Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting from the MCG for AFANA
A sunny Saturday afternoon was the setting for the Round 15 clash between a shell-shocked Richmond and a hungry Melbourne. The Tigers had endured a horror week off the field, losing Ty Vickery to season-ending shoulder surgery and team barometer Jake King to a knee injury for four weeks. As if that weren't enough, Dustin Martin was suspended by the club for two weeks in an incident that cost Daniel Connors his Richmond AFL career. Dylan Grimes was also unavailable with ongoing hamstring troubles and Daniel Jackson would be sitting out after being suspended for a love tap on Adelaide's Chris Knights in the previous round. Melbourne had issues of their own with gun recruit Mitch Clark ruled out with a long term injury and a losing record that had them propping up the AFL Ladder with new boys Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast Suns.
Richmond had the bulk of the play early and a Jack Riewoldt goal had the Tigers on the board quickly. Amazingly, he would not register another goal for the game despite plenty of chances. Makeshift forward Luke McGuane got into the action as did the recalled Matt White as the Tigers took early control. The Demons struggled to maintain any flow into their forward line as Richmond defenders took them wide at every opportunity. The skill level by both teams was more befitting of a rainy winter's day as turnovers were committed with painful regularity. Overall the Tigers played the better football as they peppered the goals with mixed results. At quarter time, Richmond led 4.6 to a solitary Melbourne goal.
There was no doubt that both teams were working hard, but the opening of the second quarter produced even uglier football than the first. Melbourne turnovers resulted in Richmond shots on goal that were so badly butchered that at one stage Shaun Grigg and Shane Edwards both missed the simplest of shots from only 10 meters in front. Stefan Martin was proving to be a solid forward replacement for the Demons while Nathan Jones was holding his own in the midfield. The 47,000 fans in attendance would have been close to demanding their money back at half time however, as the substandard game continued to be riddled with basic skill errors. At the half time break it was Richmond 6.12 to Melbourne 4.4.
It was more of the same in the third quarter as Richmond dominated the clearances but completely lost the radar in front of goals. Tiger spearhead Riewoldt continued to have a battle on his hands with James Frawley, having to take his shots for goal in tough positions. The fact he ended with 1.5 for the day was as much to do with Frawley's hard work as his own poor shooting. However the same cannot be said of his teammates. Despite hard work from Grigg, Bachar Houli, Trent Cotchin and Shane Tuck, the Tigers allowed the Demons to stay in the game due to their horrendous choices inside 50 meters and their lamentable finishing. In a quarter that should have put the win firmly in their grasp, Richmond kicked 3.8 to Melbourne's 1.2 to hold a 38 point lead at three quarter time.
Melbourne worked tirelessly in the final quarter with the much maligned Colin Sylvia leading the way. Jordie McKenzie held Cotchin at bay and the Demons pegged the Tiger lead back. While never really threatening to take the lead, the Melbourne boys continued to frustrate the Tigers with some improved forward marking and, in stark contrast to the Tigers, some excellent goal kicking. It was up to the only accurate Tiger, Robin Nahas, to seal the victory for the Tigers with his fourth goal of the game. Overall it was not an attractive encounter with both teams and even the goal umpires making plenty of mistakes in an untidy afternoon’s work. The final siren saw the Tigers run out 23 point winners, 13.23 to 11.12 with the 23 behinds the highest kicked by Richmond since 1995.
Tiger coach Damien Hardwick would have been happy to notch up a win after seven forced changes to his team. However he would be concerned that an extra 21 inside 50 entries over their opponent were once again wasted, as has been the case numerous times in 2012. If the Tigers do not find a way to convert their inside 50's into more efficient scoring, their potential run at the Finals will be over before it begins. For Melbourne coach Mark Neeld, there were some positive signs late in the game although turnovers continue to plague his team week in week out.
In Round 16 Richmond heads to Cairns to face the Gold Coast Suns in an encounter that tripped them up last season, while Melbourne will take on the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium.
Scoreboard Richmond: 4.6 6.12 9.20 13.23 Melbourne: 1.0 4.4 5.6 11.12 Best Players Richmond: Tuck, Grigg, Nahas, Cotchin, Deledio Melbourne: Jones, Sylvia, Martin, Frawley, Rivers
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 9:30 PM EDT