Round 3 – GWS v Richmond: Still feeling it

GWS v Richmond

4:35PM, Saturday April 6th

GIANTS Stadium

 

 

 

Just like that Toyota ad, I can’t help myself: I’m still feeling it. It’s the “Toyota Value Feeling” that’s been with me since 2017 when the Tigers won that drought-breaking flag. I see the footy differently now. From the conviction that finals and premierships were for not for the Punt Road faithful, but for other more fortunate souls who had the good fortune to barrack for clubs that were actually going somewhere; now I’m forever grateful to the outstanding young men who delivered the thrill of a lifetime and I believe that it’s possible for Richmond to do it again one day.

 

 

What does the advertising campaign teach me? It doesn’t matter if you’re caught in a lift with the lights out and the sprinkler system spraying water all over you. It doesn’t matter that your beach umbrella is being blown along the strand at a rapid rate of knots while you’re fighting a losing battle to hold onto it. It doesn’t matter that your list is being decimated by injury. Nothing can spoil a late Saturday afternoon spent in front of the telly watching Richmond take on GWS at Giants Stadium. Not even the possibility of dropping a second match in a row after the heavy loss to Collingwood. Still feeling it.

 

 

For the past two seasons the Tigers have been like an invincible battalion advancing to the front line and getting the job done before returning to the rear with all of its fighting strength intact. I smugly attributed the durability of the list to the qualities of our brilliant coaching and conditioning staff. The Big Four of Cotchin, Martin, Riewoldt and Rance were ever present. Now the team is starting to suffer casualties. Alex crashes to the turf with a season-ending ACL injury in the first round against Carlton and Jack snaps his wrist in the second hit-out against the Magpies. There’s your forward and defensive field marshals gone. Houli has a hamstring injury. Grimes cops a week for whacking Treloar. Suddenly the premiership favourites are vulnerable. The adversity is magnified at Homebush when playmaker Jayden Short dislocates his elbow and exits the arena during the first quarter.

 

 

Richmond leads by eight points at the first change, but quickly finds itself in trouble during the second term. In the absence of Houli and Short they lack the capability to run the ball out of defence and deliver to leading forwards with precision. Rance is irreplaceable. So much of Richmond’s ability to intercept and regain possession for quickfire forward moves was based on his unique skills.  I can’t recall the last occasion in which Grimes was bested by his opponent. Now the Richmond defence is stretched to breaking point. Last week De Goey booted five. Early in the match Jeremy Cameron receives a knock to his right shoulder blade when Astbury spoils him in a marking contest. He manages to play on despite the fact he can barely lift his arm to compete in the air. In a masterful performance he accumulates a career-high 30 possessions and roosts seven goals. And that’s not the end of it. The unheralded Jeremy Finlayson, previously being groomed as a defender, chimes in with five of his own. The Giants set the tempo and the Tigers are reduced to scrambling goals here and there just to stay in touch. They have no answers to Whitfield, Coniglio, Taranto and Kelly as they cut a swathe through the Tigers with their constant run and efficiency.

 

 

To make matters worse, Dusty is engaged in an unseemly street fight with tagger Matt de Boer and is unable to influence the game. Martin returns fire to his tormentors with some vigorous verbal abuse of his own but is clearly fighting a losing battle. In what is likely to make the eyes of AFL investigators light up, the TV cameras capture him delivering an elbow to the head of Adam Kennedy about 80 metres behind the play.

 

 

One of the few bright spots for the Tigers is the first-up form of debutant Sydney Stack. Not since the days of Australian Test batsman Keith Stackpole in the seventies have we had a ‘Stacky ‘ to barrack for. Sydney kicks a goal in the first term in the city that bears his name and displays a promising mix of pace, toughness and inventiveness in his first outing. Tom Lynch boots four and will surely prove a handful for opposing defences this year with his height and astute positioning in marking contests.

 

 

The Giants take the lead out to 28 points late in the third quarter and the Tigers teeter on the edge. Resistance wanes in the heat and they are overwhelmed in the last stanza. More grim tidings. Cotchin sits out most of the quarter with what appears to be a hamstring strain.

 

 

It’s clearly going to take some time for Richmond to adjust to its current state of misfortune. Has the charmed run with personnel which helped land the flag in ’17 come to an abrupt end? A few more losses to follow this one and the Tigers may face an uphill battle even to make the eight.

 

 

The significant sum of money that I shelled out to join the Maurice Rioli Club in order to guarantee access to Grand Final tickets this year is beginning to look like a donation to the club.

 

 

Yep, still feeling it.

 

 

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     2.4       8.7       13.10   19.11 (125)
RICHMOND                                3.6       5.10     9.14     10.16 (76)

 

GOALS
Greater Western Sydney:
Cameron 7, Finlayson 5, Taranto 2, Hopper 2, Kelly, Daniels, Himmelberg
Richmond: Lynch 4, Rioli 3, Stack, Lambert, Higgins

 

BEST
Greater Western Sydney: 
Cameron, Whitfield, Finlayson, de Boer, Taranto, Hopper, 
Richmond: 
Lambert, Prestia, Lynch, Edwards, Stack

 

Crowd: 12,697

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Rulebook says

    John yep fair enough still feeling it incredible to that when a club has had few injuries it is amazing how all of a sudden there is a huge wave,I had massive interest to see how,Rance was going to cope with the new rules it’s amazing in how footy has changed that a great defender only weakness is actually defending

  2. Agree John. 2017 was so unexpected and out of nowhere that the enjoyment has not dissipated over 18 months. Tigers looked pretty bad in the parts I saw on Saturday but never mind they have the 2017 flag in the bag!

  3. Stainless says

    The game moves on quickly doesn’t it John? It seems to be getting harder to remain a consistent force in the competition. Some teams like Sydney and Geelong manage it but their strike rate in September is poor. Teams are winning Flags when they get that momentum of form, fitness and luck. Richmond had all three in 2017 and, God bless ’em, they nailed their opportunity. If there’s a silver lining to the carnage of the last three weeks it’s that our necessary transition to the post-Rance/Riewoldt/Cotchin era is being forced on us early. It’ll be tough in the short term but may be hugely beneficial down the track.
    Rulebook – Rance would be blitzing the 6-6-6 rule change. Can’t believe you still have doubts about his all round brilliance.

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