Round 12 – Richmond v Gold Coast: You can’t argue with Dusty

By John Green

 

So the Tigers are languishing in fourteenth position on the ladder with four wins and seven losses with the next five-year plan about to be activated. But not to worry. The Queenslanders are coming to town. Gold Coast today at the MCG followed by the Brisbane Lions in the round after the bye next weekend. The Suns have lost eight in a row by some huge margins after winning their first three games of the season. The Lions only have the one victory and that was in the Q-clash with the Suns. Winter is coming for you, my friends. That’s two guaranteed wins in the bank which should buy Dimma another couple of weeks of declaring to the football world that Richmond’s finals chances for 2016 are not over yet.

 

My son is looking forward to today’s game. He is yet to see Richmond tackle the Suns in person and is keen to see the great Gary Ablett junior in person. This is despite the fact that he has seen the little master before. Back in 2009, when my boy was only 12, we travelled by train to South Geelong to see the Tigers meet the rampaging Cats at Kardinia Park in one of their premiership years. I regarded the trip as part of my son’s footy education. We stood on the terraces at an away league game as part of a visiting minority just like I did in the old days with my own father. Richmond led by a point at three-quarter time before Geelong eventually prevailed by 20 points. Not a bad effort by the Tigers. My son swears that he can’t remember watching the domed genius that day.

 

A modest crowd assembles at the MCG in the pale winter sunshine. It’s a quiet crowd, too. We can clearly hear the players calling out to each other; especially Alex Rance, who marshals the troops from across half back. There is a strangely detached air amongst the Richmond fans. It’s as if they’ve already conceded that the season is over. They expect to extinguish the Suns, but there is no urgency to do it quickly or stockpile percentage to maximise your position in the top eight. The exception is when the Tigers kick backwards and sideways. It seems as though they have abandoned any semblance of attacking quickly down the central corridor, or of varying the tempo, opting instead for a measured, safety first approach. They refuse to kick to contests and switch play to avoid them. Exasperated Tiger supporters urge their men to “Kick the ball forward!” and roundly criticise turnovers after strings of inconsequential possessions.

 

The Tigers have their hands on the ball far more often than the visitors but are unable to translate their advantage into forward-fifty entries and numbers on the scoreboard. Sam Day and Two-Metre Peter Wright are high marking targets for the Suns and Tom Lynch certainly has a good pair of hands. He is having a fascinating duel with Alex Rance. Ablett copes easily with a revolving door of opponents in Conca, Grigg and Miles and demonstrates his uncanny ability to stroll into spaces just as the ball arrives before setting up teammates with incisive kicks and handpasses.

 

It’s a game of momentum shifts. The Suns kick four unanswered goals either side of the quarter time break to lead by 11 points early in the second term. The Tigers boot the next four majors to gain a    16-point buffer at the long interval. Dustin Martin scores one of the sequence after a slashing run from the defensive side of the centre square, linking up with Grigg and Riewoldt before roosting it home from near the 50-metre arc. The raging bull is on target for a 40-possession game.

 

Early in the second half the Suns’ Kade Kolodjashnij is KO’d by the knee of Sam Lloyd when the Tiger forward flies for a mark from behind the pack. There is a five-minute delay as he is placed on the medical cart and taken from the field. Yet it is the Suns who have all the running now, courtesy of Ablett, Rischitelli, Prestia and Rosa. They pile on five goals to one and lead by as much as 15 points before sitting on a handy 10-point break at the final change.

 

When Matt Rosa scores with a low shot at the 11-minute mark to put Gold Coast up by 15 points once again, Richmond is in real trouble. A season teetering on the edge is about to topple into the abyss. But the Tigers claw their way back into the contest. Tom Nicholls infringes after the Rosa goal and Cotchin takes the free kick in the centre without the inconvenience of a ball-up. Lambert goals from the square and both Edwards and Hampson follow suit. Richmond fans awake from their slumber as their side regains the lead. Dusty gives Ablett his patented don’t argue in a midfield clash before driving the Tigers forward. Nicholls puts the Suns in front again at the 22-minute mark. Then Martin, who has been moved into attack, outmarks Trent McKenzie, surges goalward and finds an unmarked Sam Lloyd. Riewoldt salutes from a sharp angle and then McKenzie is once again unable to cope with the strength of the Richmond number four in a one-on-one contest. He concedes a free kick for holding and Martin boots the sealer.

 

I’m enjoying myself immensely, as are most of the yellow and black barrackers in the stadium. But my son is unimpressed. He is not accustomed, as I am, to false dawns at Punt Road and the inevitable slide back into hard times. Richmond’s fall from grace is taking a toll on him.

 

“We should have killed this mob,” he complains.

 

The Tigers are home, having scored six of the last seven goals of the match.

 

In a campaign that has fallen way short of expectations, it’s enough for me. Bring on the Lions for another taste of ganging up on our fellow also-rans.

Comments

  1. The Tiges seem to be relying on Dusty and Cotch too much at the moment – Jack’s not kicking goals either. Still, 5-7 isn’t disastrous. They might even push for 9th (again) at this rate!

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    JG will the tigers have the courage to do the necessary culling to its list and have a plan to have a crack at a flag ?

  3. half full. it was a couple of great comebacks against an opponent suddenly finding form. good to see some fight after the debacle the week before.

    strategic cull – Ellis – trade; Vickery – trade; Hunt Houli Chpalin Batchelor – gone. McIntosh – gone.

    playing well, at least in patches – Martin, Cotchin, Riewoldt, Deledio, Grigg, Edwards, Rance, Grimes, Edwards, Griffiths, Hampson, Conca (yes!), C Ellis, Short, Astbury, Lloyd,

    can lift, and will – Miles. might – Lambert

    inclusions – Lennon.

    we now have to see who can play well in the run home against the good teams. forget the finals -just play with passion and gusto, create some momentum for next year.

    so w have about 18 keepers. need 2-3 stars. and a batter. braver gameplan. still, best list we have had since 95, so worth a crack.

    PS Gold Coast’s best is very good. imagine them without injuries…

  4. and Vlastuin.

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