Richmond appears to have found some momentum across the past fortnight, notching up back-to-back wins. The Tigers will be hoping to make it three from three and consecutive Dreamtime victories come this Saturday night, but they are wary that Essendon’s solitary victory so far this season is not reflective of their spirited competitiveness. Richmond Assistant Coach Brendon Lade mentioned during this week’s edition of Roar Vision’s Opposition Analysis that the Bombers played well in the first half against the Swans and played really well against North Melbourne in the second half. Therefore Richmond needs to ensure they play well for all four quarters and disallow Essendon any chance of playing the game on their terms.
Richmond appears to be a side that looks much more settled than it did during its six-game losing streak from Rounds 2-7. The Bombers meanwhile continue to struggle to score and fell away after half time in the previous round against St. Kilda to drop their seventh game in a row. They are ranked last for points scored this season in fact, averaging only 60 points a game. Thus they are finding it hard to string together four competitive quarters with a makeshift line-up this season, which can leave them exposed against the opposition. A key factor in the game on Saturday night will be the ruck duel between Tiger Shaun Hampson and his Bomber counterpart Matthew Leuenberger. Hampson is coming off his best game for the Club last week, whereby he took three contested marks in the wet and won four free kicks against Fremantle in Perth. Leuenberger meanwhile has been winning a lot of hit-outs, but not getting the clearances as yet. Richmond would want that trend to continue for at least another week.
Perhaps somewhat surprising is that the Bombers are ranked #1 in the competition for uncontested marks, therefore Richmond will look to place them under pressure at every foreseeable occasion that will in turn force them to alter their playing style. Lade says “they control the ball well by foot...they like to change their angles all the time”. The Tigers will counteract this by closing down the opposition when they get an uncontested mark and to essentially make them kick long. Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett has been a key focus in the Tigers’ planning for this round. He is averaging 28.2 disposals per game and generates plenty of drive for his teammates. Lade believes Merrett’s contested possessions are at the elite level given that he notches up 10 a game. Richmond will need to keep a close eye on him, that’s for sure. Despite their ladder positions, matches between these two teams are sometimes not indicative of that. Dreamtime this Saturday could go either way.
What are your thoughts on the game ahead?