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Are Richmond ready for the finals?

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    What a difference one week can make. Richmond defeated AFL ladder-leaders Hawthorn by 41 points over the weekend to register win number eleven for the season.

    In the process, they all but booked their ticket to the AFL finals, ending an extremely long eleven-year finals drought stretching back to 2001.

    The Tigers are just the fourth different team (after Geelong, the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles) to beat the Hawks since the beginning of the 2012 season, and only the third (after the Cats and the Swans) to beat them more than once in the same period.

    Of course, the last time Richmond played Hawthorn, the men from Punt Road gave the men from Glenferrie a massive 62-point thumping, which appeared to signal their return to the big time.

    But it turned out not to be, as the Tigers would eventually miss the finals whilst the Hawks would streak all the way to the minor premiership, before going on to lose the Grand Final to the Swans.

    Prior to this match, not many predicted a Richmond victory over Hawthorn – the Hawks were on top of the ladder and had only lost twice to Geelong for the season, whilst the Tigers were beaten by the defending premiers in Sydney last week.

    The Hawks, as they have been all season, were at their rampaging best against Essendon last week, as Lance Franklin kicked eight majors in his return from injury.

    Meanwhile, the Tigers could only manage nine majors against the stiffest defence in the competition, at a ground where they have now not won at since 2004.

    But somebody forgot to tell Richmond, who must have been inspired by their last meeting against Hawthorn, the aforementioned 62-point thrashing back on May 26, 2012.

    But what does this victory mean for Richmond and its long suffering supporters?

    For the last eleven years Richmond fans have been subjected to being taunted about their team not playing in the finals.

    In this period, the team has gone through four coaches (Danny Frawley, Terry Wallace, Jade Rawlings and now, Damien Hardwick), won two wooden spoons (in 2004 and 2007) and finished ninth twice (in 2006 and 2008).

    However, in all this doom and gloom, the Tigers have drafted Brett Deledio, Jack Riewoldt, Shane Tuck, Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Dustin Martin, Nathan Foley, and to a lesser extent, Ben Cousins.

    All except Cousins, who finished his career with two 15th-place finishes at the club in 2009 and 2010, will finally experience finals for the first time in their careers.

    But no player has had to wait more than former captain Chris Newman, who has now played the most VFL/AFL games without playing a single final.

    The Tigers’ victory over Hawthorn was Newman’s 231st AFL game since his debut in 2002.

    Newman now holds the unwanted record of having played the most AFL games without playing a final, having had the tag passed onto him by the late St. Kilda legend Trevor Barker.

    Assuming Newman does not suffer any sort of injury for the remainder of the season, Richmond’s (likely) elimination final will be Newman’s 236th AFL game.

    The Tigers’ frequency of finishing ninth since the AFL was established in 1990 has become the centre of many AFL jokes in recent times.

    The team have been nicknamed “Ninthmond” and the club song has had its lyrics reworded, and retitled to “We finished ninth again”.

    Now there is no way that we will hear all those sick jokes again, at least for this year.

    All they have to do is win at least one of their remaining four matches to be guaranteed their ticket to next month’s play-offs.

    The team could well finish sixth at the end of the season (or fifth, if Essendon are stripped of their premiership points and their right to play in September). Their finals opponent, should they finish sixth, would very likely be Collingwood, the team they beat to win their last premiership in 1980.

    Fans are consulting their local travel agents to cancel any holidays that they may have planned for early September, now that it’s certain the yellow-and-black will finally feature in a finals series.

    They will get their money back and use it to purchase a ticket to what will be Richmond’s first AFL finals match since being swamped by the eventual premiers, the Brisbane Lions, in a preliminary final match at the Gabba in 2001.

    And if Richmond can win its first final, then the money would have been worth spending.

    Damien Hardwick deserves all the credit for turning the team around and pushing them up the ladder and the rewards will eventually loom.

    The next question will be – can he become Richmond’s first premiership coach since Tony Jewell in 1980?

    Anything is possible.

    But for now – the Tiger Army are roaring loud and proud, at volumes that haven’t been this high since 2001.

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • August 6th 2013 @ 8:18am
      Franko said | August 6th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t get too carried away with the Hawthorn wins. I think a lot of top teams load up their training this time of year so that they are in peak form come finals.
      Neil Craig had his guys doing 100km+ on the bike the day after matches around this time of year if they were sure of finals.

      Still, it’s been an amazing season for Richmond, maybe they really have turned the corner.

      • Roar Guru

        August 6th 2013 @ 10:39am
        Steve J said | August 6th 2013 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        Yep – Hawks assured of top two spot so they have no reason to be concerned. time to prepare for the real matches in 4 weeks time.

        Expect to see a lot of teams in top 4 vicinity start to rest players. Freo this weekend for example should rest Mundy, Johnson, Crowley, and de Boer, and the following weekend Barlow, Hill and Mayne – or maybe more on the flight to Melbourne and less at home in Perth.

        They’ll still win both games (GWS and Melb) comfortably.

        Sydney and the Cats will be doing the same. Teams in the bottom half of the 8 will still need to ensure wins to keep the Roos and Blues at bay

    • August 6th 2013 @ 10:36am
      Les said | August 6th 2013 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      Disappointing article. No reference to Ana Ivanovic.

    • August 6th 2013 @ 10:36am
      Australian Rules said | August 6th 2013 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      Hawthorn had an awful day out, Richmond played out of their skins. It happens every week in footy.

      Good on the Tiges for making finals but they’re still way below the top tier.

