Round 5 – Richmond v Sydney: To Dust we shall return



by John Green


It’s Easter Saturday and an appropriate time to find encouragement from the scriptures. From dust you are and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19). Who would have thought that a prophecy recorded thousands of years ago would have a modern day application. Dusty’s back after a week off due to suspension having enjoyed the opportunity to sit back, relax, recalibrate and revel in his mates’ unexpected triumph in Adelaide last weekend. At least one of the Fantastic Four is free to display his super powers at Marvel stadium against the visiting Swans.


The Tigers rediscovered their blueprint for success in the victory over Port Adelaide. Fanatical pressure applied to opposing defenders in the forward half, gang tackling, the plundering of  turnovers, rapid ball movement along Main Street and the maximisation of scoring opportunities. Having key personnel on the sidelines has enabled a vigorous cohort of Tiger cubs to find their place in Hardwick’s system. Sydney Stack, Jack Ross, Noah Balta, Liam Baker and Shai Bolton display a keen understanding of Richmond’s game plan and attack their roles with relish. Bolton might lack finesse, but he bounces around like a pinball trying to break through the glass of the machine. The new additions are loaded with enthusiasm and have revitalised the team.


The Swans are unable to deliver the ball with assurance. Richmond scores most often when they seize the ball from their opponents and launch lightning fast counter attacks. Sydney are one dimensional in their forays into attack. It’s a case of Buddy or nothing. Grimes and Broad share the responsibility for stopping him. At times the ball is delivered too high to Franklin, allowing his stoppers to clear the ball with well-timed spoils.


The Tigers threaten to surge in the second quarter. Edwards controls his territory in defence and Prestia constantly gathers the ball, considers his options and delivers to teammates in attacking positions. The game is played in Richmond’s half of the field. The Swans struggle to hang on. The decisive break comes in time on when the Tigers score three in four minutes – to Balta, Martin and Caddy, the latter after the siren, to take a handy lead of 33 points into the half-time break.


And that is pretty much all there is to it. The game never reaches any great heights in the second half. Richmond lack polish and waste a few chances to regain some lost percentage from the heavy losses to Collingwood and GWS. After years in the higher echelons of the competition with a couple of flags along the way, Sydney looks like they’re sliding into the middle powers category. But they don’t like losing and never give up easily. Franklin is always dangerous and he kicks the goal of the match from the boundary in the third term. Zak Jones continues his rise to prominence, Josh Kennedy just keeps rolling along and Jordan Dawson displays promise on the wing.


Martin spends most of his time in the goal mouth. After a slow start, he reels in 25 possessions and boots three goals in a welcome return to form. It’s not Tom Lynch’s day. Direct opponent in Dane Rampe is allowed considerable leeway by the umpires and he receives plenty of assistance from his fellow defenders. Lynch is held goalless but the Tigers find a way to get the job done. He’ll fare better when Riewoldt returns to the team and takes some of the heat from opposition stoppers.


Richmond eventually wins by a comfortable 22 points after leading for most of the night. The news comes through that Melbourne, Richmond’s next opponent on the coming Wednesday night, has suffered an upset loss to St. Kilda at the MCG. In this unpredictable season I enjoy the prospect of tangling with a demoralised legion of demons in the Anzac Eve clash.


RICHMOND   3.3   9.5  11.9  13.11 (89)
SYDNEY        2.1   4.2   6.3     10.7 (67)


Richmond: Martin 3, Caddy 2, Lambert 2, Balta 2, Rioli, Ellis, Baker, Castagna
Sydney: Franklin 4, Heeney 2, Papley, Kennedy, Parker, Reid


Richmond: Edwards, Martin, Prestia, Stack, Vlastuin, Higgins
Sydney: Parker, Kennedy, Rampe, Lloyd, Franklin


Richmond: TBC
Sydney: TBC


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Donlon, Foot, Mitchell


Crowd: 40,053 at Marvel Stadium


Malarkey Votes: 3. Edwards (Rich)  2 Prestia (Rich)  1  Martin (Rich)



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  1. Was impressed with your Tigers run and pressure JG. Looks like the midrung players have found the spark to compensate for the stars’ injuries with their relentless work rate.
    Can you explain why Dusty is playing forward with no Cotchin available??? Fitness, team balance or attitude??? He looked ok but just doesn’t seem to have the uber male dominance of the 2017/early 18 Dusty.

  2. Well-written piece-Loved the Noah Bolta pinball analogy.
    The game was error-ridden as you allude to. Buddy seemed to have a a lot of “nearly” moments. I was impressed with the Tiger cubs: the appropiately-named Sydney Stack, the athletic Noah ‘Usain” Bolta and Liam Baker (everthing he does and even his appearance reminds me of the Baby Bomber for the Dons, Leon Baker- he even hails from WA too but no relation as far as i can tell).
    Peter is correct about the pressure being back. At times they just surged the ball forward and Prestia was clever (seems to be a barometer for the Tigers)
    Dusty forward? Dont really know the answer. He hadnt kicked a goal or year so it was overdue for him to hit the scoreboard. The famous Dont Argue is missing from his game it seems.
    An easy win in the end but the Swans were still still it with 10 minutes left. At that stage Buddy was the most important player on the ground. I will tip the Swans next week.

  3. Good work, John.
    You are correct in highlighting “the cohort of Tiger cubs”…it is the old analogy about a team being only as strong as its bottom four or five players (the weakest links in the chain etc). It is certainly apparent that the young, newer blokes have added some vitality to the team.

  4. Keiran Croker says

    Good summary John. Tigers were good. From my perspective as a Swans fan we continually turned it over. Though will concede the Tigers pressure contributed to that. It seems that we are trying to execute a game plan that the players are not yet confident or competent to execute. I’d like to see us play more like the Tigers. Get and go, keep moving it forward.

    Rampe was terrific on Lynch. We have a lot of players out of touch with poor ball handling and decision making. If Reid can start holding his marks that will make a big difference. He got to lots of contests but could not hold em. Dawson is very promising.

  5. John
    I never thought I’d see it against Sydney team but I reckon Richmond “managed” the second half with an eye to another game in five days time. That’s how poor the Swans were.
    PB – I’m not sure why the speculation about Dusty’s 25 possession, 3 goal game. Yeah, a bit below his 2017 “uber male dominance” but….And he always spends some time forward btw.
    The serious questions need to be asked about the rabble in red and white. Maybe the effects of the COLA withdrawal are showing :)

  6. Joe De Petro says

    Loved reading this John. The young Tigers are certainly giving us something to cheer at the moment.

  7. John Green says

    Thanks for your comment, Peter. It seems as though Dusty decides whether he plays on the ball or in attack at various stages of games. It’s very hard for him to emulate the form of 2017. Is it humanly possible for him to do so? It was probably the most dominant season by an individual player in the history of the AFL/VFL. Anything close to that is still brilliant.

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