What a weekend of footy!

By Domenic Favata        

Nowadays, the football world is intrigued by many negative aspects and stories of footballers or football managers. What is really forgotten are the things that make our game so great and unique. I’d like to focus on a positive aspect of footy and that is the quality of football displayed over round 5, in which I was lucky to be present at two matches. Two of which were different in ‘blockbuster’ stature, but two that were extremely pleasing to watch, for a number of reasons.

As a faithful Richmond supporter, the match on Easter Sunday against North Melbourne was an intriguing game for me but probably a distraction from chocolate-fuelled, over hyped children running around for everyone else. It was merely a warm-up game to ANZAC day. Two sides, Richmond and North Melbourne, both of whom who are tipped not to make the eight, were set for an encounter that would continue a new rivalry. A rivalry in that both sides are up and coming, with in-experienced coaches and a visual ‘blueprint’ for future success. I was expecting that sort of game, two young sides that would battle it out and the team with fewer turnovers would win. Boy, I was wrong! The game was fast-paced and entertaining early, as North pulled away to a handy lead at quarter time, with Petrie wreaking havoc already and Richmond with only one goal for the quarter. Although they were on par in stat wise, Richmond couldn’t transfer their equality onto the scoreboard, therefore suffering from another slow start. The second and third quarters were better for Richmond, who despite not leading, produced a better brand of footy than the ‘hard-working’ Roos. Riewoldt was tearing Grima apart and made him look lost on the footy field at times with his dynamic contested marking abilities. Richmond were within reach at quarter time and I believed we had the gas in the tank to overrun North Melbourne, considering they’ve come off a break 2 days shorter than ours, and from Perth. Just as I had predicted, Richmond outran North Melbourne to kick 7 goals to 2 in the final quarter, with Dustin Martin (33 touches, 4 goals) and Trent Cotchin dominating the midfield (how good was his one-hand mark and goal).  In the end, Richmond just had that X-Factor, that class to get them over the line which unfortunately North do no possess. The future is bright for the tigers, but clouded for North Melbourne.

The second game I was lucky enough to attend was the Hawthorn v Geelong game, in which I went with my dad who is a Hawks man. Our journey to the G was halted by traffic and car parks being closed, so we parked in some side street in Richmond and ventured to the ground, knowing the game had just started. We arrived at the game two goals in to the second quarter (both to L. Franklin) and were in for a cracking match of the one of the great modern day rivalries. This was the blockbuster of the round (second to ANZAC day) and I was even calling it the battle for ‘Runners-up to Collingwood cup’. Chapman was starring for the cats as they clawed their way back from a four goal margin to end up a point down at quarter time. The game was turning out just as I had expected. The second quarter was competitive as both sides tried to assert their dominance, with Hawthorn leading at the main break. Franklin had gone missing and Lonergan was winning over the critics. The second half was a sign of the brilliance of Geelong, who still have the goods even though many had written them off before the start of the season. Bartel and Champan were dominating, Varcoe added that extra spark and Duncan and Menzel was the injection of youth that may prove vital to the club remaining at the top. Hawthorn were dazzled after breaking away to a four goal lead in the third quarter, only to have the cats run all over them and take the game away. Two questions lingered in my mind as we walked out of the stadium with five minutes to go ( not my choice). Do Geelong still have what it takes to win yet another premiership and are Hawthorn the luckiest team ever to fluke a premiership?

Together with the St Kilda slog, the inaugural Gold Coast win, Carlton’s fright and ANZAC day, these two matches fitted in perfectly for a great round of footy. Both had provided different expectations, but in the end of the day, both were brilliant games and a spectacle of what  Australian Rules Football is all about.

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