Round 20 – Richmond v Hawthorn: Old Testament Guy has put away his lightning bolts for the weekend


For weeks now, we Richmond fans have been down on bended knees, praying.


We have been praying for rain to both the benevolent God of the New Testament and to his more vengeful counterpart from the Old. Depending on who has been listening, we have either been asking respectfully for an occasional shower on match-day or praying openly for floods and deluges.


The Tigers combat their foes with a miniature forward line. In defence, they bring it to ground and launch it back again. They halve the aerial contest and swarm it on the ground.  They apply manic pressure. They run big blokes into the ground, own the loose ball, find space and prey on the slow of movement and thought. It is a wet weather game they play!


Last week, with the only tall forward of any note, Jack Riewoldt, unavailable as a result of a freak eye-poke, more responsibility fell on their speedy mud-larks. Playing a night game up on the Gold Coast, the runners revelled in the tropical night dew, the slippery ball helping them to overcome their disadvantage in the air.


Today’s big game at the G is against the Hawks, winners of four recent Premierships. After a slow start, their remodelled outfit has been playing as well as anyone in recent weeks and is ready to present a stiff challenge. Fresh from a solid win against the rampant Swans, they know that one more loss will catapult them out of contention in 2017. Their inspirational leader, Jarryd Roughead, is to play his 250th game today, an achievement that appeared to be a bridge too far not that long ago. They are desperate for a win.


We sit beneath an oppressive sky before the game. The showers have passed and the MCG looks perfect, befitting its status as the premier sporting stadium in the country. As the teams enter the fray, a cleansing wind has blown away the heavy cloud, along with the threat of deluge. Winter blue has replaced winter grey. Old Testament Guy has put away his lightning bolts for the weekend.


In Jack’s absence, Josh Caddy assumes the role of marking forward, a role he will share with Dusty Martin and Trent Cotchin. Hawthorn play precise football, a strategy which may unravel the running game. This is a theory which is as good as any.


Taylor Duryea quickly reveals that he will be playing a tagging role on Alex “Go back to the shadow, you cannot pass” Rance. It matters not. David Astbury steps up to lead the strongest defence in the competition, organising and repelling with confidence. He has many able lieutenants. The inexperienced Nathan Broad is a revelation.


Shane Edwards, the Edward Scissorhands of the competition, is Richmond’s very under-rated link-man, the conduit between its miserly defence and its pacy forward line.  He sets up repeated scoring opportunities with his quick hands and flashing feet as the Tigers bounce out of defence. Three majors are on the scoreboard before the Hawks orient themselves. When the skilful Corey Ellis takes two solid marks and kicks truly, the Tigers complete a dominant first quarter.


As often happens in modern football, the two coaches conspire together to close down the middle part of the game. Hardwick is satisfied holding on to a comfortable lead, Clarkson reverts to damage control mode for a while.  The Hawks play an eight man defence and the Tigers respond with seven. Richmond lost the clearances early, so the extra player is deployed into the midfield. They ignore Tom Mitchell, it doesn’t matter how many possessions he accumulates. As the game meanders along, many in the crowd take the opportunity to marvel at the stats on their phones. If only I had a kettle to put on!


The second half commences with a brace of Dusty Martin goals, taking the sting out of the game.  Hawthorn are limited to two goals at half-time and four at the last break- not enough to challenge the Tigers. It is testament to Richmond’s running pressure that most of their goals are kicked from point-blank range. Caddy, in his best performance for Richmond, will finish with four majors and each is the culmination of his team-mates’ hard work. James Sicily repels many attacks for the Hawks.


Along with Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert and Anthony Miles, Caddy is also asked to do a mountain of work in the midfield, as Dusty and Cotch take a back seat. Taking a leaf from migrating birds, the Richmond midfield is flying in v-formation in the second half, the lesser lights leading the way whilst the main men sit behind them, available if required.


The last quarter is an open shootout, as Clarkson finally throws caution to the wind and attempts to make a game of it. Luke Bruest, unsighted for three quarters, kicks goals, as does their strangely inaccurate captain. The footy is fast and attractive during this quarter, marred only by unnecessary time wasted looking at grainy footage for score reviews. The AFL’s “system” for deciding if a ball has been touched by a defender as it trickles in for a goal is about as convincing as a Donald Trump tweet.


As the Tigers complete another solid win, thoughts turn to next week and their old nemesis, the Cats. Way back in 2007, the Geelong era began by inflicting an embarrassing shellacking on the Tigers. Richmond have been their bunnies ever since.


Bookends, perhaps? I like bookends.


RICHMOND          5.4          6.8          9.10        13.15 (93)

HAWTHORN        1.3          2.5          4.8          9.10 (64)



Richmond: Caddy 4, C.Ellis 2, Martin 2, Rioli, Cotchin, Soldo, Prestia, Nankervis

Hawthorn: Miles 2, Breust 2, Schoenmakers 2, Roughead 2, Mitchell



Richmond: Caddy, Prestia, Martin, Lambert, Nankervis, Rance, Grimes

Hawthorn: Sicily, Mitchell, Smith, Howe, Roughead, Gunston



Richmond: Nil

Hawthorn: Nil


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Fisher, Schmitt, Findlay


Official crowd: 58,342 at the MCG

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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