2018 in a nutshell:
One bad game for the entirety of the season was enough to spoil what was otherwise a flawless campaign for the Tigers in 2018. You’d be called silly if you didn’t think they were going to win the flag at the start of September last year. Not losing a game in Melbourne throughout the entirety of the home and away season, it was a shock to see them out in the preliminary finals to a Collingwood side that would go on to lose just eight days later. But it was indeed that one poor performance that would put an end to the Tigers season, a missed opportunity perhaps? They will go again this season, and with the acquisition of Tom Lynch, there’s some signs that they could very well return to their form of 2017 where they won the flag, and the form that easily earned them top spot in 2018.
Five Fearless Predictions
Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt will relish the 3-3-3
Thinking about Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt in the same forward line in general is scary enough for most defences to deal with. But to deal with them completely one-on-one for major parts of the game is even scarier. From centre bounces, for at least the first minute or so, forward lines will be completely one-on-one. There are no loose men back or double teaming, which can mean that the best forwards in the game will profit. Jack Riewoldt has won three Coleman Medals, and is almost guaranteed a 50 goal season if he can keep fit. Chuck Tom Lynch into the mix, who is expected to perform better than ever with some quality reception, and this forward line could be one of the most dangerous in the modern era. Is there any defence that will be able to deal with both of these boys, when at times, some can’t even deal with one of them?
Prediction: Jack and Tom to combine for 100+ goals.
Dustin Martin will return to his 2017 form
Going on from the previous point, the acquisition of Tom Lynch means that the forward line will always have that powerful forward sitting in the goal square – whether that’ll be him or Riewoldt. This will mean less forward time for Dusty, and more time on-ball. This on face value may seem a bit disappointing for Tiger fans, but this could mean the return of his 2017 form, where he had the best individual season in the history of the game in terms of his accolades. He will get more of the ball as he did in 2017, and may even have more impact on games. Yes, he will still be good for a goal a game as he drifts up forward, but expect more midfield time from Dusty and a real crack at the Brownlow.
Prediction: Dustin Martin to be a HUGE contender come Brownlow night.
Noah Balta will become a key part of the Richmond side
Noah Balta had an impressive 2018, despite not being part of the AFL side at all. The 19 year old has not made his debut yet, but was one of the most promising stars in their VFL side. Fans were treated to a great display of athleticism and poise as he starred in their opening JLT game in 2019, a game where he racked up 19 possessions and two goals. He even pinch hit in the ruck, giving the opportunity for Toby Nankervis to rest up forward – where he chimed in with three goals. Clearly, this worked, with Balta’s run off half-back and ability to hold his own in the ruck being something that Richmond may find handy come the home and away season.
Prediction: Noah Balta to play 15 games for the Tigers
Tigers to struggle more than normal if injury plagues
Something that has helped Richmond’s success to an extent is their injury list over the past two years, or their lack of. They basically went into their 2017 finals campaign injury-free,and were able to play the same 22 throughout most of that season. 2018 was more of the same, with few injuries throughout most of the season. 2019 will test them quite hard if they become one of the sides that cop injury after injury, which is quite common for teams. It will test their depth, which we aren’t sure is quite strong yet. Despite them having players such as Ryan Garthwaite and and Liam Baker coming into the side last year and performing well over a few games, it has never been over a long period of time. Don’t forget that Richmond also lost depth players Sam Lloyd, Anthony Miles and Corey Ellis over the trade period.
Prediction: Richmond to struggle if injuries hit their list.
However, a top four finish will beckon
We cannot forget the quality that lives within Richmond’s list, a team that really missed a chance last season by bottling it in the Preliminary finals. They were quite clearly the best team over the home and away season, and there is nothing that can convince me that this can change. They’ve improved their list, their team is not old and they will be raring to go after last seasons September catastrophe. They will once again be tough to beat.
Prediction: A comfortable top four finish for the Tigers.
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