So before we get going, there was a strong message sent at the MCG this afternoon.
No matter how good you are – no matter how much talent you possess, you simply cannot allow a team like Richmond to get a jump on you.
It’s that simple. They are a team of grinders, with a smattering of superstars mixed with blokes who crack in every single week. Once you fall behind by four or five goals, you are in a house of pain against Richmond, and as the siren rang to end the first quarter, that is where the GWS Giants found themselves.
A goalless quarter saw the Giants at the mercy of the Tigers, and even an inspired blast of desperate Giants footy was not enough to close the gap.
This game should serve as a warning to any team Richmond faces for the remainder of the season – do not give them the ascendancy early. If you do, you will pay for it.
And the Giants paid dearly today.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
This was the best game I’ve seen Lynch play in yellow and black. I know statistically he’s had a six goal bag earlier in the season, but in conditions that did not favour big forwards, Lynch looked dangerous every time he went near the ball.
He took contested marks, made deft little touches matter as they set up teammates, and his 11 score involvements speak of a man who made things happen not just for himself, but for those around him.
I have a confession to make – I openly questioned the acquisition of Lynch in the off-season; not because I wanted it to fail, or because I thought it would. No, I questioned it because the Tigers had a forward structure that was really working for them, and I wondered how the addition of a marking forward the likes of Lynch would impact that balance.
Well, it turns out, on this day at least, it turned out quite well.
I found it interesting that, in his post-game interview, Jack Riewoldt mentioned that he didn’t get as much footy as he would’ve liked. It was a throw-away line, I’m sure, but it’s enough for this old Mongrel to watch the next six weeks very carefully.
My worry with the Lynch-Riewoldt combination was how well they’d gel. We haven’t really seen them together enough to make that assessment just yet, but Lynch looks as though he is the focal point at the moment. Riewoldt will work himself into some form and THEN we will see how it all works.
I know I may come across as a crackpot conspiracy theorist looking for something that’s simply not there, but I find this storyline quite intriguing. I remember angry Jack. I remember petulant Jack, and though it’s been a while since we’ve seen him, part of me wonders whether a few games where he “doesn’t get as much footy as I would have liked” will see him make another appearance.
But back to Lynch – his game this afternoon was exactly what the Tigers recruited him for. Strong in the contest, hard at the footy, and involved in anything, he was the most influential player on the park for mine.
And to add another string to Lynch’s bow, when assessing him, you have to take into account the quality of his opposition. He had Phil Davis for company all afternoon long. When you can have the influence he had today, and do it against a player the calibre of Davis, you know you had a great game.
THE UNDERRATED CLEARANCE KING
As the Tigers put distance between themselves and the Giants, one man was doing his best work.
Dion Prestia had half of his final total of disposals in the first quarter as Richmond powered away from the Giants. Included in his 12 first quarter touches were five clearances (I actually think it was six and he was robbed one) as he set up the attack of the Tigers at the coalface on multiple occasions.
Prestia is one of those players who are not drawing the attention of the media, and therefore seems to be flying under the radar. He is a tireless worker who seems just as content laying a block for a teammate as he does collecting the ball himself.
It was telling that after quarter time he did not have another clearance for the game as other Richmond midfielders came to the fore, but when the Tigers needed him early, Prestia put his hand up. He has had 7+ clearances on five occasions this season as he continues to fly under the radar of many. He is the sort of player that could jump up in a big game and win a Norm Smith Medal…
… but maybe I am jumping the gun a little there.
In the first quarter I wanted to run up to the GWS box, grab Leon Cameron by the collar and point out to him that Cameron and Himmelberg were both kick chasing, thinking that they’d left their man for dead, only to turn, kick inside 50 and see Dylan Grimes mark their aimless kicks.
If it was annoying for me, I can only imagine how pissed of Giants fans must have been as their side fell behind and their midfield seemed to be deliberately kicking the ball to the rangy Richmond defender.
Grimes ended up with ten intercept possessions as he combined beautifully with Nick Vlastuin and David Astbury to repel GWS attacks time and time again.
