Although the Tigers are flying and Fremantle have been struggling of late, the key factor in today’s game may be one small statistic which has continued to haunt the Dockers: They have lost their last 10 matches at the home of football, the MCG.
It’s a trend that Ross Lyon will be determined to fix, and he will have spoken at great lengths to his playing group of the importance of playing well at the ground.
Richmond have been the form team of the competition the past fortnight, smashing Hawthorn by 62 points then beating St Kilda by 8 points last week in a shoot out. The Tigers have spent a lot of time in the bottom eight in recent times, but it appears that their time is finally now.
The Tigers’ midfield group has quickly risen to become one of the best in the competition. Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin, Shaun Grigg, Brett Deledio and Shane Tuck can now match it with the best, and Fremantle will need to break even in the centre.
Ivan Maric has found a new level of play since being traded to Richmond from Adelaide, and he faces a big task today. Aaron Sandilands is a giant, and Richmond will need to negate his work at the stoppages.
Fremantle’s problem of late has been winning the ball out of the middle, which has forced them to play a counter attacking style of football. Ideally, Lyon would rather the ball coming out quickly to Matthew Pavlich in the forward line, but with the midfield struggling of late, he has had to adjust the game plan in order to give his side a chance.
Jack Riewoldt vs Zac Dawson
Dawson can expect some help from Luke McPharlin and others in the Fremantle back half, but the basic premise remains the same: stop Riewoldt and Richmond will find it a lot harder to score.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Riewoldt has kicked 14 goals in the last two weeks, and it’s no surprise that it has coincided with Richmond hitting their best form for the year.
Fremantle must consistently get in his way as he prepares to lead for the footy, and force Riewoldt to attempt the absolutely outrageous marks, starving him of the ball, thereby forcing Richmond to look for other targets to kick a winning score.
Ivan Maric vs Aaron Sandilands
As mentioned above, Fremantle must match Richmond in the middle, and to do so, it has to start by taking advantage of Sandilands’ advantage in the ruck.
Maric has been outstanding so far this season, but it is still expected that he will struggle against the superior height of Sandilands. The Fremantle midfield must take advantage of this situation and must not allow the Tigers first use of the football.
Cotchin in particular is very good at winning the contested ball at the stoppages, and Fremantle must match the Tigers’ midfield output if they are to remain a chance today.
The arrival of Ross Lyon has seen several changes at the Dockers, but he still has a long way to go in completely instilling the game plan he wishes to see played on a weekly basis.
Richmond are in form and it is quite difficult to see that changing this week.
Richmond by 34 points
B: Steven Morris, Alex Rance, Chris Newman
HB: Bachar Houli, Ben Griffiths, Brandon Ellis
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Daniel Jackson
HF: Brett Deledio, Tyrone Vickery, Shane Edwards
F: Reece Conca, Jack Riewoldt, Robin Nahas
Foll: Ivan Maric, Trent Cotchin, Shane Tuck
IC: Matt Dea, Jake Batchelor, Brett O’Hanlon, Addam Maric
Emg: Matthew White, Daniel Connors, Brad Miller
In: Matt Dea, Brett O’Hanlon
Out: Nathan Foley (Leg), Jake King (Suspension)
New: Brett O’Hanlon (Dandenong Stingrays)
B: Adam McPhee, Zac Dawson, Greg Broughton
HB: Michael Johnson, Luke McPharlin, Stephen Hill
C: Michael Barlow, Ryan Crowley, Tendai Mzungu
HF: Matthew de Boer, Christopher Mayne, Clancee Pearce
F: Lachie Neale, Matthew Pavlich, Garrick Ibbotson
Foll: Aaron Sandilands, Hayden Ballantyne, David Mundy
IC: Nick Suban, Jesse Crichton, Jonathon Griffin, Hayden Crozier
Emg: Kepler Bradley, Jayden Pitt, Nick Lower
In: Nick Suban, Adam McPhee, Jonathon Griffin
Out: Paul Duffield, Zachary Clarke, Jack Anthony