We don’t have a great record against the Dogs. We beat them last year which impressed me, but lost in 2017 and 2019. They are one of several teams whom we often struggle against, even when we are travelling a lot better than they are. Right now they are on six wins and on top of the ladder. We have won three and lost three and you could say that our season hangs in the balance. That might be a slight exaggeration, but you could still say it and plenty of pundits are.
I can’t get a ticket without paying a lot for an average seat and so I don’t go and I don’t feel bad about that. And with the children out doing their own thing it’s just my partner and me at home. She suggests In the Line of Duty and I think that sounds good. I’ll tape the footy and if we get smashed I won’t even have to watch it.
In any case, I get to see the first quarter before she gets home and it doesn’t look great. In fact, it looks a like our game against Melbourne – long stretches of fruitless Richmond dominance, good opportunities wasted, followed by bursts of counter-attack from the Dogs where they kick a goal. If it keeps going like this we’ll get “dashed” as my daughter once put it.
The Tigers begin well, winning the first clearance and getting the ball in quickly to Riewoldt who takes a good mark, turns and kicks it into Lynch who gets hands to it but can’t take the grab. Broad and others defend well against the fist Doggies attack and after three minutes Lynch marks Short’s thoughtful kick deep in the pocket. He kicks a good point on the near side.
Collier-Dawkins wins a free, his first kick in AFL, on the forward flank. He sends it in quite quickly but we can’t take a grab. Baker is already very busy on the forward line. Riewoldt flies but can’t hold it, Eastern-Wood has the ball forever and loses it in the tackle but there’s no free. The Dogs rebound and Scott snaps and goals from a tight angle. It’s 1.1 to our single point, after five minutes of Richmond domination.
Lynch marks 80m out and kicks it to a Bulldog. But he keeps trying, takes another very good mark and passes Collier-Dawkins 48m out. The young feller dishes off to Short who kicks long and misses. He should have let the young feller do that by himself.
Nankervis makes a huge tackle on Bailey Dale. No doubt about the Tigers’ intent, but can they bring their skill? Lynch marks and misses from 50 out on a 45 angle.
Balta kicks a bomb into Lynch who marks beautifully for the fifth time and misses from 25 metres.
Mitch Hannan misses a shot that’s almost as easy which must make Lynch feel better. Broad is playing very well again and clears the ball well from deep in the back line.Embed from Getty Images
Bruce marks strongly and goals and it’s 2.3 to 0.4. Naughton marks with nobody near him and the Dogs have three and we don’t have any. The Dogs’ handballs are lightning fast and for all our effort their rebounds are slick and damaging. Our defence is starting to crack too and Grimes’ clearing kick goes straight to Bruce who fires it back quickly. The moment is saved with good defending from Mansell or Collier-Dawkins, I can’t tell which, and a fairly blatant rushed behind from Grimes who gets away with it.
Lynch is having a terrible night. Well, not quite as bad as against Melbourne where he seemed to go missing, but he can’t hit the side of large house with the footy.Embed from Getty Images
But for all his woes he doesn’t give up. He marks Bolton’s kick on the edge of the goal-square and after a series of elaborate hand-signals that would have been visible from low-Earth orbit he dishes off a handball rather than take the set shot. Aarts receives it and is nearly taken down by two Doggie’s defenders. But he still kicks the goal and all is not lost.
Lynch has taken seven marks and kicked three points.
Quarter-time score: Richmond 1.4 to Bulldogs 3.6
At this time we begin watching In the Line of Duty and I feel good about the decision. Why inflict misery upon yourself? We watch three episodes and by the time I switch back to the footy the song is being sung and the smiling captain is being interviewed. Luckily, I have set the tape and I make it a late night by going back to the second quarter and watching through to the end.
The quarter starts badly when Bailey Smith takes a brave mark from McIntosh’s hurried kick and goals from 50. We are 20 points down. Riewoldt takes a soaring mark 60 out and kicks in quickly to Lynch who can’t mark. The Doggie’s clear it again. Toby takes a strong pack mark, on the half-back flank, kicks it to Shedda who kicks to Bolton who goes on a little run, gets around an opponent and fires in a perfect pass to Aarts 25 out who misses.
We’re not playing badly though. Balta takes a great intercept mark and we move the ball well upfield, Lynch kicks perfectly to Riewoldt whose kick is disappointing. Bolton is grabbed without the footy and seconds later doesn’t quite hold the mark of the year. There is quite a period of Tiger domination but no goals to show for it. Pickett has a good chance and misses. The Dogs rebound in seconds and Naughton marks and goals and we’re 25 points down.
Rioli handpasses to Lynch who misses and we’re 1.7 to 5.7. At least we’ve caught up on the behinds.
Lynch kicks another point. With a minute and a half left we finally kick a goal. Cotch takes a brave mark going back with the flight, he passes to Graham who scoops it up, runs in and kicks to the square. Bolton roves the crumb and bangs it through from two metres out and we can all breath again. It’s 2.8 to 5.8 – our second goal in almost a half of footy.
