That was as bad a game of footy as I ever want to see. We kicked at goal and around the ground atrociously, copped injuries all over the place, our skills were 2008-standard, the game plan was mystifying and the individual efforts you could respect were few and far between. And Collingwood were worse.
On top of that we lost by the worst margin of all, from a ropey free kick with 4 seconds to go. Oh, and the morons [and I mean that in the strict 1950s medical sense] of the United Patriots Front chose this game to bring an anti-mosques banner to the MCG and also favour Collingwood with their support.
Despite all this, today I still love footy. And I don’t know quite what I can put that down to except that its only April and there is time to improve. Here are my positives.
- Jayden Short played out of his skin on his debut – which is not a guarantee of longevity (Dean Polo, Dan Connors) but it really counted for something in such a damp team effort.
- I was impressed with our approach when in possession right from the start – everyone seemed to have taken some Dustin Martin pills. Instead of the handball putting a mate under pressure or the underground kick, Tigers were taking and breaking tackles. Even young players were backing themselves in and despite this tactic we didn’t give up a holding the ball free kick in the first half at all.
- Jack willed himself into the game
- Shaun Hampson had a hell of a game. He’s not a popular Tiger and if Maric was available 100% of fans would prefer Maric. And watching him kick for goal could be an alternative non-custodial sentence. But he never gave up, a lot of his tap work was excellent, he laid a superb shirtfront and all carrying a calf injury he picked up in the opening minutes.
- The youth policy is a good one and we have to keep at it. Menadue, Short, Townsend and Lambert (twice) have been in the best players in these two poor team efforts.
- Regardless of what is going on in his head, Ty is our most reliable kick for goal.
Of course there were negatives everywhere you look.
- Again many high profile players had no impact, and it was left to too few. Rance was so good last week but really out of sorts all through last night.
- Turnovers all night destroyed any flow we looked like developing. Some of the culprits had better dig out the Melways because they’ll be playing at Morris Street, Williamstown next weekend.
- Kicking for goal was very poor. As John Carr observes in his Midnight Pod of Misery, in one case a left footer lined up for goal like he wasn’t sure what foot he was going to use and kicked it exactly where it was always going to go. Dusty could employ the orthodox drop punt more often.
- Related; our system needs serious work if it results in suspect kicks like Cotch or Hampson taking set shots. They are always going to miss and that’s a promising inside 50 wasted. As Hampson lined up for goal Bruce McAvaney said “Can kick a goal” – my 14yo said “well yes, technically correct”.
- Some 2nd year players who played a lot of games last year with the fearlessness of youth, looked last night like they knew enough to have doubts.
- Decision making is affected by tiredness, and ours was dreadful in the last quarter.
- I have serious concerns for Ty’s wellbeing. Within 10 minutes he handpassed to a team-mates back, and dobbed a shortpass inside 50 to someone who wasn’t there. He also came out of a pack where Jack had been awarded a mark in front of goal, waving his arms as though appealing for a free. Is he really over his concussion?
- Injuries are mounting. Shaun Grigg’s calf, Shaun Hampson’s calf, Short’s shoulder, Astbury’s whack in the face all caused concern, and Grimes didn’t return after halftime after a low hammy strain. Unavailable for this game were Edwards, Yarran, Deledio, Maric and Conca. I think we are going to see more youngsters than we expected to over the next month
So more negatives than positives of course. To come are Adelaide at Docklands, West Coast over yonder and Melbourne at the MCG. If you know anything at all about Richmond, you’ll know the one I am dreading is the Dees.