LAST TIME: Western Bulldogs 23.15 (153) d Richmond 18.10 (118) in round eight, 2011, at Etihad Stadium
Unfortunately for the game itself, most eyes will be locked on the stands on young Bulldogs Tom Liberatore, who was suspended for the season after being found unconscious in Melbourne with illicit drugs. It is a massive blow to the youngster himself and the club, who, largely thanks to Jason Akermanis, have faced more than their fair share of negative press in the past few years.
It seems an eternity since these two teams last met, with the last contest well over a year ago, but yet the situations between the clubs seem eerily similar to those that surrounded the last contest.
The Dogs are quite clearly in a rebuilding phase. It didn’t take long for that to become clear last season, and they have continued down that path this season, which has been quite painful for Doggies fans. At times, they appear complete lost forward of centre, yet on other occasions (such as their shock victory over North Melbourne in round seven) their hardness at the ball makes any forward line issues look irrelevant as their midfield completely takes over proceedings.
The Tigers, like 2011, were supposed to contend and were meant to be playing finals. Again, the sale of home games has been costly (though not a reasonable excuse for the performances) and we’re left with a contest between two sides that really have nothing to play for at this point for season 2012.
But, that does not mean the game will not be a fierce one. The Tigers will surely want to send a message to those in the eight that the mistakes made this season will not happen again next season and 2013 will see the rise of the Tigers. Good form through the final four weeks is one way of doing that.
The Bulldogs will want to continue to develop the hard, contested gameplan that coach Brendan McCartney has been determined to create. They may look to the future with some ‘experimental’ positional changes, in a move that has been used in the past by other clubs to secure lower draft picks, but it seems unlikely with the culture McCartney wishes to create.
Richmond will have a point to prove whilst the Dogs will continue to nurture their youngsters towards perfecting the gameplan their coach demands. The midfield battle should be an interesting one, with both sides strong through the centre, but Richmond should have too much around the ground.
Richmond by 27