Tigers and Eagles: Where has this form been?

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The Tigers' season was a tale of two halves. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)

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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 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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