Has there ever been a worse game than that?
In the aftermath of watching this horrendous example of what can be wrong with out game, it is hard to remember a game worse. Whether it is or isn’t is inconsequential given the post match blame game, while equally frustrating, was about 10,000% more interesting than the game itself.
That watching a 47-year-old man and a 49-year-old man effectively play a game of ‘he did it’ was more exciting than the game tells you just about everything you need to know about the contest. Equally it is a living, breathing example of why the opinions of coaches are worthless when it comes to what is best for the game.
For too long, when changes to the game have been mooted, too much weight has been given to what the coaches think about them. If there is one positive from today’s game, despite both coaches denying responsibility for the mind numbing nature of it, is that their own self-interests trump the good of the game.
How the Game Was Won
Would it be churlish to suggest that the game was won because Richmond were marginally less rubbish than Sydney? Even if it is, it is also possibly as accurate an assessment of one of the most terrible games of football ever played.
The low scoring nature of the match was a surprise given the way the game opened. The beneficiaries of a bizarre free kick for pushing Callum Mills across the goal line to open the scoring, Richmond would have three goals on the board by quarter time. They would add just one more by the time the final siren sounded with the opening term ultimately responsible for exactly half of both teams points scored for the afternoon.
What the Coaches Said
Damien Hardwick began the blame game post match when speaking to reporters. “It was a horrendous game of football,” Hardwick said. “There’s no doubt about that. It was hard to watch, it was hard to play, it was incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately it’s sometimes how games pan out.”
“You have a lot of players in one D50, they can’t get out and we can’t score. I think we had 50 odd inside 50s for what was it, four or five goals. Which is farcical in nature really. Horrible game of football,” he said conveniently forgetting that he had contributed to the mess by deploying extra players forward of the ball.
In for a penny, in for a pound he continued to prosecute his case. “We just couldn’t execute to use our spare as well as theirs,” Hardwick said. The fact of the matter is the spare’s down there. The ball was played in our half. I think it was 29 forward half turnovers to nine. It was down there for the vast majority of the game,” he told reporters seeming to believe that Sydney had a responsibility to concede goals because Richmond had a territorial advantage.
“I didn’t think we were much chance of scoring, but they were no chance of scoring. I think they got two goals from 50-metre penalties but outside that they kicked one goal for the game. There’s not much I can do. We’re attacking, we’ve got 75,000 people in our forward 50. It’s pretty hard. It’s become a tactic in the AFL. Foldback mentality is really keeping sides in games.”
John Longmire refuted Hardwick’s assessment. “We kept our six defenders, they had an extra up at the ball. Our six defenders played behind the ball. We didn’t have seven defenders,” Longmire said.
“We didn’t go with them, which is what they often want up around the footy. We held our structure and needed to punch through a bit quicker when we got opportunities as well.”
RICHMOND 3.3 3.5 4.7 4.10 (34)
SYDNEY 1.3 2.3 2.5 3.8 (26)
Richmond: Riewoldt, Martin, Bolton, Lynch
Sydney: Papley 2, Rowbottom
Richmond: Lambert, Short, McIntosh, Baker, Broad, Higgins
Sydney: Mills, Lloyd, Cunningham, Florent, Clarke, Heeney
Sydney: Kennedy (knee), Heeney (ankle)