The Tigers established a big lead early in the last quarter and despite taking the foot off the pedal, were able to hold off the Hawks to win by 13 points.
Richmond enjoyed a nine-day break to Hawthorn’s six, but it was the Hawks who finished strong. It was too little, too late.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Last week I got a bit of heat for not having Tom Mitchell in the ‘good’ category despite having 40 touches. This week, Cotchin pips him.
The Richmond captain had 30 touches of his own, but it was his desperation and willingness to throw his body in that was the highlight.
I thought there were 3-4 Richmond players that seemed to want the ball a little bit more than their Hawthorn counterparts. Castagna was one of them. He finished with three goals and laid six tackles, but always seemed to be in the right place to impact the contest in the Tigers’ forward half.
Castagna’s desperation and tackling created opportunities for his teammates and set up a great side-kick goal for Dan Butler early in the last quarter.
Alex Rance’s first half
The All-Australian captain was beaten soundly in the first half last week. This week, he turned the tables and owned the back half.
Often criticised for not playing on a direct opponent, Rance stood beside Hawthorn captain, Jarryd Roughead, and helped quell the influence of the key forward.
Whilst Rough finished with four goals, he was held to only three touches for the entire first half as Rance ruled the sky. Rough did get a nice contested mark against Rance early in the third, but Rance had his number in the first half, and it was only when Rance was moved off him that he started to have a real influence.
All right… all right… you cannot leave a bloke out two weeks in a row when he gets these sort of numbers. 42 touches, eight tackles and a goal that gave the Hawks a sniff – another excellent game by Mitchell.
The speed of his hands, and his ability to release to an opponent when he feels the pressure is unparalleled in the league currently. Who’ll be first to hold him under 30 touches this season?
The Tigers’ quick hands under pressure.
There are two types of quick handballs when the heat is on.
There’s those that ease the pressure on your team, and those that simply transfer the pressure to the next bloke. The Tigers have become experts at the former.
Their quick hands, and clean hands receiving the ball, were one of the key reasons that they were able to establish a big lead on the Hawks. Their handballs hit teammates in stride, open the game up, and punish the opposition when they overcommit.
The Richmond defensive press
I don’t know what to call it, so let’s just call it this. The Tigers basically trapped the Hawks in the Richmond half of the ground for almost the entire third quarter. It’s the premiership quarter, and it was here that the Tigers really clamped down on Hawthorn.
The Hawks are equipped with some of the most elite kicks in the game, but they simply could not penetrate the web the Tigers set up. Hats off to the Richmond defensive staff – very impressive.
Tim O’Brien as a key forward
Just beating out Taylor Duryea is Tim O’Brien. He has been on Hawthorn’s list since 2014, and has been earmarked as the long-leading half forward. For mine, he goes missing way too often.
As the players trudged off for half time, O’Brien had touched the ball only four times. It’s time for the Hawks to start seriously questioning whether he will be the man occupying a key position in their next flag tilt.
O’Brien moved into the ruck in the second half, but hardly added to his stats, notching a disappointing seven disposal game with 4 marks, and importantly, 0 goals.
Rance decking Luke Breust
Rance’s late hit on Breust resulted in a goal from the goal line for O’Meara. It would’ve been Breust’s fourth for the day had he been OK to take his kick. I don’t think it was worth a week but it was definitely worth the 50 metre penalty.
I hesitated before putting this in here, as I do like the biff, and Rance didn't do a helluva lot wrong, but I am not part of the MRP, and who knows what Michael Christian will see with that one?
The foot coming off the pedal a little early
If we were watching the game and I told you, 20 minutes into the last quarter that one of the teams were tired as they’d had three days less rest, you may have picked that it was Richmond.
The Tigers were the best team on the day, and had done all the hard work in the third quarter and early in the last, but they really eased up late in the game, and it almost cost them.
The Tigers became loose, made errors, and were even a little bit too fancy. Dan Butler’s ill-conceived long, arcing handball to a man in the goal square probably wasn’t a wise move, and I’d be surprised if Damien Hardwick didn’t have a quiet word to him about doing the professional things to ensure your team wins.
I’d love to see Shane Edwards do more. Every time he touches it, something happens. He had 20 touches today, but ti was the quality of his touches early that significantly contributed to Richmond’s success.
Dustin Martin’s vision was evident throughout the first half. His spot up of Sam Lloyd in the first quarter, despite being under pressure himself, created a goal.
Speaking of creating goals, Cyril Rioli’s two on one win across Hawthorn’s half forward line set up a goal for Roughead fifteen metres out from goal. These are the sort of things he does that impact the game in ways more than stats indicate.
I remember watching great teams play together. In the second quarter, the Tigers started running in waves. They were irrepressible at times, and looked like a great team.
Ben McEvoy should never be out-positioned so easily by Jack Riewoldt in a ruck contest. It cost a goal.
Funny watching Paul Puopolo use the shrug to draw a free kick.
Trent Cotchin’s efforts in the first two minutes of the third quarter were wonderful. His hard work, run to receive, ability to extract, and willingness to trust in his teammates and run for them is the sort of play that teammates look at and admire.
How was Sam Lloyd able to have a crack at soccering the ball through, kicking it right across the face of goal, and STILL be the first person to get to it? Where were the Hawthorn defenders?
Nice effort by the score review people, calling a goal when it was obviously a behind. If we all knew it was a behind, why are we reviewing it?
Watching jack Higgins celebrate his first AFL goal was a joy.
The work of the Hawthorn small forwards kept them in touch. Puopolo and Breust were very good over the journey. Cyril was a little more sporadic.
The Hawthorn kick ins looked like they were just not going to work in the second quarter. Long klics, down the line… there was no run. At this stage, the team looked tired.
A couple of Tigers were more than willing to take on tacklers. McIntosh and Townsend both tested whether the Hawks could keep hold of them. Sadly for the Hawks, Taylor Duyrea couldn’t do the same.
The Hawk defenders left Butler wide open at a stoppage early in the third. Had the ball got to him quickly, he would’ve made them pay.
Will Langford is still dining out on a good finals series several years ago. His ¾ pace amble into the attacking zone as the Hawks contested a mark wasn’t good enough. Get to the fall of the ball!
Higgins second goal was a great example of his value. Great, quick thinking.
At three quarter time, the Hawks had five of the bottom six disposal gatherers.
Taylor Duryea's kick out that was chopped off 40 metres out was a disaster. The only thing he could've done worse was kick to the man on the mark.
Finally a bit of feeling in the game in the 4th, as Puopolo took a high tackle, and Cyril took umbrage with the treatment.
Riewoldt’s pack mark steadied the ship for the Tigers, but the Hawks would be disappointed with the lack of spoil. Shiels had the opportunity to thump it, but slapped at it.