4 lousy points!
I'm going to go away from normal protocol this week and not really review the match as such. Suffice it to say that the Tigers lost by 4 points and did it in the dying stage of the game. 2 points up with less than a minute to go and then...
This one is going to be about two players, who I kind of feel encapsulate the game on the day.
First a celebration.
Troy Chaplin is a fairly unfashionable key position defender who started his career at Port Adelaide (although he's from country Victoria), got hit by injuries and then crossed to the Tigers a few seasons ago as a free agent. Port claimed that his body (especially his legs) would no longer hold up to the rigours of AFL football. Funny how the Tigers have managed to get 60 games out of him playing in one of the toughest spots on the ground at centre half back. Not bad for a bloke his original club said was buggered at the end of the 2012 season. Anyway this game against Fremantle was his 200th career game. Despite playing most of his football for Port, he's become a Tiger and comments he made last year when Richmond beat Port in the home and away season, haven't exactly endeared him to his original club. People hook into Troy for some reason, and I'll admit he does tend to start his seasons off badly, and I don't get it. He's a very important person to the team, he plays a loose man in defence a lot of the time, and he cuts off countless forward thrusts most games. His 200th was no exception. He started like a house on fire and it was still burning when the final siren went. Clearly best on ground. So great milestone game, shame about the final score. I'd actually go so far as to say it was Troy's best game, certainly at Tigerland, if not his entire career.
Then we come to Bachar Houli.
Bachar always has his head in the news, and it's not because he has the most awesome beard in football.
Isn't that a beard and a half? It's almost bigger than his kid's head!
Bachar has become the poster child for diversity in Australian Rules football. He was born in Australia, but his parents are Lebanese immigrants and as such are devout Muslims. Bachar also follows the faith. I think he's one of the few practicing Muslims in AFL playing ranks and he was the first to be drafted. He started his career with Essendon and then moved to Richmond. He's an example of diversity in the game and he's a wonderful role model for anyone, not just Muslim kids who want to play footy.
He plays mostly in defence. He has his pluses. He's good at rebounding the ball from defence, he can run hard, if not all that fast and break lines. He also has a huge kick, which is accurate most of the time. 9 times out of 10 if he goes for a shot at length on the run he'll kick the goal. Despite being a defender he's not a great tackler or blocker, he's a bit of an outside player like that really. Not exactly a receiver, but not far off it. We use him a lot to take the kick out from defence. It always makes me nervous, he's not actually that bad a kick as I've said, but he's prone to making bad decisions. His go to move when he's not sure what to do or can't see an obvious option to kick to, is to tap the ball on his boot and go for a run. This allows him to get away from the opposition's goal and use his long kick to put it out of the danger zone.
For some reason with less than a minute left on the clock on Saturday and Richmond leading by 2 points Bachar had one of those brain explosions. Richmond players had congregated on the flank. If Bachar kicks it there, it becomes a contested ball, and it would more than likely end up in a pack and be locked in forcing a ball up, or get knocked over the line for the same result. This eats up time and makes it harder for Fremantle to kick the goal they need. Maybe Aaron Sandilands could have marked it. At 211 cm he's 10 - 11 cm's taller than any Richmond player on the ground. Maybe they could have gotten it out of a pack, but maybe a Tiger could have marked the ball or gotten it out of the pack. The only Richmond player down the centre was Kane Lambert and he was going to have to run bloody hard and bloody fast to get the kick out. Lambert made moves and Houli put it down the guts, it was marked by Fremantle's Garrick Ibbotson with poor old Lambert desperately trying to make ground. Ibbotson gave it to David Mundy, who kicked the goal and left Richmond not enough time to answer it.
A proud man bows his head after the game.
I don't blame Bachar. We had multiple opportunities to score during the game (hit the post 6 times) and put the game beyond Freo. Kick just one of those goals and it doesn't really matter what Bachar does with the kick out, the Dockers are still two points adrift.
Lost opportunity. At least we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves next week against the Hawks. Given their form a win is unlikely, but it's a funny game football and anything can happen.