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Just give Tigers a little more time

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

YOU HAD only to see coach Damien Hardwick with his head in his hands a good couple of minutes after the siren at the MCG on Saturday night to know how shattering yet another narrow loss was for Richmond.

Thirteen points up on Carlton with a tick over seven minutes to play, and with the conditions making scoring difficult, the Tigers should have had it done and dusted. But a skill error here, a poor decision there and the nightmare was played out again.

Nine losses in 2012 by 21 points or less, the past three by a total of just 10, is enough to rip morale to pieces in even the most resilient unit. And perhaps now, with the finals flame extinguished, that might happen.

But it doesn't take too much logic, or research, to find case studies echoing the Tigers', and evidence that in the longer term, this year's excruciating frustration might even be the making of them.

Take one of their rivals right now, North Melbourne. The Kangaroos last year lost seven games by 17 points or less. This season, they've lost a couple more by a kick. But they've also won four narrow scapes, again by 17 points or fewer, and are more likely than not to turn a frustrating finish of ninth in the past two years into a finals appearance in 2012.

Going back further, Essendon in 1980 lost nine games by 14 points or fewer, finishing more than four games out of finals contention with 10 wins. In 1981, the Bombers, with more or less the same list, won 16, and on the eve of that season's finals series was a joint flag favourite.

In 1978, Fitzroy managed to lose eight games by 11 points or less, seven of those defeats coming within the first 11 rounds, a finish of ninth in a 12-team competition the consequence. The following season, the Roys exorcised those demons with some thumping victories and nearly doubled their win tally to 15, winning an elimination final besides.

Those Richmond sceptics heartily sick of the talk of the future will point out those latter two examples also changed coaches. That's not on in this case. Hardwick has a very solid foundation with which to work.

The Tigers could certainly use another key forward, another defender and perhaps even another midfielder. But what they need most is simply a little more time - to develop, hone further their skills and iron out the remaining chinks.

Twelve or 13 more goals spread across nine games and we'd be talking about a team close to the top of the ladder. And however painful this year has proved for the Tiger army, it also should be tangible proof they're within touching distance of something a lot more substantial.

THE WRAP

ADELAIDE
Crows left too much to too few and may lose one of them (Thompson) for a couple of weeks.
RUN HOME: Ess (AS), Frem (AS), BL (Gabba), Melb (MCG), GC (AS)

BRISBANE
Lions turned it up in the second half, last quarter a cakewalk for home side. No positives.
RUN HOME: Rich (G), Carl (ES), Adel (G), PA (AS), WB (G)

CARLTON
Gritty stuff by the weakened Blues, still finals chance, but huge test looming against Sydney.
RUN HOME: Syd (ES), BL (ES), Ess (MCG), GC (MS), StK (ES)

COLLINGWOOD
Good confidence-builder for out-of-sorts Cloke, good percentage builder for side which needs it.
RUN HOME: StK (MCG), Syd (ANZ), NM (ES), WC (PS), Ess (MCG)

ESSENDON
All falling apart for the Bombers, more injuries, confidence shot and horror run still looming.
RUN HOME: Adel (AS), NM (ES), Carl (MCG), Rich (MCG), Coll (MCG)

FREMANTLE
Impressive record on road continues, important return from Fyfe, Dockers right back in finals hunt.
RUN HOME: WC (PS), Adel (AS), Rich (PS), NM (ES), Mel (PS)

GEELONG
Cats clawing back to a lot nearer their best, but real acid test coming on Friday against red-hot Hawks.
RUN HOME: Haw (MCG), WC (PS), StK (ES), WB (SS), Syd (SS)

GOLD COAST
Held the fort in the first half, ran up the white flag in the second, Ablett again with too much on plate.
RUN HOME: Melb (MCG), GWS (MS), Haw (MCG), Carl (MS), Adel (AS)

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
Youngsters' inability to match it with senior company for four quarters becoming painful to watch.
RUN HOME: PA (SK), GC (MS), Melb (MO), StK (ES), NM (SK)

HAWTHORN
Becoming a juggernaut with great pressure, superb skills and plenty of scoring power. Running hot.
RUN HOME: Geel (MCG), PA (AU), GC (MCG), Syd (SCG), WC (MCG)

MELBOURNE
Never in it, usual suspects left to do the work, poor effort for veteran Green's milestone match.
RUN HOME: GC (MCG), StK (MCG), GWS (MO), Adel (MCG), Frem (PS)

NORTH MELBOURNE
Efficient enough win over also-ran, skipper Swallow particularly impressive, forward line potent.
RUN HOME: WB (ES), Ess (ES), Coll (ES), Frem (ES), GWS (SK)

PORT ADELAIDE

Pathetic effort from Power on home soil, two goals to three-quarter time a dismal return from disinterested team.
RUN HOME: GWS (SK), Haw (AU), WC (AS), BL (AS), Rich (MCG)

RICHMOND
Finals flame officially extinguished after another heart-breaking loss, paid price for late errors.
RUN HOME: BL (G), WB (MCG), Frem (PS), Ess (MCG), PA (MCG)

ST KILDA
A feast for the Saints' veterans in Goddard's 200th. Sloppy conversion, but fundamentals very sound.
RUN HOME: Coll (MCG), Melb (MCG), Geel (ES), GWS (ES), Carl (ES)

SYDNEY
Few injury issues emerging, but Swans continued to get job done without fuss and plenty of efficiency.
RUN HOME: Carl (ES), Coll (ANZ), WB (ES), Haw (SCG), Geel (SS)

WEST COAST
Wonderful last term did plenty to restore Eagles' confidence, and build all-important percentage.
RUN HOME: Frem (PS), Geel (PS), PA (AS), Coll (PS), Haw (MCG)

WESTERN BULLDOGS
Turning into a dismal season for Dogs, can't score and consistently running out of gas come finish.
RUN HOME: NM (ES), Rich (MCG), Syd (ES), Geel (SS), BL (G)

14 comments

  • Oh well, at least we get an easy one, we play Esserdon soon.

