AFL 1 year ago

Round 9: Match Preview

  • Round 9: Match Preview

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 25: Alex Rance of the Richmond Tigers and Matthew Pavlich of the Fremantle Dockers compete for the ball during the round 17 AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Fremantle Dockers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 25, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

The Tiger faithful remembers all too well Richmond’s surprise victory over Fremantle in Perth in Round 10 last season; that snapped their nine-game winning streak. In a possible random twist of fate, this year could see the Tigers extend the Dockers to a nine-game losing streak. The Dockers have not lost nine consecutive games in a season since the middle of 2009 though. The minor premiers of 2015 might be winless at current, but Richmond knows all too well that they could be the team that garners the Dockers their first win of season 2016.

After snapping a six-game losing streak in the previous round, the Tigers will be looking to secure back-to-back wins.  Whilst there are fond memories of Round 10 last season; Richmond’s last foray to the west saw them thumped by West Coast in Round 4. Furthermore, in the 15 times the two teams have played at Domain Stadium, the Dockers have won nine games and have also won three of the last four. It is expected to be a very wet night in Perth this Saturday and because of this the Tigers flew out of Perth on Friday morning with all three emergencies, with Damien Hardwick admitting changes could be afoot given the forecast.

It will be a tough contest all round with the contested-ball battle at the forefront. It will really come down to which team uses the ball the best as both teams have had their issues heading into the match. The Tigers had been lacking in scoring power until last Saturday night against Sydney and the Friday prior against Hawthorn, therefore improving their average score of 80 to 95 across the last two games. The Dockers midfield though must find a way to curb the influence of Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin; an area of the ground that will be bolstered from a Richmond point of view, by the return of both Trent Cotchin and Kane Lambert from injury.

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With Nat Fyfe sidelined by injury, that leaves Lachie Neale as Fremantle’s premier midfielder.  He is in fact ranked #1 in the competition for contested possessions and understandably figures prominently in the Tigers’ plans for the clash this Saturday night. According to Richmond Assistant Coach Mark ‘Wilbur’ Williams, in this week’s edition of Roar’s Vision’s Opposition Analysis; “he’s (Neale) their barometer at the moment in the midfield...their main target at stoppage.  He wins the ball in close and works really hard into space.”  Just how to stop Neale – he might have a direct opponent or not, it depends on what he’s doing at the time.  Richmond will be looking to play the game on their terms and so obviously can’t have a direct opponent on each player, but Neale will be one they need to keep an eye on to ensure they nullify his influence on the game.

Another key player and indeed match up that will be an eye catching battle will be between Alex Rance and Matthew Pavlich, who returns to the team after being rested in the previous round. According to Williams, Pavlich is a player that can hurt the Tigers. He has proven that a couple of years ago in a game at the MCG. That said; Rance is in great form. It will make for an intriguing battle regardless – Pavlich is smart and really good in the air whilst Rance excels at ground level and helps the Tigers with their rebound and offensive transition.  The team that is on their game and thus gets the game on their terms will go a long way to winning the battle in the wet, but who that team will be remains unknown; it could really go either way.

What are your thoughts on the game ahead?

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