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 sent a roar through Optus Stadium and to the rest of the competition when they tore apart the Fremantle Dockers on the Dockers’ home turf. The Tigers entered the game without some key personnel and lost two players to injury before half time, but still destroyed the Dockers in the third term to run out convincing winners.
With Melbourne still under daylight savings the season opened during twilight at 7:25 PM at the MCG. A minute’s silence for the Christchurch massacre silenced the crowd before the 85,016 fans in the house roared at the first bounce. The Tigers would pour on the pressure through the likes of Graham, Cotchin and Martin from the start and the Blues would show little apparent improvement from their wooden spoon effort of 2018 in the first quarter.
Shortly after Carlton signed two players under the SSP rule, Richmond followed suit by signing midfield speedster Sydney Stack from WA club Perth to a rookie contract. Stack, 18, was overlooked in the AFL Draft but has been training with the Tigers since December. He performed well during the Under-18 tournament earning All-Australian honors. The club list is now complete with the Tigers also having signed former Saint Maverick Weller.
A packed house at the MCG for the two clubs with (probably) the biggest following in Melbourne made the most noise heard all year at the MCG. It began in the lead up to the sides running onto the arena for the first Preliminary Final. Richmond were undeniable favorites going into the game, but there has been something special building at Collingwood this season under a more relaxed coach Nathan Buckley, Perhaps taking his lead from the 2017 Damien Hardwick success story.
Richmond Tigers vs Hawthorn Hawks (MCG)
State of Play:
This game has all the makings of an absolute classic. On one hand you have Richmond, the reigning premier coming into the game riding a 21-game winning streak at the MCG. On the other you have Hawthorn, the form team of the competition boasting a massive total of 265 games of finals experience (the Tigers have just 114).
Both Brisbane Coach Chris Fagan and Geelong Coach Chris Scott have been given contract extensions. Fagan's is for two seasons while Scott is signed through 2022.
Adam Kingsley has decided to leave his position at St Kilda to seek new opportunities at Richmond. Kingsley, who played 170 games with Port Adelaide from 1997 to 2006, has been with the Saints since 2011. A highly credentialed coach, Kingsley is a graduate of the inaugural Level Four Coaches Program, was named the AFL Coaches Association’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2015, and is very highly regarded by his peers.
In a prelude to the spring conditions awaiting in September, the final Sunday afternoon home and away match at the MCG for 2018 got underway in sunny conditions. The Demons were wearing their commemorative 160-year jumper and the Giants in their white away jumper. While not quite do-or-die with both teams assured a spot in the final eight, today’s result would determine who and where they would play in week one of the finals. A win to Melbourne would mean a home final at the MCG against Geelong, a loss would mean an away match in Sydney. A win to GWS would mean a home final in Sydney and a loss an away final against the Swans at the SCG.
With De Goey and Treloar out of the Collingwood team over the past few weeks, few gave Collingwood a chance of defeating ladder leader and reigning premiers, Richmond. They pushed the Tigers for three quarters before the toll of losing two defenders in Howe (to concussion) and Scharenberg (to a knee injury) saw Richmond run away to a 28-point win.
As July days go this was a warm one in Melbourne. It was an overcast day and perfect conditions for footy and 88,180 fans in black and white or black and gold packed the MCG. There was an earlier than traditional Saturday afternoon kickoff time but most fans were in well ahead of first bounce.