After winning their second premiership in three years, Geelong entered the 2010 decade as the team to beat.
Wow! What a game. Richmond won against Geelong as expected, though they did it the tough way in a hard-fought 19-point win.
The Cats were up by 21 points at half time and seemed to be cruising. They were pressuring Richmond into turning the ball over and made them pay on the scoreboard. The loss of Tom Hawkins, due to his one-match suspension, didn’t seem to be hindering them.
However, when the third quarter began, little did I know that the Richmond juggernaut was about to be unleashed. In hindsight, I believe that the game actually turned around the 23 minute-mark of the second quarter.
The events that led up to Jason Castagna kicking a crucial set shot to keep the Tigers within three goals. The key moment being when Nathan Broad spoiled Esava Ratugolea’s attempted mark in the forward line, preventing a potential goal.
The next few passages of play led to Castagna’s mark and goal it arguably wouldn’t have happened without Broad’s crucial spoil.
Pat Dangerfield may have kicked a set shot from directly in front at the 27 minute-mark to give the Cats a handy lead, but that moment and the entire chain of events demonstrated two things. Richmond are excellent at defensive pressure. And that they will never give up. Ever.
The Tigers’ second-half dominance seemed to come off the back of their tackling and pressure acts, which were relentless.
Whenever Geelong seemed to get a run on and attempt to move the ball forward through handball chains, Richmond players would swarm, tackle and force the turnover. Whenever the Geelong midfielders attempted to kick the ball inside 50, they seemed to hear footsteps as the Tigers were often right behind them, ready to pounce.
The Cats seemed to panic as they bombed the ball in their forward line. These entries were easy pickings for the Tiger’s defenders as they seemed to take intercept marks almost every time.
There’s no question that the Tigers deserved to win tonight as their pressure and fitness enabled them to outlast the dogged Cats. It can be argued that the week off may have been a factor and Hawkins was sorely missed.
However, the Tigers looked dead and buried until Castagna and Broad stood up and dragged them back into the game.
There were definitely many factors that contributed to tonight’s result, some that everyone may not agree on. However, it’s safe to say that this was truly a classic match between two brave and determined sides that genuinely could have gone either way.