Monday, June 22, 2015
Richmond V West Coast 19/06/2015 (MCG)
Weird is the word that springs to mind when I think about this game. Everything about it just seemed off. I'll put things in perspective and maybe that will explain it.
It came after a bye. A bye is an odd thing in this day and age. We'd had a week off and the Eagles hadn't, plus they were coming off their 3rd trip and 3rd 6 day break in a row, so they should have been a bit tired and looking forward to their own break, probably hoping to go into it with some momentum.
We'd had a lot of momentum before the bye and it had been stopped dead in it's tracks. Richmond were expected to win this game for a whole host of reasons and that's always dangerous for them. I can remember former Hawthorn player Brad Sewell speaking on radio before the Melbourne game, and saying that as an outside observer, Richmond always seem to play better when they're the underdog and can approach the game with a nothing to lose attitude.
The crowd were nervous and for a Richmond crowd they were quiet. The attendance was over 45,000 (a record for Richmond V West Coast matches), and a good 35 - 40,000 of them were Richmond (West Coast don't have many supporters in Melbourne, and it's a long trip to make for a home and away fixture), yet they were quieter than I've heard much smaller crowds. It was mentioned a number of times on 774 during the game and I could feel it. It seemed to communicate itself to the players.
I know it was for a good cause, but the little thing they did turning out the lights for the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, added to the weird atmosphere. We also wore a jumper tinged with purple for the occasion. Here's a picture of Brett Deledio on the night in the jumper.
There was also a strong rumour that Jack Riewoldt would be a late out, which caused a betting plunge on the Eagles. At no stage was there any indication of this, and the player trained on Thursday night and played any questions about it with a straight bat, so I'm not sure where it came from, but it just added to the general feeling that things weren't quite right.
All night most of the side were off their games. I don't know if the crowd's negative energy had transmitted itself to the team or not, but they just weren't the same team mentally that had won 4 games in a row and knocked off Fremantle before the bye.
Trent Cotchin played like he had an injury. Corey Ellis was good early, then injured himself and was taken off, this caused sub Conor Menadue to play more game time than anyone had expected. Ivan Maric looked like an old man and was monstered by Nic Naitanui in the ruck. Jack Riewoldt played about half a game, although I don't think he was injured. It was like a flu bug had gone through the entire side. Despite all this we only lost by 20 points. I'm putting it down to an off night and hoping that we're better against the Swans this week.
Special mention to Dustin Martin, who was the only Tiger player to put in 4 quarters and his 3 first half goals kept us in the game. I think the kid may have come of age, hopefully against Sydney he can take a few mates with him.