History at the MCG
For an entire decade, from 2008 through 2017, West Coast had won just 5 of 23 encounters at The MCG (three 12-goal-ave wins over Melbourne, a 7-point win over Carlton, and The Tigs’ R12 ’15 loss).
Whilst WC was struggling to shake their MCG hoodoo; Richmond was embarking on an unparalleled period of dominance at the same venue. Since R1 ‘17, Richmond has won 36 of 41 matches at The ‘G. This record includes a streak of 22 consecutive wins which eclipsed the 62-year-old VFL/AFL record previously held by Melbourne.
However, West Coast appear to have turned a corner in this regard, since R1 ’18 they haven’t dropped a game. Like many of the interstate premiers that came before them; they now travel to the home of footy sitting equal first for all-time consecutive wins at The MCG for an interstate side.
Consecutive Wins at the MCG
Consecutive Wins at the MCG
Consecutive Wins at the MCG (Interstate Teams Only)
In other words – this weekend West Coast are playing for the title of best non-Victorian MCG performer of all time. To win the title, they must defeat the best Victorian performer of all time in Richmond.
Any-and-all spots in the Top 4 are currently up for grabs by any-and-all of the four teams sitting within it (Geel, Bris, WC, Rich). Much has been made of form lines since the bye and how these sides are timing their run into finals. For those following along at home; Geelong (LWLWLWLW) has struggled v. some average opposition and Brisbane (WWWWWWWW) has been red-hot, winning every game by an average of 38 points (two of those v Top 8 sides).
West Coast have maintained decent pre-bye form vs. average opposition, winning by an average of 32 points and dropping one game by a point to the only Top 8 side faced (Collingwood at home).
Having recovered from a horrific run of injuries before the bye, Richmond have been white-hot, winning every game by a 40-point average. Convincingly beating fellow Top 4 contenders in GWS and Collingwood, Top 8 side Port and recent scraps over Melbourne and Carlton.
The Importance of this Game
The points for/against differential between our two teams is astounding this late in a season. A 30-point win Richmond’s way would mean a single (one) point away/for differential either way, and we’d sit less than 0.0001% above WC on the ladder. Should we lose however, Collingwood and GWS are hot on our heals and will no doubt snap up our Top 4 spot before the season’s out. We absolutely must win this game to consolidate our second chance in the finals.
Last Time We Met
R9 ’18, WC (20.10.130) def. Rich (12.11.83) @ Optus Stadium
West Coast had us on the ropes from the outset and recorded an emphatic eighth win on their path to 10-straight (their best run since 1996).
After quarter time, The Tigs applied their trademark pressure and were able to wrestle back a 22-point deficit, entering the main break with scores level.
In the second half, however, everything went West Coast’s way. Hurn and McGovern were impassable in defence and the home side’s precise kicking game cut Richmond to pieces.
Jack Darling continued his dominant run as WC’s KPF and arguably the best performing player in the competition, with a career-high 6 goals and 7 contested marks.
The sell-out home crowd willed The Eagles (and the umpires) on, kicking 13 goals to 6 in the second half and running out 47-point winners, overtaking Richmond atop the ladder.
Riewoldt (5 goals, 4 contested marks) was Richmond’s best, with Nankervis putting forward a courageous performance versus the Naitanui/Lycett double-team. Martin (17 contested pos, 8 SI’s and 8 clearances) was also impressive but mostly unassisted in the middle.
Last Weeks’ Teams
Richmond: 1) Graham, 2) Prestia, 3) Vlastuin, 4) Edwards, 5) Ross
West Coast: 1) Darling, 2) Rioli, 3) Yeo, 4) Shuey, 5) Allen
West Coast: Nil
Richmond – IN: Martin, Soldo, OUT: Bolton (Omitted), Chol (Omitted)
West Coast – IN: Cameron, OUT: Petruccelle (Omitted)
How the Game’s Won
Richmond are the undisputed best at what they do; their game relies on intercepts, high tackle differentials and repeated inside 50’s. Through relentless pressure, they force teams to make mistakes and turn it over to a lighting fast run and spread.
West Coast’s game is the polar opposite and they’re also the best at what they do. Their game relies on frequent and accurate kicking, a low disposal/scoring ratio, they rarely turn it over and they rarely get tackled.
Def v. Fwd – Grimes v. Ryan & Rioli
Once the ball’s I50, West Coast perform very similar to us – if Darling and Kennedy aren’t clunking marks, their smalls are going to work and creating opportunities from thin air. Once they’re in, they usually score. Grimes is in All-Australian form and we’ve seen him do a number on talls and smalls alike, time and time again.
Midfield – Graham v. Shuey
The Eagles are unstoppable on the outside, so we need to deny them first use of the ball. Shuey is their best clearance player and Graham is the pressure machine that will bring him down.
Fwd v. Def – Lynch v. McGovern
McGovern and Hurn’s intercept and rebound 50 numbers are something to behold – if you thought Vlasy and Houli’s numbers were good, they pale in comparison. McGovern’s contested marking numbers are among the best in the competition, second only to Tom Lynch.
At the end of Round 21, the punters have Richmond and WC as equal flag favourites, form-wise the two sides are also on par. This is a great opportunity to see how our game stacks up against the reigning premiers, but it’s also a must win for both teams.
Broad (50 games played)
The Bookies – Richmond by 8
Squiggle.com.au – Richmond by 15
My Heart – Richmond by 30
My Head – Richmond by 29