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Footyology countdown: No reason Tiger tale can’t continue


Dan Butler (left) and Jason Castagna: two terriers helping Richmond set new standards of forward half pressure on opponents. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Footyology countdown: No reason Tiger tale can’t continue

Rohan Connolly    

RICHMOND
2017 record: 18 wins, 7 losses (1st)
List age ranking (oldest to youngest): 12th
List experience ranking (most to fewest games): 10th
Footyology draw ranking (easiest to hardest): 16th

THE INS
Jack Higgins (Oakleigh Chargers), Callum Coleman-Jones (Sturt), Noah Balta (Calder Cannons), Patrick Naish (Northern Knights), Ben Miller (Subiaco), Liam Baker (Subiaco), Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (Richmond VFL)

THE OUTS
Chris Yarran (retired), Ivan Maric (retired), Ben Griffiths (retired), Steven Morris (delisted), Todd Elton (delisted), Taylor Hunt (delisted), Ben Lennon (delisted), Jake Batchelor (delisted)

THE BEST 22
B: Nick Vlastuin, Alex Rance, Dylan Grimes
HB: Bachar Houli, David Astbury, Brandon Ellis
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Daniel Rioli
HF: Shane Edwards, Jack Riewoldt, Kane Lambert
F: Jacob Townsend, Josh Caddy, Dan Butler
Foll: Toby Nankervis, Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia
Inter: Jason Castagna, Kamdyn McIntosh, Jack Graham, Shai Bolton
Emerg: Nathan Broad, Conor Menadue, Reece Conca

THE PROGNOSIS
Perception is a powerful thing in football, and so, six months after it happened, there’s still a sizeable army of sceptics struggling with the concept of Richmond as reigning AFL premier despite the Tigers’ achievements and the catalogue of evidence to back them up.

Richmond’s mediocre 2016 season proved an aberration, not the norm. The Tigers had been finalists three years in a row before, twice with 15 wins, and with some tweaking to the game plan in 2017, an embracing of the positives and the ramping up of pressure to a level previously unseen, reached even greater heights.

But the scepticism now will be about the Tigers’ capacity to hold that status in a season with any number of would-be challengers to the throne, and the example of their predecessor as premier, the Western Bulldogs, held up as the obvious danger tale.

Similarly to the Dogs, it’s hunger and drive from within as much as any rival that will prove Richmond’s greatest obstacle in 2018. Because the more tangible indicators still stack up in the Tigers’ favour.

The drought-breaking flag was one built on intense physical pressure on the opposition. That pressure has certainly shown no sign of abating in the Tigers’ two JLT Series hit-outs against Essendon and North Melbourne.

What took Richmond from merely one of the leading pack to late last season an out-and-out leader, however, was its capacity to score from the turnovers that pressure forced.

The Tigers had topped the 100-point mark only four times in their first 20 games of 2017. They did it four times in their last five, and scored 91 points in the other game. Scores of 124 and 128 points against the Bombers and Roos in the last two weeks indicate there’s to be no letting up on that front, either.

Theirs is also still a young and improving list. Richmond will go into 2018 ranked only the 12th oldest combination in the AFL and in terms of games played, only the 10th most experienced.

Much has been spoken about the improvement of the Tigers’ second-tier players last year. But even the cream at the top is still undersold a little. As terrific as they are, it’s not just about Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt. Throw in Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy, and Richmond has four starting midfielders who were all originally top 10 draft picks.

And the Tigers’ forward set-up based around one hard-working key forward in Riewoldt, a couple of adaptable medium-sizers and two or three ground-level terriers like Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Daniel Rioli, far from being makeshift, looks more likely to become standard among those trying to emulate Richmond’s success.

Hunger? Well, there’s plenty of depth, the likes of Shai Bolton, exciting draftee Jack Higgins, Reece Conca and Conor Menadue just a sample of those banging on the door of the best 22. And another reason last year’s fairytale can be not just a one-off, but the start of something which will continue for some time yet.

THE PREDICTION
3rd. Right in the flag mix again. No shortage of other worthy contenders, but if the Tigers haven’t lost any of their ferocity, they’ll be very hard to toss.

THE LADDER SO FAR (click on team to read)
3. RICHMOND
4. MELBOURNE
5. SYDNEY
6. GWS
7. GEELONG
8. ESSENDON
9. WESTERN BULLDOGS
10. HAWTHORN
11. COLLINGWOOD
12. ST KILDA
13. WEST COAST
14. NORTH MELBOURNE
15. BRISBANE
16. CARLTON
17. FREMANTLE
18. GOLD COAST

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3 Comments
  1. This is just the beginning of a Tiger Dynasty. By seasons end the tiges will be known as the afl Invincibles

  2. Good God Rowan, blasphemy! That leaves Adelaide and Port Adelaide. To think of either of those South Australian heathen setting foot on the hollowed MCG turf is hard enough, but together, on the last day in September?

    Memo to: AFL
    Memo from: All Victorian followers of football
    Subject: We need a rule……..and, we need it now and forever more!

  3. Adelaide & Port Adelaide on top then? Bahaha

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