Saturday nights we have dinner with my Mum and Dad. Since the Tiges have become box office gold, this often means a clash with the only game of the round I intend to watch. They are nice people who raised me so I am pretty disciplined about time-shifting the game and just focussing on what they are saying about their fruit trees, their friends’ health challenges and what things were like in Launceston in 1946. Drays feature heavily.
All this is by way of saying I watched the 2nd half of our heavy loss to the Bulldogs live (without taking notes), and have now just gone back to the start. The hard drive has some sort of palsy and won’t let me get past the Billy Gowers reverse-head-butt on Grimes. But I’ll give you what I’ve got.
Start was promising, lovely footwork from Ross stepping around big Z Cordy and centreing the ball for Lynch but it was intercepted by Kam McIntosh who goaled. But then Bontempelli [Italian for “little good times”?] began his masterclass which continued all night.
Mendadue crashed in hard to make a chance for McIntosh’s 2nd but he missed. Bolton hit a target by hand while being put in a spinning sleeper slam. Caleb Daniel having a clumsy game – gave the ball to Captain Sheds who hit up Caddy who notched our 2nd. Rioli was running into goal with only the pitter patter of little Caleb’s feet behind him and he shot from too far out, like an under 10. Next minute he was run over, coming up with sore leg and ribs. Dr Matthew Richardson suggested he’d picked up a “hip pointer”.
Dogs murdering their shots at goal. Stacky sold the dummy then gave to Baker who put it over the goal umpire’s hat. Baker has the now-standard Bulldogs munter hairdo. Bolton delivered a perfect pass to Balta 15m out but he dropped it under light pressure.
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Bont loped about doing as he pleased and found dear old Sam Lloyd who at last kicked straight. They’re the most inaccurate team in the league and that’s the only reason we went in 3 points up at quarter time, 3.2 to 2.5. Vlossy turned his ankle just before the siren and it looked like we might have lost another couple of senior Tigers.
After the restart Naughton was doing what he liked, playing on Broad, with Grimes on Gowers. I’d have swapped but then I’ve only coached u/12 school soccer. Darcy loved Naughton “marking it at it’s highest point”, the sign of a real doofus. Nank was exuding power and menace, the man just loves to tackle other humans. Dogs flicked the switch to ACCURATE and like that we were in trouble. Their mids were delivering it silkily under little pressure. The first 20 minutes were all Dogs and it rained goals at the Alan ‘Banana Legs’ Hopkins End.
Balta was getting a bath in defence but he’s hopefully learning heaps. Vlossy was never 100% after QT – he sold Stacky into terrible trouble from a kick-in but the young man has a touch of the Wanganeen rubberlegs and he eluded capture; then shortly after took a remarkable pack mark amongst taller timber. His composure is wonderful. He and Bolton both seem untackle-able.
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The last ten minutes of the term were all Tiges but our shape was all wrong. Our first shot of the term came from Nank. Broad was bobbing up on the edge of 50, he’s never scored a goal in his life. Terrific fellas but something’s amiss when the ball is repeatedly in their hands up the ground, not with say Sheds or Caddy or George. Finally just before half time Stacky delivered to Bachar who got a lucky free for beard-contact, and slotted a desperately needed goal.
After half time I raised the roof at home when Balta galloped around the boundary to kick a wonderful solo goal. Nank continued to tackle like a 2-metre-tall Maurice Rioli. Dusty was having an influence inside. But the Dogs just looked too tall for us. Dylan Grimes had an off game, which is like saying the last pylon standing had a bad day when London Bridge fell down. Was someone blocking for Naughton so no-one could get a run to spoil? It felt like it. He had a day out.
As we lost so badly, I think readers will forgive me skipping the last quarter; I thought I’d be able to rewatch but let us just draw a veil over it.
If we’d been playing a front-runner I would be happy to call this a natural tipping point; you can only cover x missing stars and now we have solved for x. There were the early injuries to Rioli and Vlossy, who played on but didn’t look nimble [Ed Richards ran around Vlossy towards the end of the night like he was set in concrete]. BUT – this was the Dogs, who are possibles for the lower end of the 8 at best (from where they can win the flag of course). I think there’s no excuses . Although I’m not bothered by the final margin we should never have let ourselves get that far back.
The Benny Votes
5 Stack – never looked flustered, never put a teammate under pressure.
4 Vlastuin – had his hands full and kept trying to play our way
3 Nankervis – up against a giraffe in English he played smart and his tackling was good
2 Baker – is getting more of it every week. A reliable kick for goal and good in traffic.
1 Bolton – also got his hands on it more than he has, his field kicking is sublime
Not too bad: McIntosh, Prestia, Lambert, Martin, Balta
Grimes, Lynch 12
Ellis, Prestia 4
Cotchin, Broad, Lambert, Houli 3
Ross, Baker 2
Rioli, Bolton 1
Blair Hartley Appreciation Award:for players who have joined Richmond from another club
(Eligible 2018: Caddy, Grigg, Houli, Lynch, Nankervis, Prestia, Townsend and Weller)
Anthony Banik Best First Year Player:for anyone who was yet to debut before round 1
(Eligible 2019: Balta, Coleman-Jones, Collier-Dawkins, Miller, Naish, Ross, Turner, Stack)
Joel Bowden’s Golden Left Boot:for left footers
(Eligible 2019: Chol, Grigg, Nankervis and Houli)
Greg Tivendale Rookie List Medal:
upgraded from the rookie list during the current season
Maurice Rioli Grip of Death Trophy:
For the Tiges top tackler in 2019
McIntosh, Lambert 24,