AFL, Round 3 – Western Bulldogs v Richmond: Sins of the Carlton match are visited upon the Bulldogs match.

Rule of thumb: when you can hear the players barking at each other in the second quarter of a match with a 30,000 strong crowd, you know it’s not going well.

Watching the Tigers over the years has been many things: soul-destroying, frustrating, stirring, tantalising. But boring? That was a new one, an extension on the inconsistencies of the previous two matches. Simply put, it was hard to remember a match in which the Tigers had looked so disinterested in even making leads.

And it was not at all the fault of their opponents, who, as they came off two ugly losses, dashed and swung the ball forward to slam through nine first half goals and lead by 37 points. The Bulldogs must have hardly been able to believe their luck. The more they tried, the more they were rewarded.
In a way, it was all too easy for them. In another, they worked for, and deserved, every goal they got.
In the first half, their goals were visible a mile off, yet were seemingly unstoppable. The ball would burst free in the centre and suddenly a five man chain was visible running right into the mouth of the goal square.
Fittingly, the match was won off such a play: Crameri grabbed a loose ball off half back and ignited an industrial line of four handballs and a long kick Inside 50 that led to Giansiracusa kicking the match winner.

In the first half, the Bulldogs won the game. Or, at least, enough to hold off Richmond’s torrid fight back for a two-point victory. Richmond’s short, chipping play inevitably came undone as the sins of their previous matches were resurrected to their worst nightmares. A lot of lazy running and a bit of poor forward delivery and suddenly all these guys you’d never even heard of were running amok.
Mitch Wallis beat Cotchin. Jack Macrae had twenty disposals to half time. Liam Jones and Lachie Hunter puffed out their chests, stood tall and kicked four between them.

If Richmond coach Damien Hardwick can be accused of a weakness, it is his seeming proclivity for hard-nosed grunts over silky ball winners. But in that sterile first half, Richmond lacked in both.
They needed another Cotchin and another five Jacksons. As their ball-butchering backline made fundamental skill and judgement errors, every Tiger fan realised that, with the absence of Brett Deledio, they hadn’t known what they had ‘till it was gone. As Jake King, playing as if he believed and liked his Triple M reputation, repeatedly stopped chasing the ball to throw cheap jumper punches, Tiger fans regretted the omission of Foley and the injury of Vlastuin.

The Dogs, by contrast, worked so well as a team that it was difficult to pinpoint many standouts. Their tacking pressure was relentless for three quarters and showed that they were not afeard of their more fancied opponents. Their discipline in disposal going forward meant that they scored from 14 of their 23 entries in the first two quarters.

Had it not been for Jack Riewoldt, the Bulldogs would have won by ten goals. Instead, Richmond’s frustrated forward single-handedly pulled his team back into the contest.
For two matches, Riewoldt has busted his backside off in the team-oriented role he started last season. Running all over the ground, chasing defenders up to the wing and creating more opportunities than he took, he had kicked just three goals and brought sneers from an ignorant peanut gallery. In the first half, as he received frequent and average service, he had just one disposal. Even the most faithful Tiger fan must have wondered if he was playing with one eye on the headlines, caring more about what people said than he let on. Finally – finally ­­­- it all fell into place for him.
Riewoldt kicked four goals from four shots in the second half. The ball flew in and he took mark after mark. He screamed with each goal, burning in passion and inspiring to lift his teammates. It might have been Jonathan Brown out there. If Riewoldt carries his form into Friday’s must-win match against Collingwood, Richmond have a fighting chance.

For the Tigers, this could be either the catalyst for a disastrous season or a timely wake-up call. A two and a half quarter effort beat Carlton, but a one and a half quarter effort will beat no one. A difficult month is ahead of them.
For the Bulldogs, this victory was their reward for taking the game on and not fearing the consequences. Their young players are growing legs at a feverish rate as their confidence grows.
In that first half, Macrae, Dalhaus, Jones and Hunter – players with no more than 60 games experience each – set up a match-winning lead.
As the Tigers came back, their old hands calmly stepped in to demonstrate how to guard a lead. Boyd, Minson and Cooney were like the supervising drivers covertly pressing the accelerator for their panicking L-plater teammates.
Then there was Giansiracusa: the silver haired devil, who swooped into the game late, ‘This looks like a job for…’ and kicked two goals to save the win.
The future for the young Bulldogs, under the tutorage of Brendan McCartney and their ageing leaders, is looking brighter than many people still realise.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 5.4 9.5 11.9 15.10 (100)

RICHMOND 2.4 3.4   9.6     15.8 (98)


WB: Jones 3, Giansiracusa 2, Jong 2, Crameri 2, Cooney, Higgins, Dahlhaus, Hunter, Macrae, Stringer.

R: Riewoldt 4, Vickery 2, Griffiths 2, Cotchin, Martin, King, Petterd, Gordon, Jackson, Grigg.

WB: Macrae, Boyd, Jones, Minson, Cooney, Hunter.
R: Thomas, Jackson, Riewoldt, Morris, Cotchin, Conca.

VOTES: 3 – J. Macrae (WB) 2 – M. Boyd (WB) 1 – L. Jones (WB)


About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Bob Speechley says

    You cannot wins games if you only play for half the time as Richmond did on Saturday. The Bulldogs didn’t stop going all day and in my opinion Minson was the difference between the two sides on the day. In the last quarter he was winning everything and I’m surprised he didn’t receive more accolades from the media. Certainly there was some Bulldog tenacity on display throughout the game which would make the coaching staff happy.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good summary overall with some honesty coconnor , Hardwick does prefer the honest gutsy battler over silky skills the simple reality is Richmond are a long way off the elite sides and lack depth . Minson was the difference and showed up again the mistake in not drafting Brodie Grundy . McCartney has got the bulldogs on the improve the trouble is Gold Coast and GWS are going to race past them and realistically there is stuff all a lot of sides can do about it . While I do not rate Chaplin I and many others are totally mystified how ex bulldog , Kieran McGuiness is not on a AFL list the current , Norwood captain would make most sides in the comp and is a quality defender unlike many
    Riewolt worked harder this game against , Gold Coast in particular he wad grumpy jack and the dummy was out of the cot , a big game Friday night

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