Richmond v Gold Coast - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Tigers got their first win outside Victoria, and the Suns did what the Suns were expected to do against the premiers.

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

 

THE GOOD

Jack Riewoldt

I read with interest that Riewoldt had taken three contested marks for the game, to lead all players. In a normal game, I would think that he’d had a good game, but in this game, it surprised me. You see, Riewoldt would usually be bodied up against an opponent, or have someone dropping in the hole in front of him. He’d earn those three contested marks the hard way, and they'd stand out.

Against the Suns, he didn’t have to earn very much at all. I simply lost count of the amount of times Riewoldt was allowed to completely own his opponent, push off and mark uncontested on his chest. Whether it was Joyce or May opposed to him didn’t seem to matter – Jack was just having one of those days.

A lot of credit has to go to those delivering the ball inside 50 with the sort of precision that would have any forward in the game licking his lips. I’ve heard a rumour that Jack might be missing this week due to a huge bruise on his chest where the ball kept hitting him. Passes from Lambert, Houli and Short all made life extremely easy for the soon-to-be All-Australian full forward.

Wait, what was that? All-Australian full forward, you say? Well, hit me with the arguments as to why he shouldn’t be!

Riewoldt has kicked more goals, had more score involvements, and more goal assists than his closest rival, in Ben Brown. He has also had more marks and tackles. For me, that makes this an easy choice. I’ve long believed that the player leading the Coleman should be the AA full forward, and now, the player leading the Coleman just happens to be the best full forward in the game as well.

I can now feel happier about having Riewoldt at full forward in the Mongrel’s upcoming All-Australian team.

Unselfishness

I cannot stress this enough – it does not matter who kicks the goals at Richmond. If Riewoldt gets ten, that’s great. If Caddy chips in with four, they’re happy. If Vlastuin or Houli come bounding off the half back flank and add a goal beside their name, there are celebrations aplenty. It’s the way of things at Richmond – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

One moment encapsulated the ethos at Tigerland that has made them the most feared opponent in the game to this point of the season.

Dustin Martin found the running Riewoldt early in the third quarter. Jack had already slotted 5.4 to that point, and even if you weren’t watching, you could sense that a big bag was in the offing. When Riewoldt took the ball, he had every right to look up and go or goal. It was well within his distance, and a goal he’d kick seven out of ten times.

But seven out of ten isn’t quite enough.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Josh Caddy streaming into space. Instead of going for home, Riewoldt angled the ball across his body and hit the running Caddy in stride. He sauntered into goal and slammed it through.

Yes, Riewoldt kicked ten for the game, and yes he did that with the help of unselfish teammates, but when it was his turn to repay the favour, he did it without thinking. You could see late in the last quarter, Richmond were still playing hard just so Jack could enjoy a double-figure goal game.

Both Prestia and Rioli busted a gut trying to get the ball to their spearhead to get him over the line, but in the end it was a handball from Jack Higgins that gave Riewoldt his tenth. It was a great day for the Tigers, not just because of the resultant ten-goal haul to the full forward, but because each and every player out there knew that his success was representative of their own. If he wins, they win.

Jack Bowes

Looking for shining lights for the Suns, one bloke stood out.

Jack Bowes is just 20 years old and is the future of the Suns. He’s a Cairns boy, so less likely to try and jump ship like most Victorians that end up on the Suns’ list.

Taken at 10 in the 2016 draft, he was very good against the premiers, in what was the biggest test of his young career. He had 26 disposals, way above his season average of 15, and made the play for his team several times over the course of the game.

He was intelligent enough to be one of the only Suns with the foresight to drop out the back as the Tigers pushed forward, and as a result ended with nine intercept possessions, backing himself to read the ball in flight. He had 10 contested touches and actually made the Suns look good when he was involved through the middle of the ground.

Watching Gold Coast, I started to think about which players would be their pillars now that Lynch is gone and May is teetering on the cliff of leaving and/or being traded. Bowes, Ainsworth and Brodie leapt to mind immediately. Crossley looked good in patches, as did Fiorini.

The Suns are obviously a way off (thank you Mongrel Punt – that was some mighty fine expert analysis) but with kids like Jack Bowes coming through, everything is not all dark and dingy. There are some bright spots, too.

The relentless run for the team

I’m not sure I’ve seen a team push the ball forward through sheer force of will quite like Richmond are doing at the moment. I think about the three-peat Hawks, and even they would have lulls where the foot would come off the gas and things would settle. The Tigers are relentless.

