Richmond v Sydney - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Richmond Footy Club withstood a dogged effort from the Sydney swans at Etihad Stadium for some reason, and ran out 26 point winners in a ripping contest.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Jack Riewoldt

I think I may have to go back and watch the game where Riewoldt kicked 11 goals, because I just cannot imagine him playing better than he did tonight.

Whilst everyone wanted to see Buddy v Rance, we got to see a virtuoso performance from Jack Riewoldt. History will look back at this game and, if they’re going entirely by stats, or by goals kicked, will consider it a pretty good game by Jack. It was so much better than the stats reveal.

He took 16 marks, which is a career-high, and he punctuated those marks by taking seven of them contested. Whilst he had only one direct goal assist, he had 11 score involvements and eight marks inside 50.

That 11-goal game would have to be something to surpass this as Jack’s career-best forward game. They were playing a legitimate challenger to their throne, and Riewoldt stood up.

In case you missed it – Here’s our article on Jack from last week. Good timing

The Rance Smother

Gary Rohan put the foot to the pedal in the third quarter, and ran through the centre, taking on the Richmond mids. He wanted a goal. He wanted to give the Swans a real chance and narrow the margin. He didn’t even get the opportunity.

As Rohan loaded up and sunk his boot into the ball, Alex Rance threw himself across his boot and smothered the effort. The ball spilled and the Tigers’ irrepressible pressure forced the ball forward. It could’ve gone either way but it was the Richmond pressure that won out. They moved it forward and it ended with Graham pausing for a moment before hitting Dusty 45 metres out.

Dusty may have missed the chance to goal, but the effort of Rance to make the smother epitomises what Richmond have been all about this season.

Nick Vlastuin’s second quarter

He may be about to spend a week on the sidelines due to an errant elbow on Luke Parker, but his second quarter was spectacular tonight.

Vlastuin capped a superb second stanza with a climb on the back of the great Buddy Franklin to take a hanger. It was a career-highlight moment in a career-highlight quarter. He beat Rohan in the air, took intercept marks and almost built a wall across half back by himself.

Teams will continue to allow him to have space in the backline to read the play at their own risk if this is the sort of performance that he’s producing

Kane Lambert

It may be Tiger Time in most games this season, but there are a few games where it is becoming ‘Lambert Time’ and tonight was one of those games.

Kane Lambert is fresh off a season where he was third in the Richmond best and fairest, it’s about time other teams start putting a bit of work into him. He finished with a team-high 27 disposals and also slotted three goals for the Tigers in an effort that may be overshadowed by the brilliance of Riewoldt, or the desperation of Trent Cotchin after looking hurt early on.

Lambert had 12 contested touches and nine score involvements on the night to easily be ranked as one of Richmond’s best again.

Josh Kennedy

Kennedy has had such an up and down season. There are games where he’s hardly been sighted, including three games where the ball-magnet has failed to crack 20 touches, and then there are nights like tonight, where he was one of the most damaging and influential mids on the ground.

He finished with 37 touches, and had 23 of those contested. He also laid nine tackles, trailing only one man… and we’ll get to him soon.

Kennedy had eight clearances tonight, and was extremely influential as the Swans made a serious run at the Tigers late in the third quarter.

Ollie Florent

He had a bit of an up and down night. But for several weeks now, there have been moments that make you think ‘wow’ whilst you watch him play. Conversely, there are moments where you realise he’s still just a little tacker.

Tonight he absolutely nailed Alex Rance in a tackle on the half forward flank, driving the All-Australian captain over the line and winning the free kick. He took on Dustin Martin one-on-one and won a contest… then turned it over straight away, and he goaled from 45 out after taking on Shaun Grigg and having a bounce as he pulled away from him.

But he also dropped two uncontested overhead marks tonight. The first one saw Daniel Rioli on the scene to capitalise immediately. Florent is 90% fantastic at the moment, and that other 10% will work itself out over time. For now, he flashes into the game enough, and brilliantly enough to make Swans’ fans realise that they have a special kid on their hands.

George Hewett

Let me just say this… 20 contested disposals tonight for Hewett.

