There was only one debutant in Round 8, Buku Khamis, as teams start to figure who their best young talent is.
If Richmond want to keep the critics and players of the competition silent then they must show their money’s worth on Saturday night in Darwin.
Their opponents in Essendon looked dreadful last Sunday against the Saints but that is not to say Essendon could shake Richmond.
As we saw last week against the Gold Coast the Tigers had repeated inside 50s in the first quarter and couldn’t capitalise on their chances. Also, Gold Coast were inaccurate in the goal kicking so the Suns were close enough to beating the Tigers on Monday so Essendon can do it.
If Essendon wants to show that Ben Rutten, John Worsfold and Blake Caracella are the right people then Saturday night in Darwin is the time to show that.
Why? Well, Richmond look angry and frustrated, and are looking more and more like the French army in 1815 while Essendon are the Duke of Wellington and have got nothing to lose and could give the Tigers a scare on Saturday night in Darwin.
Also, like the Battle of Waterloo, the match is being played in foreign conditions in Darwin. Last time these two sides played there it was in a pre-season match. It will be a slippery match with humidity a huge factor and whoever plays clean footy on Saturday and capitalises on their inside 50s will get the chocolates in Dreamtime.
Richmond: Tom Lynch
If you want to prove why you are on $1 million a year to all your critics, now is the time. Lynch needs to kick a bag to repay the faith of Richmond fans and those who know he is a star of the game. He is the Tigers’ number one forward and has only kicked 19 goals and he needs to have a better output so Richmond kicks a winning score on Saturday. If he kicks a bag and rips the game apart, then this will show that Richmond is the true premiership contender for 2020.
Essendon: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
It’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round, and it is this man’s time to shine in prime time in Darwin. With his electrical pace and speed, he could be a tricky one to defend for Richmond. He has been a shining light for the Dons with 11 goals this season and he averages nine touches a game. That is down on last year but it has been a tough season with the Dons trying to work out their new game plan. But it is Indigenous round and McDonald-Tipungwuti will be motivated and ready to go on Saturday night and will want to perform better than last year’s game.
I predict that Richmond will win by 25 points
I think the Tigers will silence the critics as they brought back Bachar Houli, who is much needed on the half-back line. He will be key to Richmond’s ball movement.
But sport can surprise, so the Dons could close Richmond’s premiership window and could close Richmond’s ego as well.