It has become apparent at the midway point of the 2018 home-and-away season that Richmond are building a supremacy among others in the AFL.
The Richmond side are sitting pretty coming into their bye weekend with ten wins and three losses, with a colossus of a percentage of 135.01 per cent (six per cent more than second), exhibiting they still have the hunger and firepower to lift the cup again, and to achieve back-to-back flags for their first time since 1974.
The Tigers are sitting in better shape than this time last year, have picked up enough talent upon their previous rebuilding phases, and are on their way to breaking the MCG consecutive games-won record. Most importantly are in form.
This Richmond side has what it takes to build an all-time dynasty, their game style that entails immense amounts of pressure of the ball carrier and tackles inside 50 in which can be achieved in any type of weather conditions.
With three out of the top ten leaders for tackles inside 50, no defender feels comfortable with procession in Richmond’s forward half. The Tigers didn’t sit on top of the ladder at the conclusion of any round in 2017, ultimately exhibiting they are still improving, which should be frightening for 17 other coaches.
Versatile midfield/forward Josh Caddy is in career-best form, in many mid year all Australian teams for his ability to go forward and be an option in the air (28 goals) but still win big bodied clearances in the middle.
Shane Edwards also in career best form, bound to influence any contest he enters and is leading the goal assists for the league by a country mile. If Richmond finish in the top two of the AFL ladder at the end of the home-and-away season they are assured a home qualifying final with 90,000+ die hard fans barracking passionately for their side.
With their current run of 16 consecutive wins at the MCG and in their eight wins their this year scoring under 100 points only on one occasion, it is difficult to see the yellow and black losing at the home of football.
With the top four looking likely to be 2/4 interstate teams in whom haven’t got the best history at the MCG, the expectation for Damian Hardwick’s men should to be involved on the last Saturday in September at the least.
The hunger is most certainly still their within the Tigers players, mixed with young talent, this is a perfect recipe for a long stint at the top end of the ladder. Daniel Rioli upon return only compiled a 12-disposal game but seemed to be a pivotal player in the big win against top four hopeful Geelong.
Rioli laid eight tackles, five score involvements and kicked the final goal of the game to secure the win against a desperate Geelong. Rioli’s final goal begun on the broadcast wing soccering the ball forward and the laying a huge tackle inside 50 being rewarded with the free kick.
This run of play demonstrated the hunger that he has to be apart of this side. In his first AFL game since a broken foot on grand final day Rioli could have easily let the ball trickle out of bounce and regain his breath, however impressed all onlookers with his repeat efforts and looked to run himself into the ground grasping for air lining up for goal.
The depth of the tigers is extensive with many VFL players putting their hand up to be apart of the premiership favourites. Upon being dropped this week after a poor game against Port Adelaide, 21-year-old key forward Callum Moore booted five straight in his VFL return, including one of the goals of the year.
Many small forwards blessed with speed are willing and ready to slot back into the side at any given moment, Tyson Stengel is the VFL sides leading goal kicker with 17 majors from ten games and has been able to demonstrate consistency of football at a high standard, along with Shai Bolton who has shown he is a ground ball machine but can also fly for a mark unlike anyone his size in the seconds this year.
Many will always try to dispute great teams to try and bring them back down to mortality, for Richmond their only flaw this year has been the 0-3 run interstate against Adelaide, West Coast and Port Adelaide.
However for coach Damien Hardwick this is no issue, only travelling interstate two more times this year and another six games at the MCG a top two spot is almost a guarantee. The Tigers are playing their best footy while receiving no help from the umpires, down a whopping -70 free kicks this season in the free kick differential, 30 less than 17th placed GWS, the tigers are playing a generational brand of football without any easy free kicks to help them along.
Hardwick has been through it all in his nine seasons at the helm, his job being questioned after every loss or poor performance, but now has the luxury of coaching this side each week and has the chance to win his second Jock McHale medal in as many years.