The Fremantle Dockers have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, with David Mundy slotting an ice-cool goal after the siren to break Tiger hearts.
Richmond Tigers 10.10.70
Fremantle Dockers 10.12.72
After starting the season with 5 consecutive wins, Richmond have stumbled with two consecutive losses- and another defeat to Fremantle would risk throwing away their great start to the year. Join The Roar for live scores, highlights and analysis from 1:10pm (AEST).
Richmond fans were up and about after five straight wins had the Tigers entrenched in the top four, with Damien Hardwick’s team’s spark up forward and strength through the middle hallmarks of their success.
A crushing loss to Adelaide in Round 6 halted their momentum, but the Tigers looked like bouncing straight back against the Western Bulldogs, leading by 33 points halfway through the second term.
But the Bulldogs steadily got on top, taking the lead late in the last quarter to emerge with a five-point win that broke yellow and black hearts.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Tigers: Dustin Martin was brilliant yet again, David Astbury was a pillar in defence, and Jack Riewoldt finished with four goals, including the 500th of his career in another sublime display up forward.
In-form ruckman Toby Nankervis was a huge loss for the Bulldogs clash, being outed for a week with suspension, and coming up against man mountain Aaron Sandilands, the former Swan will be chomping at the bit to repay his side.
By contrast, the Dockers gave up an early lead last week to Essendon, trailing by as much as 27 points before overrunning the flagging Bombers to emerge with an eventually comfortable 37-point victory.
Since looking on the brink of disaster after two thumping losses to Geelong and Port Adelaide in the first two rounds, the Dockers have recovered to sit on the brink of the top eight, and a win here could see them rise even further, other results permitting.
Key to their success has been the resurgence of Lachie Neale in midfield after a quiet start to the season, the imposing form of former Hawk Bradley Hill on the wing, and the rapid improvement of defensive stalwarts Michael Johnson and Lee Spurr down back, but in reality, the whole team has lifted considerably.
And with Matt Taberner finishing with four goals in a career-best game against the Bombers, Fremantle look like having some genuine forward firepower for the first time in a long while, with Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten also beginning to gel as a duo.
Remarkably, the Dockers’ surge has coincided with a decline in form from midfield superstar and captain Nat Fyfe, whose future at the club becomes more clouded each week as the rumour mill goes to work.
Others have been able to pick up the slack in recent weeks, but up against a vastly improved Richmond outfit, a big game from the Brownlow Medallist could tip the scales in Freo’s favour.
With both sides in good form and all but fully fit, this is a difficult match to pick. It’s one that could swing either way, but home ground advantage does give the Tigers a slight edge, and they should be able to get the job done in front of their legion of fans.
Richmond to rack up win number six by 13 points.
Midfield ace Lachie Neale has risen rapidly from 2013 Grand Final substitute to 2016 Doig Medallist, and the 23-year old will notch up his 100th game against the Tigers.
Can Neale and his teammates mark the occasion with an inspiring away win? Or will the Tigers recover from last week’s heartbreak and push themselves back towards the top four?
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