With 20 seconds left Bontempelli wins a free for falling over and misses from 20 out.Embed from Getty Images
Half-time score: Richmond 2.8 to Bulldogs 5.9
Balta thwarts another Dog attack. He is having a very good game, as is Baker who seems to be in everything. He goes for a beautiful run at half-forward and sends it to Riewoldt laces out who marks and goals from about 45. This move began with Bolton who found Baker with precision and vision.Embed from Getty Images
With about five minutes gone Treloar kicks high and not terribly long out of defence. McIntosh marks with courage and gives it to Baker who takes his time and kicks long, low and straight to Lynch who marks right in front, five metres out. Bakers’ poise and pass were perfect and Lynch goals at last and we’re right back in it. Who ever doubted that we could be? It’s 4.8 to 5.9.
Baker tackles Keath and brings him to earth but BT calls this as “Baker is run over by Keath.” In the words of Chris Rees, this man oozes misinformation. The fact that Keath is clearly taller and heavier than Baker might also be worthy of comment.
Graham roves the subsequent ball-up, snaps and goals and we’re only a point behind. The ball has scarcely been out of our forward line for five minutes.
Bolton kicks a point from long range and scores are level. Baker is tackling everyone, the bigger they are the harder he tackles. The Dogs go for 20 minutes without a possession forward of the centre. Houli wins a lucky free for high contact and kicks it long to Lynch who marks 25 out. He goes back and kicks it and we’re in front and Lynch’s kicking problems are behind him. It’s all happened very quickly and there are still 11 minutes left in the quarter.Embed from Getty Images
With six minutes left the inside-50s are 16 to zero for the quarter and we’re seven points up. Shortly after that the Dogs get forward which is disappointing but was bound to happen. Naughton marks and goals and we’re only a point in front.
With three and a half left Lynch marks and goals from 45 out on a 45 angle and he’s got three for the quarter.
The Doggies attack and very nearly goal but some desperate, and, by the commentators, completely un-remarked defence, turns it into a point. The little things that these well-paid footy watchers miss is astounding.
The siren sounds as Collier-Dawkins is running towards the 50 with the ball in his hands.
Three-quarter-time score: Richmond 7.10 to the Bulldogs 6.10
For about five minutes there are a few points but no goals and the Tigers hold onto their one-goal lead. The umpiring isn’t bad, but it does seem a bit lax. You know this is true when you start saying out loud “That should have been a Bulldogs free kick for high contact”. I find myself saying this quite a lot, but this is easier to say when the result is known.
After five and a half minutes Richmond find space on the wing, Ross sends a long bomb into the square, Baker pounces on the crumb and goals from five yards out and we’re two goals up. The kick from Ross was a sixty-metre monster, sent in quickly and bound to trouble the defence.Embed from Getty Images
Bontempelli marks on a tight angle after the ball seems to have gone out of bounds. He passes to Shache who goals from right in front and we’re back to a one-goal lead with 12 minutes left.
With the ball on our half-forward flank the Dogs look set to break away after a chain of quick handballs until Baker lays a huge tackle on Lapinksi and throws him out of bounds. Baker is one of the smallest players in the AFL, so unless he’s tackling Caleb Daniel, he’s always taking on someone bigger. This impresses me but the Seven commentators are unmoved.
Lipinski has a chance to level the scores, runs in and hits the post. Tigers by five points.
Richmond attack and Castagna passes to Houli who marks 45 out, takes a few breaths, walks in and goals from the 50 as the Dogs kindly had nobody on the goal-line. The ball went over the pack and bounced across. Thank you Doggies. It’s Houli’s first goal for two years.Embed from Getty Images
There are seven minutes left and we’re 11 points up.
With five minutes left Bolton nearly pulls down mark of the year, again, this time with one hand. From the boundary throw-in Lynch grabs the footy, handballs to Bolton who dances through traffic and goals and we’re 17 points up.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
The dogs have a chance to pull one back when Naughton marks on a strong lead but from 40 out he wins Worst Kick of the Past Ten Years Award and the Tigers clear the footy.
Cotch goes off and puts the trackie top on and Naish gets a run for the last few minutes. Going by their thick, dark hair this is what’s known as a “like-for-like” substitution. It’s a good sub too. Naish chases Hunter who has taken two bounces and is then tackled just as he gets a handball away. The tackle means the ball doesn’t go where it’s meant to and Richmond win the footy back. It goes to Naish who passes to Bolton who marks directly in front.
Naish is hugged by his team-mates for his never-give-up effort. Bolton goals and the game is over, we’re 22 points up with 90 seconds left.
Final Score: Richmond 11.11.77 to the Bulldogs 7.13.55
It’s been a huge second half. Our best players have been, well, the whole team really. But the standouts for me are Bolton, Balta, Broad and Baker, mainly for alliterative purposes. Also really good are Cotchin, Houli, Grimes, Graham, Astbury, Ross…it really was the whole team who lifted. As usual I forgot Toby. He was magnificent. And the fact that it is always very hard to pick our best few players is something I love dearly about our Tigers.Embed from Getty Images