Richmond has won five of their past seven encounters with Sydney, including the last three in a row. Most of the Tiger faithful can also fondly remember the result from this same round two years ago – whilst there is a chance this could happen once more on Saturday afternoon, there is also a chance that it will not happen either – that is the unknown. The recent good record that Richmond has over Sydney is due to their capacity to compete on equal terms in the midfield, according to Richmond Assistant Coach, Ross Smith; speaking as part of this week’s edition of Roar Vision’s Opposition Analysis.
The last four games between these sides in particular have been thrillers, with the margins being three goals or less. However, the teams have played 27 times at the SCG and the Swans have won 16, including seven of the last eight. In fact, Richmond’s win at the SCG last year was their first since 2004. The Tigers are all too well aware of the magnitude of the challenge they will face at the SCG in the final match of their season however, with Sydney boasting a formidable midfield combination featuring Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker. These midfielders are also ranked inside the top 20 of the Schick AFL Player Ratings – Kennedy (4th), Parker (11th) and Hannebery (18th), the Tigers highest ranked on-baller in Dustin Martin is 31st meanwhile. In addition, Kennedy is averaging 31 disposals per game and is ranked second in the competition for clearances and contested possessions whilst Hannebery is averaging 31.3 disposals per game and ranked sixth for contested possessions. They are the very definition of contested ball ‘nuts’. In the past the Richmond midfield has been able to match them and will be required to do that again on Saturday afternoon if Richmond wants to be within a chance of finishing off the season on a positive note.
An area that Richmond will need to show a rapid rate of improvement in against Sydney is one of their poorest areas this season – tackling. No team has laid more tackles than the Swans, who average 79.3 per game while no team tackles less than the Tigers, with only 60.8 per game. Furthermore, the Swans are ranked second for quarters won in 2016 with 57, two behind the Giants; the Tigers are 12th with 34 whilst Sydney have won 13 final quarters compared to Richmond’s eight. The statistics do not bode well for Richmond and recent history so often accounts for very little. Richmond are not expected to come away with the victory, but it is not a given that Sydney will come away with the victory either.
What do you think will happen on Saturday afternoon?