Tigers, Eagles prepare for ‘Clash of the May Titans’

Samuel Ord Roar Pro

By Samuel Ord, Samuel Ord is a Roar Pro

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    Fewer things in the sporting world are quite as enjoyable as a top of the table clash and fans of the Australian Football League have exactly that to look forward to come the weekend.

    Ladder leaders and reigning premiers Richmond will take on the second-placed West Coast Eagles on Sunday at Optus Stadium.

    With eight rounds of the season done and dusted it’s been one of the most even campaigns I can recall.

    Richmond and West Coast are the clear stars, both with seven wins and a stunning percentage – 149.5 and 134.0 respectively.

    Following the early bolters are six teams all sitting on five wins with the difference between eighth and third pure percentage. It’s great to see.

    The winner of this match may well be dubbed the premiership favourites and heading into the encounter neither side has wavered much in form – West Coast is on a run of seven wins in a row and Richmond six.

    Recent clashes between the pair belong to West Coast.

    Last season, in what I felt was one of the matches of the season, Richmond defeated West Coast by 11 points in Round 3 at the MCG.

    Played out in the wet it was a furious fight for early momentum and an indicator that Richmond refused to accept moral victories any more.

    West Coast crushed Richmond in 2016, defeating them by 68 points in Round 4, and did the job easily in Round 12 2015 – winning by 20.

    Both sides also carry respectable injury lists – while West Coast’s is certainly longer in length.

    Richmond are missing premiership trio Shaun Grigg, Daniel Rioli and Dion Prestia – however all expected to be available within the next three weeks at a maximum and beyond that the Tigers stunning run free of injuries has continued from 2016.

    For West Coast injuries to Luke Shuey, Liam Ryan and Dom Sheed are all a hassle – however the 22 the Eagles are capable of putting out on the park in the absence of the trio eclipses that concern.

    At this stage in the game I’m envisioning a West Coast win.

    Jack Darling celebrates a goal

    Jack Darling of the Eagles (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    The obvious factor is travel, with Richmond never having played at Optus Stadium a concern along with the journey to Western Australia itself.

    The biggest issue I sense on the horizon for the Tigers is the side’s most recent win against North Melbourne.

    Richmond buried North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, getting over the line by ten points late in the piece as a result of goals to captain Trent Cotchin and small forward Dan Butler – while at the other end the Kangaroos’ key forward Ben Brown missed twice and threw away the chance at a win.

    The contest was an absolute bruiser with the Tigers laying 81 tackles to North Melbourne’s 69.

    As a consequence of the relentless pressure more than 150 turnovers were committed between both sides.

    That tackle count was Richmond’s highest for the season, eclipsing three over totals above sizeable totals (70 – Round 1, 71 – Round 2, 78 – Round 6).

    It was the kind of contest that certain players thrive in – one of the them was North Melbourne’s Ben Cunnington, setting the AFL record for contested possessions (32) and the other was Richmond’s Cotchin – setting the contest on fire in the absence of Dustin Martin.

    Oh – Dustin Martin. Martin copped a heavy tag from North Melbourne’s Ben Jacobs and while it was a stunning duel between the pair it was also pretty hard to watch.

    Dustin Martin of the Tigers (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Jacobs held, pinned and casual struck Martin around the ground at the majority of the contests they shared together (and did a great job of limiting his impact on the match) and as a result I’m sure that Martin would’ve been forced to put plenty of extra recovery time during the week and will be still feeling it come the weekend.

    West Coast on the other hand will be riding in red hot after a 25-point win against fellow top four fancies Greater Western Sydney.

    While they did have to travel to get the win, West Coast had no problem weaving it together – rarely looking in doubt all day.

    If there’s one factor that may swing it for the Tigers it will be the the variety inside the forward 50.

    Richmond, the competition’s strongest offensive side, has six footballers with more than ten goals – Jack Reiwoldt (19), Josh Caddy (16), Jason Castagna (14), Dustin Martin (13), Jacob Townsend (10) and Kane Lambert (10).

    Regular small forward Dan Butler (8) and Jack Higgins (8) aren’t too far behind either.

    West Coast has just four with more than 10 – Jack Darling (22), Mark LeCras (15), Josh Kennedy (15) and Jake Waterman (10).

    If Richmond’s star defensive trio of Alex Rance, David Astbury and Dylan Grimes can put a lock on at least half of these forward, while at the other end Richmond’s unpredictable attack on the goals is able to strike multiple times, then the Tigers have a chance late in the piece.

    Early accuracy will be a must too – Richmond can’t afford to find itself at 2.5 or 3.7 at any stage unless a dramatically different West Coast outfit arrives on the day and manages to relent in pressure.

    In the big picture recent history is in West Coast’s favour too.

    In Round 6 of the 2017 season Adelaide and Richmond went head-to-head at Adelaide Oval – both undefeated at the time with five wins each.

    Adelaide defeated Richmond by 76 points on the day, booting a 21 goals and 14 behinds (140 points).

