Preview Round 7 2021: Richmond Vs Western Bulldogs 30/04 MCG 7:50pm

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Siberian Taiga

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Friday sees Richmond taking on the Curs of the Western Kennel. These two old foes were originally scheduled to meet in a praccy at Lavvie, an exotic place in New South Wales otherwise known as Broady-on-the-Border, way back in February. However, Covid kills schedules like Victoria legalising one-armed bandits killed the pokies shuffle that once plied the long route from the likes of Broady to Lavvie. And like pressing a button killed off pulling a lever. Now, if only Melbourne had pulled their Lever from the team...

Some new digital versions are not necessarily an improvement on the analogue ones, however. This rings true for the club that refuses to be Footiscray,. Both versions, the 'Scrays and Western Whatevers, resulted in a premiership. The first of these two flags was vaguely tethered to actual ability, some time before I was born (and I'm no young pup). The second was tethered at Docklands, strategically placed by the doors of AFL House, thus opening the possibilities for a pat from passing umpires seemingly unable to separate the wide acceptance of throwing of balls for dogs from the throwing of balls by Dogs.

Fortunately, the modern red, white and blue premiership of 2016 awoke the sleeping tiger to the possibility that if Jason Johanissen could win a Norm Smith Medal playing rugby, then Dustin Martin could win a cabinet full playing Australian rules, which he duly did, the last being awarded just six months ago. In Brisbane, of all places.

Brissie, of course, is famous for being the new home of Adam. Treloar's missus. That should not be confused with a boom midfield recruit running into the fifty and having a flying shot at a six-pointer, which translates as Adam.Treloar misses. At least, that's what we hope happens.

The new Treloar residential arrangements would ultimately lead to the Baron of Broady, Eddie Maguire, and his court jester, Bucks, finding excuse to rehouse the unwanted pantomime villain. And eventually save a few bucks in the process, but probably not Bucks and definitely not Eddie.

By adding the exiled Treloar to their pelter pound, the Dropdogs have now risen to the lofty status of the World's best midfield, according to Nicky dal Santo who said on SEN earlier this year, "Treloar, Bontempelli, Macrae, Hunter, Smith, Dunkley and ‘Libba’ - obviously only three of four go through at a time and you throw in a couple of wingers, but you tell me a better midfield than that?"

Fortunately, Nick's Italian surname meaning, of the Saints, coincidently says all we need to know about him. Thus, we can forget about his opinion, which may or may not be different to his wrong opinions twelve months prior, and focus on those who actually know how to win a premiership. Or three. And hopefully four.

What should come to the fore in this game is that it is a match at the MCG. In other words, it is rather surprisingly not at the Doglands Divan where this round's opponent's leisure is much more befitting their status as treasured pets. Following their through-the-dogflap-of-opportunity escape from the confines of decades of mediocrity, they have only one thing to hang their canine hat on since 2016 - Sam Lloyd famously won their goal-kicking award. Oh, and they kept beating Richmond due to the Curse of the Western Kennel. This curse was the brainchild of the AFL, whereby they fixtured almost all such matches away from the home of both football and common decency. Both facts hardly bothered a single Richmond fan in recent times, though.

Therein lay the differing trajectories of the two clubs both of whom, just three years ago, stood with one recent flag each. One club celebrated the weakest premiership in the last half century rather too hard. The other club worked hard to have something more to celebrate.

Thus, in a perfect world, this match would be a celebration of the triumph of a footy dimmasty over a flash-in-the-pan. Or, more correctly, a slash-in-a-bedpan in the absence of a tree (and if that seems incongruous, one has maybe never experienced the incongruity of being a Richmond supporter at the cesspool that was the then Western Oval some time around the Eighties when all things Richmond starting disappearing down the drainhole).

However, while the days of Richmond members agonising over praccy matches and where the club would be fixtured against the wailing Hounds of Braybrookville are long gone, Richmond's most recent outings have not been entirely smooth flowing. Indeed, even the beating of Saint Kilda could be regarded as the sort of anomaly seen when once great teams have a day out in an otherwise disappearing year. No doubt that idea will play out across the internet, for people like to beat things up a bit. The beating that West Coast took in Geelong is a case in point. A couple of injuries to West Coast key players and the wheagling excuses come tumbling out, as if that made all the difference. Meanwhile no mention is made of the absent Dion Prestia, Nick Vlastuin and Ivan Soldo in Richmond's run of form. The long-term loss of the last of those three is bigger than is often acknowledged, which isn't hard as it's never acknowledged. And we can live with that.

