Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia
The Round 9 match between Hawthorn and Richmond was billed as a clash between the newly anointed Premiership favorites and the up and coming Finals hopefuls. The recent demise of Carlton and the continuing struggles of Geelong had the bookmakers talking up the Hawks as the team to beat in 2012. With young gun defender Dylan Grimes out of the Richmond team through injury, all signs pointed to a comfortable Hawthorn victory. The late withdrawal of another solid defender in Jake Batchelor left the Tigers' defense ripe for the picking for the Hawks' prize forwards in Lance “Buddy” Franklin and the dynamic Cyril Rioli.
As the umpire got proceedings underway in cold conditions at the MCG, it was the Tigers who burst out of the center through Trent Cotchin who found Brandon Ellis with a slick handball. A Robin Nahas kick found Ty Vickery up forward who barely missed a chance at the first goal of the game. Just a minute later, a massive kick out from Ben Griffiths found Nathan Foley in the center. Foley passed to the loose Dustin Martin who banged home the first goal of the game for the Tigers. The first five minutes was played at breakneck speed with Richmond tackling fiercely at every opportunity. Another fast break – this time by the Hawks - ended with Luke Breust who goaled at the seven minute mark. Both teams failed to trouble the scorers as the game resembled a basketball match with the ball rapidly traveling from one end of the field to the other. A clearance in the Tigers' half forward line saw Cotchin break free and deliver to Jack Riewoldt who marked 30 meters out. His goal gave the Tigers a seven point lead at the 14 minute mark. The Tiger midfield was looking the goods, but once again both teams continued to attack without managing a goal. At the 24 minute mark a great piece of play by Shane Edwards of Richmond resulted in the nifty Robin Nahas finding Jake King on his own 40 meters from goal. King converted to give the Tigers a handy 13 point buffer. Just two minutes later it was King again receiving a free after nearly having his head torn off by Sam Mitchell of the Hawks. King goaled and at quarter time it was the underdog Richmond with the lead, 4.4 to 1.3.
Hawthorn came out strongly in the second quarter and had the first couple of forward entries. Rioli missed his chance before Clinton Young sent a classy goal through from 40 meters out on the run. If the Young goal was a crowd pleaser, the subsequent goal by Richmond defender Steven Morris brought the house down. Some great play around the boundary by the Tigers saw the ball end up with Morris who ran hard into the forward line before dodging two oncoming Hawks and kicking a sensational six-pointer. One minute later it was Riewoldt bobbing up for a solid mark and goal number two as the Tigers maintained the ascendancy. Richmond’s work rate was undeniable and appeared to catch the Hawks off guard. A second goal from Breust steadied the Hawk ship, and a series of rushed behinds ensued until the 13 minute mark. As a Richmond attempt on goal missed, Hawthorn's Brent Guerra foolishly elbowed Shane Edwards to the ground for an obvious free kick. Edwards converted the goal as Hawks Coach Alistair Clarkson fumed in the coaching box. A poor miss by the out of form Lance Franklin didn’t help the Hawks' cause, before a long ball from Martin into the Tiger forward line was marked superbly by vice-captain Cotchin. “Cotch” goaled as the rain started to come down and the Tiger lead was out to 30 points. The Hawks got on top late through Jordan Lewis and Rioli, but once again Lance Franklin could not convert on goal. Inside the last minute of the quarter, it was Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s turn to show his frustration as Rioli goaled just 30 seconds before the half time siren. The Tiger lead was 23 points after an impressive display of football with a smothering forward press suffocating the Hawthorn running brigade.
An aerial display of marking from the Hawthorn talls opened the third quarter. First it was David Hale taking a solid contested mark before Jarryd Roughead repeated the dosage just 30 meters from goal. Roughead goaled to bring the margin back to 17 points. Desperate to maintain a buffer, the Tigers produced more great clearance work, this time from Reece Conca and Jake King, which ended with Shane Tuck having a running shot for goal from 25 meters out. Tuck made no mistake and the Tiger fans breathed a bit easier. Three minutes later it was the Hawks fighting back again as a goal line scramble resulted in Breust kicking his third goal for the Hawks. Just as the Hawks appeared to be regaining their composure, a poor handball in the back line was intercepted by the lively King who kicked his third goal and restored the 23 point Richmond lead. The seesaw continued as Isaac Smith goaled on a long dribbler for Hawthorn before Edwards got on the end of a coast-to-coast Richmond drive and finished beautifully for another Tiger goal. Every time the Hawks threatened to get close, the Tigers fought back to keep their 20 plus point lead. Both key forwards in Riewoldt and Franklin missed shots before Rioli bobbed up again at the 26 minute mark to goal again. In the shadows of three quarter time, a high kick into the Tiger forward line was marked by cult hero Ivan Maric who goaled to once again stretch the lead to 23 points. Just 39 seconds remained in the quarter, but that was long enough for Martin to send the Tigers into attack. A loose ball was sensationally kicked "soccer style" by Riewoldt straight into the arms of Maric who handballed to Nahas for back to back Tiger goals. With one quarter to play, Richmond lead 13.9 to 8.10 and an upset looked like a distinct possibility.
Richmond fans would have been praying for the first goal to keep the momentum and a Cyril Rioli miss for the Hawks gave them the chance. As Tuck and Cotchin continued to get the ball clear of the ball ups, a loose ball deep in the forward pocket was pounced upon by Daniel Jackson who kicked a miraculous goal that had the crowd on its feet! As the rain came down, any chance of a Hawthorn comeback looked dim. Despite running and tackling hard all day, the Tigers fed off their momentum and dominated the rest of the quarter. Three goals - including a spectacular pack mark to Riewoldt - in the space of four minutes had the Tigers out to an unassailable lead. Jackson added his second goal before Franklin finally kicked one through for the Hawks. Deledio, Martin and Riewoldt continued the Richmond party as the Tigers went on to the most unlikely of 62 point wins. To beat a genuine Premiership threat in Hawthorn in such emphatic fashion was a magnificent performance by the much maligned Tigers.
After tough losses to other Finals' fancies in Collingwood, West Coast, Geelong and Essendon, Richmond has given itself a chance to make a run at a possible Finals appearance if they can maintain their midfield dominance. Hawthorn on the other hand would have been bitterly disappointed with not only the loss but particularly in the way they were completely dominated in the last quarter.
The tests continue for Richmond as they face 7th placed St. Kilda on Friday night at Etihad Stadium. To beat the Saints at home, the Tigers will have to reverse an eight year drought spanning 10 matches. The Hawks travel to their home away from home at Aurora Stadium in Tasmania to take on the Kangaroos.
Scoreboard Richmond 4.4 8.8 13.9 21.11 (137) Hawthorn 1.3 4.9 8.10 10.15 (75)
Best Players Richmond: Cotchin, Riewoldt, Tuck, Maric, Deledio, Foley, Rance Hawthorn: Burgoyne, Mitchell, Breust, Roughead
Article last changed on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 9:54 AM EDT