Richmond 5.2 6.3 8.8 9.12 (66)
Fremantle 4.1 7.3 9.6 12.6 (78)
Fremantle have broken a 10 match losing streak at the MCG by defeating a poor Richmond side by 12 points.
Fremantle seemed to have everything going against them when big man Aaron Sandilands was substituted out of the game early in the first quarter. In the tough wet conditions it was expected that the later substitution and fresh legs coming onto the ground for Richmond would be a massive advantage, but it was not to be the case.
In a week in which the majority of the pre match build up was spent analysing the Tigers’ strong form, Richmond fans would have every right to be bitterly disappointed with the effort shown. Coach Damien Hardwick spoke before the game about how patience and smart ball use would be required in order to combat the Fremantle game plan, but after quarter time, it appeared as though the tactics went out the window.
It was a free flowing opening as the Tigers did what Hardwick had implored his side to do tactically, with Fremantle lucky – thanks to skipper Matthew Pavlich who kicked three opening quarter goals – to be close to the Tigers. Richmond had an even spread of goal kickers and were winning the stoppages around the ground; but most importantly they were playing smart football free of panic.
Fremantle undoubtedly lifted after the break, but Richmond fell into the trap of rushing possessions and basically playing dumb football.
If Richmond weren’t trying to play dry weather footy in the wet, they were kicking it long to an outnumbered forward. If they weren’t kicking it long and hoping a team mate was near by, they were attempting dangerous switches of play which often backfired and allowed Fremantle shots on goal.
It was a poor style of play that would have frustrated Hardwick after the previous fortnight showed what the Tigers are truly capable of.
The weather could have been a factor, but against a side that rarely sees rain in Perth and after they belted Hawthorn in the wet recently, the idea that the wet affected Richmond more than Fremantle is nothing more than a fallacy. The fact is that with the rain falling constantly, players need to hit the contests harder and be smarter with their ball use, and only one side truly adapted to the conditions.
Fremantle were lead by a superb Pavlich, who finished with six goals. With the sides entering the final quarter with Fremantle on top by only four points, Richmond came out and controlled proceedings with the ball locked inside their forward half. Fremantle could only manage two forays forward, but it was all that Pavlich needed.
He goaled from outside 50, then marked the resulting centre clearance and kicked truly again, and Richmond never seriously challenged again. Jack Riewoldt had an injury concern in the first quarter but he played on, yet Richmond – a side which kicked 18 goals last week – looked devoid of legitimate scoring options up forward.
The Tigers’ midfield looked slow and flat after gaining so much respect in the past few weeks, and only Trent Cotchin performed when the pressure was on. Cotchin finished with 30 disposals, 18 contested, a goal and nine clearances and was clearly the Tigers best, but ultimately needed more assistance.
3) Matthew Pavlich
2) Trent Cotchin
1) Stephen Hill
Richmond: Edwards 3, Riewoldt, Vickery, Martin, Nahas, Cotchin, Tuck
Fremantle: Pavlich 6, Ballantyne 2, Crichton, Griffin, Mayne, De Boer
Richmond: Cotchin, Morris, Tuck, Edwards
Fremantle: Pavlich, De Boer, Ballantyne, Johnson, Barlow, Hill
Richmond: Jack Riewoldt (ankle)
Fremantle: Sandilands (foot)
Richmond: Ben Griffiths replaced by Brett O’Hanlon at three quarter time
Fremantle: Aaron Sandilands (foot) replaced by Hayden Crozier in the first quarter
Umpires: Donlon, Schmitt, Mollison
Official crowd: 43,801 at the MCG