Friday, June 19, 2015, 7.50pm AEST, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Watch on Seven, Fox Sports
Ladder position: Richmond: Eighth, West Coast: Third
Record: Richmond: 6-4-0, West Coast: 8-3-0
Last five: Richmond: LWWWW, West Coast: WWWLW
SURPRISE packet West Coast sits third on the ladder and has the tough task of travelling to Melbourne to take on a flying Richmond.
The mighty Tigers ($1.78 with WilliamHill.com.au) have won four games on the trot, including a stirring victory over Fremantle in Perth that many are hailing as Damien Hardwick’s best win as coach of the club.
They’ve had a week’s rest, while the Eagles ($2.10 with CrownBet.com.au) defeated an Essendon side sapped by injuries and the weight of more issues with the supplements scandal, 14.12 (96) to 6.10 (46), at home.
Before the bye, the Tigers were unbelievable against a side many think is the best in the competition, rolling Fremantle at Domain Stadium, 15.7 (97) to 10.10 (70).
Dustin Martin was a beast, grabbing in 34 disposals with eight marks, five tackles and a goal.
Two men who are fast joining Richmond’s elite, Brandon Ellis, with 26 touches and Shane Edwards with 25 were both in the best, while much maligned Tyrone Vickery almost looked like an AFL footballer with three goals.
The Tigers withstood a record breaking effort from towering Freo big man Aaron Sandilands, who had more hit outs to advantage than any one else ever has in a single game.
But coach Damien Hardwick said his charges did their best to negate the Dockers gun midfielders, despite them getting first purchase out of big Sandi.
“Martin was trying to match up Nat Fyfe, who was incredible again,” Hardwick said.
“Some of those hit outs from Sandilands, straight to him.
“I thought our midfield battled really well.
“It was a tough, hard-fought game.”
He held high praise for Martin and several other charges.
“I was really pleased with Dustin’s output and Trent Cotchin, our captain (who had 25 disposals), led well.
“I thought Ivan Maric toiled manfully against a monster, really.
“I thought Ivan around the ground tried to work Sandilands as hard as he could.
“We obviously lost the clearance battle easily, but I thought Ivan around the ground held his own if not won that part of the game.”
The Tigers only had 36 entries into the forward 50 in the match, but still managed to win, Hardwick putting it down to superior accuracy.
“It’s not often we kick eight goals and it’s not often you kick eight goals against Fremantle, so we were pleasantly surprised by that one,” Hardwick said.
“We controlled the ball really well at those early stages and credit to our forwards for kicking the goals.
“We kicked 8.1 and we probably haven’t been the most efficient accuracy side going inside 50, so for us to kick 8.1 was a good reward for effort.
“It’s something we’ve been working on and it’s hard to put it down to one game, but it’s an area of improvement that we noted from last year that we need to get better at.
“It’s probably taken a little while coming and at various stages our ball use inside 50 has been a little bit inconsistent, but I thought for the majority of the night, we used the ball pretty well.”
Hardwick says Cotchin is key and praised his continued improvement as captain.
“Trent’s learning to sacrifice his game, so someone else can take up his touches, in effect,” he said.
“You look at the great captains over the course of time, and they do these things regularly.”
Meanwhile, The Eagles bounced back from a loss to North Melbourne in Melbourne by crushing a lacklustre Essendon, Andrew Gaff having one of his better games in a West Coast jersey with 33 disposals and Matt Priddis racking them up again with 32.
Chris Masten was handy with 24 touches, while Mark LeCras booted four goals to be the Eagles best in front of the big sticks.
Josh Kennedy kicked three to keep his lead in the Coleman Medal race and Jack Darling made a good return to football with two goals.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson has concern for his side, with Richmond enjoying the extra week’s break.
“We’ve had to plan it,” Simpson said
“It’s not ideal.
“I’m not complaining, but it’s just reality, we’ve got two six day breaks in a row going interstate against a side which has had 15 days off so we had to plan this.
The two major worries are midfielder Matt Rosa, who hasn’t played since round four and tough backman Jeremy McGovern, who suffered a serious corkie against the Bombers.
“He’s missed six weeks,” Simpson said of Rosa.
“He (McGovern) will travel, he will train and we will assess it after that, but we think he is going to be okay.
