The Magpies took it up to the reigning premiers with a style of game reminiscent of the Tigers themselves. But the relentless pressure of Richmond proved too much for the Pies, who still look to be learning the caper of this high-pressure game.
In many ways it was like a Dr Evil and Mini-Me kind of set up, with the bigger bodies of Richmond never relenting, and making a break on Collingwood in the last quarter, to run out by an impressive 43 points.
What was most impressive for the Tigers was their commitment to the contest, right until the final siren.
Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Playing to the siren
There is something about Richmond over the past couple of weeks. They simply do not stop, and never has that been more evident than the way they finished the game off against the Pies.
They slammed home eight last quarter goals to Collingwood’s three, but as late as halfway through the last, the Pies still seems a bit of a chance to pinch the game. However, the Tigers don’t take their foot off the accelerator. They kicked the final four goals of the game – two to Butler (could’ve been three), one to Caddy and one right before the siren to Castagna.
I am so impressed with the way they pressed back hard and didn’t relent. So many sides would get that three goal margin and go into the ‘save game’ mode. Not the Tigers. They piled the pressure on to leave little doubt that whilst Collingwood was good in sticking with them as long as they did, that when the Tigers put their foot down, no one can go with the premiers. Not yet.
Hats off to Nankervis. He was playing against the probable current All-Australian ruckman, and he didn’t take a backwards step at all.
He responded with a career-high 29 disposals, and one of the best final quarters from a ruckman you’re likely to see. At one stage, Nankervis parked himself in the back pocket and proceeded to swallow up three Collingwood attacks in a row.
He had six marks in the final quarter, and matched Grundy on the ground as well as in the air – something that rarely occurs.
Nankervis has been unsung all year, and most of last year, but he is rarely beaten badly, and works as hard as any big guy in the game. There was a bit of a story that Grundy may have been a little hurt in the second half – so be it. It makes me respect Nankervis a little more. If Grundy was completely fit, then he beat the form ruckman in the game. If Grundy was a little hobbled, then Nankervis was like a shark who smelled blood in the water. He went for the kill.
Howe was prolific in the first half, and though an apparent knock on the leg in a marking contest appeared to slow him, he finished as one of the Pies’ best.
In a big game, against quality opposition at the MCG, the stage was set for Howe to take a screamer, and he didn’t disappoint. Many will view Howe’s towering mark across half back in the second quarter as the highlight of his game, but he is a defender first, and there was another couple of defensive efforts back to back that impressed me more.
Late in the third quarter, Dustin Martin went forward, and that often spells trouble. Howe found himself with the responsibility of taking Martin and made a great spoil as the ball came in long. He was then able to nullify Martin at ground level as well. It won’t make any highlight reels, but that is now Howe’s role.
The screamers are nice, but his defence against the Tigers was excellent today, too.
I’m not sure Treloar will ever live down choosing the Pies over the Tigers, citing their better list, and it was obvious that Richmond fans are still holding onto his decision. A smattering of boos could be heard every time Treloar touched the ball, but they diminished, as the Richmond fans must’ve got tired.
Booing a bloke 42 times will give the vocal chords a workout.
Treloar stood up for the Magpies in the face of a very balanced, and hard-bodied Richmond midfield. He may be booed the next time they play, but he more than earned a bit of respect in this one.
Cotchin’s contested work
I’m not sure there is anyone that goes harder at a ground ball contest than Cotchin. He has such an “all or nothing” mindset when it comes to contesting the footy. It’s infectious. He refuses to be the guy who didn’t go lowest and hardest at the ball, and his teammates follow his lead.
Even when Cotchin doesn’t take possession of the ball, he impacts ground level contests all the time. On this Sunday, he did take possession in contests – plenty of them.
Cotchin finished with a game-high 18 contested possessions. When the ball was in dispute, Cotchin made it his mission to make it his.
A quieter one for Dusty? Not really
I almost found myself barracking against Dusty in the last quarter, which isn’t really fair. He’s just been so good for so long now that I was hoping someone else would be the guy to keep running, and keep pushing. But Dusty’s tank is huge, and his quieter game constituted 29 touches, and still led the game in both clearances and inside 50 disposals.
Martin, as if it needs to be said, is such a star. His goal in the last quarter broke the hearts of Collingwood supporters, and there’ll be a lot more hearts broken over the coming months as Martin continues to power home.
Tigers the ultimate team players
We already mentioned the relentless pressure of the Tigers, but there is one other facet of their game that needs to be touched on – their selflessness.
You get the feeling that Richmond players would take a bullet for each other. They don’t seem to care who kicks a goal, as long as the goal is kicked.
Dan Butler got the ball on the boundary line in the first quarter. In another, less-polished team, a snap at goal, or a hurried centring kick may have been the options. At no stage did Butler think about the goals – he was looking inside, his eyes constantly darting between options. He found one, and the ball eventually worked its way outside 50.
