Round 4 – West Coast v Richmond: Beware the Wounded Tiger

West Coast v Richmond

6.10pm, Friday 15 April

Domain Stadium, Perth

Andrew Cochrane

I love this time of year, temperatures around the mid-20s in Melbourne today make it feel as though we should be getting ready to watch the footy finals, but September action is a long way from the minds of tonight’s combatants West Coast and Richmond.  As I drive from work to our home in the burbs of Melbourne I reflect on what a magnificent sight the golden brown leaves make as they start to pile up on the front yards, roads, and footpaths.  The pile in our front yard is more resembling a haystack, so deep that we have to forage around for a good few minutes to find our three year old daughter, Elodie’s, beach shovel!

As I write this a couple of hours before the big match the “Friday night nerves” start to kick-in, my beloved West Coast sit at 2-1 entering this game, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near our form of last season yet.  It may be only early in the season but over the past ten years (where there wasn’t an early-season bye) 62 of the 80 teams that sit in the Top-8 at the end of Round 5 have gone on to make the Finals which doesn’t leave much room for error for the teams that ease their way into the season.  It’s imperative that we win tonight before a tough road trip to Sydney next week.

As for Richmond, they’ve had an inauspicious start to the season … and that’s what worries me.  They started last season poorly too and made the Finals, whilst in 2014 they simply couldn’t make the Finals after sitting at 3-10 … except that they won their next nine games and did make the eight, edging out none other than West Coast!  They seem to be one of the few exceptions to the above ‘rule’ that you have to start the season well to make the eight.

On top of that they’ve won their past three at Subi, including two over the Eagles.  The Tigers know how to win when their backs are against the wall, and an interstate trip could just be the circuit-breaker they need to kick-start their season and galvanise a team that still has some decent talent on the park.  Just like Danny from Droop Street, I’m feeling that the portents are there for an upset.

After three weeks of attending local footy, and seeing our trilogy of home grounds – Dromana, Devon Meadows and Lyndale – it’s now time to sit back and watch a game on the good ol’ CRT.  A pasta and a nice Barossa Shiraz prepare me for the match.

Finally, it’s game time!  One of my favourites of the inaugural Eagles, Laurie Keene, does the coin toss.  Laurie was an outstanding ruckman with a prodigious kick, however his VFL career was cruelled by injury.  I remember at the time how, for what feels like at least a year or more, I would pick up the paper and read with hope that Laurie was closer to a return, however the injury report seemed to be stuck forever with the words “Laurie Keene – Achilles – 8 weeks”.  Eight weeks ended up being a couple of years before Laurie finally announced his very premature retirement.

Anyway I digress!  Courtesy of the coin toss the Eagles are kicking to the right of the screen in the first quarter.  Perhaps the players aren’t aware of this but this is the end I refer to as the Peppa Pig / Suzy Sheep end of the ground, for Elodie has dutifully stuck two stickers on the telly which at times makes it look like the defense have a couple of extra players running loose!

As it happens though the Tigers manage to concoct the first goal through the agency of Lambert, who the commentators tell us has now kicked the first goal in three of Richmond’s four games this year, a fact that may be of use to those that are members of one of the approximately 28 gambling organisations that “helpfully” keep us posted on the odds during the game.  There’s plenty of vim and vigour about Richmond early on as they try to break down the Eagles with some quick handball.  However West Coast soon lift their intensity and before long it’s noticeable that the Tigers handballs are invariably going to someone who’s under more pressure than the bloke that just disposed of the ball, whilst the Eagles handballs are travelling ten metres or more to players that are running free of their opponents.

Soon enough Hill gets the first on the board for West Coast, and with Yeo and Darling in particular threatening to tear the game apart the Tigers look somewhat nonplussed, other than for a few players digging deep, including Martin who seems to be breaking through attempted tackles with ease but not doing enough damage with the ball.  The Eagles add a couple more goals through Lycett and Darling before the game takes a bit of a lull.  Then the final few minutes of the first quarter prove to be decisive.  Firstly Jetta gets a somewhat bizarre goal from what he and his direct opponent think is a mark, only for the umpire to be shouting “play-on, play-on”.  By the time Jetta and Grigg realise, it’s too late for Grigg to close Jetta down, and he cleverly snaps it through.

At this stage Richmond could have had Peppa Pig, Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog, Freddy Fox and the whole crew in defense and it would barely have made a difference, such was the ease and regularity with which the ball was coming into the forward line.  Shuey dobbed the next, before a deft flick-on from Riewoldt led to a quick Rioli reply.  West Coast then scored three quick behinds, before Darling capped a superb first quarter with another goal.  West Coast led by 32 points and whilst I didn’t want to mozz them you had the feeling that the game was effectively over even at this early stage, such was the body language of Richmond.  We didn’t know it at the time but West Coast’s 14 first quarter scoring shots ended up being more than the Tigers had for the whole night.

I thought Rance and Martin were toiling manfully for the Tigers and I also thought someone was doing a fine job on Matt Priddis as I hadn’t noticed him during the quarter.  It was then helpfully pointed out to me by my beloved that Priddis had been a late scratching!

Whilst the Eagles had many winners in the early part of the game, I personally felt I had pulled off the most remarkable feat of all, which was convincing Elodie that I really had to watch this game and asking her to postpone watching Dora and Blues Clues to another night.  This I can assure you was no mean feat, and had Richmond shown the same fight that Elodie had shown upon hearing this news the match would have been a corker!

Quarter time would at least be an opportunity for the Richmond hierarchy to spell out some home truths and make some much-needed adjustments to the game plan.  However when the second quarter began it soon became painfully obvious that Richmond had a Plan A, but no Plan B, C or D.

