Round 17 – Richmond v Brisbane: Back to West Melbourne’s concrete castle


It is a bitterly cold day in Melbourne. The unwary or the inexperienced might well be tempted to look at the bright sunshine outside and be fooled into dressing for mild weather. The rest of us know that an early Sunday afternoon game at Docklands Stadium in early July is to be respected. It’s all about layers, singlet, shirt, woollens and leather jacket at a minimum. There are no heroes when you are freezing your tits off at West Melbourne’s concrete castle.


No trains again today. Daniel Andrews’ Melbourne is in the midst of its biggest infrastructure project since the 1930s. Weekend services are considered expendable. Of course, in the thirties, Jack Dyer thought infrastructure was what they used to hold the broken collarbones together after he ran through an opponent. “Tell ’em to bring plenty of infrastructure, they’re gunna need it.”


As I drive to the city, I find myself chuckling at old Captain Blood and his homespun vernacular. It is sad that he didn’t live long enough to watch Dusty Martin play for his beloved Tigers. He would have approved of the swagger, the power, the undoubted skill and the signature fend-off.


He would also have found an utterly charming way to mangle his descriptions during his commentary on 3KZ. “He tries to tackle Martin but he just holds out a stiff arm and goes bang! Don’t argue with me, sonny, sit yourself down on your backside, that’s a good boy, heh, heh!”


The Tigers’ brains-trust has responded to last week’s disgraceful loss by making four changes, a restructure of their own. Young ruckman, Ivan Soldo gets another opportunity. At 21 years of age, 204 cm tall and weighing in at 106 kilos, he is earnest, willing and raw, very raw, so very raw! When he contests the centre bounce, his first move is to alter his position at the last moment and change the angle at which he approaches the bounce. He doesn’t so much attempt to win a hit out as jump athletically and wave his arm in the general direction of the ball, a successful strike and the ball could be directed anywhere. At this stage of his career He shows plenty of enthusiasm but not much Science.


Nonetheless, his presence allows Nankervis to spend time up forward. It also eases the pressure on Jack, who is free to play his own game, which he has been sacrificing for weeks.


Soldo must be doing something right, because his midfield gets on top quickly and creates plenty of early chances.


In the opening quarter, the Tigers dominate general play, but are very wasteful. Both Riewoldt and Castagna kick a tight one and miss an easier one. Shane Edwards plays expansively during this stanza, quick hands darting around, Edward Scissorhands-style. By the first break, he is directly responsible for a plethora of scores for each team. His goal assist stats (at both ends) are Joel Bowden-esque!


Rioli, who has been subdued since early in the year, has struggled to contribute. Today he flashes into the play repeatedly in a welcome return to form.


When Riewoldt snags his second directly after the first break, the Tigers lead comfortably.


Only Richmond fans will understand this, but the last thing we want to say about the Tigers is that they have a comfortable lead and are cruising. It’s a curse, a jinx, a portent of doom. It’s kryptonite. It’s the axis of evil.


The intensity drops. Soldo is already running out of puff and spends lengthier periods on the bench. Dusty changes his profession and becomes a butcher for a while, missing targets and booting the ball anywhere. When Edwards gifts another goal to the opposition, the all-too-familiar sinking feeling returns.


As I take my place in the pie queue at half-time, I am left to despair for this football team. When the vendor sings out that there are only ten pies left, I do my sums and remain stubbornly in the line. What is this world coming to?


The second half begins with a flurry; the Tigers do enough to re-establish their ubiquitous comfortable lead. Martin is electric during this quarter, prompting Brisbane to assign their most annoying, their most niggly, their most in-your-face, their most ornery tagger to distract him.


That’s not quite true, Mitch Robinson is unavailable this week so they have to make do with Nick Robertson. He succeeds in getting under Dusty’s skin, prompting Damien Hardwick to continually remove him from the field before he does something silly. Well, sillier.


Captain Blood always maintained that he had nothing against Umpires except that they cost him five or six Brownlows. Will Dusty suffer the same fate?


The Tigers go all-out attack in the last quarter. With the game safely in their keeping, they open up and start taking risks. The only problem is that Brisbane keep up and the two teams trade goals. Daniel Butler continues his wonderful first season with three more goals.


For Brisbane, Hipwood, Schache and Walker are all effective forwards. Cotchin saves his best for the last quarter and Prestia, plays his most noteworthy game in Tiger colours, blanketing the very dangerous Zorko.


Four points are safely in the kit for the tenth time this year and next week’s game against GWS looms. We leave the ground knowing that they will need to improve significantly to make that one interesting.


Have the Tigers pulled one out of their backsides this season? They are generally good for one of those each year. Many lesser teams have had at least one, evidence the Saints and the Bombers in the last fortnight. Perhaps our turn is coming up? It would be very welcome.


RICHMOND 4.4 5.8 9.13 16.16 (112)
BRISBANE LIONS 1.3 4.6 6.8 12.9 (81)


Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Butler 3, Martin 2, Castagna 2, Edwards, Cotchin, Prestia, Rioli, B Ellis
Brisbane Lions: Keays 2, Schache 2, Hipwood 2, Cutler, Zorko, Bastinac, Mathieson, Walker, McCluggage

Richmond: Martin, Prestia, Cotchin, Riewoldt, Butler, Short, Miles
Brisbane Lions: Witherden, Andrews, Taylor, McStay, Rich

Richmond: Soldo (nose)
Brisbane Lions: Nil

Reports: Nick Robertson (Bris) for headbutting Trent Cotchin (Rich)
Umpires: Fisher, Deboy, Hosking
Official crowd: 28,188 at Etihad Stadium

About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time, much like the current period in history.

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