    However if an early season loss to another premiership contender is an important step in the journey towards a premiership for this yellow and black unit – I’m sure Tigers fans will happily cop another one.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • May 15th 2018 @ 6:38am
      big four sticks said | May 15th 2018 @ 6:38am | ! Report

      The Eagles won’t be able to handle our pressure. They are in a totally different league to us. Even if Dusty gets tagged we can find a way to win. Julie Bishop will be in tears after we tear these pretenders apart.

      It’s still Tiger time folks!

      • May 15th 2018 @ 1:58pm
        Tom said | May 15th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        Prepare for disappointment wouldn’t be surprised if the eagles won this comfortably

        • May 15th 2018 @ 4:37pm
          Kaniel Outis said | May 15th 2018 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

          I would to see Richmond beat these downhill skiers, and watch Julie Bishop (who attends interstate games on our money), Gina Rinehart, Colin Barnett, and Twiggy Forest cry into their Chardonnay.

          • May 15th 2018 @ 10:54pm
            Tom said | May 15th 2018 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

            How are they downhill skiers? 3-0 interstate this season plus they’ve actually beaten some of last years finalists something that can’t be said for the tigers, I believe you got a 36 point lesson from Adelaide in the one game you played interstate

          • May 16th 2018 @ 12:39pm
            Jungle Jim said | May 16th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

            Kaniel = such worn out old cliches, you need to get out more -chardonnay really? you can do better than that!…and Big Four Sticks = clearly you haven’t watched any recent Eagles games? There’s pumped up passion and then there’s reality! Once again same old tired cliches from posters who aren’t abreast of current football, but locked in their own team world.

    • May 15th 2018 @ 7:19am
      Bob said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      The eagles will beat Richmond at home and the media will say travelling to wa was a huge factor. The tigers will beat west coast at the G and the media will say the tigers are the greatest team ever.

      • May 15th 2018 @ 7:13pm
        Joe B said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

        If WC beat Tigers at Perth Stadium by 20+ the media will probably call WC flat track bullies, and if the Tigers beat WC at the MCG, the media will say WC can’t win away from home.

        • May 16th 2018 @ 12:40pm
          Jungle Jim said | May 16th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          Joe B = Spot on!!!

      • May 15th 2018 @ 7:49pm
        Philby said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

        …and what’s your point?

    • Roar Guru

      May 15th 2018 @ 7:42am
      Peter the Scribe said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Eagles will win this and put the lid at least half back on. The real test for the Tigers hasn’t come yet and that is injuries. Surely this side can’t go two full years without injuries while other teams like the Pies, GWS, Dogs, Cats, Crows are decimated already.

      • May 15th 2018 @ 8:47am
        truetigerfan said | May 15th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        How tragic it’s come to that, Peter. Wishing injuries upon the Tiges? Or veiled excuses for your own Magpies? Speaks volumes for you either way.

        Looking forward to this game. Eagles flying and Tigers cruising. Bring it on.

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2018 @ 9:25am
          Peter the Scribe said | May 15th 2018 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          I don’t “wish” injuries on anyone. All I am saying, like many others, is that the Tigers have not been tested yet over the past two seasons with any decent numbers out. It is a fair question and one at some stage they will have to face just like the rest of the teams are.
          As for injuries being an excuse, of course they are! Do you think GWS would be where they are now without losing half their side? How about the Dogs? Clubs aren’t allowed to use injuries as an excuse but us punters are. Of course the Pies would be better placed right now if we hadn’t lost players this year such as Adams, Aish, Maynard, De Goey, Varcoe, Reid,Moore, Pendlebury, Broomhead, Goldsack, Elliott, Wells, Langdon….how do you think a side builds a list? they build a list based on players for roles, if multiple players are missing from roles of course the side’s perfomance will be affected.

          Would you call a Geelong v Richmond preliminary final where the Tigers had a full side and Geelong were missing Ablett, Selwood and Dangerfield as a true test of each side’s capabilities? Of course not. Injuries do count and do affect results. Rarely you see a side overcome this, in the past couple of decades two off the top of my head – Dogs 2016 and one Hawthorn year I think it was 2015.

          • May 15th 2018 @ 12:21pm
            truetigerfan said | May 15th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

            What exactly are you hanging your hat on? Sounds like a ‘Just sayin’ ‘ type of excuse. Over a whole season there are countless good luck/bad luck stories. That’s the way it is. Always has been, always will be. All teams play with 22 . . . ask any coach!

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2018 @ 1:22pm
              Peter the Scribe said | May 15th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

              You are a walking talking cliche Truetiger. if I wanted to hear cliche’s I’d simply listen to a John Longmire press conference. “All teams play with 22” ? What a load of cliche rubbish!

              • May 15th 2018 @ 2:13pm
                truetigerfan said | May 15th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

                And you? Sour grapes! Get all you want at a Nathan Buckley after match presser!

