Round 3 – Richmond v Hawthorn: In Town Versus Not a Fairy Tale

The Tigers are back at the MCG, their spiritual home since 1965, having travelled to Adelaide for the Round 2 clash of the grand finalists.
It’s Crows opponent had spent its off-season listening to never-ending repeats of ‘We’re from Tigerland’, while they dreamt of retribution and wreaking mayhem upon their tormentors from across the border. Isn’t it funny how music can always elicit an emotional response, how it can take us back, how it can stir feelings of nostalgia and uneasiness that might otherwise be repressed, how it can keep the past alive? I’ve been doing that too, playing ‘Mr Brightside’ on my phone for months!


Today, the sun is shining, the rising temperature is unseasonal and the MCG is teeming with Richmond and Hawthorn fans, a mass of yellow-and-black and yellow combined with various shades of murkiness which approximate brown. The Hawks are undefeated after two rounds and the Tigers are keen to atone for their loss to the pride of South Australia. Much of the pre-game banter is about how Hawthorn are “back in town” and how the Tigers’ “fairy-tale” might just be coming to an end, how, like a flimsy boat cast adrift on the precarious shores of a new season, their ship is about to run aground.


Both teams have lost a key player to suspension, Josh Caddy and James Sicily each earning unexpected holidays for ill-discipline. Additionally, Richmond have given a first opportunity to young Jack Higgins, a livewire small midfielder-forward with the brashness of youth, an infectious personality and a permanent wide grin on his face. As they run out onto the ground for this early Sunday afternoon game, about to be played in the hottest part of the day, we are feeling sweaty and sticky in the stands, the mercury having risen a couple more notches. The many bars and watering holes in the Members’ Stand are doing a roaring trade in amber fluids. It is all in the name of remaining hydrated on a warm day, of course!


The game itself begins at a furious pace. A Hawthorn fan sitting beside me is determined to bear verbal witness to each of Tom Mitchell’s possessions, until, overwhelmed, he loses count. Thankfully, Mitchell is so busy early that this only takes a few minutes.


The man himself appears to do as he pleases on the arena. Despite the efforts of Richmond’s midfield to quell his effectiveness, he propels his team forward with regularity. His influence on the game is balanced by that of Shane Edwards, who uses quick hands, keen vision and his unique understanding of the mechanics of ball movement to create dangerous forward thrusts for his team. Goals are quickly exchanged.


Hawthorn win the early stoppage battle decisively but Richmond use their ground pressure and running game to create multiple turnovers. When Jack Riewoldt outpoints McEvoy at a forward pocket stoppage and snaps a quick goal, the Tigers open up a handy lead. The game stops for a while, allowing the players to catch their breath and cool down. It is humid and stifling, prompting thoughts of more liquid refreshments from the Blazer Bar. Have they run out yet?


During the second quarter, young Higgins, full of bluster and enthusiasm, rises to mark a touched ball, lands like a cat and kicks a fabulous goal with his first kick in League Football before hapless defenders can react, triggering a celebration worthy of the Richmond faithful. We are going to like this one!


Later in the quarter, a botched and extensive goal review provides genius comedic relief for all and, for the players, is a welcome break from running in these uncomfortable and airless conditions. Fans of both teams settle quickly, acknowledging that the correct decision was arrived at…..eventually.


As is often the case when Richmond play, the middle half of the game is tight and inconclusive. For the Hawks, Mitchell provides the grunt, Jarryd Roughead is a willing worker and dangerous target in their forward line and Cyril Rioli provides the magic, creating opportunities when there should be bubkus.


The Tigers respond with equal portions of grunt, willingness and magic of their own, wisely preferring to share these tasks between the many, rather than the few. Jason Castagna is dangerous as an under-sized full-forward, he and Riewoldt keep the scoreboard ticking over. Cotchin, Conca and McIntosh are shaded by Mitchell but control the rest of Hawthorn’s midfield. Rance, Astbury, Grimes and Vlastuin combine authoritatively in defence, defying Hawthorn’s best efforts with clean marking and crisp ball use. Oddly, Dustin Martin only seems to be absorbed into the contest when the Hawks threaten, playing in cameos, rather than prowling and stalking in his usual imperious manner. Houli runs and receives. Grigg scores a goal, often a pointer to an inevitable Tiger victory.


