Cards on the table – I’m a Hawthorn supporter, and as such I try not to review too many Hawks games as, to put it bluntly, they piss me off at times.
It’s probably good to know that if I seem harsher on Hawthorn, it’s probably because they deserve it. I’m not going overboard, or grandstanding… if I think we were poor, I’ll say it. If you don’t like honesty, stop reading now like the bloke who stopped reading our Essendon v Fremantle review because the writer mentioned Jake Stringer could be hot and cold… which his eight and nine disposal games this season attest to.
Anyway, let’s get on with the show.
The Tigers were harder for longer in this game. They wanted the ball a little more, and though Hawthorn were able to craft some nice avenues forward at times, the rebound of Richmond ripped their hearts out at pivotal moments in the game.
Their clearance work, particularly early in the game, was absolutely dominant, and that was driven by the welcome return to dominant form of Dustin Martin, but contrary to popular belief, this Richmond team was more than just a one-man show.
THE LITTLE THINGS
There is something about good teams. They have a knack of doing things that look inconsequential at the time, and then they add another… then another. And what you end up with is a series of actions that are, in isolation, pretty insignificant.
But when you combine them all over the course of a game, what you get is a collective group of actions that create a team work ethic, effectively demonstrating that every single player on the park is on the same page. Little knock-ons, little toe-pokes, little sacrifices to make sure an opponent doesn’t get a free run at the ball – these are the things Richmond does well, and when you roll them all into one package, what you get is a cohesive team, willing to work hard for one another.
Often, that equates to success.
Let’s go back to the third quarter. The Hawks are jerking around with the ball at half forward, and at some point, you knew the Tigers were going to have the ball fall their way and go the length of the ground. You just didn’t know how it was going to happen.
Enter Shane Edwards.
Jaeger O’Meara attempted to handball over the top and inside 50 to a teammate making space. The quick thinking Edwards leapt into the air and batted the handball away. It fell to Dion Prestia, who handballed to the running Noah Balta. The Tigers responded quickly and Jason Castagna darted back inside the Tigers’ 50 metre arc. Balta took two bounces as he ran forward, before a long handball saw Castagna walk in to goal unopposed.
The little things…
THE CLEAN BALL AT HALF BACK AND THE WILLINGNESS TO DO SOMETHING WITH IT
Nobody likes inflated stats, and there is an argument that the last six or seven minutes of this game should be discounted in terms of statistics accumulated. Still, that would not at all dilute the impact Bachar Houli and Nick Vlastuin had on this game.
These two have a bit of a connection, and when they can rely on the defensive exploits of Dylan Grimes, Nathan Broad and David Astbury to do the grunt work, their ability to both run and spread, and drift in to intercept the long ball are integral to the Tigers’ success.
The way these two use the ball is close to the best in the game when we’re talking half back combinations. There are plenty of swinging singles (hello ladies…) in the league but as a tandem, these two might be the best. There’s no ego about it, and to have two options to choose from is an advantage that other teams simply don’t possess.
Look at Hawthorn in contrast – they have Sicily as their preferred option, then what? Look at Geelong – Tom Stewart. Sydney – Jake Lloyd. West Coast – at the moment, it’s Shannon Hurn, then daylight.
This one-two punch is a luxury, and the Tigers use it brilliantly.
Quick shout out to Liam Baker, who was the best small forward on the park this afternoon. Yep, that includes Luke Breust.
Baker had one goal, as opposed to Breust’s three, but he had two direct goal assists, and had a shot on the siren to further inflict punishment. It wasn’t the greatest kick… I tore my hamstring a few years back over-kicking the footy and the way that ball travelled off the boot was akin to the way my kick went.
Combine Baker’s ability to find the ball with that of the ball use from Shai Bolton, and you have a nice little forward combination in the absence of Daniel Rioli and Dan Butler, who I rate highly despite his kicking woes earlier this season. Bolton’s win against Ben Stratton on the far wing was a complete lesson in how to use the boundary, your teammates, and your sheer skill to win the footy.
The Tigers have problem upcoming, but it’s a nice one to have, with players in the team playing well, and talent preparing to make their way back into the team.
Okay…. Deep breath.
I think he was okay in patches, but immediately brought his good work undone at times. His attack on the ball was great early, and he got his hands on the ball in a couple of big marking contests. He didn’t hold them, but hey, getting his hands on the ball is what he does. He gets a really clean look at the ball in the air, his timing is good and then…drop.
I’m not sure what to do with him. He looks better in defence, but there is always a “but” whenever he does something great in a game.
His run down tackle of Liam Baker in the second quarter is the best attack I’ve seen from him. He made tremendous ground to win the free kick as Baker was busy looking for options in front of goal.
Much to my chagrin, I think I give him a pass on this performance, but I am not sure if that is because I am deliriously tired, or because O’Brien was simply less shit than he usually is.
LYNCH V SICILY
I love this kind of stuff – a great duel between two premier players in the game.
Sicily was proclaimed winner by Brian Taylor when he wasn’t talking about Dustin Martin’s footwear, but it’s probably not as cut and dried as that.
Lynch kicked three goals, which is a good return for someone who was supposedly beaten, right? If you can be guaranteed three goals per week, you’ve got yourself a Coleman Medallist, so I don’t think Lynch’s performance should be so easily discarded.
There was also the contested mark he took which was instead paid as a free kick to teammate Kamdyn McIntosh. No sense of theatre by the umpire at all at that point in the game. He could’ve easily had four goals.
Sicily made dumb mistakes. As did Lynch, however the beauty of being a forward is that your dumb mistakes usually don’t lead directly to a goal for the opposition. Sicily doesn’t have that luxury. His errant handball in the third handed a goal to Josh Caddy, and his dropped uncontested mark in the last was let off the hook as Jack Higgins hit the post from 30 metres out.
