A Brisbane player lines up for goal at the Gabba on Saturday night.
After the deflating loss to the Bulldogs, plenty of Richmond supporters were worried about the match against Brisbane. It is true that a loss would see microwaving of membership tickets and truckloads of chicken poo dumped outside the ME Bank Centre on Punt Rd, and even a narrow win against the struggling Lions wouldn't really soothe battered Tiger egos that much, but I have to admit that I didn't really entertain the idea of losing to the Brisbane side.
Being a Tiger supporter all my life has taught me to never expect a win against anyone, but I don't sweat Brisbane these days. Even despite losing in a disappointing fashion to the Bulldogs, I couldn't envisage a loss to Brisbane. To put it in the context of this season, the Bulldogs are a lot better than the inexperienced Brisbane outfit. In the first 2 rounds of the season Brisbane had been overrun by Collingwood at home, who aren't anybody's idea of a threat this year, and were then thumped by more than 80 points by North Melbourne.
To give my nonchalance a longer term view, the only side in the AFL that is Richmond's bunny is the Brisbane Lions. In the last 10 games, the Tigers have won 9 of them (the 10th was a draw). For whatever reason they have an absolute hold on the Lions. It will be broken one day, all hoodoos are, but I didn't think Saturday night was going to be the night. To add to their woes Brisbane had also lost captain Tom Rockliff to injury.
In contrast while Richmond had also been hit by injury - Ricky Petterd, Kane Lambert and Dylan Grimes were all out - they gained two regular players back: Shane Edwards and David Astbury (it's highly likely that even if he weren't injured, Grimes would have had to go to make way for Astbury) and Chris Knights was going to make his comeback after more than a season out with significant leg injuries.
Despite a very lopsided free kick count (it seemed that giving a Brisbane player a stern look would earn one), Richmond were a far better team from the outset. Ben Griffiths marked and goaled early. Kamdyn McIntosh continued his good form. Shane Edwards looked dangerous and immediately added a new dimension to the forward line, something that had been severely lacking in the game against the Bulldogs. Chris Knights was also a problem for Brisbane.
Annoyingly the Tigers set up a 15 point lead, but then coughed up a goal late in the first quarter, that cut it to single figures. They do this a lot and have done it for years, opposition teams are nearly always a chance against Richmond if they keep them in touch. They lack a genuine killer instinct, and they are renowned as being mentally fragile.
The second quarter was a bit of an arm wrestle. Brisbane got to within a point, before Richmond put their foot back down and extended their own lead. If Brisbane were a better side and had more experience, the lead wouldn't have been insurmountable, it was only a few goals, but there had already been signs that the mountain was a little too high for the young Lions to climb.
The Jack Riewoldt show rolled into town in the 3rd quarter, and while a 7 goal lead isn't that much in modern football, the contest was over by 3 quarter time. Players like Dustin Martin had also gotten off the chain and even whipping boy Shaun Grigg was well on top of his opponent. The stats seemed to suggest that Lion Stefan Martin was winning his contest with Ivan Maric in the ruck, but stats don't tell the entire story, and Ivan had been well on top of his opponent since quarter time. The hope from the commentators was that Brisbane wouldn't let a 40 point margin blow out to a 60 or 70 point one in the last quarter.
Obviously Richmond didn't listen to the commentators, because they weren't in a charitable mood, and proceeded to grind their young opponents into the ground, piling on goals and misery in equal amounts. I don't know if Trent Cotchin even had an opponent, helping himself to 37 possessions for the game, and it looked like Bachar Houli had brought his own ball, he ran it out of the Lions attacking zone so easily and so often.
Trent Cotchin leads his victorious Tigers off the field.
Heads bowed, the defeated Lions trudge off for some soul searching.
It was a 79 point win to the Tigers and put their season back on track. It's no great feat to beat up on a side like Brisbane, but you can only beat who you've been drawn to play and Richmond don't often hammer sides like that, so that was pleasing and tells me that they were stung by what happened against the Bulldogs. I just hope Hardwick has his coaching hat on against the Paul Roos coached Melbourne on ANZAC Eve, because Roos is one of the wiliest old buggers in the game.
The only sour note for the Tigers was what looked like a serious hamstring injury to Chris Knights. No idea what this guy did, but he's earned more bad luck than anyone should rightfully have to deal with.
I hope we can win against Melbourne, because we owe them for crashing our party last year in the Tommy Hafey Memorial Game.