Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
Anzac Day football has a special meaning for Australians. The traditional playing of the Last Post in front of 38,000 silent people will raise goose-bumps on the arms of anyone who is fortunate enough to be present. The winless Richmond came into this game with a good record against Fremantle, having won their last four encounters. Last year Fremantle were humbled by their opponents on most occasions. This season so far their attitude and skill levels have improved and they appear capable of beating any team in the League. The Tigers arrived in Perth at the bottom of the Ladder but who knows what any team is capable of when the blood is up and the ANZAC battle cry is ringing in its ears.
Robin Nahas got the visitors away to a quick start with a goal and from this point on it was one-way traffic. Fremantle squandered opportunities in front of goal and seemed to panic as the Tigers dominated the quarter. There were turnovers and costly skill errors on both sides but Richmond’s work rate was up and they were prepared to chase and tackle with vigor. Accurate passing and courage at the ball saw Alex Rance with two goals. A late mark and conversion to Jack Riewoldt had the Richmond Tigers with their tails in the air and a commanding lead of 26 points at the first change.
As he has done in the past, Docker Captain Matthew Pavlich decided that enough was enough and within 2 minutes of the start of the second quarter he kicked a goal. This gave his teammates some heart and they began to work their way back into the game. Richmond’s aggressiveness and skill level fell away and the standard of the game deteriorated to a scrambling and uninspiring spectacle. With large packs and frequent stoppages, there was little chance for Fremantle to settle into the style of play that has set them on their winning streak. Some dogged forward movements saw Pavlich and Ryan Crowley score the next goals as the quarter fizzled out. Richmond rarely made it into their forward 50 meter arc and managed to score a paltry three points in 30 minutes of play. When the siren sounded there was a melee in the center of the ground with every player and the umpires involved. It was the most action the crowd had seen in the match so far. However it was largely a waste of energy as there were no real punches thrown.
Fremantle came out with renewed intent in the second half, and when Paul Duffield converted from in front of the big sticks, they had the lead for the first time in the game. Rookie Nathan Fyfe took a high-flying mark in the forward pocket and scored his first goal in AFL football. When Aaron Sandilands followed up with a goal of his own, the floodgates opened. Hayden Ballantyne had been fairly quiet in his attacking game but stronger in his offensive role and kicked two quick goals. The Dockers had by then scored the last eight goals in a row. A late rally by the Tigers saw them score three of the last four goals giving their supporters hope for a late charge.
Shane Tuck’s goal early in the last quarter had the Tigers within 14 points and looking dangerous. The game was going goal for goal but it was clear that the Tigers had run out of gas. With help from new kid on the block Ballantyne, the old firm of Pavlich and Paul Hasleby kicked the last four goals to put the game out of Richmond's reach. In the end the scoreline flattered the visitors because if Fremantle had kicked straighter, the game would have been decided much earlier.
Fremantle now find themselves comfortably placed in the top eight. Richmond languishes on the bottom of the Ladder. In spite of small signs that all is not lost for them, it seems that the other sides in the competition have all the answers when the Tigers come to town.
Scoreboard Fremantle 1.5 4.12 10.19 15.22 (112) Richmond 6.1 6.4 9.5 11.7 (73) Best Fremantle M Pavlich, A Sandilands, L McPharlin, M Barlow, S Hill, H Ballantyne Richmond C Newman, B Deledio, T Cotchin, S Tuck, D Martin, N Foley
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT