The clash between Richmond and Brisbane on Saturday afternoon presents the Tigers with another winnable match. The lowly Lions are nose-diving this season and sit 1-12 on the ladder after losing to West Coast by 49 points in the previous round. The Tigers meanwhile have notched up four wins from their last five games (though three of those wins were against bottom four sides – Fremantle, Essendon and Gold Coast) as they continue to be focused on playing their best football and keeping the slim chance of finals alive. If you look at the last five meetings between the two teams, the favouritism is heavily in Richmond’s favour. In fact, the Tigers have won the past eight matches and 12 of the past 14 since 2005. The Lions meanwhile haven’t beaten the Tigers since Round 7, 2009. However, if the Lions can somehow contain Dustin Martin, they could be in with a chance of an unlikely upset.
One of the key matchups in the game will be the ruck duel – Richmond’s Shaun Hampson going up against Brisbane’s Stefan Martin. Hampson is in career-best form and has established himself as the Tigers’ #1 ruckman. Martin meanwhile is showing signs every week as to why he was the equal-winner of the Lions’ Best and Fairest award last season. Speaking as part of Roar Vision’s Opposition Analysis, Richmond Assistant Coach Ross Smith said that “...Martin’s a good, mobile ruckman and certainly will test Shaun’s engine out this week”. Whilst on Hampson, Smith said “Shaun is in stellar form. He’s giving us a lot of first use to our midfield and has been fantastic for us in the middle”. According to Smith, Richmond has the right ruckman for the job to take on Martin on Saturday afternoon.
Another player that has figured in Richmond’s preparation for the game is Mitch Robinson. The former Carlton player has adapted to his new role as a run-with player almost seamlessly. Smith is well aware that Robinson will play on the opposition’s most valuable players and has done a great job thus far. He not only stops his opponent, but gets a lot of the ball himself, averaging 29 disposals per match over the past month. It is an interesting prospect as to where he will go this week – possibly lining up against Dustin Martin – a potentially fiery contest.
Yet another Lion that the Tigers will be keeping a close eye on is Daniel Rich. The midfielder has been tagged for three straight weeks and had just seven possessions after quarter-time against the Eagles last week. He could be viewed as a vulnerable player by the Tigers, but he is damaging by foot. He can also kick the ball fairly long, but has good touch with his ball use too – an important player for the Lions who could bounce back against the Tigers. Perhaps the Tigers will also want to put some time into Dayne Zorko. He is after all their #1 ranked player in the Schick AFL player ratings at #14, that’s 57 spots ahead of the next best Lion, Stefan Martin, who is ranked #71.
The game should be an opportunity for Richmond to get a big win on the board and the statistics show why this is more than doable as the Lions continue to rank either last or second last in a number of important categories – kicks, disposals, uncontested possessions, contested marks and goals. They are also ranked fourth for clangers, averaging 52.8 a game and they are ranked 15th in disposal efficiency at 71.9%. Whether the week off benefits the Tigers remains to be seen, but Richmond is refreshed and ready to attack the last nine games of the 2016 season proper.
What are your thoughts on the game ahead?