Round 20 – Richmond v Geelong: One for the ages

 

 

RICHMOND versus GEELONG
7.50pm, Friday 3 August
MCG

 

CHERYL CRITCHLEY

 

One for the ages…

 

Following a successful club will is taking some getting used to for Richmond fans.

 

Until last year, even if our club started a game as favourites we’d worry about falling in a heap from the first bounce or coughing up a 30-point lead late in the game.

 

You wouldn’t – and couldn’t – relax until the Tigers were 10 goals up, 25-minutes into the last quarter. Richmond had the 2017 Grand Final in the bag halfway through the third quarter, but most fans didn’t exhale until well into the last quarter.

 

We’ve just been conditioned that way.

 

Fast forward to 2018 and the Tigers were undefeated in Victoria, having won a record 18 straight at the MCG. A big test loomed, however, with Geelong, our nemesis of the past 20 years, desperate for a win to stay in the eight.

 

Until Richmond beat the Cats in the 2017 Qualifying final, the Tigers had beaten their biggest hoodoo side once since 2001 and not at the MCG since 1999. Could the 2018 Richmond stand up?

 

The night began with steady drizzle and bumping into a Twitter buddy Belinda, AKA Redhead, and her friend Steve, at the local train station. Such is the kinship of post-premiership Richmond fans, it was like we’d known each other forever.

 

Belinda’s cousin, Wayne Shand, played a few senior games for Richmond in the early 1980s and her grandfather, James Shand, played for the Tigers 100 years ago. Wayne’s dad, Bill, played in the seconds during the 1940s.

 

We agreed this was going to be a tough battle, and we weren’t wrong. It really was one for the ages and ended up having everything – unbelievable pressure, domination in patches, never-say-die comebacks and frustration with the umpiring.

 

After Daniel Menzel kicked the first goal the Cats, Richmond kicked the next three through Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin and Jason ‘George’ Castagna – all on the run. After taking a 10-point lead into quarter time, the Tigers continued to apply intense pressure and skipped to a four-goal lead, courtesy of a Daicos-like dribble kick goal from their incredibly dexterous ruckman Toby Nankervis.

 

But the Cats responded – as they always do. A huge late goal on the run from Menegola cut the half time lead to just five points. Despite the drizzle, this was a cracking contest and the Cats were right in it.

 

When Menzel kicked the first goal of the third quarter, Geelong hit the lead. But the Tigers responded through Castagna, Kamdyn McIntosh, Riewoldt and Jacob Townsend, to take a 21-point lead into the final break.

 

The only gripe for Richmond fans up to this point was the umpiring, which saw the Cats up 12-4 at one point and 15-23 at the end of the game. The men who used to wear white always do their best, but for some reason the stats are stark. As of Round 19, Richmond’s free kick differential was -91 (328 for, 419 against), 42 behind the “nearest worst off” in Essendon at -49. After this game, the Tigers’ would be -99.

 

But back to the game.

 

You can never say never with the Cats and they fought back hard, kicking the first two of the final term through Zach Tuohy and Daniel Menzel, before Riewoldt took a brilliant contested mark and slotted it, and Sam Lloyd converted from 45 on a tight angle.

 

Still the Cats refused to roll over and kicked the next three through Jack Hawkins, Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola, who steamed into goal to put the Cats within four points. Menegola’s major was their fifth for the quarter and sent Tiger fans under their seats. Would the old Richmond rear its head?

 

Geelong pressed forward yet again, and somehow Gary Ablett gathered the ball in the pocket and snapped – a point. Richmond then cleared with a big kick forward by Jason Castagna, only for it to be called deliberate after it trickled over the line. One last roll of the dice for the Cats.

 

Somehow, the Tigers kept it forward, thanks partly to some Dustin Martin handywork, until the siren sounded. What blessed relief for the Tiger Army after a tight tussle more than worthy of its Friday night timeslot. The new, improved Richmond had held on against quality opposition. Not so long ago, it would have been a very different story.

 

Instead of bemoaning yet another second half capitulation or heartbreaking after-the-siren loss, Richmond had well and truly avoided a premiership hangover, broken the Geelong hoodoo and retained top spot for another week.

 

Perhaps best of all, in the past 12 months the Tigers have added W, W, W to the L, L, L, L, L, L, L, W, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L record stood before the 2017 final. Until this game, Richmond hadn’t beaten Geelong twice in a season since 1982 – before all of today’s AFL players were born (Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne was born in October 1982).

 

After 37 years of heartache, Richmond fans are finally following a successful club. And it feels great.

