Is there cause for concern at Punt Road?
For the second week in a row the Tigers have been rocked in the first quarter of a marque match-up. Outscored by 58-points across both opening terms they have been playing catch-up almost entirely since footy restarted last week. This is hard to do at the best of times but it is made even more difficult when you can’t scrounge together more than five goals in either match.
We understand it is a folly to write off a champion but the defending Premiers look very shaky on their feet at the minute. While many were prepared to blame the length of quarter last week for their constipated forward line a second week of it suggests a significant blockage. Five goals a week isn’t going to cut it, so unless they identify a solution fast they might find themselves a long way behind the leading pack.
How the game was won.
What was a ‘fourth-rate’ midfield against Geelong turned giant killers against Richmond. Boosted by the return of Jaeger O’Meara and the absence of Dustin Martin, the Hawks were unstoppable early. So damaging were their efforts that the quarter time siren seemed a small mercy for the punch-drunk Tigers.
Veteran Hawk Isaac Smith was a handful for the Tigers and O’Meara was everywhere as they led their team to the upset victory. Chad Wingard with three goals, showed again why he was so coveted by the brown and golds. For Richmond it was an entirely different tale as they were outworked with and without the ball. Just how much so evident in the fact that they were comprehensively beaten in both the possession and tackle counts in the opening half.
What the coaches said.
Rightly or wrongly the biggest quote to come out of the press conference in all it’s out of context glory was from a happy Alastair Clarkson. “I hope I am not discrediting Geelong, but they’re not that good,” he told reporters. While it is likely to get a run again if the teams meet again in the finals, Clarkson was in fact suggesting that his team’s poor performance was the reason for the size of the previous weeks defeat. Regardless, it’s still a pretty good soundbite.
Happy with his team’s performance against the Tigers, he was quick to point out it was just one match. “We expected a response and we got one. But the challenge for us is to back up that response.”
Damian Hardwick labelled his team’s performance as un-Richmondlike and, while under questioning acknowledged the absence of Dustin Martin but refused to use it as an excuse. “You take one of the best players, if not the best player in the League, out of a side [when] you’d prefer to have him than not,” Hardwick said post-game. [But] the reality is there’s 22 other players that play our way. They just didn’t play well enough tonight. Dustin’s one player, he’s not the Richmond Football Club.
“He’s a very important player, don’t get me wrong, but our expectation and the club expectation is our players who pull on the jumper play a hell of a lot better than they did tonight. We’ve got to coach them better as well.”
RICHMOND 0.1 2.1 3.3 5.9 (39)
HAWTHORN 5.3 7.3 10.5 11.5 (71)
Richmond: Castagna 2, Bolton, Edwards, Lynch
Hawthorn: Wingard 3, Gunston 2, Breust, Ceglar, O’Brien, O’Meara, Patton, Smith
Richmond: Vlastuin, Grimes, Short, Stack, Castagna
Hawthorn: Smith, O’Meara, Sicily, Wingard, McEvoy, Mitchell
Hawthorn: Puopolo (calf) replaced in side by Scrimshaw, Henderson (leg)