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Tale of reality versus reputation

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Jack's back as Tigers burn Hawks

Our footy experts review Richmond's big win over Hawthorn and Collingwood's costly triumph over Adelaide.

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THERE are several good stories out of every weekend of AFL football. Not so often do arguably the two biggest emerge from the same match. But that was the case at the MCG on Saturday.

You could argue about which was the better yarn - Richmond's power-packed performance or the extent of Hawthorn's laziness and sloppiness. Both, however, in the context of the 2012 season, appeared far more significant than merely delivering another winner and loser.

First, to the positive. If the Tigers haven't yet officially arrived, they have definitely grabbed their luggage from the overhead lockers and are standing impatiently in the aisle, waiting to disembark. Damien Hardwick's team has managed to score the odd upset over the past couple of years, but Richmond hasn't beaten a team as highly rated as the Hawks so emphatically for a long, long time.

Roaring: Tigers Jack Riewoldt (left) and Ivan Maric (No. 20) celebrate Steven Morris' first AFL goal.

Roaring: Tigers Jack Riewoldt (left) and Ivan Maric (No. 20) celebrate Steven Morris' first AFL goal. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

And it was the circumstances of the victory that spoke just as loudly as the crushing 62-point margin. The full extent of Richmond's midfield capabilities was on show, the roll call of Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio, Dustin Martin, Nathan Foley and Shane Tuck all on song, and even the Hawks' biggest names simply unable to match it.

Ruckman Ivan Maric has become a real key to Richmond, bringing the stars into the picture more consistently with his hitouts and his strong presence at the stoppages. But there's a fair bit more besides. The weakness in both contested ball and clearances that was holding the Tigers back even early this season is being corrected, and Richmond won both against the Hawks, the contested stuff handsomely.

The defence, so often an Achilles heel, is vastly improved, a tremendous understanding developing between the back six. Steven Morris is an important addition, Alex Rance is growing in maturity by the week and was superb on Lance Franklin on Saturday, while Ben Griffiths, with his booming kicking, is the latest fillip.

There's a lot more to like about the offensive side of Richmond's game, too, Jack Riewoldt's six goals against the Hawks more the icing on the cake than the whole cake. Jake King has become a really important defensive forward and genuine goalkicker and there's more goals being produced from the midfield contingent, either in that role or, as Martin and Cotchin are beginning to do consistently, while ''spelling'' up forward.

It's all about balance, and Richmond is finding a lot more of it. It's also about consistency of effort, and perhaps that's the greatest single pointer to the Tigers' improvement. Even in defeat this season they've been close to the mark, avoiding those morale-sapping thrashings that smack of immaturity that, in experience terms across the board, the Tigers still are.

Perhaps that made Hawthorn's lack of effort even more stark. What is becoming patently obvious, though, is the gap between perception and reality with a side making a habit of becoming the AFL's great tease. And some telling signs that there are too many Hawks too satisfied with their reputations.

Put aside for a moment Franklin's chronic inaccuracy and Cyril Rioli's ''deliciousness'' masking an average of just 14 disposals and an engine insufficient to exert a badly needed explosive midfield presence. Both are important factors in the Hawks' largely unconvincing form this season.

But just as worrying for coach Alastair Clarkson is the manner of his team's four losses, three in which they led at half-time before being overhauled by hungrier, harder opponents. The pivotal area each time was the midfield, where opponents who'd been beaten early wrestled control away from the Hawks' seasoned crew.

In Saturday's fourth defeat, Hawthorn trailed at the long break, but came off with plenty of hope after an important late goal from Rioli. When Jarryd Roughead kicked the first of the third term, there was the expectation they'd trample over the Tigers. But every Hawthorn punch was answered with one just as lusty. And the tell-tale sign that it had all got too hard for the Hawks came in Richmond's five-goal rush at the start of the last quarter.

Hawthorn plays North Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Brisbane before a round-13 bye, then Carlton, GWS and Western Bulldogs. The natural expectation is for the Hawks to win at least five, and possibly all six. Interestingly, Clarkson himself used the ''E'' word a couple of times post-game on Saturday. The Hawks hadn't anticipated being 5-4 at this point, he conceded. ''We had the expectation that we'd be high up the ladder and challenging seriously,'' he said.

