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Six reasons why Richmond's season has been so poor

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North all over the Tigers

Richmond drew first blood at Etihad Stadium but it was North Merlbourne that piled on the second-half pressure to turn the tables on the Tigers.

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It was all coming together. Inches away from a top-four berth in 2013, blessed with a core of stars and other highly competent players seemingly with multiple prime years still to offer, Richmond devotees' pent-up frustration of three lost decades was set to be released through the valve of deep September action ahead.

But halfway through 2014, the script has been discarded, and replaced with a lamentably more familiar tale. Rather than scaling the heights of double-chances and golden spring afternoons, the Tigers lie 13th on the ladder, just a game and percentage from the bottom. The heavily-worn path of high-draft picks looks likely to be traversed yet again.

Though difficult to reconcile in a year replete with embarrassing losses to the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, not to mention a trilogy of shellackings from Collingwood, Hawthorn and Essendon, Sunday night's disappearing act against North Melbourne might just have been the worst defeat of all.

Sunday night's disappearing act against North Melbourne might just have been the worst defeat of all.

Sunday night's disappearing act against North Melbourne might just have been the worst defeat of all. Photo: Justin McManus

So just where has it all gone wrong for Richmond, and its 'Paradise Lost'?

1. Contested Footy

It's been drummed in repeatedly by Damien Hardwick throughout this nightmare on Punt Road, and yet again came home to roost in the face of a royal blue and white onslaught at Etihad Stadium. The Tigers rank 17th for contested ball in 2014, and given that the top eight teams in the category also happen to be the first eight sides on the ladder, the area's importance is as plain to see as Ivan Maric's mullet.

The Tigers have been slack at shutting out opposition sides' breaking away from stoppages.

The Tigers have been slack at shutting out opposition sides' breaking away from stoppages. Photo: Justin McManus

2. Stalled Stars

It's not that Richmond captain Trent Cotchin or the immaculately-skilled Brett Deledio are having poor seasons, more that neither is playing as well as they have in the past. Cotchin should be spoken about as one of the game's pre-eminent midfielders, but right now he is only just going, proving incapable of breaking stubborn tags. Deledio is as he has been for most of ten seasons in the league: usually good, but rarely great.

3. Depth exposed

Some of Deledio's stutters this year can be excused as he made his way back from the most serious injury of his astonishingly durable career: an Achilles ailment which kept him out of the Tigers' side for the entirety of April. It has been the byproduct of his absence, and those of Maric, defender Alex Rance and even the mischievous Jake King which have led to callow types such as Matt McDonough, Ben Griffiths and Nathan Gordon being given regular senior appearances. Furthermore last year the Richmond fringe consisted of serviceable and seasoned campaigners like Luke McGuane, Shane Tuck and the frequently-vested Matt White- now flourishing at born-again Port Adelaide. All three would improve the side's battling bottom-six.

4. Defensive pressure

As Maric noted on Monday morning, the Tigers have been slack at shutting out opposition sides' breaking away from stoppages. Whether this is symptomatic of a lack of effort, a dearth of discipline or a deficient gameplan is a matter for debate, but in any event it has meant the Tigers have conceded the sixth most points against in the competition this year, having been the third-stingiest team in 2013.

5. Goal-kicking spread

Neither may be fashionable, but last year Aaron Edwards, King and McGuane all averaged comfortably over a goal a game when in the side to complement Jack Riewoldt and the hit-and-miss Tyrone Vickery. With Griffiths proving to be a lame duck, and neither Gordon nor fellow recruit Sam Lloyd in the AFL team, Richmond has been wanting for viable third and fourth stringers up forwards.

6. Losing close games

When it's all said and done, the Tigers' percentage is 94.1, a respectable figure light years ahead of fellow strugglers the Saints', Giants' and Lions' ratios, and one which theoretically should have Richmond sitting mid-table. But whereas last year Richmond won three of its five games by 18 points or less, this year it has prevailed in just one. Had it say not been so wasteful against Melbourne (kicking 9.20) and Brandon Ellis not fallen for wily Bulldog veteran Daniel Giansiracusa's two-card trick in round three, the Tigers would sit 5-6, and while far from perfect, the situation would not seem so dire.

12 comments

  • I was at the game last night. Richmond started the third quarter dropping a player to the half back to double man Brent Harvey. That meant leaving Dal Santo on his lonesome on the wing. What sort of a team drops a man back to defend a 6 goal lead strait after half time? What does that do to the psyche of the players?

    They lost their heads and then the game. Within 10 minutes North had booted 5 and while they were still behind on the scoreboard, they had effectively broken the opposition. Game over.

