The Richmond Tigers used deadly goal shooting to destroy any hope Fremantle held of enjoying their final game at Domain Stadium. The ruthless Tigers are now well placed to make the top four and are running hot. The promise they have shown for so long is finally coming to fruition. The young Dockers were mostly bystanders after quarter time, as Richmond handed them a 104 point lesson on how to play decisive and relentless football.
Fremantle started well with Hayden Ballantyne, playing his 150th game, combining with Nathan Fyfe to see Fyfe score within the first thirty seconds of play. The Dockers’ spirits were further lifted at the five-minute mark when Harley Bennell ended 722 days injury leave, by entering the arena and collecting his first possession in a purple guernsey. By quarter time Bennell had kicked two goals and the Dockers led the Tigers by four points. Fremantle dominated play for most of the quarter and would have been further ahead if they had kicked accurately in their eighteen attacking moves. Ominously, Richmond made just eight forward thrusts to kick the same number of goals.
As soon as the second quarter began, Richmond initiated an avalanche of goals that would only slow halfway through the final quarter. Kane Lambert came to life and booted three. However, former Greater Western Sydney player, Jacob Townsend, sent the strongest message to the Richmond team selectors. Townsend had previously kicked four goals in 32 games, but kicked six in a masterful performance against the Dockers. In the middle of the ground young Dockers’ ruckman, Sean Darcy, out-rucked an improving Toby Nankervis; but Nankervis was more effective around the ground where he used his mobility to pick up 26 possessions and kick one goal. The Dockers matched Richmond in center clearances and contested possessions, but Richmond were merciless whenever the Dockers lost control of the ball. The inexperienced Dockers frequently committed themselves to attack, only to find they had been left exposed as the Tiger defenders rebounded the ball into their own forward line. Dylan Grimes risked leather poisoning in Richmond’s defense and their midfielders Dustin Martin, Shaun Grigg, Dion Prestia, Trent Cotchin and Brandon Ellis swept the ball through the center with clinical efficiency. Dockers’ defender, Joel Hamling, kept a tight rein on Jack Reiwoldt, but Reiwoldt still finished with four goals. The Tiger goal shooters had their eyes on the target.
Nathan Fyfe was clearly the Dockers’ best player, winning 30 possessions (20 contested). He received some support from Brad Hill, David Mundy and to a lesser extent Steven Hill, but the speed and accuracy of the Richmond midfielders’ delivery shut the rest of Fremantle’s players out of the game. Top quality teams achieve the correct option by moving the ball through instinct rather than conscious thought. Younger and less experienced players, in teams such as Fremantle, can be seen weighing up a number of options before delivering the ball. Invariably the third or fourth option is chosen, which then turns out to be the least desirable; as in the process, the opposition has been given time to respond. This distinction between the two teams, in their final appearance at Domain Stadium, could not have been more stark. Richmond are genuine flag contenders. They have been fired and tested through disappointments over the past few seasons and they now have the steely resolve of the eye of the tiger. Fremantle’s coaches will spend the next two months ascertaining which players have the potential to develop that resolve and those who should be discarded. A team can have potential, but it counts for nothing when confronted by a team of hard-nosed professionals who have bonded into a powerful unit.
Next week, Richmond must beat St Kilda to stay in the top four. The Saints are desperate to make the finals and will only get there if they beat Richmond; and then Essendon, the Bulldogs and West Coast lose their respective matches. Richmond don't appear to be in the mood to let one slip now. Fremantle travel to Etihad Stadium to meet Essendon. A big win for Essendon will ensure the Bombers play in September. Fremantle will be trying to avoid an ignominious end to what has been an improved season.
Scores Fremantle Dockers 3.4 3.5 5.8 7.9 (51) Richmond Tigers 3.0 11.2 18.5 25.5 (155) Best Fremantle Dockers: Fyfe, B Hill, Mundy, Hamling, Darcy Richmond Tigers: Grigg, Martin, Nankervis, Ellis, Townsend
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT