The Demons took it up to the reigning premiers, but found out the hard way that three quarters of football is not going to cut it against a good team.
The Tigers absorbed their pressure, applied their own, and ran away with the win in the last quarter.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
The Richmond mids
This is going to be a criticism of the Melbourne mids as much as praise for the Tigers. It comes down to this – Max Gawn had 56 hit outs to Nankervis’ 19. What were the Melbourne midfield doing? Unless Gawn gave it to them on an absolute platter, they failed to capitalise.
The Tigers had 16 centre clearances to the Dees’ eight. It’s simply not good enough. They have one of the best extractors in the game in there, in Clayton Oliver but geez they miss Jack Viney.
Dusty had a game-high ten clearances and seemed to make a game of seeing how many Demon chests he could plant his outstretched hand into and push off. He was ably supported by Kane Lambert, who had 15 contested possessions as part of his 29 touches. He has developed beautifully over the last 18 months into the kind of player every club would love on their list.
When you consider that Trent Cotchin had a bit of a quiet one, the Tigers’ ability to continually pressure the ball-carrier, win possession and almost will the ball into their forward line was a sight to behold.
A great ten minutes of pressure.
You’ve gotta love when the game goes up a notch, and it did that in the third quarter. The Dees were trying to make a stand, and got to within a couple of goals before the Tigers banged on a couple of late ones.
The amount of contests, tackles and rushed kicks forward during this period was unbelievable. It was frenetic play from both teams, with every player sensing that the tempo was lifting. The Demons asked the questions, and the Tigers answered.
There’s a reason that Edwards retains his spot in this team week after week, and that is his football nous. If he doesn’t lead the league in direct goal-assists, he’d have to be close.
Edwards gave away two goals tonight that I am aware of. One went to second gamer, Jack Higgins, who converted around the corner in the second quarter. Later that same quarter, he kicked a long ball across the half forward line to find Lloyd, who banged it home.
It was game-on at this point, and after a very slow start (Edwards had one touch in the first quarter) he bounced back with nine in the second quarter, and finished with 26 for the game.
With seconds remaining, James Harmes took possession of the ball on the wing. He stopped, propped and loaded up a handball. He never got to release it. Brandon Ellis appeared from nowhere and ran him down, earning a holding the ball free kick in the process.
It was indicative of the relentless hunting attitude of the Richmond footy club that makes me wonder whether they are just fitter than every other club, work harder than every other club, or just want it more than any other club.
Every player in that team has the mindset that there are no easy disposals for their opponents, and when Ellis tackled Harmes to the ground, teammates rushed to congratulate him. The game was over and it meant nothing, but it meant everything. It’s what the Tigers are about, irrespective of what point in the game it is.
Jake Melksham’s role on Alex Rance
I have to admit, I actually started getting annoyed with the commentators talking up Alex Rance throughout this game.
Jake Melksham kicked a career-high four goals tonight – all of them came directly against Rance. On many of these occasions, he beat Rance in one-out contests. If a defender has four kicked on him by a player who is there to nullify his influence, he has been beaten.
Jake Melksham beat Alex Rance tonight, and he actually missed a very gettable goal early in the third quarter. He could’ve had five on him. Melksham was fantastic, and it was only as he limped to the goal square after copping a knock, that Rance was able to get a good run at it.
Melbourne marking forwards?
So if I told you that Jesse Hogan took nine grabs for the night, you’d be pretty safe in guessing that he was a very good forward for the Demons, right?
You wouldn’t be wrong, except that he took so many of those marks so far from goal that he simply wasn’t dangerous up forward. He ended up with two goals, but Hogan could really be the sort of guy that clunks 4-5 marks inside 50 for the night and kicks the same amount of goals.
The Demons were pretty lucky that Melksham had a good one, because who else were they relying on? Sam Weideman? Maybe one day, but not yet. Jeff Garlett? Not as a marking option.
Hogan has the potential to be one of the best forwards in the game. To do that, he has to play a bit closer to goal.
The Melbourne capitulation
I dropped my head watching the Demons drop their heads. They were right there – right in the game with a quarter to go, and then they just fell away. It was as though they went down the “oh, we put up a good fight” route. It was so disappointing to see.