We often get a bit of shtick from Richmond fans for leaving Grimes out of any “best of…” kind of teams. He does great, consistent work for the Tigers in a period that they’re without their defensive anchor. Is he All-Australian? Richmond fans will scream “YES!” but I am not completely sold.
Irrespective, Grimes will continue to go about his business, and you know what is better than making any of those “best of…” kind of teams?
Making premiership teams, and the Tigers are rounding into form nicely.
THE FIFTH, SIXTH AND SEVENTH BEST BALL-WINNER
I know it’s not the most flattering title but it gives an indication that, at 30 disposals for the game, Bachar Houli was not one of the biggest accumulators on the ground. Those honours went to four GWS players.
For losing GWS players.
You see, with some players it is far more beneficial for them to have 25 touches than it is for another to have 35. Today, we had players like Taranto, Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield and Jacob Hopper all collect more of the footy than their Richmond counterparts, but did they hurt as much?
No, I don’t think they did.
Houli had 30, Shai Bolton played perhaps his best game for the club with 29 disposals, and Brandon Ellis had 29 as well.
And this is the beauty of Richmond. They don’t need players with 40 touches to be dominant. They have this mix of players all capable of that 20-30 touches and every one of them brings something different. Houli brings the intercept and drive from half back, Bolton the run and carry combined with inside 50s, and Brandon Ellis gets out on the wing and is a valuable link man in important chains.
So as other players hack it forward, or go sideways to rack up another touch, the Tigers… the fifth, sixth and seventh ranked disposal winners get the touches that matter. Less of them, but more meaningful.
People are starting to question me a little in the hallowed halls of the Mongrel offices (my lounge room). You see, this bloke floats into contests and clunks marks and I just make these “oohhhh” and “aahhhh” noises which draw a bit of attention.
I love watching Nick Haynes patrol the half back line, reading the play, beating his own man when required, and taking intercept marks. Speaking of marks, he took a game-high 11 this game as he did his best to quell the influence of Jack Riewoldt, and he did a pretty damn good job of it.
You have to give Jack the benefit of the doubt, given he hasn’t played in ten weeks, but Haynes was excellent all game, and is so good that I was offended when so many of our team nominated him for the all underrated team – I rate him, damn it!
I know I am giving GWS a bit of love here, but there is no way you can summarise this game and leave this bloke out. He was the catalyst for the GWS resurgence in the second quarter and it was done through hard work, hard running, pressure and good decision making.
Daniels has been threatening all season, and whilst a four quarter game is still required, the way he flashed in and out of this game showed enough glimpses that anyone who watches a bit of footy knows what a talent he is.
He had 22 touches, valuable tap ons, and drove the Giants inside 50 on seven occasions. On a day where possessions may have been a little overrated in some cases, Daniels was excellent and actually hurt with a lot of his efforts.
This is the second time I’ve had him in this section… and I’m starting to worry.
I’ve loved watching Heater play over the years. He has never shirked the issue, always takes on the best mid-sized forwards and has won way more duels than he has lost, but there is a some cause for concern with Shaw’s play in 2019.
Admittedly, I have not watched every GWS game, but I am seeing some things manifest in Shaw’s game that aren’t all that positive. He is banging the ball on the boot a little too randomly, and is missing targets when he does have time on his side. This is un-Shaw-like.
He had 11 turnovers in this game, and in a game where the opposition prey on errors, they were very costly. Has heater turned the corner? Is he still in the best 22 for the Giants if they were injury-free? Or is he battling with an injury?
My hope is that it’s the latter, as I have not had my fill of Shaw in the game, and I want him to have one more tilt at the big one.
This is just a little nit-picking kind of thing, but I don’t think I saw one Richmond player stay down after a collision today, but I saw plenty of Giants.
What could this mean?
I am not one to cast aspersions on GWS or their players, but I found it strange how many Giants were on the ground, writhing in pain after in-contest clashes with Tigers and how the Richmond players refused to stay down. Was it a mindset of the Richmond Footy Club to get up and deal with the pain later? It sends a strong message, and I reckon this sort of thing, when the chips are down in finals, holds you in good stead.
You think about it – if you were Richmond and you were playing GWS in a final this season, psychologically, I’d be looking at them and thinking we had their number. We want it more. We don’t stay down when we get hit. We’re tougher than them.