Jayden Short was the beneficiary of the Richmond unselfishness on this occasion, and he banged home a goal from 50.
The way Richmond anticipates their teammates' success is evident. When there is a contest, they fully expect their teammate to win it, and they make space accordingly. Haven’t seen a team do that this well since Hawthorn in the late eighties… yes, showing my age here.
The cheapest of cheap goals
I’m not a fan of repeated shots of goal. Yes, I know Lynden Dunn knocked Jack Higgins over. It’s not worth another shot at goal. A free kick from the centre is a more fitting penalty for such an act.
Scoring in the AFL this year is down, and goals appear harder to come by. A gift like this to Higgins, who had just kicked a fantastic snap-goal, isn’t something I enjoy watching.
It reeks of over-umpiring, and is so deflating in the context of a game. Let the boys play, give a free kick in the centre, and don’t gift teams goals.
Magpies walking wounded
It’s a tough ask to hang with Richmond. It’s almost impossible with your team somewhat depleted.
Seeing Pies players hobble off the ground at different points must have been disheartening. Aish saw his afternoon over relatively early, Reid hobbled off with an Achilles injury, and Maynard, who was really good in the third, hurt his ankle. Add to that injuries to Howe and, reportedly a niggle to Grundy, and you have the makings of a team that will fall away late.
Lo and behold, the Tigers went injury free (which is a trademark of the current Richmond team) and ran away with the game in the last quarter. They may have run away with it anyway, but Collingwood’s injuries certainly didn’t help them.
It appears as though Dan Butler is learning a bit from Dusty. I counted three stiff arm fend-offs from him in this game.
Poor old Pendles had two contested marks against him inside the defensive 50 in the first quarter. One from Jason Castagna, and one from Nankervis.
Not sold on Castagna’s set shot for goal routine. Looks like he gets no momentum to kick through the ball.
Noticed a real difference in the attack on goal in the first. Whilst I wrote about the unselfishness of Butler earlier, the contrast was when Sidebottom got the ball across the 50 at the other end, and ran, and ran with it. If it was at the other end, I think a handball or kick to a better position, even if it were a backwards kick, would’ve been made.
Pendlebury’s tackling has been a real highlight of his game this season. He had another eight against the Tigers and sits fourth overall in the league for total tackles this year.
All of a sudden, Mason Cox is providing a legitimate headache for defenders. It’s not often that Davis Astbury looks lost at sea, but he did against the towering big man. The way Cox got rid of Reece Conca in one of the contests was like a man playing against a boy.
Brodie Grundy’s second efforts are what has propelled him above other ruckmen this season. He was matched in that department by Nankervis today.
The goal review where Lynden Dunn was ruled to have touched the ball was contentious, but what wasn’t contentious was the three quarter pace stroll back into the scoring zone to get his hand to it. Where was the desperation?
Will Hoskin-Elliott still has a good pair of hands on him. It was a lesson Alex Rance learned when he sagged off him in the second quarter.
I thought Scharenberg was really solid in the backline, and it is good to see him stringing games together now.
Maynard almost broke through Dusty’s “don’t argue” on the boundary, but the ball popped out and he didn’t complete the tackle. Was good to see someone taking it on and refusing to be pushed away.
Riewoldt seems so comfortable in the Tiger forward line now. Doesn’t need to demand the ball, doesn’t need to be the focal point of every inside 50 entry. He just bides his time, picks his moments and kicks goals when required.
Josh Caddy just conjures goals from nothing. I always look at him as though he cheats a little somewhere along the line. How else can you explain how often he gets by himself? He is a clever forward, and such a big body. One of Richmond’s best pick-ups in recent years.
Loved the chase of Nathan Broad on Jaidyn Stephenson late in the third. We’ve all seen how quick Stephenson is – Broad is no slouch, and in true Richmond fashion, he applied the pressure and Stephenson kicked out on the full.
Horrible 50 metre penalty against Pendlebury whilst he was standing the mark. Just bumped Butler a little. Big penalty for such a small thing.
Absolutely loved the handball over the head from Dusty as he was falling in the middle. Hit Lambert in stride, and he found Riewoldt.
I have no idea how Sam Murray didn’t kick a goal after collecting the dribbling kick from de Goey in the square. It might’ve been one of those instances where he got the ball too close to goal, if that doesn’t sound too crazy? He hit the deck, threw the ball on his foot as he was tackled, and it went straight up and down. The Richmond defence stood solid and cleared again.
Caddy got his fourth due to his own fumble. Smart man. He was going to hand it off to the running Butler, but a fumble meant that the defender closed in on Butler. He gave it back to Caddy who slotted it home. Of course, it was Richmond… it doesn’t matter who kicks the goals, as long as they get kicked.