    Commenter
    Ash Admiraal
    Location
    South Melbourne
    Date and time
    June 09, 2014, 2:38PM
    • As a Richmond fan since 1980 it pains me to say this....

      #7. They're just rubbish.

      Commenter
      Matt G
      Location
      Crookwell
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 3:55PM
      • Here's another reason....too many passengers in the line up........I suppose its time to rebuild for the upteenth time.......

        Commenter
        shemp
        Location
        melb
        Date and time
        June 09, 2014, 4:02PM
        • Richmond is in the same boat as other mediocre sides including Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, St. Kilda, and to a lesser extent Carlton. These teams were all at the point of rebuilding poor lists just at the time the draft was compromised by Gold Cost and GWS.
          In 2010 Gold Coast was given 8 first round picks and had secured 12 of the best 17 year olds as compensation. In 2011 GWS secured 11 first round picks as well as 12 of the best 17 year olds.That is a huge amount of talent taken away from re-building clubs and the results are that the above mentioned teams seem to be mired in the bottom 8 while both both Gold Coast and GWS will get better through the generous above salary cap dollars provided by the AFL.
          Port Adelaide appears to be the one team that navigated its way out through a successful rebuild.

          Commenter
          Taras Bulba
          Date and time
          June 09, 2014, 4:20PM
          • To open, I'm not a Richmond supporter, nor a hater. They've had pretty good opportunities in the draft over recent years, better than half the other clubs, but haven't made much of it. Maric has been a good trade, but who else? At a glance, it appears there are list building and management issues. After a good run last year it seems that a fair few of the players think they just have to turn up and it will happen. The work ethic, probably off the track too, has been lost. That last 5% really makes a difference!
            So, how did Port create their turnaround? Solid club management giving confidence to the footy department. A hard-nosed coach with a lot of experience of success with good assistants and a talented young list (already on its way when Hinckley arrived we should note) that was hungry for success and not prepared to settle. And they have WORKED.
            How has Roos started the revival at the Dees? Doing one set of things right to start regaining self-respect. Partial goals - stay in the contest instead of folding. Stick to the game plan. WORK HARD. Hunger and belief are building. Not there yet but building.
            Are we starting to see a pattern here?
            Club management, coaching, complacency instead of hunger?
            I'll bet that most of the people closely associated with the club can tell you where the shortfalls are. The mark of Richmond as a footy club will be what they do about it. The last 30 years does not offer great hope, but you never know.

            Commenter
            Chris
            Location
            Kiama
            Date and time
            June 10, 2014, 7:41AM
        • richmond lack leadership - real leadership, both on and off-firld. leadership that comes with values.
          the team seems to think that making the finals last year was the achievement, not the beginning. time to move a lot of highly paid, ordinary players on or get some strong leadership in coaching (not someone who wants to be the players mate) to turn around the club as we have seen other clubs do in recent years.
          So disappointing to see no effort week after week.

          Commenter
          daylightsecond
          Date and time
          June 10, 2014, 7:54AM
          • Richmond's major problem is that they have NO discipline, the new Captain was allowed to snub the number 17 jumper worn by a real tiger. If I was President or Coach he would have been told to wear Number 17 full stop,club policy. The coaching staff have no run on game plan, players don't know where to go IF, and when they get the ball.The Club and the Coach let the players say what they like, and finally on their ability there is not 6 players that would be automatically selected in any side in the top four. So it's reasonable to assume they will finish in the bottom four. If you are serious Richmond FC have a good look in the mirror. It's all your own doing.

            Commenter
            Say It Again
            Location
            Vermont South
            Date and time
            June 10, 2014, 8:20AM
            • The undisciplined acts on Sunday night were atrocious. So many free kicks and 50 meter penalties for off the ball incidents. I love what Dustin Martin does when he has the ball, but he has to look at what he does when he doesn't have it. The forward line is dysfunctional because Jack is too far from goal. Cotchin needs help to break the tag and he isn't getting any. Jake King needs to come in and add some grunt - against Essendon they barely laid a bump or tackle.

              Commenter
              Stephen
              Date and time
              June 10, 2014, 10:23AM
              • I believe the recruiting team has become the most Important aspect to success since the draft. Look at Geelong, Hawks, Swans,Dockers and Pies lists and depth. Get the recruiting right its a lot easier for any Coach. Geelong, in my opinion has the best recruiter, talent spotter in the company in Wells, that is why clubs keep chasing him.

                Commenter
                Go Blues
                Date and time
                June 10, 2014, 10:48AM
                • Take them out of Melbourne. Tasmanian Tigers has a ring to it. Anyone have the testies?

                  Commenter
                  Send them
                  Location
                  Port Arthur
                  Date and time
                  June 10, 2014, 10:57AM

                  More comments

                  Comments are now closed

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