And the thing is, the Tigers would be right thinking those things.
And just finally on this point, I think that it is important to note that in no way does this apply to Stephen Coniglio, who was obviously seriously injured. Hope it’s not as bad as it looked.
A BAD GUESS
Cards on the table – I am a Toby Greene supporter. Not a Giants supporter, but I love the way Toby Greene plays. He is on the edge all the time, but when an umpire decides he has stepped over the edge and toppled into the realms where free kicks are to be awarded, it kind of pisses me off.
When they make wild guesses about what’s occurred, it annoys me even more.
The Tigers had a comfortable lead in the last quarter of five goals. Kane Lambert had just snagged his third of the afternoon and Shane Edwards decided to let Greene know about it. he walked up behind Greene and shoved him in the back. Greene retaliated with a round arm that hardly moved Edwards. He added a push.
The whistle blew and Edwards was awarded a free kick, and in effect, gifted a goal.
People, this is a joke. Firstly, the rule to award a free kick in front of goal for an infraction so minor needs to be looked at and adjusted to a free kick in the middle. The ball is dead, and in a situation like this the punishment does not fit the supposed crime.
Secondly, the umpire jumped the gun, panicked, saw it was Toby Greene and blew the whistle. If it were someone else, would it have been a free kick?
I’ve heard discussions about players being booed out of the game recently. I reckon Toby Greene is the one player who may be booed out of the game.
This decision should be reviewed and the umpiring department needs to put their hand up and admit they may have got this one wrong. It was the decision that put the result beyond doubt. It was unlikely that the Giants could get back, but to go from four goals down to six goals down in a matter of seconds… that is a killer blow, and whilst the first goal from Lambert was a belter, the second was an unnecessary joke.
Only I’m not laughing.
Loved the early work of Sydney Stack. There were three consecutive efforts at half forward in the first quarter that will not register a stat, but he was so desperate that you couldn’t help but feel he was intent in setting the tone for his team.
That said, I could do without Dwayne Russell cheerleading for him.
I mentioned how offended (not really offended, I’m not a snowflake) I was when members of our team threw out Nick Haynes for our underrated team, but the bloke I reckon should get a run is Sam Taylor. He had nine intercepts in this one and plenty of spoils to go with it.
I know you guys will hammer me for leaving Kane Lambert out of the good section… I’ll wear it. he snuck home three goals, including a very important one early in the last. Goal kicking mids are so hard to come by, and usually it’s Dusty doing these types of things. Whilst I would never compare Lambert to Martin, his contribution in this one was vital to the Tigers’ win.
I thought Dan Lloyd did a serviceable job on Dusty, yet Martin still ended up with 25 touches for the game. No votes for Dusty tjis week, I’m afraid.
Probably the most involved I’ve seen Daniel Rioli this season for Richmond. He was looking a little too free and easy earlier this year, but 18 touches and three tackles is the sort of output Damien Hardwick would like to see from now on.
Jeremy Cameron – 19 touches and three goals is a good return considering I felt he was actually beaten on the day. If he kicks a little more accurately, however, I reckon we may be singing his praises. He finished with 3.4 for the game, but Astbury was excellent on him.
I guess that’s the mark of a good forward, huh? Finish with three goals on a day where you didn’t have the best of your opponent.
Finally, Toby Greene – my man… I thought he was very serviceable today. His 34 touches were probably the only high-number stats not overblown with sideways rubbish, and the fact he hit the scoreboard while spending plenty of time up forward indicates that he can absolutely do it all. GWS need two of him
And that’ll do the old Mongrel today. Nice win by the Tigers as the Giants fall over at the home of footy (which is a cricket ground) again. Richmond get the Jekyll and Hyde Port Adelaide next week at the ‘G again, and the Giants look to be without Stephen Coniglio for a fair while as they head home to welcome Collingwood, who will be without their captain.
It’s going to make for another good weekend of footy, and could very well shape whether the Giants can rally for a top four spot, or drop into the dangerous territory of missing the eight. That would not bode well for Leon Cameron if it is the latter.