Just days after the conclusion of Round Eight, Tiger Shaun Grigg announced his immediate retirement. Grigg, a member of the 2017 premiership side, has been struggling with knee and hip injuries this year and had yet to play a senior game. Grigg said he had a "horrible preseason" and knew he would be unable to get himself right to play. After discussions with Coach Hardwiick and medical staff, it was up to him to make the decision whether or not he could continue, “... As much as I would love to get back out there … I just couldn’t do it.”
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.
A beautiful Melbourne afternoon greeted fans of Collingwood and Richmond as they headed in droves towards the mecca of Australian sport, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Under enormous pressure after three losses in a row and with a tough draw ahead, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was in desperate need of a win to avoid another week of speculation about his tenure at the helm of the Tigers. The late withdrawal of small forward Shane Edwards, arguably the Tigers' best player of the season to date, was a cruel blow to Hardwick and Tiger fans prior to game time. Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley would have been feeling confident of victory with the Magpies holding a winning streak against the Tigers that went back as far as Round 19 in 2007.
Over 83,000 football starved fans flooded into the MCG on Thursday night for the opening game on the 2015 AFL season. Richmond went into the game as favorites after a strong finish to their 2014 campaign while Carlton was looking to make a stand despite its recent struggles.
Things started badly for the Tigers with star play maker Brett Deledio reported for a high hit within seconds of the opening bounce. They went from bad to worse when new Carlton recruit Liam Jones (ex-Western Bulldogs) had the first goal on the board for the Blues just seconds later. In a frantic opening few minutes, Carlton’s Dale Thomas left the game with a dislocated shoulder while his team mates were getting the better of their Richmond opponents. A Ben Griffiths goal kept the Tigers within touch but Carlton was doing the bulk of the attacking and stifling the much lauded Tigers midfield. Some errant kicking for goal was all that kept the Blues from building a healthy lead as they were clearly the more polished team early.
It was supposed to be a celebration of the life of Tommy Hafey, Richmond’s iconic four time Premiership coach who sadly passed away during the week. Instead, for Richmond, it was a disaster of far-reaching proportions. Coming into the contest with a precarious 2-5 record, the Tigers simply had to win. Not just to keep their Finals hopes alive, not just to honor the memory of Hafey, but to give their fans some hope that their 15 win season in 2013 wasn’t a fluke. The answer to the latter is one that Tiger supporters will not want to accept and will certainly struggle to understand. Melbourne mounted a spirited effort to grind out a hard-fought win – the Demons' second in a row and third for the season. The Demon players were simply better when it counted, their masterful new coach Paul Roos earning every cent of his high-priced contract.
The Round Three clash between Richmond and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium was expected by most to be one-way traffic with the Tigers having won the last three encounters by an average margin of 66 points. Despite their recent domination, the enthusiasm of the Tigers was dampened somewhat by the news that stellar midfielder Brett Deledio would miss his first game in over five seasons, an incredible record in modern Australian Rules Football. An Achilles injury suffered in the Tigers' tight win over Carlton was the culprit. Shaun Hampson would also miss for Richmond, meaning third string ruckman Orren Stephenson would be required to take the bulk of the ruck duties against the Bulldogs' Will Minson, one of the best ruckmen in the business. The Western Bulldogs went into the clash unchanged from the team that showed plenty of spirit against North Melbourne in Round Two, before being run over in the final quarter by a fast finishing Kangaroo outfit.
Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
The Sunday special this week belonged to Richmond and St Kilda, two clubs with differing fortunes and vastly different short term futures. The Saints, only a couple of years removed from a Grand Final appearance, seem to have bypassed their potential Premiership window as their older players move away from their prime. The Tigers on the other hand, have put a dark recent past behind them, forging a bright future on the back of 60,000 plus members and a three game winning streak that should help them build towards their first Finals appearance since 2001. The sideshow to every St Kilda versus Richmond clash is the match up of gun forward cousins in Nick (St Kilda) and Jack (Richmond) Riewoldt, with Jack having the better of the spoils over the last few contests including a seven goal haul the last time these two teams met. Tiger young gun Nick Vlastuin was a late withdrawal prior to game time, while St Kilda were without feisty goal sneak Stephen Milne after off field issues that could potentially end a tumultuous but effective career.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Joel Corey (GEEL) will qualify for AFL Life Membership in Round 15 with his 300th game. He has played 265 season games, one State of Origin match, 31 preseason games and two International Rules Matches. Other Round milestones include:
200 games: Campbell Brown (GC) and Justin Koschitzke (StK)
150 games: Will Minson (WB)
100 games: Josh Hill (WCE), Liam Picken (WB), Shaun Grigg (RICH), Josh Kennedy (SYD) and Jake King (RICH)
50 games: Jamie Macmillan (NM), Allen Christensen (GEEL) and Danny Stanley (GC)