He was matched up on Dusty for most of the first half. Martin had eight touches in that time. That is a job well done by a guy who doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a run-with player.

Add to that a game-high 10 clearances, and you’ve got another bull at Sydney ready to do the grunt work when required.

The Nankervis work ethic

I’ve wanted to write about this bloke for a while. Tonight, I finally get the chance.

Toby Nankervis amazes me. I am not sure any other ruckman works as hard as he does. Some are better – Grundy, Gawn and maybe Stefan Martin have his measure this season, but none of them get more out of themselves than big Toby.

What I love most about his game are his second, third and fourth efforts. Callum Sinclair has had some excellent outings this season, but Nankervis had him covered tonight. Whilst 18 disposals and 41 hit outs is a good day’s work, it is the ten tackles that stand out to me about Nankervis’ game.

His first ten minutes had him ranked as one of the top couple of players on the ground in my book, and it was all due to work ethic.

No other player on the ground had more tackles than Nank tonight. No one worked harder.

THE BAD

Isaac Heeney's first half

Yeah, this may be a little harsh given he got a head knock, and he sat out most of the second half, but he was a complete non-factor in the first half as well, and I really thought he could be a difference-maker. The head knock came in the second quarter but Heeney had no impact on any contest up until that stage - only one of his disposals hit the mark, and he had no marks to his name. He is usually a brilliant overhead mark.

At times he was isolated on Brandon Ellis, Nick Vlastuin or Nathan Broad, and he just couldn’t get the better of any of them. However, his ineffectiveness may be more testament to the Tigers’ collective defensive prowess than it is on Heeney's first half.

I have no doubt he’ll bounce back. He is too good not to, and has proven to be a great performer over the course of the season. However, you’re remembered by your performances in big games, and if you’re not remembered for them, you’re quickly forgotten.

He’ll be looking forward to running out again this time next week, and a chance for redemption against the Cats. With a couple of the Swans' veteran mids in apparent decline, they need Heeney out there, and they need him playing well in the big games, and they don'tcome much bigger than tonight.

Buddy’s dumb reversal

Yes, he got the points against Rance tonight, kicking four goals, but he also cost the Swans one as well, or at least the chance at one.

With Callum Sinclair marking 30 metres out, all Buddy had to do was take it easy for a minute or so as the big man took his shot for goal. When Rance gave him a little massage with his elbow, it was too much for Franklin, who decided to do what any self-respecting martial artist would do, and thrust an open hand into Alex Rance’s throat.

It was a stupid move by Franklin in a close game at the time. You want your big forwards to be aggressive, but not at the cost of a goal to your team. Buddy repaid the Swans with goals to close out the third and open the last quarter, but that give away… it was costly.

THE UGLY

Reece Conca’s ankle

Those of us old enough remember seeing Nathan Brown’s leg hanging limp, snapped in two in a tangle of bodies. Those of us interested in basketball remember seeing Paul George do the same to his leg after landing against the basket support at the Team USA tryouts a few years ago.

And now we have Reece Conca’s sideways ankle to add to the mix. It wasn’t pretty, and the screams from Conca were audible over the TV broadcast. You know when the green whistle comes out for pain relief that a player is in big trouble, and Conca was in big trouble tonight.

He seemed to get his leg caught under him in a Buddy Franklin tackle, and he just had nowhere to go. Whilst it looked horrible, the hope is that it is just a dislocation, and not a fracture of any sort. Fingers crossed for him.

And while we’re on it, how magnificent was it to see the entire Richmond team run over the stretcher and get around their teammate as he was taken off the field. Class from the Tigers.

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OTHER BITS

How great was it to see the Richmond playing group burst into laughter as they exited the huddle to start the third quarter? I don’t know what role Jack Higgins is playing in that group at times, but I’m guessing class clown might be part of his job description. I think it says a lot of how comfortable that team is that they hand over to a young bloke to talk… when he obviously has no idea what he’s talking about, and he gives the final directions to the group. There’s still a bit of fun in footy.

Jake Lloyd continues to rack them up. I didn’t notice him a lot early, then halfway through the second quarter, he seemed to be everywhere. 12 touches in the second quarter… it’d be hard to ignore him.

