Don’t call this a comeback. It’s hardly a comeback if you’ve never gone.
Richmond are back. If there was any doubt before Tuesday night, there should be none now after their comprehensive victory over the Lions on the Gold Coast. As true as most of this seems, there is one part of this narrative that is false.
Despite the collective rush to write the Tigers off after the resumption of the AFL season, and some admittedly terrible performances, this was more wishful thinking than analysis. As Grinspoon so eloquently put it, ‘Don’t call this a comeback. It’s hardly a comeback if you’ve never gone.’
Their defeat of the Lions didn’t prove the defending premiers were contenders once again this year. It just reminded us that they should never have been written off in the first place.
How the Game Was Won
Allan Jeans always said that football was a simple game either ‘we have the ball, they have the ball or the ball is in dispute. The answer to how this game was won is similarly simple, the team that made better use of the ball when they had it won the game.
It is only made difficult if you want to quibble about whether it was the ruthless efficiency by the winner or the wastefulness of the loser that was more responsible for the discrepancy. Whatever this answer, if you can truly reach a conclusion, takes away little from the original contention.
We will however speak to the Lions inefficiencies first as these were exposed first in this contest. After a fast start they had two goals on the board and the early ascendancy. By quarter’s end they held a 14-9 inside 50 advantage but had surrendered the momentum and trailed by a goal.
Despite Brisbane doing most of the attacking to start the second quarter, it would be Richmond that would kick the opening goal. It would take 12 minutes of camping in their forward line for the Lions to answer with their first with the quarter into time on. The contrast between these efforts to draw within three points and those required by Richmond to take the game away from them couldn’t have been more stark.
Having absorbed all that Brisbane could thrown at them, the Tigers response was ruthless. In just seven minutes they kicked four goals to take a 28-point lead into the long break. After spending most of the quarter defending they finished it with a match-winning advantage.
The Tigers would find it less easy to score in the second half but continued to withstand the Lions attack. In contrast, Brisbane who again created more chances, would kick just one more goal to finish with 4.17 for the match.
What the Coaches Said
Damien Hardwick had particular praise for Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch, his much maligned forward duo. “They have been training incredibly well and we knew it would be a matter of time, I think Harris Andrews is probably the best defender in the land and I think our guys probably came out on top,” he said. “Our boys rose to the challenge, they have been putting in a hell of a lot of hard work and finally got the outcome we were looking for.”
Chris Fagan couldn’t answer why his team had struggled so badly in front of goals. “It is sort of embarrassing that I have to answer this question because you guys will assess it and go well there is something going wrong,” he said. (But) we practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice I can tell you that right now. At training we kick quite accurately and we try to do it when they are fatigued and all those sort of things you do. We follow all the basics of good goal kicking practice, but it didn’t show… it seems to happen against Richmond.”
RICHMOND 3.3 8.5 9.6 12.10 (82)
BRISBANE 2.3 3.8 3.15 4.17 (41)
Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Lynch 3, Aarts 2, Bolton, Higgins, Pickett
Brisbane: Cameron, Hipwood, McCarthy, Zorko
Richmond: Martin, Bolton, Lynch, Baker, Short, Balta
Brisbane: Neale, McInerney, McCarthy, Ah Chee, Lyons
Brisbane: Rayner (hamstring)