Cotchin, who was already having issues with some turnovers (not on his Pat Malone of course), gave away an undisciplined 50 metre penalty to LeCras early in the quarter and The Frenchman dutifully slotted from the goal line.  Before long the Eagles had added three goals, including a rippa from Yeo, to the Tigers one, and when Hutchings added another the margin had blown out to over 50 points well before half-time.  The game nearly descended into farce when Richmond inexplicably left Hampson on the field, despite him running slower than Eric the Eel!

And then the floodgates opened.  Not on the field, but rather on my phone, from a bevy of mates, all disgruntled Tiger fans who’d well and truly had enough and were saying “Dimma has to go”, “I’ve said for years we need a ruckman” and so forth.  I have to admit to feeling bad for them, these are true dyed-in-the-wool supporters who bleed yellow and black, and have had a football drought that was unimaginable on the day when Disco, The Ghost, Flea, KB, The General and their ilk were tearing the Pies apart at the G in 1980.  They’ve seen coaching messiah after coaching messiah come and go, only for the club to go back to square one on each occasion.  Next time they might be better off hiring Brian from Monty Python’s Life of Brian to be the messiah, at least they’d be able to have a laugh if the poor results continued.

Half time saw West Coast 54 points up, but perhaps more staggering was the 23 scoring shots to four, a damning statistic if ever there was one!  Beware the Wounded Tiger indeed!

Rioli kicked a beauty in the third having dodged a tackle or two, and picked himself up from the ground to snap it truly over his shoulder.  He didn’t get much of the ball tonight but his cameo performance surely gave Tiger fans some heart.  The NicNat to Shuey combination was sublime, MacKenzie took some nice marks as he continues to work his way back to his best form, whilst Shuey and Gaff continued to dominate.  As if to rub salt into the wound, a last-minute attempted pass from Shuey to Yeo that was off the mark instead dribbled through for another Eagles goal.

At three-quarter time the margin was 55 points, and fans would have been justified in calling for the mercy rule.  Both teams were going through the motions, and somewhat worryingly the Eagles showed signs of lairising, much as they did against Brisbane in Round 1 which turned out to be a terrible warm-up for the Hawks game of Round 2.  Incessant camera shots of Hardwick in the coach’s box showed a man that looked bereft of ideas, and although Richmond have rebounded from this type of position in the past two years it’d take a brave man to predict that they could do the same for the third consecutive season.

The last quarter provided few highlights other than both Jack’s playing the game out with great spirit, Darling for West Coast kicking two goals for the quarter and taking some strong marks, and likewise Riewoldt who kicked three goals in the final stanza, plus there was the lowlight in Astbury’s injury.  I thought the bookends of Riewoldt and Rance were fantastic for Richmond, both fighting it out until the end, an example that some of their teammates could take a lead from.  McIntosh and Menadue showed promise at times, whilst Martin looked good early.

For West Coast I would have had Yeo as the man of the match had he kicked more accurately for goal.  Darling was terrific, dragging in eight marks to go with his four goals, whilst Gaff and Shuey seemed to be without opponents at times such was their ability to win the ball in space.

It was hard to take much from this match as an Eagles fan as the Tigers looked a dispirited side.  Having said that I thought our pressure on the ball carrier in the first quarter in particular was excellent and the strong marking was a good sign too.  We’ve won three at home but lost our only road game this season, and with away matches at Sydney and Geelong in the next three weeks we’ll know a lot more as to whether the Eagles are a genuine contender after those games.

WEST COAST      6.8   10.13   13.16   18.17   (125)
RICHMOND           2.0     3.1       6.3        9.3      (57)

GOALS
West Coast: Darling 4, Hutchings 2, Kennedy 2, Shuey 2, LeCras 2, Yeo 2, Hill, Jetta, Lycett, Redden

Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Lloyd 2, Rioli 2, Lambert

BEST
West Coast: Darling, Yeo, Shuey, Gaff

Richmond: Rance, Riewoldt, Martin

Umpires: Stevic, Hosking, Fleer  Crowd: 38,860

Our votes       Darling (West Coast) 3, Yeo (West Coast) 2, Shuey (West Coast) 1.

Brownlow

 

 

 

About Cheesehead

An Eagles fan that enjoys a day at the local footy and then coming home to watch the AFL. Can't believe how quickly the years have passed since our last flag ...!

Comments

  1. Sure that wasn’t Charlie Chaplin hiding behind that Peppa Pig sticker? Similar impact in the tackles.

  2. Cheesehead says

    Peppa may have shown more endeavour I think, it was a lackluster effort at times by Chaplin and quite a few others to say the least.

  3. Good stuff Cheesehead. This was the game that convinced me the boys are back on track this season. I will always refer to the Fremantle end of Subi as the Peppa Pig/Suzy Sheep End from now on. There is a strong whiff that comes up the river whenever the Fremantle Doctor blows. I thought it was the live sheep export boats, but……………

  4. Cheesehead says

    Thanks Peter, enjoyed reading your write-up too, very funny and accurate! I was certainly happier with our play at times last Friday than I’ve been in our other games but not completely convinced yet due to the incredibly poor opposition that we faced. If we can win in Sydney though that would definitely show me that we’re back. The Swans are an odd team, I think they have arguably the best group of midfielders in the league, but an average defense and an ok forward line, the sum of which so far has been pretty darn good. Here’s hoping that Peppa & Suzy hold up the Fremantle end when we’re back playing at home in a couple of weeks!

Leave a Comment

*