Three in a row for the Tigers

Going into this game, I was unusually quietly confident of a third successive victory for my beloved Tigers. Unusual, in the fact that I’m always hoping for a win, but never believing that we could actually pull it off. This attitude is a reflection of the Richmond players at the moment, as Damien Hardwick noted during the week. Belief is one thing, but the ability to have the confidence to pull it off is another. This is perhaps the influence in my ‘unusual’ mindset, that the Richmond players and I for once, shared the same mindset.

Fremantle, never an easy game against a team with match-winners everywhere. Sandilands, Pavlich, Mundy, Hill, Balllantyne just to name a few, sounded daunting enough. A side that had been in great form all year, the only exception a close loss to Geelong at home, which is acceptable in modern day footy.

Walking to the game with my uncle and brother, we were discussing our chances of a ‘hat-trick’, something I’m not accustomed to as a Richmond supporter. As the clouds grew darker and darker, I was praying for rain as I believed it would enhance our chances in winning due to Freo’s lack of experience in wet-weather and dewy conditions. Before I knew it we were at our seats in the AFL Reserve and the match had begun, the rain had yet to come.

The opening term started brilliantly for the Tigers, as Nahas slotted a classy check side (no left foot) goal, picking up where he left off. Immediately Fremantle responded with a goal to Ibbotson, with the tiger’s defenders failing to touch the ball over the line. Sandliands was dominating in the ruck but we always knew that was going to happen. Angus Graham just had to have body on Sandilands wherever he went, and reduce his ability to spread from stoppages around the ground. De Boer was applying a heavy tag to Dustin Martin, who would go on to learn that ‘great’ players do get tagged and that you have to deal with it. This left Trent Cotchin free in the middle who was having a nice first quarter, something the tigers weren’t having. Richmond couldn’t break clear of the Fremantle and were only doing so with play down the corridor.  Inaccurate kicking from Fremantle ( 2 goals 8 behinds)  and nice running goal to Houli kept the scores level at quarter time.

The second quarter produced an end to end encounter, with Richmond working hard for their goals only to have Fremantle answer back easily. Richmond were looking the better team, they were starting to break the Freo zone with bursts down the middle. Instead of copying Collingwood like everyone else, Richmond had employed their game plan based on bringing the ball down the middle. Jake ‘the push-up’ King had produced a great quarter with 2 goals proving he is a one of a kind player, a player who will bust his guts to lay a tackle, a player who will physically bleed for his club. However, all the effort replicated by Richmond was being undone immediately after a goal, with Freo winning an easy clearance through Sandilands and producing answering goals. A dubious free-kick to Adam Mc Phee at the stroke of half-time gave Freo the lead, much to the Richmond fans disgust. Freo by 2 points at the main break.

The sea-sawing encounter carried on in the third quarter, with Riewoldt, Cotchin, Deledio and Martin being undone with follow up goals to Kepler Bradley, Lower and Pitt. However, you could sense that Richmond had the game in their hands. Their daring style of play up the middle continued to devastate the Dockers, with Cotchin and Nahas proving to be the live-wires of the Richmond side. Goals to Riewoldt, Graham and Vickery at the stroke of half time brought the Tiger fans to their feet at three-quarter time, breaking the duck for a 20 point lead. We were all on our feet and everyone was applauding the tigers as they marched into the huddle. I turned around to my uncle and said, “I think that was it, we just broke the game open.” He nodded in acknowledgement and I believed we had the legs to run over the top of them in the last quarter.

It proved to be one of the best last quarters of football I have ever witness as a Richmond supporter. Two goals to Trent Cotchin brought his tally to 4 goals which is brilliant for a midfielder. It was his time to step up in the wake of Dustin Martin’s tag. That was the pleasing thing about Richmond’s game; players were stepping up all over the ground and showing hardness and fight for the yellow and black. Alex Rance was having a solid game at full-back, Luke Mc Guane showed his fight with a brilliant smother on Clancee Pearce’s shot on goal, Shane Edwards was linking up through the corridor and Bachar Houli was invaluable at half-back with his elite passing. We were up on our feet in applause every 30 seconds, as the Tigers blew away the Dockers with multiple goals to Nahas, Riewoldt, Houli. Richmond had pulled away to a 49 point lead and the atmosphere was electric as the final siren went. The yellow and black army is a force once again; the rise of the empire has taken place, an empire that has been dormant for 30 years. Continuous singing of the song warmed my heart as I was so proud of the boys and their commitment to the jumper.

We walked out of the G and towards the car, I turned around to everyone who came and said “the rain never came.” They all looked at me with a smile, not acknowledging my observation as they were all only interested in a hat-trick of wins for Richmond.


RICHMOND 3.2 9.7 17.7 23.10 (148)

FREMANTLE 2.8 9.9 13.11 14.15 (99)

Goals: Richmond: J Riewoldt 4 R Nahas 4 T Cotchin 4 T Vickery 3 B Houli 2 J King 2 A Graham B Deledio B Miller D Martin. Fremantle: K Bradley 4 C Mayne 2 H Ballantyne 2 A McPhee G Ibbotson J Pitt M Pavlich N Lower S Hill.

Best: Richmond: T Cotchin R Nahas B Deledio S Edwards B Houli R Conca J Batchelor.            Fremantle: A Sandilands M Pavlich D Mundy M De Boer K Bradley N Fyfe.

Injuries: Richmond: M White (shoulder). Fremantle: H Ballantyne (knee soreness) K Bradley (bruised shin) N Fyfe (shoulder).

Reports: Nil.

Umpires: Shane Stewart, Chris Kamolins, Ray Chamberlain.

Official Crowd: 34,090 at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

My Votes:

3-Trent Cotchin

2-Aaron Sandilands

1-Robin Nahas

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