The Dog's drafting recognised their rucking deficiencies with their punt on big Stefan.Martin, knowing he won't get ragged like an English doll. While the former Brisbane big man has done well so far, the jury is still out on whether or not he'll eventually end up shuffling like the pensioners reboarding that long-gone pokies bus. Right now, though, the wrong Martin's the main man, as Stefan shoulders all with Tim English out with a facial injury. All this brings us, of course, to Dustin Martin and unfortunately another head injury.

In the last four years, the game has been played increasingly under Dustin Martin's buzzcut, which is only right and proper because Bontempelli's hair just doesn't cut it. Part of that has been down to Dusty's incredible durability. Without him, Richmond now could do with some reinforcements.

As for the Dishlickers, one can understand how after sixty bone dry seasons*, they really needed a Beveridge. In dog years, that's a long time between drinks.

*It could be said to be sixty-one, but they were runners-up in '61, so we won't count that one because we can afford to be magnanimous.

KEY MATCH-UP
This one is easy, being the whistles with opposition rule transgressions..

If these two dovetail together in fairness, we'll see a good game. If they don't it could be a dog's breakfast and we all know what that looks like, for we've seen more than enough of that this season already.

ON PAPER
This comes down to the World's best midfield versus a clapped out dynasty team or an even better midfield, plus a better backline and a better forward line, depending upon how you see it.

THE FOUR POINTS
Tigers by four points.

I'd like to say by more, but I'd need to see who's back first.

POSTSCRIPT
The club has won three premierships in four years, with the second year failure delivering a minor premiership and a preliminary final appearance. This, in an 18-club professional and national league, with no assistance from umpires, living allowances, forced destination transfers, uncompromised drafts and various other leg-ups.

The club has won ten of twelve finals in that time, with the two losses being to clubs that either finished a close second in the home and away season or a close second in the finals. The grand finals wins were all by a minimum of five goals and the narrowest of those winning margins, by a fair percentage, was in a game effectively reduced to three quarters in response to a pandemic.

The full team includes arguably the best player of all time and, inarguably, the best finals player of all time (and a bloke who wore number 29 in my youth took some beating there).

If the club can pull off another flag win in the next two years, it will prove itself not just the best Richmond side I have seen, nor the best Richmond side ever seen, but the best Australian rules football team of all time.

If that seems a little over-the-top, history may well be on Richmond's side. The club won five flags (beginning in 1920) before the Footscray Bulldogs won their single one, after which Richmond won five more. After that, the Western Bulldogs won one and Richmond have since won three, suggesting that there may be two more to come before the Dogs are top dogs again.

Enjoy the thought of that prospect. Brad Johnson certainly won't.

POST-POSTSCRIPT
And there it is - a whole preview without mentioning the bad blood between these two clubs earlier this century.

While I won't name names, I'm sure we all know which Liberatore I'm talking about.
 
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Ashman OG

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I called for it last week its time for one half of the kebab gate in CCJ.

Not only does it give nank a needed chop out in the ruck it allows the likes of pickett, astbury and balta all to settle in their proper positions.

We also need another tall forward option to hopefully draw a defender away from lynch and allow him to get back to his best.
 

Lsta062

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Tall forward line’s the way to go with the way our smalls have been playing in my opinion. Prefer CCJ over Caddy because of his form in the 2s has been great. Also, he’s a genuine 2nd ruck to Nankervis. It means that we’ll be able to have Nankervis influence other parts of the ground like defence and offence with his strong marking as well.

Let’s stretch Bulldogs’ defence
 

juss

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We won't win, so let's throw the magnets around and get some players in.

Try Baker small forward, try Balta forward at times, bring in CCJ for the third KPF/second ruck. Get Lynch on his bike leading up to the wings. Rotate Cotch through the forward role. Play Graham as inside mid all game.

Bring in 3 of Naish, Ralphsmith, Rioli Jr, RCD.

The 4 points are gone regardless I'd rather see some different looks that might show us something.
 

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Lsta062

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I have a feeling that we’ll win for some reason. Well, the changes will tell more of a story but we like performing in back-to-the-wall games like this. Also, first time in a while that we weren’t favourites in a game so I think we’ll get up for it. We’re pretty good as hunters IMO.
 

tiger_tough

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We won't win, so let's throw the magnets around and get some players in.