    • August 6th 2013 @ 11:16am
      Hawker said | August 6th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      I must take my hat off to them they have flogged us the last 2 times like no one else. They are a massive show to win their first final and then who nows what happens from there

    • August 6th 2013 @ 12:46pm
      Les said | August 6th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      Dont worry about the Hawks they’ll be fine. TIgers got them at the right time and may even match up ok but it really doesnt matter for the hawks in the grand scheme of things. And if the hawks play the Cats in the GF we may just find the pysch’s on the other foot. Imagine if Hawthorn beat them again like 08 (and 89). All those subsequent H&A wins by the Cats will add up to absolute didly squat. Zero. And thats what Clarko will be reminding his team of – lets forget them, this is the only one that counts and we know how to beat them in this game. If they beat them, could Geelong ever recover from that? They would be shells. Yep it could just be the cats have created a rod for their own backs.

      But back to the tiges…Probably the biggest test for Dimma’s team is next year. After almost four solid seasons of slow but sure improvement coupled with some great recruitment (and not just the players mentioned in article but also the likes of Ellis, Conca, Vlastuin, Houli, Rance, Grimes to name a few more) the tigers are almost into only their third finals series in 31 years and first since 01. But what is not highlighted as much is that the follow up years in the two previous occasions were extremely disappointing. In 96 after Northey walked out the team slid under Walls, lots its mojo and never quite got back to anywhere near its best form of 95. In 2002 Spud figured the tigers just needed to top up so the recruitment was so (mistakenly) targeted. But 02 marked the beginning of a long period of mediocrity.

      So Dimma, you need to be thinking about 2014, 2015 and beyond – how to position the club for sustained success (a la Sydney, Hawthorn) which is after all, every club’s aim.

      • August 6th 2013 @ 8:57pm
        Floyd Calhoun said | August 6th 2013 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

        Fair points Les. But I believe the current squad has more upside than those of ’95 & ’01. Both of those teams finished in the top four from memory. Just how that happened is a bit of a mystery to me to be honest, and I’m a Tigers supporter. I don’t think this current line up will nose dive next year, come what may for the rest of this season.

    • August 6th 2013 @ 1:26pm
      Radelaide said | August 6th 2013 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

      Some teams match up better on others, that being said they can beat port/carlton, collingwood and also I think the cats are a little vulnerable.

      • August 6th 2013 @ 1:52pm
        JohnD said | August 6th 2013 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

        I was just thinking this morning that I have never seen the top four look so beatable at this time of year. Geelong lose to the lions after leading by 52 points and then last week the roos pull their pants down. Hawthorn have a Geelong problem and now, it would seem, a Richmond problem as well. Sydney thump Adelaide, then return to the same ground two weeks later as overwhelming favourites and get done by Port. I do’t think they will beat either Hawthorn or Geelong in the last two rounds but this year but wouldn’t be surprised if they go on to make the Grand final anyway. Fremantle have been admirable but cruelled by injury and Essendon have ASADA hanging over their heads.

        Point is (and yes, there is a point in all of this), I think the Premiership is even more open than last year, and that is saying something.

        • August 6th 2013 @ 1:58pm
          Australian Rules said | August 6th 2013 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          I think Sydney are clear favourites for the flag (esp with so many players to come back), followed by Hawthorn, followed by Geelong.

          But you’re right, there’s a big dose of the Any Given Sunday theory this year.

          In Week 1 of the finals, the MCG will host a final of either Rich v Coll (first time since 1980) or Coll v Carl (first time since 1987). Enormous events for that town.

          • August 6th 2013 @ 2:44pm
            kick to kick said | August 6th 2013 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

            I’m tipping Richmond for 5th with Essendon falling away or stripped of points and the Tigers doing better in the run home than Collingwood. That will mean a home final against Port Adelaide who have all but secured 8th – though if Essendon gets rubbed out, its Carlton or North getting the lifeline , with my money on North Melbourne

            Intriguigly Richmond could go high as 4th if it wins all remaining games( likely), Essendon falls out of contention and the Swans lose to Collingwood, Geelong and Hawthorn (unlikely but all tough games.)

            • August 6th 2013 @ 3:18pm
              Radelaide said | August 6th 2013 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

              North have a very hard run home and I can see carlton beating port (my team) in rd 23, still both those teams are making up the numbers IMO, but I think freo can give it a good shake but my money is still on Sydney.

            • August 6th 2013 @ 3:47pm
              Australian Rules said | August 6th 2013 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

              ktk

              No chance of Richmond passing Freo, who will win all 4 games remaining in an easy run home.

              As for the Blues, they are 1 game clear of North and with an easier run home:

              Carl – Bull, Rich, Ess, Port (away)
              North – Adel (away), Ess, Haw, Coll.

              • August 6th 2013 @ 4:44pm
                kick to kick said | August 6th 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

                AR. Agree that Richmond can’t pass Freo but Tigers can pass Swans with 4 wins and if Swans fall to Pies, Cats and Hawks, only beating Saints . Not odds on but possible. As a Swans fan that makes me a bit nervous. I can’t see any other team apart from Richmond displacing Swans from top 4, and I think Hawks, Cats and Freo have a mortgage on top 4.

                Yes Carlton are a game clear but not playing well. If they lose to the Bulldogs my money is on North to win one more game than Carlton in the run home with a much better percentage. I think the Blues will lose to Richmond, and Port with a query over how shot the Bombers are in the round 22 game. North will beat Adelaide and I think Essendon.

              • August 6th 2013 @ 5:35pm
                Australian Rules said | August 6th 2013 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

                Fair point.

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