Where are Richmond at really?

Sam Macpherson Roar Rookie

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    Last Saturday night has been written off by commentators and Richmond players alike as a ‘one-off’, an aberration even a bad night at the office.

    However, I think if you take a bit more time to delve into this so-called aberration, there is much more to the story unfolding at Richmond.

    Richmond are a victim of the combination of their lack of success and their size and market share of supporters in Victoria. Week to week, commentators and fans want so badly for Richmond to be a dominant force in the AFL landscape again that they regularly overlook their pitfalls in both victory and defeat.

    As the ladder currently stands, Richmond have only defeated two teams inside the top 8. They over ran an injury-ravaged Melbourne, who led by more than three goals at the final break and they defeated a very capable Port Adelaide side at the Adelaide Oval in Round 15. Perhaps more poignant than these victories are the several close losses Richmond have suffered.

    • Round 7 – Western Bulldogs 5 points;
    • Round 8 – Fremantle 2 points;
    • Round 9 – GWS 3 points; and
    • Round 13 – Sydney 9 points.

    It is now recognised in the AFL landscape that the Bulldogs are not what they were last year and the Dockers are going through a significant re-building phase. At the time of the loss to the Bulldogs, it was considered an ‘honourable loss’, one of those poor terms used commonly when an underdog goes so close to but falls just short of what would have been a significant win.

    Fast forward ten rounds and the Tigers would start as pretty warm favourites going into a game against the Bulldogs. The GWS game was perhaps their finest performance this season, all bar the last ten minutes.

    It has to be noted however, GWS were and still are suffering from one of the longest injury lists in the AFL, yet still manage to be sitting second on the AFL ladder with seven rounds to play.

    The GWS injury list consists of Brett Delidio, Stephen Coniglio, Jacob Hopper and Ryan Griffen, four would-be walk-up starts into the Giants start 22 and lets not forget a five win 11 loss Collingwood team also pushed the Giants all the way at Spotless.

    Finally, the Sydney game, a game Richmond led by as many as 34 points but still managed to lose, conceding 57 points to 23 in the second half.

    To last Saturday night’s performance, this was not a one-off, not a bad night at the office and not an aberration. Does anyone remember Round 6? Apart from the first quarter, in which Richmond took a nine point lead into the break, Richmond were blown out of the water by an Adelaide side considered at the time potentially unbeatable, a hypothesis which has since been proven significantly wrong.

    From quarter time to the end of the game Richmond were outscored by 94 points. You would be hard pressed to find a half as bad as Richmond’s in Round 6 and a three-quarter performance as bad as Richmond’s in Round 16.

    Dustin Martin Richmond Tigers AFL 2017

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    However, both performances are forgiven – Round 6 because at the time a “developing” Richmond team ran into the unbeatable Adelaide, and last weekend’s because it was a bad night at the office. A score of 96 points to ten at half time? That’s not a bad night at the office, that’s horrendous.

    Some commentators were suggesting the Tigers could go all the way in the lead up to the Saints game, highlighting another example of this media thirst for Richmond to be a contender again. The Tigers are where many other teams find themselves this year, and that is, middle of the rung.

    They play some very good football, and they play evidently some very poor football, but I for one am not buying that last weekend was a one-off contrary to Damien Hardwick and Jack Riewoldt’s comments. Last weekend, was a by-product of being a young and developing football side, not a side that is in any way ready to contend.

    Richmond lacks an elite midfield depth, a second key forward target and relies too heavily on its leaders Martin, Rance and Cotchin to push deep into September. With a relatively soft draw heading into the finals, Richmond will make the eight but I don’t think they will make much noise. They are after all, middle of the rung.

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