Tigers and Eagles: Where has this form been?

Dan Lonergan Columnist

By Dan Lonergan, Dan Lonergan is a Roar Expert

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    West Coast and Richmond are mounting a late-season charge, with both teams now just one game out of the eight.

    The Eagles’ percentage was already healthy before thrashing Collingwood on the weekend, putting them seven per cent higher than Essendon, ten more than the Magpies and twelve better than the fast-fading Gold Coast.

    They have won one fewer game than those three, but they have found their best form in the last month.

    West Coast easily accounted for Adelaide, who are also one game in front of them, and then produced an unlikely display against Collingwood, smashing them by ten goals.

    With that percentage their fate is still in their hands as they meet fellow top-eight rivals Essendon next week, followed by Melbourne at Subiaco, then the Gold Coast in the last round.

    They should start as favourites in all of those matches, with their Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and the emerging Scott Lycett starting to fire together.

    Matt Priddis and Luke Shuey are dominating in the midfield, while Eric McKenzie’s reputation as one of the competition’s best key defenders continues to grow.

    I thought they were a good chance to finish top four at the start of the year with a full and talented list available and a new coach, Adam Simpson to freshen up the line-up. They easily beat the Bulldogs, the Demons and the Saints to bank a good percentage, but since then have been one of the biggest disappointments.

    Maybe with the pressure off and a better understanding of Simpson’s tweaking to the game plan, they have got themselves back on track.

    A loss to Essendon this week and it’s all over and it will certainly be a wasted season, but if they are there in September they could be dangerous in Dean Cox’s swan song.

    The Tigers were open and honest about their poor training standards early in the season, which put them at a win/loss record of three and ten and seemingly out of contention. But they keep winning when the teams above them don’t. The Tiges are on an irresistible roll.

    They are playing on the edge and probably a bit too close at times, if you consider Tyrone Vickery and Reece Conca’s actions, but they are playing the footy that got them into the finals last season.

    Legendary club powerbroker, the late Graham Richmond, would be bursting with pride as the Tigers turn back the clock from his days in the 1970s by playing with passion and vigour.

    In his day, Vickery and Conca may have got away with elbows to the head, but obviously not now.

    Richmond play another contender in Adelaide this week, and like West Coast, a defeat and it’s too far back. But a victory and the Tigerland bandwagon would be overflowing.

    They then have St Kilda and then Sydney at Olympic Park.

    It will be a formidable task to beat one of the flag favourites, but if they do it’s nine in a row, and they’ll be barracking for opposition teams to beat teams competing for their spot.

    In that final round, the Tigers may have to cheer on Carlton, one of their arch rivals, to beat Essendon. If that happens, Graham Richmond will be turning in his grave!

    Dan Lonergan
    Dan Lonergan

    Dan Lonergan is one Australia's most respected and versatile commentators. In more than 16 years on ABC Grandstand he has covered AFL footy (including four Grand Finals), cricket, tennis, and three Olympic Games, including London 2012 where he commentated 16 sports.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • August 13th 2014 @ 8:41am
      Griffo said | August 13th 2014 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Maybe Richmond won’t need Essendon to lose in the last round. If both West Coast and Richmond win their last 3 games then there’s a good chance that they’ll both make the the 8. The four teams that they need to make up wins against are Adelaide, Essendon, Collingwood and Gold Coast. West Coast may beat Essendon this weekend which sorts that out. Essendon’s percentage is only marginally better than Richmond’s and with them losing and Richmond winning that would probably account for that. Adelaide could lose to Richmond however their percentage is still much better so then they need to lose again, possibly to North Melbourne which is entirely possible. Collingwood don’t have a very good percentage and they play Hawthorn in the final round which is where these sides could make up a win on them. As for the Gold Coast, their current form suggests they’re perfectly capable of dropping a game or two before the end. To make it easier for the tiges and to not have to worry about percentage, the suns could lose to Port and then beat Essendon.

    • August 13th 2014 @ 9:29am
      Winston said | August 13th 2014 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Based on recent form, Collingwood and GC are gonners methinks. So it’s really about Crows and Essendon. For both WC and Richmond to get in, they must win this week for sure. That would put all 4 teams on equal points. Then based on the run home and WC’s superior percentage, they will be in at the expense of Essendon. For Richmond to dislodge Crows it will be hard though. Because of the difference in percentage and that Richmond will probably lose to the Swans, they will need Crows to drop all games for the rest of the season, which seems unlikely. In fact I expect Adelaide to do some damage come finals time with Tex finding some good form.

