Round 19 – Richmond v Collingwood: You can’t out-Richmond Richmond

 

I’ve been managed for a couple of weeks. General lethargy and being fed up with winter meant that I rested for the St Kilda game, choosing to watch at home with the heater on and lying on the couch under a blanket with two spaniels sleeping on me for extra warmth. The plan was to be fighting fit for the run home to the finals – four games at the MCG and an away trip to the Gold Coast that was booked early in the season. With five rounds to go, finals are assured, and – if there are no disasters – the minor premiership is likely. But the first hurdle is Collingwood in a Saturday afternoon fixture that has been talked up in the media as the biggest game of the season. We’ve been in a few of those already this year so the prospect isn’t too daunting.

In something to do with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation there are some kids dressed in yellow and black dancing on the other side of the ground. With Katy Perry being blasted at full volume (rendering conversation impossible), recorded applause and fireworks in broad daylight, this misguided attempt at pre-game entertainment is largely ignored by the uninterested crowd. Instead, the crowd – well, the yellow and black part of the crowd – saves its appreciation for Tony Jewell returning who has returned to the MCG as homecoming hero, waving to the crowd and kicking a goal at the Punt Road end.

As the stragglers of the 88,000-strong crowd stream into the MCG, the game gets underway. The city end of the MCG is a dull grey from the predominately Collingwood supporters, while the Punt Rd end is alive with the yellow from the Richmond supporters. But both ends are in full voice and there is an air of anticipation. In an early sign that things are going our way, Jason Castagna marks a ball that pops out of a congested pack and kicks truly, reversing his recent string of misses over the past couple of weeks.

Jack Higgins kicks the Tigers’ second from a free kick and Collingwood then reply with two in a row to get a one-point lead. This is a tough first quarter. Collingwood are trying their hardest to be Richmondy by tackling hard and not giving an inch. Richmond are trying to take their game to a new level; Dusty’s sprint to spoil an easy Collingwood mark in the centre of the ground inspires those on and off the ground.

The Tigers regain momentum through a Riewoldt goal, and when Castagna marks soon after, Jayden Short – the youngster with a long kick – sidles up, receives the handball and kicks a goal. A minute and a half later, debutant Liam Baker marks almost in the same spot and, with Collingwood seemingly oblivious, Jayden Short sidles up, receives the handball and kicks another goal. Towards the end of the quarter, Collingwood’s Jeremy Howe is helped from the ground after copping a Darcy Moore knee to the head and the Tigers go into quarter time with a little breathing space in the form of a 19-point lead.

Two quick goals to Collingwood raises the tension around the ground, a tension that won’t let up as the crowd roars from opposite ends of the ground as the teams trade goals. The ruthlessness of the Tigers is exemplified by Dylan Grimes chasing Jaidyn Stephenson along the boundary, overtaking Nathan Broad to get a hand on Stephenson’s jumper and prevent an almost certain goal.

After the lead is pegged back to two points through goals to Mason Cox and Will Hoskin-Elliot, Dusty gives in to frustration at being tagged by Levi Greenwood. Dusty’s pushing and shoving results in him giving away a 50 metre penalty. But Collingwood can’t capitalise and Dusty skulks up to the goal square, out-marks Greenwood and puts the Tigers 8 points up in the dying seconds of the first half.

The third quarter brings no relief from the tension. Neither team can get momentum and every goal is earned through intense effort, or as Jack Higgins showed us, conjured out of thin air. Higgins’s goal – a contender for goal of the year – was a masterstroke of not accepting a rushed behind, of keeping the ball in play and of knowing when to execute a soccer-style bicycle kick. In the wake of this play, Matt Scharenberg left the ground with a knee injury, adding to Collingwood’s mounting injury list.

With one quarter to go and a four-point lead, the Tigers – as they have done so well all season – stepped up a gear and gave Collingwood a lesson in how to be Richmondy. Quick goals to Riewoldt, Townsend and Dusty delighted the Tiger crowd which roared its approval. Collingwood, after having been accurate all afternoon, missed a couple and the Tigers then kicked a couple more through Shane Edwards and Daniel Rioli. All of a sudden, we’ve kicked five unanswered goals and our defence, with David Astbury in fine form, has been discipled and ruthless all afternoon and manages to restrict Collingwood to just the one goal for the quarter.

With the latest challenger dealt with, there’s an excited chatter among the crowd headed to the station. There’s early blossom on some of the trees on the way home from the station, a sign that September is just around the corner. I’m excited.

 

RICHMOND              5.2       8.3       11.6     16.9     (105)
COLLINGWOOD     2.1       7.1       11.2     12.5     (77)

GOALS
Richmond: Martin 3, Riewoldt 3, Higgins 2, Short 2, Castagna 2, Caddy, Townsend, Edwards, Rioli
Collingwood: Thomas 4, Hoskin-Elliott 3, Cox 2, Daicos, Brown, Mihocek

BEST
Richmond: Astbury, Short, Broad, Edwards, Prestia, Rance, Riewoldt
Collingwood: Grundy, Pendlebury, Thomas, Greenwood, Adams, Moore

Crowd: 88,180

Our votes: 3 Astbury (Richmond), 2 Prestia (Richmond), 1 Grundy (Collingwood)

About Gill

As a youngster, Gill thought that frequent Richmond premierships were assured, but in the many years since 1980 she realised her folly and distracted herself by crunching numbers at a university. The magnificence of the Tigers’ 2017 season has restored her faith in Richmond and all of humanity.

Comments

  1. Joe De Petro says:

    Love it , Gill. You are right, no one can out Richmond the Tigers.

  2. And let’s hope no-one works out how to in the next eight weeks.

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