Yet another season that promised so much for the yellow in black is about to agonisingly fall short of finals yet again. After promising wins over the Lions and Bulldogs, the Tigers late-season charge came crashing down at the hands of Aaron Sandilands against Fremantle.
The Tigers have great wins over the current top two sides, Hawthorn and Sydney, to hang their hat on for season 2012, but will be ruing the last-gasp losses to the Gold Coast and Carlton that see them needing to win their remaining two games just to finish their familiar ninth.
Richmond will be without Ben Griffiths (concussion), and Jake (push up) King – who notched three goals against Fremantle – giving a chance for Jake Batchelor, David Astbury or Todd Elton.
After spending a bulk of the mid-season in the top four mix, the Bombers have nose-dived to be limping out of the season in which they were supposed to be taking the next step, yet they still remain just one game out of the eight. The 96-point touch up by their bitter rivals Carlton was Essendon’s fifth straight loss that included a 94 point walloping by Hawthorn.
In a long and colourful more than century-old rivalry, the Bombers hold a slight lead overall 102 – 84 with four draws and also just held on to win the Dreamtime game in round eight by 19-points after taking a 42-point lead, but being headed in the last quarter after a stirring Tiger comeback.
The Bombers will be without Jake Carlisle, who injured his ankle against the Blues, and stalwart defender Dustin Fletcher is unlikely to start. Tayte Pears should come in for Carlisle, with an opportunity for some young blood in either Elliott Kavanagh or Nick O’Brien in the mix after strong efforts in the VFL.
Trent Cotchin has been in stellar form for the Tigers– racking up 32 touches against the Dockers – and can wrap up the AFL Players Association award with any votes. Cotchin will most likely come up against Heath Hocking who will be desperate to atone for a quiet game on Chris Judd in his return from suspension.
Jobe Watson has been getting a bit of the ball for the Bombers, but is also too easily quelled with a lack of support in the Essendon midfield.
Jack Riewoldt has admonished his own season, despite currently sitting second in the Coleman Medal, and will
be out for a big game against a Bombers defence with a sizeable Fletcher’s-arms size hole.
Essendon have dropped out of the eight for the first time since round one, yet even the glimmer of hope offered by being just one game back from finals can’t compete against their dreadful recent form. Richmond are coming off a season sapping loss, yet should fire for the Friday night lights at the G and help but the Bombers out of their misery.
Richmond by 14