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Can't buy a win, but Richmond remain great value for entertainment

Trent Cotchin leads the Tigers off the field.. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
22nd May, 2017
22

Elation. Disbelief. Heartbreak. Three juxtaposing emotions experienced all within two minutes.

It was like watching a car crash happen in slow motion – you knew the result was inevitable but were still taken aback in disbelief that it could happen (again).

Yet for some reason, us Richmond supporters continue to passionately turn up for our team. One would think that the heartbreak and agony is addictive after all these years.

Saturday’s result typified all the myths that have embodied the Tigers for worst part of three decades.

Despite all the rebuilds and players recruited, Richmond have remained true to themselves and always found a way to finish in the most dramatic fashion possible.

As I watched the last few minutes unfold, I could feel the ratings increase, as it seemed inevitable that Richmond’s misery would exacerbate.

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It would have been the perfect storm had the Tigers won. After a horror week of being the punchline of every football-related joke, an emotion-fuelled victory against a wounded Giants would have set the Tiger train back on track.

But it just wasn’t to be.

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I watched Jeremy Cameron’s goal over a few times, as I was hardly convinced that the Tigers had once again capitulated.

Nor was I impressed that the umpires couldn’t look the other way and award Shai Bolton’s goal. It would have been a decent apology for that deliberate call on Jayden Short against the Bulldogs. (Let’s not even discuss how Dustin Martin was not awarded a 50-metre penalty late in the match.)

After finding themselves in uncharted territory, Richmond now sit among four other clubs in the same position – at five wins and four losses.

Not only has the team been denied 12 points from their last three matches, they have also been deprived of their credibility. Had the Tigers found a way to win even two of those three, their credibility as a genuine team would have remained to a degree.

While losing by ten goals would have amplified Richmond’s mediocrity to greater lengths, these narrow losses present the club with an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney and even the Bulldogs did not win, Richmond lost. And yes, there is a difference – Richmond shot themselves in the foot and allowed their opposition to claim victory.

Not being able to punish sides has been Richmond’s Achilles heel in 2017. The chances were there on Saturday but the accuracy was not.

The Tigers scored woefully after quarter time and, even more critically, only managed five behinds in the final term.

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The foundations for a decent team at Punt Road have been laid, however what has been forever lacking is a sense of conviction.

The good sides always find a way to win, but the great sides put their opposition to the sword. The Tigers have been unable to do either.

Damien Hardwick’s agony could be felt as he desperately watched on in hope that his team would find a way. Unfortunately, there is nothing more that he could have done in the last minute of Saturday’s match.

There were no defensive blunders that led to the Giants converting the winner, just the ball being flicked out the back after a decision not going Richmond’s way.

My views on Hardwick remain ambivalent at this stage. One should question whether his tactics have become too transparent, although he is not the one paid to convert in front of goal.

Damien Hardwick Richmond Tigers AFL 2015

AAP Image/Joe Castro

The Tigers had 16 more inside 50s throughout the match, however only converted from 41 per cent of these entries.

Poor forward entry plagued the Tigers in the last quarter. What haunts the Tigers is a sense of composure, a feat which unfortunately cannot be taught.

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This Richmond team, for whatever reason, lacks the precision and class to see off an opposition and swing the game back on their terms.

Their annual ‘Dreamtime at the G’ match against the Bombers has now become their most important match since the 2015 elimination final.

What separates this Dreamtime from any other is that this will be built up as an elimination final for both sides. A fourth straight loss might just be the nail in the coffin for Richmond, finding themselves fighting to remain relevant.

Regardless of how their season unfolds, the Tigers will always be great entertainment value. If the AFL seeks to promote the game globally, all that needs be done is showcase last five minutes of Richmond’s matches over the last three weeks.

The Tigers will always be the best team for TV.