Interesting to hear the commentators down on Hannebery. He hasn’t had a good year, but I thought he had some good moments in the second half. That said, watching Cotchin on one leg power away from him in the second quarter made me screw my face up just like ladies do when my old mate, Joe Ganino gets his kit off.

Ben Ronke – yeah his two goals were good, but the way he took on Rance in the air at half forward, and beat him, then beat another player at ground level to deliver inside 50 and it led to the goal from Luke Parker. I also thought his ability to out mark Nankervis in the third quarter was worth a mention.

Cotchin’s hit on Hannebery…. nothing to see here. Just good, hard footy. Play on!

The contested zone… I’m still not sold that 50 metres is the kind of penalty that should be incurred for such a small infraction. It cost the Swans a goal to Vlastuin in the first when it looked like McCartin was within a couple of metres of an opponent.

Speaking of McCartin – showing plenty at the moment. Looks so much more mobile than his brother.

Brilliant one-on-one contest between Shane Edwards and Zak Jones on the wing. Edwards had the ascendancy, but Jones did work diligently to get it for the Swans. I gained a new respect for Jones tonight. I really enjoyed his ability to recover and win the ball on the second effort, particularly when he looked to be beaten with the first effort. He recovered in the second quarter in a similar contest with Cotchin, and was able to smother the ball over the line.

Eight intercept possessions for Rance tonight. Season average is over 11.

What was the pick of the marks for Riewoldt tonight? His traditional jump and mark in the pack in the third quarter, or the one-hander in the contest against Aliir in the first?

Tiger pressure in a nutshell? The normally reliable Heath Grundy completely misfired a retreating handball and it went over his teammate’s head and out of bounds.

Missed assignment as the third man up by Luke Parker in the second quarter. Jason Castagna engaged Lloyd and parker drifted in – should’ve killed the contest, but instead he didn’t get a touch on it.

OK, the Buddy free kicks for in the back. I know there was uproar about them, but I thought they were there. Rance was using the body spoils all night and pushing Franklin under the ball with little effort to contest it himself. They’re basically blocking frees… moving blocking frees. I’m not even sure that’s something… but what I am sure of is that I didn’t agree with the uproar around them. Two of Buddy’s four goals came via these free kicks and I thought Alex was lucky not to give away another one early on. That said, Buddy was 'moved' under the ball a little too easily at times for my liking.

Daniel Rioli’s gather from the Ollie Florent spilled mark was just perfect, and his banana from 35 out was a ripper. I reckon Jake Lloyd was a little disappointed with the marking attempt of Florent.

A fair bit is being said about Dan Hannebery, but Kieran Jack is averaging his lowest disposals per game since 2009. Father time…

Vlastuin’s elbow on Parker… you could see him mouth the words “I’m sorry” immediately after it. Still, I reckon he’ll get a week. You can’t go throwing your elbows around… ask Jeremy Cameron.

Great recognition from Luke Parker to see will Hayward isolated on Dion Prestia inside 50.Prestia’s weakness is overhead ability, and Hayward and Parker exploited it to result in a goal.

Not sure Rance went over the mark when he smothered Buddy’s kick at goal from 55 out.

Buddy’s mark against Rance to open the last quarter is evidence as to what can happen on a break when a big forward gets a one-on-one. Of course, we saw plenty of that from Riewoldt at the other end. A lot of great… not good, but GREAT blocking to free Riewoldt up by a step or two.

Interesting to see Riewoldt revert to whining jack after not getting a free kick call in the last quarter. The game was still going on around him. He’s worked hard to shed that image.

Buddy looked a bit gassed in the last quarter if you get a chance to have a look again. Rance started to win a bit of the ball and took a few intercept marks in the last quarter as Franklin either didn’t make the contest, or didn’t go with Rance on purpose.

Quick mention of Daniel Rioli putting pressure on the kick in late in the last quarter. It was just enough pressure to affect the kick and it enabled Dylan Grimes to mark as it travelled over the head of Gary Rohan.

Congrats Tiger supporters. The best team won tonight. You deserve top spot. 

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