The Richmond Tigers defeated the West Coast Eagles to move to within two points of the top eight. The Tigers had moments of individual brilliance, punctuated by long spells of indifferent form as they ground out a victory against the spirited West Coast. The Eagles have been enlivened by the return of some of their best players but ultimately fell short of what was required to overcome the more talented Tigers. The struggling Eagles have now won just three of the past forty-four matches and this year sit at the bottom of the ladder, with just one win, way back in the second round against the GWS Giants. The Tigers have won three of their past four games and are within striking distance of the top eight, but would need to show much more than they did against the Eagles to get ahead of the log jam in front of them.
After the prematch activities celebrated indigenous Australian culture through ceremony and dance, the Tigers won the toss and play was underway. A big crowd was in, and the atmosphere was electric.
Rhyan Mansell, one of those in the game with indigenous heritage, appropriately kicked the first goal of the night as he was taken over the shoulder by Redman and he kicked the resulting goal. Sam Weideman responded, and went one better at the other end when quick kicks inside 50 saw Weideman interfered with twice in two minutes. On both occasions his kicks for goal were on target. Alwyn Davey Jr added a third for the Bombers
It has been debated in the wider footy media on various occasions in past years that these two teams might no longer deserve the season opening blockbuster. But tonight's classic match saw scores level at the final siren and in front of a vibrant and vocal crowd of 88,084, between two teams that finished 7th and 9th last year, should guarantee them both at least a few more years in this opening slot.
The crowd was mostly in early for the first bounce of the 2023 season. The first ruck contest resulted in a free kick that saw Nankervis kick the ball long into the Richmond forward line and Dustin Martin put the first goal of the year on the board when his Carlton opponent spilled the mark. A great sign for Richmond supporters.
The reply was quick as Zac Fisher for Carlton returned the favor snapping on his left across the body from 25 meters out. Jack Silvagni got a good ride on his Richmond opponents to rise above them and mark, but it was the resulting goal that mattered most. A good sign for the Blues, too.
The Fremantle Dockers finished full of running to defeat the GWS Giants in a game that pulsated for three quarters. The Dockers relied on pace to sweep the ball into attack with quick transitions from defense. The Giants played a more traditional game of kicking long to their two tall forwards Harry Himmelberg and Jesse Hogan. The Giants kept themselves in the game with accurate kicking for goal, while the Dockers wasted early opportunities by either kicking behinds (worth a point each) or kicking the ball out of bounds when shooting for goal.
In the first quarter the Docker defenders Griffin Logue and Brennan Cox concentrated on punching the ball out of the hands of the tall Giant forwards. The small Giant forwards Bobby Hill and Stephen Coniglio were outpaced and out positioned by the Dockers’ pacy James Aish and Heath Chapman, with Jordan Clark providing the Dockers additional run through the middle of the ground. The Giants used Lachie Ash to shadow the Dockers’ playmaker Andrew Brayshaw. This kept Brayshaw relatively quiet in the first half, but also robbed the Giants of a creative attacker as Ash was played defensively and center man Callan Ward did not have the sped to go with Clark. Former Gold Coast player, Will Brodie escaped attention and played his best game for the Dockers and their acting captain, David Mundy, got better as the game progressed.
Richmond destroyed a hapless Greater Western Sydney Giants to win its 12th Premiership flag in style. The 89-point margin was a true reflection on the complete dominance the Tigers had over the Giants. A tight first quarter that promised a competitive match, but Richmond was having none of that. The fierce and determined Tigers took complete control after quarter time and strangled the Giants with the manic brand of football that has made Richmond the best team in the competition over the last three seasons.
The Giants had performed brilliantly to win two tight contests on the road, but when Richmond asked the question for the third time, Greater Western Sydney simply had nothing left to give. The Tigers were hungry for the contest, determined to avenge a 2018 season where they were the best team all season but fell short after going out in the Preliminary final.
There is an old adage in footy that a team has to lose a few finals to win one. it proved true for Richmond as they lost their first ever final in 1916 - a semi-final against Carlton. They then lost their first Grand Final to Collingwood in 1919. They lost again to Carlton in 1920 in a semi-final, but since there were only four teams eligible at that time, they were still through to the Grand Final which they won. They have since gone on to win another 10 premierships.
This was supposed to be a one sided affair. The in-form Collingwood taking on the injury hit and sixth seeded Greater Western Sydney Giants with the result surely leading to a Richmond vs Collingwood Grand Final, to the delight of the AFL and Melburnians. The only problem with this narrative was that the Giants didn’t read the script.
In one of the biggest surprises in recent Preliminary Final history, GWS stunned the locals by first taking a big lead, then by defending grimly when a late Collingwood surge looked like taking the Magpies back to the Grand Final in consecutive seasons. The end result shows the Giants winning by just 4 points, but so much happened throughout this game. A frantic last quarter, that a crowd of mostly 70,000 strong Collingwood fans were left as empty shells in a roller coaster of a final.
The Brisbane Lions claimed another victim, this time it was Hawthorn down in Tasmania to keep the Lions atop the AFANA AFL Power Poll and all but end the Hawks chances of finals football. Fellow pacesetter the West Coast Eagles, made light work of the Kangaroos at home. Geelong overcame a slow start to claim a win against Sydney on the road and Richmond proved too strong for an injury-hit Collingwood in the Friday night blockbuster at the MCG.
Essendon survived quite a scare at the hands of cellar dwelling Gold Coast before prevailing in what was their fifth win in a row, Greater Western Sydney found enough to scrape home against Port Adelaide by a solitary point in Heath Shaw’s 300th game. The Western Bulldogs kept their top eight chances alive with a big win over Fremantle and the Adelaide Crows left the gate open for another team to snatch 8th spot as they went down to an in-form Carlton at the MCG. Finally, Saint Kilda kept interim coach Brett Ratten’s record spotless by overcoming Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
The bye rounds are over, and as we head into round fifteen the battle for the coveted top four spots and the race for the finals is well and truly on. Geelong moves to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll despite dropping a game on the road to an impressive Port Adelaide, while Collingwood continues to win despite not being at its best in recent weeks.
The big movers are the Adelaide Crows, moving from 8th to 5th on the back of a three game winning streak while Fremantle and Port continue to look the most likely to take a spot in the final eight unless Richmond can end its free fall down the AFL ladder.
An extended round six kicked off with the unusual Wednesday night game that saw Richmond victorious by 43 points over the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Anzac Day battle between Collingwood and Essendon was a classic that ended with the Magpies hanging on to win by four points in controversial circumstances as the Bombers fell just short of pulling off a great comeback. Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Giants took care of business as expected while Carlton almost pulled off back to back victories before succumbing by just five points to a frantic Hawthorn down in Tasmania.