On the whole, you’d call this one a draw.
If you’re Richmond, do you take that coming in? Sicily has been regularly clocking 600+ metres gained per game. Today, he had 443. What about if you’re a Hawk? Lynch snagging four would’ve been somewhat expected. Do you take three?
I hope these two buttheads match up every time the Hawks and Tigers butt heads. See what I did there?
DUSTY’S F’N BOOTS
Brian Taylor… shut up.
The amount of attention, and free advertising given to Puma this afternoon was appalling. The amount of focus placed on Dustin Martin’s boots was the football equivalent of product placement in a TV Show.
“What’s 3+2, Ralph Wiggum?”
“… partial credit!”
Knowing which company each player is signed to, what brand boots they’re wearing… all that sort of crap is too Americanised for my liking, and that’s coming from a bloke who runs a fortnightly column called the Mongrel Power Rankings.
It wasn’t all that interesting, and frankly, got a bit repetitive. It also repeated itself. It was like there was an echo. It was the same thing over and over.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
So Puma gets advertising on the broadcast without paying for it? I’ll tell ya what – if you were Gatorade, or Maccas, or Coke, who are paying plenty of dollars to have your logo splashed on the fences around the ground, you wouldn’t mind a bit of the BT love.
By the way, the Mongrel Punt Player Power Rankings are brought to you every fortnight by Vinyl Media. Great bunch of guys who have all your large-scale printing and signage work covered.
But yeah… that free advertising was crap!
THE GOOD AND BAD OF LUKE BREUST
This guy has the ability to be the standout forward in close to 70% of the games he plays in. He should’ve had five today, and ended with 3.2.
So much has been made of his kicking for goal from a set shot, but I watch a lot of Hawthorn, and the ones he misses - 25 metres out, slight angle… they just kill the team. If you want to see a momentum change, go and break out the DVD of the final the Hawks played against the Dogs in 2016.
What’s that? You don’t have a DVD player because you’re a millennial?Well, I’ll describe what happened quickly.
With all the momentum, Breust gets a shot very similar to the one he had today. The Hawks are leading and a goal may have had some Dogs dropping their heads. He missed badly and the Dogs went end-to-end and goal. It was the beginning of the end, as the Bulldogs got a run on that the hawks never recovered from.
Fast forward to today, and Breust is the best forward on the ground in the first quarter. He has the chance to put the Tigers to the sword, but ends with 1.2 for the quarter. He had six tackles in the first half to lead the game.
He also finished the game with six tackles. Many will point to the leg injury he copped in the second half. I reckon there’s something that switches on and off upstairs with him a little too often.
He misread the flight of the ball in a 2-1 in the Hawks’ forward line, and then bobbed up with a great contested ball and goal assist to give the Hawks a sniff. He’s so hot and cold, but the gap between his best and worst is vast. He is no longer a mercurial young star of the game. At 28, his brilliance needs to be matched by four quarters of effort. He does that, and he will be All-Australian again.
THE UNSUNG HERO
So, help me out here, Richmond fans – were you guys looking at the option of moving Brandon Ellis after last season? I have this nagging feeling that there was some conjecture about whether or not he’d be on the Tigers’ list this season.
Bet you’re glad he is, though, huh?
He had 35 touches running through the midfield as he spent time both forward and back. Ultra-versatile, he has carved a nice little niche for himself with the absence of Trent Cotchin, and his willingness to go outside often, and inside when required make him exactly the kind of player to play a complementary role to Dusty, Prestia and I suppose Lambert at the moment.
Did he ever really go away?
Well, I think that even the most one-eyed Richmond supporter would agree that Dusty hasn’t quite been the same for the last 18 or so months, but how in the hell do you back up after that 2017 season?
In the first half in particular, Martin put the Hawks to the sword. Matched up against the very accountable Liam Shiels, Martin started well, running harder than we’ve seen in recent memory, and picking up a season high 13 touches in the first quarter.
He was a contested bull, doing the sort of brute force work that made him a favourite of not only Richmond supporters, but footy lover, of which I’m one.
He went forward and created havoc up there as well, snagging a couple of goals, and a couple of goals, and missed on a couple of long shots round the corner as well, If they travel through, we’re talking a huge day for Dusty.
As it stands, 37 touches and ten clearances are a day out anyway.
I thought this game may have come down to which star had the biggest impact in the middle. If Jaeger O’Meara led the game in clearances, I thought the Hawks were in with a chance. He was good, with eight clearances, but Dusty was better, and early in the game, Dusty did his work when the game was there to be won.
At half time, Martin had 19 touches, with 13 of them coming in the contest. He was a monster, and he was best on ground in this one.
James Worpel, when you’re running through the centre, and your team is trying to desperately to get back in the game, please don’t handball to the lumbering ruckman beside you and shift the responsibility to him to kick inside 50.
You did that this afternoon, and predictably, it unravelled.
Jonathon Ceglar was pretty damn good around the ground today. His four contested marks led all players, but he was well and truly out-duelled by Soldo in the ruck. Unless Ceglar magically turns into Brodie Grundy or Rhys Stanley (yeah, I’ll give him a wrap), please don’t expect him to do things a midfielder is supposed to be doing. That’s your job, James.
Looking at the game as a whole, I think six goals is probably a good representation in the difference between the teams. The Tigers are contenders this season. The Hawks are pretenders.
And there we go. It’s not my traditional good, bad and ugly review because I was a late call-up for this one, but hey… when you’re reading something for free on the interwebs, you get what you pay for.
That said, how about you become a patron of our site for a fiver a month for starters, and I promise I’ll do… stuff?
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