Round 4 – West Coast v Richmond: Dead Tiggers Bounced

The Avenging Eagle and I have a standard ritual of pre-game prognostications, predictions and prattle on our fortnightly 30 minute drive to SubiPatDom Stadium. I thought that we would win by 4-5 goals if both teams played close to their best.

The Avenging Eagle thought 5 was a bare minimum, but she last conceded that an opponent deserved a free kick in 1998. Priddis being out evened things up for their continued absence of Deledio.  Richmond had a good recent record in Perth against both the Eagles and Dockers, so I thought they would be up for a fight after recent disappointments.

I was hoping for a “good” game. Not a “great” game like the Hawks v Bulldogs epic last week.  You get one or two of those a season.  A “good” game is where your team is tested for 3 quarters and leads by 10 points at the last break, but kicks clear half way through the last to bring the blood pressure back under 180/95.

But a “good” game requires two teams to provide a contest. Instead Richmond sent over a bunch of speed bumps and traffic cones.

tigger speed bump

“Hopeless jokes” as Roy and HG would have put it.  Delusions of adequacy.  Not even pathetic enough to wear the Tiggers time-honoured label of “good for football”.

In the first half my Eagles played their best footy for the season to date. Hard running waves of attack – like the form that got them to a Grand Final last season.  Our intensity was good and our skills much improved on the first 3 rounds.

But – there was no pressure. 10 minutes in and the Tiggers collectively decided that AFL footy was far too difficult for them.  They play scared.  They run sideways and have no confidence in their team mates or whatever passes for a game plan at Punt Road.  They make mistakes by shutting down and being too afraid to make a mistake.

The first half was played almost entirely inside the Eagles front half. Inside 50’s were 20-4 at quarter time; 50-18 at ¾ time and 60-27 at the end.  The game evened up in the second half, mainly because the Eagles intensity dropped.  Two quarters of “junk time” instead of the conventional 10 minutes at the end.

The match stats were very even with my Eagles having only 2 more disposals and the Tiggers narrowly won the clearances despite NicNait and the emerging Lycett dominating the taps. That tells you just how selfish and meaningless most of the fantasy footy stats comps are.  The Tiggers disposals were sideways kicks and handballs to men standing still inside their defensive 50.  Go figure.

Coach Hardnose has a contract extension until the end of 2018? He would need an extension to get past Tuesday if he coached my side.  I just can’t remember a more dispirited and aimless performance by an opposing team, let alone one that has played finals in recent seasons.

tigger game plan

“Doing a Bradbury” would require 10 teams to be found using PED’s this season, not one. The Lions and Dockers that we played in earlier rounds were much more spirited opponents than the Tigger rabble.

As for individual performances – the Tiggers leadership have been criticised a lot in recent weeks – but it’s the bottom 16 they need to worry about not the top 6. Cotchin was clearly their best and Riewoldt ran everywhere to try to lift his team – despite a second quarter hanger attempt that looked like an Olympic pole vault qualifier – sans pole or football.  Tiggers bounce I guess.

Tigger 1

Rance was solid, but Dusty was clearly dreaming of family time in Aotearoa. I can remember a young Nick Vlastuin tearing us apart in the midfield two years ago.  Looked too skinny and frail to tear apart a lettuce leaf tonight.  David Astbury’s turnovers were more puzzling than his cryptic namesake.

Troy Chaplin – drum roll please. Obviously terrified of Rulebook’s ridiculing of his mistakes last week, he decided not to get close enough to the ball tonight to make any.  He got 12 possessions on a night when the game was played in his zone, and fellow key defenders Rance and McIntosh got 26 and 24 respectively.

tigger defence

Jeez the Tiggers know how to spot talent in opposing clubs. Moore from Port Adelaide got 9 and Hampson from Carlton got 1 disposal.  In the Record I wrote “LOG” next to his name.  Noticing the limp I amended it to “LEG”. Still not sure which was right.  He copped a corkie early, but he started the game with more leg bandages than a Camperdown steeplechaser.  Looked like a selection blooper to me.

Look I know I’ve spent most of the column bagging the Tiggers, but that’s mostly because it is hard to really rate my Eagles performance tonight due to the absence of any real contest or pressure. I gave the best to Andrew Gaff because he was tireless with 33 disposals, and he shortened up his kicking to hit targets after overkicking last week.  Jack Darling was the best forward, and the coaches look to have worked a lot on getting him to soften his hands in the marking contest.  Josh Kennedy always gets the best defender and Darling has taken full advantage of that opportunity in recent weeks.  Kennedy’s pressure work in tackling and chasing the last 3 weeks even when he has been heavily marked and not kicking goals, make him our most valuable footballer.

Elliot Yeo played his best game of the year, but could still improve 50% if he worked on his kicking. Mark LeCras was back to something close to his best, and Luke Shuey stepped up in the absence of Priddis.  The defence of Hurn, McGovern, Mackenzie and Sheppard was solid if rarely tested.

We had a half dozen who struggled, most notably our small forwards Cripps and Hill who made nothing of the myriad crumbing opportunities. Young Duggan and Nelson continue to struggle with the intensity of AFL and would not be in our best 22 when others return from injury, but Simpson invests in young players while their confidence builds.  Jack Redden needs to lift to keep his spot, but Lewis Jetta shows the class and awareness that makes him valuable in big games.

