Hawthorn have not beaten Richmond twice in the same season since 1992, but even though the Tigers have troubled the Hawks in the past, that Damien Hardwick is blooding the kids makes an upset on Sunday afternoon unlikely. It will be game #46 between the two sides at the MCG, a venue where the Hawks have not played for some 50 days given their run of interstate games and the bye, with Hawthorn holding a 27-18 edge. The Tigers can and should take something from their meeting with the Hawks earlier this season, given it took the ladder leaders three quarters to overcome them in Round 7, where they required a nine-goal final term to establish their ascendancy on their way to a 46-point win.
The Tigers will enter the clash on Sunday afternoon with the determination to take it up to the Hawks once again. One area where they will want to do this is to force the Hawks into imprecise possession. Speaking as part of this week’s edition of Roar Vision’s Opposition Analysis, Richmond Assistant Coach; Greg Mellor said that “I think in the last five or six weeks, they’ve been No. 1 in the AFL for uncontested marks.” Hawthorn does have a habit of trying to control possession by chipping wide and sideways without ever really going long down the line. That means every long down the line kick from the opposition will be a win for the Tigers, according to Mellor.
It will also be a game where Richmond’s defensive aspects will really need to be spot on as they attempt to nullify Hawthorn’s potent collection of small forwards, who consistently cause so much damage to opposition teams. That Mellor says Hawthorn is one of the best inside-50 teams in the competition says it all really. They have the speed with the like of Cyril Rioli, Luke Bruest, Paul Puopolo and even Bradley Hill coming down there as well – they all manage to hold the ball in there. The likes of James Sicily and Ben McEvoy are also camped in that well set up forward line for the Hawks. The last time these two teams met, the Tigers were missing arguably three of their stronger defenders in Dylan Grimes, Alex Rance and Dave Astbury – all three will play on Sunday afternoon and will have their work cut out for them with the rest of the Tigers back six. Richmond will be looking to get the ball out of defensive 50 as quickly as possible and then will seek to attempt to control the ball. For Mellor, the longer the Tigers have the ball in their hands limits the amount of chance that the Hawks can inflict damage on them.
In past seasons, the Tigers have spoilt the party of many a milestone game. They have the opportunity to do that again on Sunday afternoon – to spoil the party for Hawk champion Sam Mitchell. It should not serve as the sole motivator to come away with an unlikely victory though. It is about finishing the season as strongly as possible – to make Hawthorn feel the pressure in the same way they did earlier this season will be the ultimate aim.
What do you think will happen on Sunday afternoon?