 

Read other reports on this game HERE.

 

 

RICHMOND          4.4       6.6       10.11       12.13  (85)
GEELONG            2.4       5.7       7.8           12.10  (82)

 

GOALS
Richmond:
 Riewoldt 4, Castagna 2, Cotchin, McIntosh, Lloyd, Higgins, Townsend, Nankervis
Geelong: Menzel 3, Abbott 2, Menegola 2, Guthrie, Hawins, Henry, Tuohy, Kelly

 

BEST
Richmond:
Riewoldt, Lambert, Nankervis, Rance, Martin, Ellis

Geelong: Kelly, Dangerfield, Selwood, Menzel, Duncah, Blicavs

 

UMPIRES:  Donlon, O’Gorman, Meredith CROWD: 67,054
OUR VOTES T. Kelly (Geelong), J. Riewoldt (Richmond), K. Lambert (Richmond) 1

 

BROWNLOW

 

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Comments

  1. You know Cheryl, it is just at this point of certainty that the wheels can STILL fall off. I am remembering (bitterly) the 2008 GF, a supreme Geelong team, and a classic heist by Hawthorn. Keep your finger crossed that your tigers do not have one of those games in them. Unless it is against the Cats of course!

  2. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Don’t jinx us Ken! :-)
    I’m really enjoying this season, and anything positive is a bonus. We won a flag after 37 years in the wilderness, so even if the wheels do fall of from here, nothing can take that away from us.

  3. It was great to meet you Cheryl and great to win whilst being undermanned and no rub of the green.

  4. Cheryl Critchley says:

    It sure was and what a bonus to come away with another win! Go Tiges.

  5. Jarrod_L says:

    I’m no fan of the narrative that we get a bad run from the umps based on numbers alone – I think it’s easily explained by our game style that asks every player to body, close down and tackle from full forward to full back. However, last night was a bizarre one; several incidents went unsighted by the umpires during the play that were horrendous – high tackles or rough conduct against Short, Grigg and Higgins come to mind. The best example I think was the one on Short by Parfitt that has resulted in Parfitt being fined $2000 for rough conduct afterwards – in game was paid HTB against Short.

  6. Cheryl Critchley says:

    I agree stats don’t tell the full story Jarrod, but those figures are pretty stark. Part of the problem is the poor umps are constantly trying to keep up with new rules and interpretations that seem to change by the week. That makes it hard to be consistent. As for Richmond, I don’t think our style of play is overly rough – it’s more about the pressure that forces the opposition to cough the ball up.

  7. Jarrod_L says:

    I agree that we’re not rough per se, but trying to hit tackles so frequently means far more often an opposition player will get held without the ball or the tackle will miss and go high. I just find it frustrating that there are people who push the conspiracy wheelbarrow that the umps set out to ruin the Tigers’ nights. But it’s endemic among all supporter bases, so maybe I’m just taking people too seriously.

  8. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Good point. There’s certainly no conspiracy but I think Richmond fans are frustrated that people often say the better teams get the rub of the green, but we don’t. Bottom line is it hasn’t made any difference to the results and we’re still winning which is great :-).

  9. Stainless says:

    I don’t think anyone could seriously talk conspiracy against the Tigers but the umpires appeared to be making it up as they went last night. Arguably the worst decision apart from the Short Parfitt one was the deliberate rushed behind awarded against Geelong. Perhaps poetic justice that Jack missed with the free kick.
    Great report Cheryl. A very lucky win IMO and a timely reminder about the importance of capitalising on your time in the ascendancy.

  10. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Thanks Stainless. It was a lucky win to a point, but Geelong played catch up footy most of the night and didn’t quite do enough. We were lucky that Ablett missed that last shot, but there would still have been another 90 seconds for us to scire if he did.

  11. Joe De Petro says:

    Great piece, Cheryl.

    We will crack negative 100 on the frees this week. That is awesome. One of us is gong to have to write about it.

  12. Thanks for the very succinct write up Cheryl.

    It’s always a pleasure to relive these games through the eyes of another.

    Just before the game started Hugo, my 13 yo, and recalled that loss two years ago. Seated in almost the same seats behind the goals we felt confident that the tiger, win or lose, could hold themselves together for an entire game.

  13. Cheryl Critchley says:

    That is so true Kate. We can go to games now fairly confident that they’ll put in four quarters, whereas before 2017 we couldn’t. Having said that, I’m still nervous before every game :-)

  14. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hi Joe. It’ll me a momentous occasion if we crack the tonne. We’re playing interstate too so there’s every chance…

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