It was a case of what could have been for Richmond on Sunday afternoon. In three consecutive matches against Geelong now, the Tigers have lost by margins of less than 10 points. It was a solid three quarters from Richmond before Geelong proverbially put their foot down, though 19 inside-50s to seven in the final term was telling as was the pressure and pace that the Cats seemingly found all of a sudden.
It was a curious game indeed, with Geelong looking way off the pace – they were flat, reactive and error-prone. They turned over the ball by hand and by foot, making poor decisions and allowing Richmond to rebound forward under little pressure. It led the commentary team on 3AW, featuring both Cameron Ling and Matthew Richardson, to refer to the Cats as “putrid” – though none could actually believe they were saying that about Geelong. The sticking point for the Tigers though was when they went inside 50 and kicked goals when the Cats kept on kicking points, they seemingly forgot one of their strengths this season –marks inside 50 – the goals were nearly all opportunistic, especially in the first half.
At the first break, Richmond recovered from a bit of slow start to take a narrow two-point lead. It was hard to believe for the Tiger faithful, but the most discerning supporter never really felt comfortable. It was exciting to see a number of defenders have their name in lights for most possessions to half-time. It was a second term that saw Richmond kick nine goals to the Cats two. It was almost unbelievable, that the impossible might happen. The thought that the ‘real’ Geelong would appear at some stage never faded though.
The jitters of could Richmond go on with it in the second half are always there, even if the margin is referred to as “comfortable” – nothing is ever comfortable where Richmond are concerned. The second quarter trend continued though, with the Tigers having amassed 11 goals by the last change whilst the Cats had a lowly four and trailing the inside-50 count 31-47. The impossible looked vaguely likely with Richmond holding a somewhat commanding 35-point lead.
The last term was how most would have thought Geelong would have played the entire match – they denied Richmond possession and moved the ball lightning quick. There was arguably a few umpiring decisions that were as quoted by Ling on 3AW – ‘”brave”. It wasn’t the umpires who lost the game for Richmond though. The ‘real’ Geelong came to the fore and didn’t really give the Tigers any opportunity to add to the upsets of the round that had come before. Richmond next faces St. Kilda, in their last home game for the season. It should not be pencilled in as an automatic win given the improvement the Saints have shown this season, the Tigers have got something to prove though.
Final Score: GEE 10.20.82 to RICH 12.6.78.
TOP 3 TIGERS:
1. ALEX RANCE: The defender nullified the influence of Tom Hawkins on the game and was a real stalwart down back. He finished with 20 disposals, eight intercepts, nine marks, 10 pressure acts and four score involvements.
2. BACHAR HOULI: The defender only returned from injury two weeks ago, but his influence on a game has been undeniable and against the Cats it was no different. He finished with 32 disposals (11 in the first quarter), 11 marks, 13 pressure acts and five score involvements.
3. SHAUN HAMPSON: The newly contract extended #1 ruck man recovered from a slow start to exert his influence – amassing 29 hit-outs, 11 to advantage. He may have only finished with 10 disposals, but he had 90% disposals efficiency. He also had three intercepts, four marks, two clearances, two tackles, three pressure acts; four score involvements and kicked a terrific goal too.
What were your thoughts on the game?