After famously soaring to the premiership in 2017, then entering the preliminary finals last year as flag favourites before a stunning exit at the hands of Collingwood, Richmond are delicately poised with a 7-6 record at the midway point of 2019. What has gone right and what has gone wrong?
Make no mistake Richmond have been brutally hit by injuries, including numerous games lost by three members of their Fab Four. But they have also arguably covered their losses better than any other team. Resilience has been their calling card in 2019. The tone for Richmond was set in the opening game when Alex Rance went down with a season-ending ACL knee injury. A week later Jack Riewoldt hurt his wrist and, thanks also to a subsequent PCL knee injury, has played just three matches.
Patently, the injury gods were against them from the start. Furthermore, Trent Cotchin has appeared only five times. Richmond have been up and down throughout the opening half of the season, twice notching three-match winning streaks. The second one gave them a 7-3 record, seemingly putting them on track for another finals berth and maybe even top four action. But three losses ahead of the bye, including a thrashing by Geelong where they kicked 5.7, could be a portent of some wobbles.
To take a glass half full stance, Richmond are only outside the top eight on percentage. Their mission is simply to bank enough wins to guarantee finals action and perhaps with close to their 22 on the park in September, they will be an opposition to fear. Overall, they have met that part of the equation so far. Interestingly, there are a stack of games at the MCG to come, too.
The times Richmond have come up against the leading teams in the competition – Geelong, Collingwood, GWS Giants and even Adelaide – the yellow and black have been well beaten. Throw in costly losses to North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs and that means a third straight finals berth – not to mention a top four finish – is in peril.
Its hard to be too negative on the Tigers given the aforementioned injury hits to their A-graders. However, Dustin Martins return this campaign is a fascinating topic. A silky-skilled player who delivered one of the best individual seasons in modern footy during Richmonds bolt to the top two years ago, has probably been down a notch on what footy fans – and his club – expected. This observation comes with a caveat: his bar is set so so high. Martin is dragging in 25 possessions per game – not too shabby – but when theres conjecture about a player's output because of his choice of footy boot, it just shows that's it's not just the Tiger Army who expect plenty.
WHO'S JUMPED UP?
Lets start with Bachar Houli who looks like hes enjoying close to his best AFL season. In 10 matches, the Tigers link man is bringing in nearly 30 touches a game which puts him in the same ballpark of players like Zach Merrett, Rory Laird and Shaun Higgins. Houli is regularly a great user of the ball and fits into the category of players to excel at their new club after he left Essendon for the Tigers eight years ago. His return this year has been impressive for a 31-year-old veteran in his 13th season.
A midfielder who deserves special mention is Dion Prestia. Given the absence of Cotchin for numerous matches, the Tigers have got good service from the 26-year-old. Right in his footy prime, Prestia Read More – Source