Round 3 – Brisbane v Richmond: Playtime in the Lion Park

Maybe Alan Bond was on to something when he tried to transplant Richmond to Brisbane late in 1986. During his short-lived presidency his plan was for the bankrupt Tigers to play their home matches in the northern capital. Of course his proposal was defeated by a furious backlash on the part of Richmond loyalists and the Tigers stayed at home.

But the fact remains that they do alright against the Lions, particularly at the Gabba, which has become something of a home away from home. A happy hunting ground. Richmond hasn’t lost there since 2004 and it’s now six years since they’ve suffered defeat at the hands of the Lions. Tonight they go for eight wins in a row over a club that was the terror of the competition a decade ago.

The Lions look like easy meat. They are coming off a heavy loss to the Kangaroos in Melbourne and find themselves without the services of key players in Rockliff, Hanley and Merrett.

I look forward to an evening of viewing pleasure on Foxtel, which is what I experience but for one unfortunate incident. The Lions enjoy brief periods when they are able to generate some momentum. At times they are capable of linking up with each other and scoring quickly. Dayne Beams, Zorko and Rich accumulate plenty of possessions in the midfield. Stefan Martin is strong enough to grapple with Maric in the ruck contests. There’s barely a goal in it late in the second term until Martin, Newman and Riewoldt score in quick succession. The Lions are unable to sustain their defensive pressure or kicking efficiency. Too much is left to too few, they fumble and miss targets.

The Tigers gradually increase their lead. It is one of those satisfying games when your team increases their winning margin quarter by quarter. Nine points, 24, 42 and finally 79. The 79-point gap, achieved when Houli locates Riewoldt in the square with a searing pass in the last minute of the game, is the numerical climax. In other words there are no cheap opposition goals in time-on to reduce your percentage gain. Richmond has 12 individual goalkickers. That last gasp goal to Jack is his fourth, keeping him in the mix for the Coleman despite his worrying tendency to dish off majors to teammates such as Martin and Lloyd. Trent Cotchin answers his critics with a dominant 30-plus possession game, highlighted by a graceful speccy over Mitch Robinson in the second quarter. He heads a list of best players comprising half the team. Add Houli, Martin, Rance, Chaplin, Riewoldt, Miles, McIntosh, Astbury, Edwards, Grigg, Griffiths and Hunt to the mix and you get the picture. It’s playtime in the lion park.

The world is set to rights and all is forgiven for the previous week’s debacle against the Western Bulldogs. But there is a sad note to the night’s proceedings. Just before half time Chris Knights competes for the ball and slides awkwardly on his knees. He is making his first senior appearance for Richmond after wrecking his knee in the act of slotting a goal against Port Adelaide almost two years ago. Now it’s apparent that he has a serious knee injury once again. He cuts a disconsolate figure as he walks slowly inside the boundary line with a couple of trainers. His visit to Brisbane could mark the end of the road for him after crossing from Adelaide and making only six appearances for the Tigers.

That’s football. While it can be exhilarating to watch and play, it exacts a heavy toll on its participants. I hope the news is not as grim as it looks for Chris Knights.


  1. Hi John
    Nice report. Good to remember the guys who are destined to disappear without a trace because of injury. Was at the Gabba on Saturday and there was a real feeling in the crowd. I don’t know a lot about the Tiges, but their supporters (who were in the majority) were pretty upset about Knights.

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