      • May 15th 2018 @ 6:28pm
        DTM said | May 15th 2018 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

        I keep hearing about this luck that Richmond have had with injuries. I think this is disrespectful to the medical and coaching staff at Richmond. Managing sore and injured players is a difficult task and Richmond have simply done it better than most for the last few years.
        The forecast is for 25 degrees on Sunday but it will feel hotter in the middle at Optus. West Coast are getting some key players back but are likely to still be without Shuey.
        As a long term WCE member, I am surprised and pleased that we are near the top but there is a long way to go in the season and I would take a finish in the top 4.
        I think Richmond is the better team but suspect after North softened them up last week, the travel and the heat will take it’s toll on Sunday.
        Still, if I was a betting man, my money would be on Richmond to go back to back.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 15th 2018 @ 7:10pm
          Mattician6x6 said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

          DTM- what I’ve found is were other sides have tried to adopt similar gameplan to tigers our boys worked on their fitness levels because imo that is what separates Richmond from other sides.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 15th 2018 @ 9:10am
      Mattician6x6 said | May 15th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Wce for me for obvious reasons, confidence and fitness is what sees these teams separated from the pack atm and for all who have access to this game let’s hope its a cracker.

      • May 15th 2018 @ 12:35pm
        Slane said | May 15th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        I can’t believe this game misses out on FTA in favour of Hawks vs Brisbane. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. Good luck Matti, it should be a cracker. Tigers by 14.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 15th 2018 @ 1:54pm
          Mattician6x6 said | May 15th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

          Do you have fox or are you off to the pub? I’ve gone wce by 15 pts, good to see the two most entertaining teams face off.

          • May 15th 2018 @ 2:15pm
            truetigerfan said | May 15th 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

            I’ll second that! People worried about the state of the game need to watch this one. Carna Tiges!

            • Roar Rookie

              May 15th 2018 @ 3:28pm
              Mattician6x6 said | May 15th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

              TTF- love watching way your mob goes about it, have to respect any side that turns in their worst performance of the season and still get a 77 point win
              EAGLES EAGLES EAGLES.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 3:38pm
                truetigerfan said | May 15th 2018 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                Yeah, clearly the 2 teams that play the most attractive style. Should be a beauty! Wondering whether the Tigers need to play 2 ruckmen. I think they probably will. Hope the whether is fine and the track is fast!

              • Roar Rookie

                May 15th 2018 @ 5:35pm
                Mattician6x6 said | May 15th 2018 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

                Long range forecast says it will be low -mid 20s and sunny, how we go with caddy will be interesting, will yeo run with him everywhere or will Sheppard take him when he goes fwd, who will rance go with because jk did a superb job dragging Davis away from Darling that if he goes to jk similar tactic will be used.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 11:42pm
                Doctor Rotcod said | May 15th 2018 @ 11:42pm | ! Report

                The big difference between Rance and McGovern is that Gov marks,Rance spoils.
                Crumbing those spoils will have a direct influence on forward movement.
                Also,WC have superior stoppage clearance to the Tigers, Rance hits over the boundary,not a good idea

                The Eagles have twice Richmond’s number of hitouts, where Nankervis gives up 3 frees a week and Lycett and Naitanui get 4 frees a week between them

                West Coast by four or five goals

          • May 15th 2018 @ 3:28pm
            Slane said | May 15th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

            I have Foxtel but will be watching the game with an Eagles fan and another Tiger at my local pub.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 15th 2018 @ 5:36pm
              Mattician6x6 said | May 15th 2018 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

              Enjoy it mate, haven’t been this pumped for a h & a game for a few years.

    • May 15th 2018 @ 9:14am
      Milo said | May 15th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Yep, Eagles must start favourites playing on their home deck, home crowd and the Tigers definitely due to drop one. So Tigers may actually not feel too much pressure going in and play with a nothing to lose attitude. Good news also for the Tiges is that the dimensions of the new ground are similar to the G a fact which will not have gone unnoticed in the administration.

      As an aside i think its a just a tad of an overstatement to say “Richmond buried North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium” when a draw could have easily resulted. A bit of experience vs inexperience under pressure and early goals probably just got us there.

      Also if anyone really believes that the lack of soft tissue injuries suffered by the Tigers is a just a happy fluke i gotta say youre dreaming. A lot of work and science (the good stuff not the Dank stuff) has been put into this area for some time by the club.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 15th 2018 @ 10:17am
      WCE said | May 15th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      I hope we win by a point in the last 2 seconds to stick it right up em’ ! Go the mighty Coasters

      • May 15th 2018 @ 7:24pm
        Joe B said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

        Nah… I would like to see a dubious free kick, then a 50m penalty with a set shot for goal after the siren for a one point win. I want to hear all of Victoria whining for a week!

        • May 15th 2018 @ 7:56pm
          Philby said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

          You guys have weird ideas about us Victorians. If Eagles won in either of those ways, you’d have all the supporters of Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon and supporters of most other Victorian clubs chortling into their beer.

          They won’t though. Tigers by 5 goals.

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