Try Baker small forward, try Balta forward at times, bring in CCJ for the third KPF/second ruck. Get Lynch on his bike leading up to the wings. Rotate Cotch through the forward role. Play Graham as inside mid all game.

Bring in 3 of Naish, Ralphsmith, Rioli Jr, RCD.

The 4 points are gone regardless I'd rather see some different looks that might show us something.
We've overcome bigger obstacles in the last 4 years. Geez people jump off quick.
 

D_M_4

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We should lose .............. should
Doggies on fire right now, and it'll be hard with the injuries we got ........... but......
If we can find a way to convert and plug up the effectiveness of the doggies midfield, then I think were half a chance.

IN: CCJ, Caddy, Ross, RCD (If Grimes if he doesn't play)
OUT: Martin, Lambert, Aarts (Grimes if he's not fit)
 

juss

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We've overcome bigger obstacles in the last 4 years. Geez people jump off quick.
Gotta read the signs, I'm not ruling our season over but we aren't winning this week, against this opposition with this form and players missing.

There's pessimism, then there's realism. This one isn't going to be 4 points.
 

Football Tragic

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The reason our forwardline was struggling against Melbourne is because we were kicking it long into the F50 giving the defenders ample time to position themselves, spoil and crumb. It wasn't our forwardline that struggled, it was our midfield starting with our ruck.

I love Nank but he can be a liability against taller tap ruckmen. It was no coincidence that when both Balta or Pickett went into the middle, we won the stoppage and moved the ball out clearly from the center bounce. We are really missing Soldo for this. Nank is amazing around the ground; cutting off marks, tackling and his disposal but we need a better option when we are struggling in stoppages.

The Bulldogs midfield is probably the best in the league. We will be missing Prestia, Dusty and Lambert from our midfield group. That hurts. With Grimes out too, it would take a monumental effort to cover these omissions. I would like to see us play some of the kids and make it a backs to the wall theme.

The only way we will win this game is through intensity of effort. Throwing in some of our talented youngsters and telling them they have nothing to lose if they show desperation and fight, is a great way to see who really wants to break into this team and lock in a spot. It also inspires the rest of the team to buy into that desperation.

At the moment we are the hunted. Perhaps its time to turn the focus things on its head and make an opportunity out of adversity. Fight.
 
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The reason our forwardline was struggling against Melbourne is because we were kicking it long into the F50 giving the defenders ample time to position themselves, spoil and crumb. It wasn't our forwardline that struggled, it was our midfield starting with our ruck.

I love Nank but he can be a liability against taller tap ruckmen. It was no coincidence that when both Balta or Pickett went into the middle, we won the stoppage and moved the ball out clearly from the center bounce. We are really missing Soldo for this. Nank is amazing around the ground; cutting off marks, tackling and his disposal but we need a better option when we are struggling in stoppages.

The Bulldogs midfield is probably the best in the league. We will be missing Prestia, Dusty and Lambert from our midfield group. That hurts. With Grimes out too, it would take a monumental effort to cover these omissions. I would like to see us play some of the kids and make it a backs to the wall theme.

The only way we will win this game is through intensity of effort. Throwing in some of our talented youngsters and telling them they have nothing to lose if they show desperation and fight, is a great way to see who really wants to break into this team and lock in a spot. It also inspires the rest of the team to buy into that desperation.

At the moment we are the hunted. Perhaps its time to turn the focus things on its head and make an opportunity out of adversity. Fight.
It's not so much the bombing to F50 that kills us... It's the slow ball movement and transition. We skulk along the width of the ground and move sideways allowing the opposition defence to set up. If we bombed it forward while actually moving at Pace we could have more threat in 1v1 contests. The ball movement has just been poo and they're being too conservative and no backing each other or spending too much time setting up to prevent a counter (and ultimately doing a sh*te job of that because we allow clean possession in our forwardline to defenders anyway!).
 

tiger_tough

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Gotta read the signs, I'm not ruling our season over but we aren't winning this week, against this opposition with this form and players missing.

There's pessimism, then there's realism. This one isn't going to be 4 points.
They'll be without Dunkley, English and Bailey Williams at least who have all been very good this year.

We're a real chance.
 

Lsta062

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fu** , we havent played a good game on the G since the 2019 granny
That’s so true come to think of it.

- Carlton, Melbourne, Hawthorn and Collingwood were our games at the ‘G last year.
- Carlton, Melbourne, Sydney and Hawthorn were the ones this year so far.

None were great performances
 
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