    Commenter
    manny
    Location
    willowgrove sth
    Date and time
    July 30, 2012, 11:48AM
    • The Gold Coast was an "easy one" too, and Carlton are much worse of than Essendon... I don't think easy games are what you need, you need some tougher ones so the foot never lifts from the pedal.

      Commenter
      Jessica
      Date and time
      July 30, 2012, 12:17PM
  • I have been a tiger supporter since 1955 and except for a short period in the late sixties early seventies they have always been crap' I could never understand how they could be so unskillfull so inept such fumblers,their recruiting is the worst any sporting team in the world has ever had and their coaches are pathetic.They got so bad in the eighties that i stopped watching or attending any games at all and over the past 30 years have virtually ignored AFL,and from this article it is clear that the Richmond football club has not changed one bit but i guess that the ladder needs someone to hold it up and richmond has proven they are very capable of doing that year after year.

    Commenter
    greden
    Date and time
    July 30, 2012, 12:24PM
    • I know nothing about football but I can say, as an ex Richmond suppporter I am stoked I converted to Carlton. Go Blues 2012 and beyond. CJ is hot!

      Commenter
      Ian Hay of Newcastle
      Date and time
      July 30, 2012, 12:32PM
      • Sigh 30 years, now going to 31.

        Commenter
        Sad tiger
        Date and time
        July 30, 2012, 12:32PM
        • Just give the tigers more time Rohan? I was 6 years old in 1980. Thats enough time don't you think? I wish I had have been born a few years later and followed Hawthorn, or even Essendon.

          Commenter
          GT
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          July 30, 2012, 12:38PM
          • Here we go, the media mugs who bought into the pre-season Richmond delusion are now making excuses for their totally incorrect predictions.

            A few of us pointed out that Richmond would only improve incrementally this year - and virtually ALL of the 2012 improvement has been on the back of 3 recruits, Maric, Morris & Ellis, so the rest of the list has basically done nothing extra this season.

            Face the facts that a club that is so deluded that they continually sign up totally unnecessary contract extensions on the basis of what *might* happen is long odds to ever really improve - and the excuses served up when the failure cycle reoccurs are just worthless.

            Commenter
            DC
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            July 30, 2012, 12:58PM
            • Just for the record, DC, I had Richmond 14th on my pre-season ladder, so hardly think that constitutes delusional!

              Commenter
              Rohan Connolly
              Date and time
              July 30, 2012, 5:52PM
          • The problem with Richmond is that they reward mediocrity. The same players make the same mistakes week in, week out but are guaranteed a game. What other job -- maybe politics or investment banking (?) -- is incompetence rewarded? The Richmond game plan is a high possession one yet they don't have the skills to implement it -- and whatever ball handling ability they have totally disappears as soon as it gets a bit slippery. But the club persists in this game plan and persists in playing blokes who have shown for years they don't have the ability to implement it.

            In addition to the generally poor skills, is their any other club that has more players that fall over in a contest? Rule number one -- keep your feet in a contest if at all possible. We have blokes who seem to figure that to show how desperate they are they will fall over -- at times, maybe 1 out of 5, it is warranted (e.g. Martin to force an out of bounds) -- but most of the time it give the opposition an advantage.

            The game plan to beat Richmond is simple: 1) heavy tag on Cotchin and Deledio; 2) get in Reiwoldt's ear and have the full back engage him in wrestling; 3) try to make Richmond use Rance or Dea to clear the ball out of defense because you know they'll make poor decisions or poor execution and the ball will be turned over. Game over.

            The best example of where Richmond is at is that Jackson is part of the leadership group: a serial offender for undisciplined acts and at best a mediocre ball user.

            Commenter
            yellow & black
            Date and time
            July 30, 2012, 1:05PM
            • I agree Rohan, its been a noticable improvement on last year which was a niticable improvement from the week before. It's been a tough year for me as a supporter because we've been in EVERY single game and I've gone home disappointing more than half the time. Instead of the occasional heartbrake, it's every single week. I remember in years gone by we'd have 1/3 of our matches where we are completely uncompetitive and never a chance of wining all day. It sucked, but it wasn't so painful. Our best 22 is quality but the cupboard is bare after that. We need time for guys like conca, ellis, batchelor, elton etc to really come good, pick up a few more role players like morris and Maric, and turnover some deadwood who don't deserve to wear the jumper. As much as I'm hurting, we're on the right track.

              Commenter
              Mick
              Location
              Melb
              Date and time
              July 30, 2012, 1:11PM

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