Sydney and the SCG will be a much harder challenge, but my Eagles are building and showed they will be a contender in September.

The Eagles have faith in their coach and each other.  Adam Simpson is our Messiah.  The Avenging Eagle and the playing group hang on his every word and worship the ground he walks on. Richmond are the Doubting Thomases of the competition.

That bunch of Tiggers wouldn’t bounce if you put 20,000 volts through ’em.

tigger 2

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

MALARKEY VOTES: Andrew Gaff (WCE) 3; Jack Darling (WCE) 2; Luke Shuey (WCE) 1.


  1. They wouldn’t bounce if you took them up and dropped them on the moon from 30,000 feet Mr B.

    And has it been decided yet when Umpires Stevic, Hosking & Fleer become naturalised Sandgropers?

  2. Peter Warrington says

    Hardwick out !

  3. You omitted to fully describe and appropriately sledge “Charlie” Chaplin’s missed goal scoring opportunity early doors from approximately 9 inches out from the goal umpire. Rulebook and I cannot be expected to carry the entire sledging load all the time. Andrew Moore was a better player at Port than he is with that rabble, while “Charlie” was always a wide receiver and a big fraidy cat for his size. PB.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    PB the tiggers game plan got exposed big time as you said just too afraid to make a mistake and that is where the stats lie in that if you chip the ball side ways 20 yards the kicking efficiency is in reality not the real figure as it does not hurt the opposition.Cotchin has gone backwards at a rate f knots teams don’t care how many touches he gets and thank you,Paul yes,Chaplin is the worst player in the competition.
    Realistically the tigers are as far away from a flag as any side in the competition while the weagles are a challenger but have the hawks got a mental advantage over them ?

  5. Tom Martin says

    As the other Mr Chaplin reminded us, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

    For that rarest breed of Richmond supporter who have retained their sense of humour, the comic relief presented by the #25 guernsey is surely the solitary beam of sunshine in this long, cold, lonely winter without end. It is the only constant to be relied upon each week, no matter how inconsistent the rest of the performers may be.

    For those of us completely uninvested in whether his pratfalls, roars and funny faces herald yet another disappointing failure, it’s easier to perceive that one day, with the clarity of hindsight, we will reflect on the time that #25 has spent with the Tigers as a most fertile period in the career of one of the greatest slapstick comedians of the modern era.

    He certainly has his detractors. The observation that his public persona would have been more easily tolerated in the silent era is not too unkind. But most of his more furious critics are quite simply missing the point.

    As is so often the case for an artist of true distinction, the sheer originality of his genius has served to impede the universal acclamation he so richly deserves. The transformation of our most prestigious sporting fields into a national stage for his revival of a long-forgotten comedic art has surely required an unwavering sense of artistic destiny.

    Even with a keen appreciation of his aesthetic of deliberate absurdity, the work remains challenging. It is precisely because his stunts of silliness and incompetence are so extravagant that they generate such overwhelming pathos. One day “The Bum” will join “The Tramp” and “The Little Dictator” of his namesake and a handful of other sorrowful clowns in the pantheon of masterpieces in physical comedy.

  6. Tom – the Little Tramp was more Marcel Marceau on Friday night. A masterful range.

  7. “10 minutes in and the Tiggers collectively decided that AFL footy was far too difficult for them” – You could’ve left your report at one sentence long and it would have been the most accurate piece of football journalism written all week!

  8. Tom Martin says

    Surely PB, a mime for the ages.

    It’s natural to think of Chaplin as exclusively a pantomime artist, simply because of his regular part as the archetypal ‘Villain at the Death’ in the Richmond soap opera. Even if Richmond is winning handsomely at three quarter time I will always stay tuned for the inevitable final quarter high jinks for which he’s now famous.

    The mime performances are more subtle but he displays such sublime technique. There is a faultless verisimilitude in his mimicry of an AFL footballer somehow evading all contact with the football or with anybody else out on the field. It’s no coincidence that although there are only a few true Chaplin aficionados at Richmond, they generally concur that they prefer to see him in this mode ‘going through the motions’ than with the Sherrin in his hand.

    These mime performances are all the more notable, if only because one must actually be at the ground (as you were) to have a hope of seeing the whole show. The television coverage has an unfortunate tendency to follow the football, which naturally relegates the best of his studies to positions that are out of shot.

    It’s a great pity that with each masterful mime show the curtain call comes closer for his wonderful career. Enjoy it while you can.

  9. Excellent summary of Charlie, Tom. Have been trying to decide if he was worse at Port, his kicking then was infuriating, but I reckon he has gone backwards overall. For a bloke with his size, his impact is minimal. Good at: waving his arms, yelling, standing the mark and pointing in several directions simultaneously but these are all things mastered quite early by Auskickers. Sheltering blokes like him (and Martin) will not take Richmond forward, but gives the rest of us some entertainment.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Sadly, your description of Richmond has many similarities at the moment to the team I follow.
    The cumulative effect of regular Rulebook baggings surely means Chaplin will also be lucky to last past Tuesday….

  11. E.regnans says

    Tigger: one of the great characters, PB.

    There seems to have been a quiet revolution in football smarts, in the absence of Richmond. A few others may have missed the boat, too (ahem).

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