The Tigers piled on seven goals in the last quarter and ran while the Melbourne players stopped. While the Tigers continued to tackle, and harass, and bump, and contest, the Demons fell away.
The goal Jack Riewoldt soccered through amidst the Tigers’ last quarter onslaught should never have happened. Oscar McDonald was in control of the situation. He had the best position. All he had to do was want it more than Riewoldt. It resulted in a goal to Jack – he wanted it more.
Melbourne stopped against Hawthorn. And now they’ve stopped against Richmond. But it’s ok, right? Because they “put up a good fight”. Yep, they fought well on the way to a 46 point loss. Congrats.
I was really interested to see Grimes go to Hogan early, particularly after all the talk about Hogan getting hold of Rance last year. I was hoping Rance would take the challenge.
I loved Melksham’s first goal – he did everything right and was genuinely looking inside before taking the shot and curling the ball around his body.
Jack Higgins – we’re going to get sick of commentators talking about this guy and how he dropped out of school to concentrate solely on footy, and so on… but he’s a bloody good little player. Love his smarts around goal, and the way he reads the ball off the pack is fantastic.
Was I the only one that noticed Dylan Grimes start five metres in front of Christian Petracca as they raced back for a loose ball inside 50, and be ten metres in front by the time he got it? Is he that much quicker than Petracca? Or did he just want it more?
Jacob Townsend's goal line miss was almost Percy Jones-esque.
Petracca can’t be that slow – his chase down of Rance on the wing was beautiful.
We saw Gawn v Dusty in the ruck several times in the second quarter. How in the hell did the Dees not get a clean clearance from these contests is completely beyond me. I think if teams are going to do that against one of the premier ruckmen in the game, you have to punish them.
Great to see play on called when Reece Conca ducked into a Nathan Jones tackle.
Petracca breaking two tackles, standing up in a third, and delivering to Garlett is a glimpse into how good he will be. Would love to see him do that sort of thing more.
Max Gawn was really unlucky not to get a 50 metre penalty against Rance at half forward. Rance wasn’t just in the protected zone. He was about a metre from Gawn as he ran through. Gawn even pointed it out and the umpire did… nothing.
Not often you see Dusty get pinged for holding the ball, but Dean Kent got him. The Dees lost a bit when Kent sat on the bench, injured.
Jason Castagna’s one on one win against Billy Stretch on the wing was indicative of the way the game went. He just played harder when it mattered.
Gawn had a couple of ripping taps to advantage around the ground in the second. Really got on top in terms of hands on the tap first. At quarter time he had nine to Nankervis’ six. AT half time that had extended out to 28-10.
Jake Lever was quite good, and is starting to feel comfortable in the Melbourne side. He had 10 intercept possessions tonight.
I’m a bit unsure how the umpire DIDN’T pay deliberate out of bounds against Dylan Grimes in the third quarter when he hacked it out of the air across the line. It was his ONLY intention.
I wasn’t much of a wrap for Angus Brayshaw in the first half, but he lifted in the second half.
Clear dropping the ball against Dusty in the third. No call. Dropped it as he tried to kick it.
Wonderful little tap by Jacob Townsend to Castagna, who set up Dion Prestia for a goal, which was an immediate answer to Melksham’s third.
The Dees kicking the first goal of the last quarter actually gave a bit of hope.
Michael Hibberd’s faceplant was as dangerous as anything you’ll ever see on a footy field. Bounced up, which was brilliant, but far out… that could’ve been bad.
As the Tigers piled on the goals in the last quarter, Melbourne had the chance to get one back. Weideman hit the behind post. Tough shot, but the Dees needed an answer after back to back goals from Lambert and McIntosh.
Hogan’s last quarter goal made it five goals kicked directly on Rance tonight. Real heroes of the Tiger defence tonight were Grimes and Astbury.
Townsend finished without a goal but had a chance to kick one with a few minutes remaining. Instead, he did the team thing and centred the ball to Castagna. And that, my friends, is why Richmond is on top of the ladder. They do the team things, even when they don't have to.