Even when players are not having a good one, their commitment to the contest, and their willingness to keep pushing the ball their way is remarkable. Trent Cotchin had, by his lofty standards, a quiet game, but the pressure never let up.

Right from the outset, Cotchin’s smothering and second efforts kept the ball alive in situations it would normally be taken away by the opposition. Him, Jack Graham, Josh Caddy, Shane Edwards… they all just keep applying the pressure, and when they get it… they run!

Houli and Prestia are incredible at covering the ground, as is Jayden Short who surely still can’t be getting under peoples’ guards, can he?

Daniel Rioli

This was the best game Rioli played since he made his way back into the side… unless I’ve missed one somewhere along the way?

Though he didn’t slot a goal himself, his run and carry, and willingness to work hard without the ball were a highlight. I’ve thought he’s flashed in and out of the games that I’d watched to this point of the year, but against Gold Coast, he was still running hard as the fourth quarter rolled around, which indicates to me that any lingering fitness issues have been put behind him.

His run down the wing in the last quarter would have had two effects – it would buoy the hearts of Tiger fans, and cause some nervous glances amongst opposition coaches. A fit and firing Rioli is an x-factor, and at this point of the year, it’s a factoring good thing that he is running into form. Like what I did there? Pretty crappy, I know.

Edwards the contested beast

When I think of Shane Edwards, I think of the quick-thinking, slick-handballing and goal-assisting machine off half forward. What I don’t automatically think about is a man who leads his team, and the game, in contested possessions.

But that’s where we were at against the Suns. He had 17 contested touches amongst his 21 touches, and picked up his mandatory direct goal assist for the afternoon. Edwards is fast becoming a bit of a beacon for defences – they are all now aware of the damage he inflicts. He got close attention against Gold Coast, but was still able to farm the ball out to teammates and operate at 86% efficiency.

Make no mistake, ladies and gentleman, Shane Edwards is all class.

 

THE BAD

Lack of +1

What was Stewie Dew thinking?

Here you have Jack Riewoldt monstering everyone the Gold Coast threw at him, yet at no stage did he decide to cut the supply by throwing a player in the hole? Two players? Parking the bus?

Maybe he thought it was a good lesson for his team? Maybe he wanted to see how they’d adjust out there? Maybe he really hates Jesse Joyce, Kade Kolodjashnij and Steven May?

Look, I couldn’t understand why he’d allow Riewoldt the space he had. He was pushing off his opponent so easily and meandering into 30 metres of space inside 50. You just cannot have that happening, Yet it did. Over, and over and over.

Dew is in his first year coaching, and he’s bound to make errors. This one looked like a significant one. Not sure how many passes you get on those things. Maybe a reader can offer some other explanation? Maybe add a method to this seeming madness?

 

THE UGLY

Men v Boys

There were points during this contest where I watched two players compete for a ball and the Gold Coast player was just so physically overmatched that the contest was over before it started.

Looking at the Suns’ playing list in alphabetical order, the first three are 20 years old. They’re basically kids playing against me. Ah Chee, Ainsworth and Bowes… kids!

To be fair, let’s  do the same to the Richmond list. Astbury, Broad, Caddy. 27, 25 and 25.

Men v Boys…

 

OTHER BITS

So, how are people feeling about Soldo filling in for Nankervis if the time comes and the big fella gets injured? I thought Soldo tried hard, but in a contest where Nank will breakeven, I can’t see Soldo doing the same.

The vaunted Richmond pressure is one thing, but I lost count of the amount of times Suns players would handball to a teammate who was flatfooted with Tigers bearing down on him. That kind of thing invites pressure, and amplifies it.

I thought Martin started really well and then tapered off to do just enough in the second half. His fend on Touk Miller was a cracker. Poor old Miller… you could see he thought he had Dusty dead to rights, and then… don’t argue!

Again, no team in the comp plays the goal keeper role better than the Tigers. They seem to always have one back, even if it doesn’t work perfectly (like when Brandon Ellis plays the role), the knowledge that if an opponent tries a dribble kick it’ll be cut off is something that would allow other defenders to attack the forwards at ground level a little more ferociously.

I can’t help but like Brayden Crossley. He looks like he could be his own drunken uncle at a family BBQ.

How was the gift Riewoldt got from Callum Ah Chee in the first quarter. There were some really panicky moments from the Suns defence, none more so than when Ah Chee smacked the ball back toward the goal square, where Tigers waited to pounce, Riewoldt chief amongst them.