“It is a corkie so if he can run it out … If he can train he will play so we think he is going to play.”
“We will take a squad over.
“We have planned that for a couple of weeks but everyone is pretty fresh and pretty healthy.
“He is in our best 18 so we want him in the side.
“But if he is not right we will go down a different track.
“We are not blessed with big tall defenders.
“We are finding a way.
“I know they have got a tall forward line and “Gov” will help with that.”
That tall forward line – featuring Riewoldt, Vickery and Ben Griffiths – Simpson speaks of is on the improve, according to the latter member.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Griffiths said.
“I think the three of us each bring something different to the table.
“The more time we can spend playing together, I think we can really identify those strengths and play to them.
“The three of us have always wanted it (to play in the forward line together).
“We feel like we’re a bit more damaging like that and we provide a lot.
“It’s awesome to be playing the three of us and for it to be working.
“The challenge for us now is to keep that going.
“I’m sure they’ll (West Coast) bring in someone just as capable, so we’ll watch that during the week.
“But we’ll just focus on what we need to do.”
Match winner: Richmond Tigers ($1.78 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Line: Richmond Tigers -3.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
Look we agonised over this one and we know what Richmond is like, but no ordinary team goes to Perth and knocks over a Fremantle Dockers side on a nine game winning streak on its home deck. Due for a loss or not, that sort of thing is not meant to happen. It’s given Richmond supporters a reason to be buoyant and it’s given the crew at every reason to think it can make it five wins on the trot against the surprising West Coast Eagles at the ‘G.
Having the week off also gives the Tigers a massive advantage, with a few of the sore bodies given an extra week to lick their wounds, while the Eagles had to play on Saturday, albeit against a woeful Essendon side that they crushed by 50 points.
The Tigers have had some great success against the Eagles on the road, winning the last two, but they did lose their last clash in Melbourne, although that was at Etihad Stadium, rather than the MCG.
Ellis, who has been superb this season, was the Tigers’s best in the last clash between these two teams, with 27 possessions, while Brett Deledio (26) and Dustin Martin (25 and two goals) were also brilliant. But the Tigers’ defence will have its work cut out for it as it comes up against the most potent attack in the AFL, the Eagles averaging 106.5 points per game.
We’re tipping the Tigers by a couple of goals, which means they will cover the line, but this one is line ball – we wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles caused an upset here.
First goal scorer tips
Dustin Martin ($14 with sportsbet.com.au)
The tattooed one hit serious form last time out, grabbing the Freo game by the scruff of the throat and leading his Tiger army to an inspiring victory. Has really developed into a tough, hard skilled midfielder who knows exactly where the goals are and tends to slot them with regularity.
We can see him getting one out of the guts early, busting through a tackle and slotting one on the run from 45. Wouldn’t it be nice if that happened and you had a little coin on him to kick the first goal.
Jack Riewoldt ($8 with sportsbet.com.au)
The only reliable forward option in the Tigers line up, Riewoldt has booted 27 goals this season and is one of only two Richmond players in double figures. He is the key to this game, if he can kick a bag, it will go a long way to the Tigers winning this match.
Strong on the lead and just as good when the footy hits the ground, Riewoldt kicks his goals in all manner of ways as a versatile key forward. And, for some reason, he tends to be one of the players who always tends to bob up with the first goal in his matches, so he must come into consideration before you place this bet.
West Coast Eagles:
Josh J. Kennedy ($7 with sportsbet.com.au)
You don’t leave the Coleman Medal leader out of first goal scorer betting tips. Kennedy has kicked more goals than any other AFL player, with 43 – nine more than Sydney superstar Lance Franklin.
He regularly kicks massive bags and, while he was a little bit down last week, he will be looking to bounce back against the Tigers.
Is the key man for the Eagles and the man that all the midfielders look for when they manage to get the ball out of the middle of the ground. A gun that commands respect up forward.
Jack Darling ($10 with sportsbet.com.au)
The man child is back in the side. The young tall is built like the proverbial brick dunny, with vice like hands, plenty of pace and outstanding strength. His return to the fold last week makes the Eagles one of the most dangerous three pronged forward lines in the AFL, joining Kennedy and LeCras on the frontline.
Darling can hit up or go one on one with equal ease, so he will be a target and we reckon he’s worth a tiny drink at the decent double figure odds.
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