Round 7 – Richmond v Fremantle: The view from the top

Richmond v Fremantle

1:10PM, Sunday May 6




It’s a beautiful day in Melbourne – warm and sunny with a light breeze – and a trip to the footy is made all the better with the confidence that comes with being reigning premiers and sitting at the top of the ladder. After being so bad for so very long, we’re not used to being up the top of the ladder. We have to look back to 1995, and then before that to 1982, to find the last times the Tigers topped the AFL/VFL ladder. These are fun times that we know we can’t take for granted.


To stay at the top, the Tigers need to keep winning, and our recent history at home against Fremantle isn’t that impressive (although, oddly enough, we’ve managed to beat them convincingly on the road). The other consideration is that this is the Tigers’ third game in 13 days. The players have to be feeling the effects of so much footy in so little time; I know I am. Trent Cotchin’s out with a sore knee so Jack Riewoldt is captain for the day. Jacob Townsend and Sam Lloyd are back in the team while Shaun Grigg is having a well-earned rest.


As the ball is bounced to begin the game, it’s clear that the Tigers mean business. The ball rarely leaves the Tigers’ forward 50 but inaccuracy in front of goal means that the Tigers only kick two goals and four behinds before the Dockers get on the scoreboard with a behind. On such a perfect day for footy, this inaccuracy (which continues for the first three quarters) is hard to understand. Nevertheless, the play is well and truly under the Tigers’ control. Deft touches and sneaky handballs leave the Dockers wrongfooted, and the crowd roars with delight as Dusty runs goalward (but inevitably ends up kicking a behind) leaving Nat Fyfe lying on the ground as the latest victim of a don’t argue.


The second quarter is more of the same but this time the Tigers inability to kick straight is aided by the video review umpire’s over-reaction to the controversial non-call in the Sydney v North game, a call that robbed the Swans of a win and me of a perfect nine in the footy tipping. Goals to Dusty and Josh Caddy are overturned after the all-clear has been given, flags have been waved and the players are set up for a centre bounce.


Aaron Sandilands – all 211 cm of him in his white footy jumper and shorts with socks pulled up to his knees – is an imposing presence on the footy field and he dominates the hit-outs. Fyfe and Lachie Neale dominate clearances but don’t have the support around them to do a lot of damage. For the Tigers, the usual suspects (Kane Lambert, Bachar Houli, Dusty et al.) are playing well but the workload is spread across the whole team with all players contributing rather than relying on a few stars.


After half time, the Tigers seem tired and the Dockers take advantage by lifting. In what is a rare goalless quarter for the Tigers, inaccuracy hurts both teams. The Tigers score only five behinds while the Dockers squander their chance to make the game interesting by kicking three goals but missing another five.


With a 26-point lead at three-quarter time, the Tigers could easily just switch on auto-pilot to cruise home for a win. Instead, the Tigers regain their intensity of the first quarter and we are treated to a rollicking final quarter. The response to the goalless third quarter is an eight-goal (and only four behinds) rampage that stunned the Dockers, confining them to a single behind scored late in the quarter.


Round 7 is about the time of the season when the top eight becomes settled, and this 77-point win has the Tigers at the top of the ladder with a huge percentage. I quite like the view from up here.


Richmond       4.5       7.11       7.16     15.20     (110)

Fremantle       1.1         1.3         4.8         4.9       (33)



Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Lambert 2, Townsend 2, Houli, Higgins, Lloyd, McIntosh, Conca, Caddy, Graham, Castagna

Fremantle: Brayshaw, Ballantyne, McCarthy, Cox



Richmond: Lambert, Houli, Grimes, Martin, Astbury, Rance, Graham

Fremantle: Fyfe, Neale, Hamling, Sandilands



3 Lambert (Richmond); 2 Fyfe (Fremantle); 1 Neale (Fremantle)


Crowd: 43,240


About Gill

As a youngster, Gill thought that frequent Richmond premierships were assured, but in the many years since 1980 she realised her folly and distracted herself by crunching numbers at a university. The magnificence of the Tigers’ 2017 season has restored her faith in Richmond and all of humanity.


  1. Joe De Petro says

    Nice account, Gill. Those rollicking final quarters are the best.

  2. E.regnans says

    If Nat Fyfe is floored by a “don’t argue”, what hope the rest of humanity?

    Well played, Gill.

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