It was Round 9, 2006 when Richmond last managed a victory over Geelong – with Brett Deledio the only remaining Tiger on the list from that win, yet the victories the Cats secured in the past two seasons have been less than 10 points. The argument of course, is that both teams are not the same teams they were in those seasons – Richmond has dropped off the pace and Geelong has got even better, in most cases. The pressure valve was alleviated at Tigerland in the previous week, but it doesn’t count for much. A victory over the Cats though, would speak volumes.
The teams meet on Sunday afternoon, with the Cats on a four-match winning streak and percentage being a focal point. It doesn’t bode well for the Tigers, but a young team standing up and performing on the big stage is a curious thing. Richmond will need their kicking boots on from the outset; that much is clear. Geelong is after all, one of the highest scoring sides of the season, ranked #4 for points per game with 98. Richmond meanwhile, has struggled in this area, ranked 14th with only 81 points per game. The 17-point differential is significant, especially against a team like the Cats. However, a strength of both teams has been marks inside 50, with Geelong ranked #1 (14.9 a game) and Richmond ranked #5 (13.5 a game). Whilst the more recent matches between the two clubs have been close, the Cats have won the last 11 matches and 18 of 19 contests since 2001, including six by more than 60 points. The blow out losing margins to both Hawthorn and Greater Western Sydney in recent weeks is still fresh in the mind and Richmond would be desperate to string back-to-back wins togethers late in the season.
The statistics are again not in Richmond’s favour when it comes to their MCG history with Geelong – with the Cats winning the last seven clashes between the sides at the venue, dating all the way back to 1999. There is a whole host of players in the Blue and White Hoops that the boys in Yellow and Black will need to be wary of come Sunday. The first being champion defender Corey Enright, who has figured prominently in Richmond’s planning. He was so dominant in the first half of the Cats’ win over Essendon in the previous round (25 disposals to the main break), that the Bombers were forced to apply a tight tag to him throughout the second half. Speaking as part of this week’s edition of Roar Vision’s ‘Opposition Analysis, Assistant Coach Brendon Lade says of Enright...” He’s playing some good footy at the moment . . . Off half-back; he reads the game really well.” He lamented that Enright is a very hard player to stop, even if you do tag him. If Enright wasn’t a concern enough for Richmond, they are all too aware of what fellow defender Harry Taylor can do. As Lade says “Harry will let you go up the ground at times, if he doesn’t think you’re going to get the ball. And, if your forward doesn’t get it, he’s by himself, behind the ball”. The forwards for Richmond will therefore need to play him smartly...play on him a little bit and don’t go up the ground when he drops off. The focus for the Tigers is to keep Taylor engaged as much as possible.
The Cats midfield duo of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood will also receive some attention from the Tigers. The Geelong midfield is the very definition of tough, but that they will be coming up against the likes of Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin has the Tigers brains trust looking forward to seeing how it goes. One of the Tiger defenders will take Dangerfield when he goes forward given he has the ability to make quick scoreboard impact. The hope though is that Martin will also go forward and do what he does and it will be a real battle of the two of the top Brownlow fancies for this season. It is not likely that Richmond will come away with the victory on Sunday, but it was not so long ago that Damien Hardwick and a few of the leadership group proclaimed that they might not be playing finals, but they can do their best to shape the eight –beating Geelong would do that.
What do you think will happen on Sunday afternoon?