I liked what I saw from Ben Ainsworth early in the piece and thought he was really unlucky not to get a free kick when Nick Vlastuin clubbed him across the back of the head in a marking contest early in the first.

Many were questioning why Steven May was starting on Dusty and not Riewoldt, but a lunging spoil on the boundary against the Brownlow Medallist answered that. Tremendous closing speed by May.

Watching Jack Higgins use his body perfectly to take a contested mark against Jarrod Harbrow in the first quarter made me shake my head. Harbrow is a 200-gamer and he is being completely outpointed by a bloke who has played less than one tenth of those games.

I thought Rance did what he had to – nothing spectacular, but I have to check myself now and again. When someone does get a win against him, I kind of consider it a highlight, as he is so difficult to beat. Will Brodie’s mark on the wing in the first quarter, with Rance crashing into him, was a ripper. But now I look back at it, and I think “Rance had no business even making it to that contest” and it puts it a little more in perspective.

It’s so easy to go into individual survival mode against Richmond – just hacking the ball away from your area. They feast on that!

Caddy’s first goal – how does that happen? The ruckman gets a free kick close to the boundary and Caddy just walks around near him. No, he didn’t run – just walked, got the handball and threaded a goal as easy as you like. The wheels that fell of the Suns’ defence in the first half just spontaneously combusted at this point. Terrible defence.

Only one player on the Tiger list looked like he felt even the most remote bit of pressure – Nathan Broad. Everyone else was so clean.

The value of Dylan Grimes in a nutshell? Beaten over the back by Aaron Young in the second quarter, he put his head down, pumped his legs and made it so difficult for Young to a) get in range, or b) take a bounce. The result was that due to Grimes’ chase, Young ran too far and the goal he dribbled through was disallowed. Bravo, Mr. Grimes.

Dusty’s kick across his body in the second quarter to Caddy was perfect. He’s been hacking it a little this season, but he can just lace them out when he gets the space.

I don’t know what the world record for uncontested marks inside 50 is, but surely the Tigers must have been in the ballpark with this performance.

David Swallow looks nothing like the player I thought he’d be. Those knee injuries have just slowed him down so much. He still had 26 touches and kicked a goal but I always thought he’d be the icing on the cake at some point – not the whole tub of ingredients. I really would have liked to have seen his brother up there for a year to give them some solid leadership and strength in the guts.

I really didn’t like the 50 metre penalty against Jarrod Witts in the third quarter. I thought he did everything he could not to hurt Nick Vlastuin in the marking contest, but he did make contact. A goal resulted from that penalty, which was far too big a price to pay for such a small amount of contact. Higgins did something very similar to Rischitelli later in the quarter and no 50 was paid. Some consistency would be good.

Jarrod Lyons is an interesting case. He’s been dropped this year and it has been speculated that he doesn’t run hard enough defensively. His upside is tremendous, and he has plenty of currency. Maybe it’s the environment? You could get a lot of value if he wanted to walk, and if you could convince some solid citizens to spend 3-4 years in Queensland, it’d make the loss sting less. But I am pre-empting him leaving, and he may not want to, so I’ll shut up. I just think he has enormous potential.

Steven May dropping uncontested marks… ugh

And yes, Gold Coast did have a genuine highlight on the day with Ah Chee taking a mark that was nothing to sneeze at.

The last was so evidently two teams playing out time and seeing if Riewoldt could snap ten goals. To be honest, I was rooting for him and was incredibly surprised no one on the Suns just went back and double-teamed him the whole quarter, but then again, I was surprised they didn’t do that in the first as well.

Looking at the Suns, who are their Voss, Black and Aker? Who are the kids that will stay, grow and become stars at that club? Weller has potential, as do Bowes and Ainsworth, but will they jump out of the box and climb a few levels quickly? Ti lure a free agent or three (they have the cash) the Suns have to show plenty, and it’ll be those three in the next couple of years that will have the hopes of Suns’ fans squarely on their shoulders.

As for the Tigers… well, I am sure I am preaching to the choir here, but they were terrific. Even with stars doing just enough, the team as a whole is a beastly unit. One of the players I really rate – Dan Butler is yet to come back in. He adds so much class to the Richmond forward line, and will give opposition coaches even more nightmares.

That’ll do from the Mongrel on this “by popular demand” edition of the Good, Bad and Ugly. If you like what you’re getting, please give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter. Pretty soon you’ll be able to buy yourself some “high quality” Mongrel Punt apparel. We’ve had plenty of people asking how they can support us – this’ll be how. I look forward to taking your money for goods. It’s an amicable arrangement.