Round 4 – West Coast v Richmond: Oh for a weekend away!

OH FOR A WEEKEND AWAY

 

What can you do if things aren’t going well at the footy club?

You’ve lost two of the three games you pencilled in as likely wins when the fixtures came out last year. You can’t get big Ivan Maric and Deledio on the park. Chris Yarran has a crook foot. Everyone’s a bit tense. Alex Rance was motioning for teammates to calm down as early as the first quarter of the previous match against Adelaide.  Your coach talks about taking one step back in order to take  two steps forward and suddenly everyone is petrified of experiencing yet another rebuild and five-year plan.

What can you do? You have a weekend away; in Perth to be exact. You take on the West Coast Eagles and have a bonding exercise with the boys. It worked a treat last year when we met the Dockers at Subiaco and blitzed the home team with an eight goal to three opening term. We didn’t look back after that (until the elimination final against North). That unexpected delight, when Richmond finished Fremantle’s nine-game winning streak, was the third in a series of three victories in as many trips to the west from 2013-15.

There’s some news which makes our night more promising. Priddis is out and the trio of McGovern, McKenzie and Cripps are also under an injury cloud. I arrange to watch the match at home with Adam, who used to live around the corner, but he has to bail at the last moment due to a nephew’s birthday party. Pity. I wanted to ask him about his recent family trip to New Zealand. I know a fair bit about the Shakey Isles but have never gotten around to actually visiting the place. “Nice lakes and mountains,” he informs me over the phone.

The trip away for the Tigers soon turns sour. After Lambert soccers the first goal of the match they find themselves locked up in the Eagles’ forward zone. How quickly it all unravels. It’s footy played on half a field and they might as well be incarcerated in Casuarina Prison. Kennedy and Darling are not the only threats, as LeCras, Hill and Jetta work feverishly to prevent Richmond from finding the exits. They set up their much vaunted Weagles Web with deadly precision. The Tigers attempt to break through with rapid use of handball but keep blundering into cul-de-sacs. Then they try a slower build-up with short passing by foot and are repeatedly cited for kicking less than 15 metres, causing them to play on in panic as they are closed down by their opponents. Richmond players repeatedly turn the ball over in a carbon copy of last week’s capitulation to Adelaide. McGovern and Hurn always seem to know the spot where the ball is going to fall from the sky.

Second string ruckman Shaun Hampson has toiled admirably over the past two weeks but receives a serious corkie in the second term. He is virtually immobile from this point and Naitanui starts using him as a stepladder at ball-ups and throw-ins. Richmond is unable to prevent Gaff, Yeo and Shuey from taking first possession and delivering the ball to multiple targets in attack.

It’s all over by half time. If not for wasteful shooting for goal by West Coast, they would have led by substantially more than 54 points at the long interval. Hampson is done for the night and the desperately unlucky David Astbury is assisted from the arena with a leg injury. Cotchin and Martin lead by example and Riewoldt scraps for opportunities during Richmond’s rare forays forward. Rioli boots a couple of goals with pleasing glimpses of raw pace and evasive skill. Rance is able to quieten Coleman Medal favourite Kennedy and still find time and space for 26 possessions despite the constant bombardment from the West Coast midfielders. But so many Tigers are woefully out of form. They’re going somewhere, these Eagles, while their opponents are at risk of winding up in the also-rans basket at a painfully early stage of the 2016 season.

Adam and I agree to catch up when the Tigers play either Melbourne or Port Adelaide over the next couple of weeks. With the way Richmond is going, I reckon I might need some time away myself. He reckons Queenstown is alright.

 

 

Comments

  1. What chance the bottom 5, in no particular order is Melbourne, Collingwood, Richmond, Carlton, Essendon?

  2. RIchmond will lift at some stage – they always do – but they are a loooong way off matching it with the ‘big guns’ of the competition at this stage.

    It was very thankful for the Tiges that the Eagles didn’t kick straight – a 100 point margin was on the cards otherwise!

  3. Defeat or otherwise , always enjoy your write up

  4. not sure when top 4 aspirations and a contract extension translated into going backwards to come again. all talk. no action. out out out

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