    • August 13th 2014 @ 11:47am
      johno said | August 13th 2014 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      OK – before their tyres get too pumped up lets look a bit closer at West Coasts “form”

      They have been accused over the past 24 months of not being able to beat teams that have played finals. Over the past 4 weeks they finally have achieved that with a win over Collingwood. In the same period they lost at home to the Tigers, beat the Crows and just snuck home over the Lions at the Gabba. Not exactly sparkling form.

      Admittedly Adelaide didn’t play finals last year, but they are in the 8 currently. The Pies did play finals last year and were dumped out in week 1 by Port at the MCG. The Pies last weekend were without Ball and Swan, 2 of their best mids. And it was in the mid that they got smashed by the eagles.

      West Coasts run home is extremely soft. Their last 7 games of the regular season sees them play only 2 teams from last years finals, with a 1-1 record against them so far. Prior to that they were 0-9 from matches this year against teams that played finals last year.

      So I am not sure they have “form” or what they are displaying now is any different to what they have served up year to date, with the exception that they appears to be in with a chance of making 8th ….. maybe.

    • August 13th 2014 @ 2:18pm
      jax said | August 13th 2014 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

      WC have outplayed or matched most teams this year for anything from 1-3 quarters of their games. They have rarely been blown away, hence the high percentage which was also helped with some big wins against mainly bottom of the ladder teams. So the form has been there most of the year though admittedly in patches and not for the full game. They’ve fallen away in the last quarters far too often and I don’t know why. Now that they are stringing four quarters together the results are beginning to speak for themselves.

      They should have beaten Port, Blues, Freo and the Pies once again on their first encounter but they threw those games away late as they fell away. Wait till they get Selwood, Waters, Yeo, Wellingham, Rosa and Sheppard are back next year. Not anywhere near as bad a list as many pundits have been saying.

      I think there are a number of reasons for their recent form improvement eg the new coaches message is starting to sink in, more belief and better understanding of the game plan, the retirements of Glass and Cox (makes others step up to fill the void). Whatever the reason it’s good to see. They are playing some very attractive footy at the minute and it’s enjoyable to watch.

      • August 14th 2014 @ 1:28am
        Lroy said | August 14th 2014 @ 1:28am | ! Report

        Mate.. .. Selwood at best is a tagger, nothing more.. his disposal is woeful for a guy of his experience.. same goes for Rosa… half of his possessions end up straight in the hands of the opposition, the other half drop in front or over the heads of team mates… lets be brutally honest, the reason we won the flag in 2006 was because Woosh had the balls to drop Rosa going into the finals.. he has always been a passenger that guy.

        Seriously.. both of those guys should consider themsevles lucky they havent already been traded. Ebert was miles ahead of the pair of, astonishes me he was let go and they kept on.

        Blayne Wilson needs a run.. he is an old school Eagles player.. hits his targets by hand or foot, week in week out.. thats all the Eagles need, a couple more guys who DONT make clangers.

    • August 13th 2014 @ 2:52pm
      Smithy said | August 13th 2014 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

      This is simple. Both teams are mentally as soft as butter. They have both had dream draws that they haven’t been able to handle. Time and time again they have simply been unable to win the games they were meant to.

      Only once their seasons had all but completely slipped away have both finally played some good football. However, as soon as the pressure goes on both teams will fold. If the Eagles beat Essendon this weekend (which is possible), and Melbourne the week after, they will undoubtedly lose to the Suns in the final round.

      Their late season form is an indictment on the mental fragility of both clubs.

      • August 13th 2014 @ 6:06pm
        jax said | August 13th 2014 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

        If you think it through WC have probably been through more mentally than any club in the last 7 years that I can think of, excluding the Dees and Bombers of course. They were in a prelim final 2 years ago and the majority of the young players from that season are still on the list so I don’t think WC are weak mentally. Tigers do have a very poor track record dating back decades. WC’s record is the polar opposite over the same time period.

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