a while. They’ve finally acquired a much-needed compass. That needle in the compass will point even closer to north with a win over Melbourne in the battle of the up and comers at the MCG. Both are playing for a win, not a loss. How great is it?

Richmond start well, but can’t capitalise early. The inside 50 count is 0-7 in favour of the Tigers, but as Melbourne enter for the first time, Liam Jurrah runs into an open goal for the first of the match. Matt White replies for the Tiges after the promising Robbie Hicks grubbered the ball along the boundary line to the open goalsquare, where White booted it out of mid-air for a major. Could Hicks be the new Ballantyne/Milne? Jurrah gets his second from a free kick, but again Richmond reply through Jake King with a long goal on the run after pick-pocketing Colin Garland, who was having a horror first quarter. Lynden Dunn got himself free close to goal, and marked from a good Paul Johnson kick to give Melbourne the lead going into quarter time, 3.1 to 2.5.

The second quarter saw White kick his second after a crumbing snap, but Brad Green replied after winning a contest in the goalsquare before snapping the goal over his shoulder. Ben Cousins kicked a rare major in the yellow and black after a high tackle against Jared Rivers, then Rivers completed a horror couple of minutes by pushing Angus Graham out of a contest, with the tall metro Tiger booting the first consecutive goals of the day. Andrew Browne had difficulties knowing which way he was going, and wasn’t helped by the umpire, but soon Browne’s compass was working and Richmond’s was starting to flicker even stronger towards north as the rejuvenated Mitch Morton took a good mark and converted, taking Richmond to a 16 point lead. Melbourne were aided by a golden minute from Dunn, after a frantic transition resulted in his second goal, then a terrific snap from deep in the forward pocket saw the margin cut back to a couple of points. Graham became Richmond’s first multiple goalkicker, marking a Hicks’ kick in the goalsquare, but Green converted after the half time siren to cut the margin to one point at the main break, 7.5 to 7.6.

The second half got underway as the sun started to fade in the late winter sky, with Nathan Jones putting Melbourne in front with a goal, then Austin Wonaeamirri got onto the end of a great transition, and Melbourne led by twelve points. Cousins took a good mark backing back into who knows what and converted, the first time he’d kicked multiple goals for Richmond, and then Jack Riewoldt marked on the boundary line, before skillfully running around and curling it through, and the Tigers were again back within a point. Dunn again hurt them. From outside 50, the much improved Demon put it through for his fourth goal right on the stroke of three quarter time, and that compass wasn’t quite too sure where to point itself.

The final term saw Morton snap a typical Mitch Morton-goal, drawing scores level at 70 apiece. Rohan Bail continued with his impressive afternoon, sending a long ball inside 50 where Jack Watts marked. He went back and converted, giving Melbourne the lead again. The Demons pressed on again, with Green gathering inside 50, handballing to Mark Jamar in the goalsquare and the Russian slammed it through from right in front of the goal umpire, and surely they wouldn’t have got that decision wrong. Green kicked a big goal from outside 50 on a tough angle for a left-footer, raising the question on whether he should be included in the 2010 All Australian team. Jurrah finally found the big sticks after a string of behinds, but King finally replied with a major, keeping the Tigers in it. Barely. The margin was 19 points, and Dunn was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After Watts marked at centre half forward, he spotted a man in red and blue waving his arms frantically, with no Richmond player in sight. The kick by Watts was a beauty. Straight down the throat of Dunn, who rammed home his fifth goal, sealing the game. To top it off, Jurrah stamped his return to the AFL with his fourth goal on the run after marking uncontested inside 50, Melbourne had won by 29 points, 16.13.109 to 11.14.80.

After this win, it keeps Melbourne’s faint finals hopes alive, but a win against Hawthorn next week will really get the Demon army believing. As for Richmond, where does the compass point? It’s not smack-bang on north like it is for Melbourne, but it’s close enough to get Richmond fans excited for the future.

Melbourne 3.1—7.5—10.10—16.13.109

Richmond 2.5—7.6—9.9—11.14.80


Melbourne-Dunn 5, Jurrah 4, Green 3, Jones, Wonaeamirri, Jamar, Watts

Richmond-Cousins 2, King 2, Graham 2, White 2, Morton 2, Riewoldt


Melbourne-Davey, Frawley, Dunn, Jurrah, Green, Bruce, Jones

Richmond-Cousins, Jackson, Newman, Moore, Morton, White


45,844 at the MCG


3: Ben Cousins (R)

2: Aaron Davey (M)

1: James Frawley (M)

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.

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