The Tigers convert their series of small advantages into a handy lead at the last break. Upon resumption, they quickly put the result beyond doubt, stretching their lead to 39 points early in the last quarter. To their credit, Hawthorn continue to fight the game out.


When Sam Lloyd goes low in a tackling attempt, Puopolo goes even lower with his head, earning a free kick and sparking an old-fashioned melee. Hawthorn hit back hard, scoring multiple late goals in a spirited flurry and an upset becomes a possibility (however unlikely). Dan Butler, who earlier has kicked an eye-catching goal, tries another party trick but this one goes awry. We suspect he may have a few nervous discussions with his coach over the next few days. Finally, a few minutes of possession football settles the issue in Richmond’s favour.


Another win is safely in the bank, hard-fought but won in regulation style. The Hawks may well be “back in town” but they were shaded on this occasion. Still, the season is long and there are many more fairy-tales to be written.


RICHMOND 5.3 8.7 12.11 15.12 (102)
HAWTHORN 2.4 5.6 7.8 13.11 (89)


Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Castagna 3, Higgins 2, Grigg, Edwards, Nankervis, Lloyd, McIntosh, Butler
Hawthorn: Roughead 4, Puopolo 3, Breust 3, Rioli, Mitchell, O’Meara


Richmond: Cotchin, Conca, Houli, Vlastuin, Rance, Martin
Hawthorn: Mitchell, McEvoy, Smith, Roughead, Gunston


Richmond: Nil
Hawthorn: Nil


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Fisher, Rosebury, Hosking


Official crowd: 70,701 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.


  1. Stainless says

    Accurate analysis, Joe. Heat and a fluky wind made this an ordinary contest. I was impressed with Hawthorn’s skills against Geelong on Easter Monday but that game was like a 1980s contest with precious little emphasis on defence. I was therefore intrigued to see how they’d go against Rance, Astbury, Grimes et al. Short answer – not well. The cool precision of Burgoyne at critical moments might have made a difference for Hawthorn but Richmond always had the edge, in spite of being beaten on several key stats, botching some gimme goals and clocking off 20 minutes early – good signs I guess. How was Edwards not amongst Richmond’s best?

  2. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks, Stainless.

    I thought the Tiges controlled the game until they decided that they had it in the bag and started showing off. That is the aspect of this season that worried me the most, they will blow a game at some stage because someone decides to lairise.

    Keeping out the heat was hard.

  3. Stainless says

    Agree Joe – Rance’s crude late spoil that attracted the scrutiny of the MRP was as bad as Butler’s ridiculous overhead handball. Completely different incidents but both showed a lack of discipline that’s often exhibited by reigning Premiers.

  4. Joe De Petro says

    Edwards is an out and out star who is finally starting to get some recognition. He plays a different game.

  5. Hi joe
    I like your observation re the way colours bend and to create various effects en
    masse…. all depending on who is playing…. funny how brown never seems to appeal and often turns ‘murky’.
    Grand final day colours were reallly vibrant, great at a distance but up closer and the alternating bays of color.
    Agree with the word ‘cameo’ re Dusty. Laying low I think, restoring supplies.
    Missed last week but off this week.

  6. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks, Kate.

    The colours in the crowd were doing my head in last week. Richmond fans were in the canary yellow of 2017-8 or in the more mustard tones from the previous few years and the Hawks fans were in a consistent yellow but it was coupled with several shades of brown.

    Marketing gone crazy.

    Has anyone at AFL central figured out yet that if they ever make Richmond wear their clash jumper for an away game against Hawthorn, it will actually make the clash of colours so much worse?

    Was Dusty out of sorts? Maybe watching Tom Mitchell collecting a gazillion touches did HIS head in?

  7. Yes a seemingly minor shift but very noticeable,,, it’s no longer the number on the back that dates a fans geurnsey, but the colour of the strip.

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