It's a dangerous word in football, expectation. Perhaps it's time Hawthorn forgot about what is supposed to be the case, and deal with what actually is. And that's a so-called premiership fancy that has a win-loss record only a fraction better than 50 per cent, and which clings to a spot in the top eight by a very slender thread.


  • Onya Tigers. Loved your win over the weekend, which was nice enough to silence the pure arrogance of Hawks fans. Hodge being out is killing the Hawks. Mitchell is having to shoulder more of the work, and Sewell and Lewis are not the most polished mids. They're lacking a real run and carry type. Oh well.

    I find it funny too that Corey Enright is Rioli's kryptonite. Beats him every time

    Julius Seizure
    Date and time
    May 28, 2012, 1:25AM
    • Franklin is a product of the Hawthorn fans (and AFL promoters) pumping him up for too long. He goes down very easily in the contest for a 196cm 102kg bloke, and too often seeks out the easy hand-ball receive in the goal square. Hawks fans have cried blue murder too often when he falls over rather than ever question his effort. His dive against the Cats late last year in the dying stages at the G (in front of Lonergan) was case and point. Replays showed no contact and the staged 'hands in the air maneuver', yet Hawks fans were crying that Buddy was 'robbed'. If he had of contested he would have marked the ball and ended the Hawks shameful trot against the Cats. Lance should be brilliant, but sadly is the barometer to Hawthorn's under achieving. Doesn't matter, Buddy Balls and his t-shirt brand are are selling well I hear.

      Souf Yarra
      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 10:09AM
    • Firstly, Corey Enright doesn't play for Richmond, secondly, go back and have a lok at the 2008 GF, when Rioli, a first year player, dominated Enright, to the point where Enright was screaming at his teammates for some help.

      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 10:23AM
    • My point about Enright was an observation not directly linked to the weekend's game. But as the Dawks have lost EVERY encounter against the Cats since 2008, and won 2 flags in the meantime, and Rioli has done very little in those games, it's fair to say Enright owns Rioli, just like Geelong owns the Dawks

      Julius Seizure
      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 1:00PM
  • I'm a mad hawks fan, but we cannot make the finals let alone win the premiership unless we a) win the contested possies, b) become less reliant on cyril and buddy to kick miracle goals and c) cyril and buddy start doing the normal things too, regularly.

    Date and time
    May 28, 2012, 3:03AM
    • Yeah Cyril's miracle goals on the weekend both standing on his own in the goal square

      how tough we're those.....

      The worst is channel 7 blowing smoke up the blokes ass they made it sound like he was the greatest player ever on the weekend, but he's really just an average plodder who kicked a few chip goals and does 1 or 2 highlight reel things every week to pretend like he's still relevant and Bruce and co fall for it

      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 9:07AM
    • @ greg

      "how tough we're those"?

      Tougher than it is to spell correctly mate for you, that's for sure!

      He's not an average plodder, what he does do is quality, but I question his capacity to regular produce the level of output of others. A greater level of output, more consistently is required.

      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 9:51AM
    • @ irosegajin. Without making this a blog. Anywhere nearby where I can get some real footy conversation? Am hanging out for some....
      Looks like the tiges had a great game. There seems to be something different about them compared to previous years. But won't crow too much and put the mocchas on them....

      Near Tokyo
      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 9:59AM
    • Blogster
      There aren't any spelling mistakes in there, not sure where you went to school.

      If someone produces very rarely that is the very definition of average plodder. Like I said he did a few highlight worthy things on the weekend and that's about it, got toweled up by a bloke playing his 8th game (Morris's goal the other way was the very definition of quality Cyril should watch a video of that)
      His 2 goals were very soft standing around waiting for a cheap possession in the goal square.

      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 12:09PM
    • @ greg

      "how tough we're those"?

      I believe the word you are after is 'were'. "We're", is a contraction of 'we are'.

      You were saying?

      Date and time
      May 28, 2012, 12:31PM

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SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
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ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
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GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
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CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
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BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
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PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
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BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
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Round 5
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RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
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WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
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ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
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Round 6
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NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
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GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
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CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
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GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
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GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
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MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 10
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NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
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GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
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WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
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PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
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CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
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GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
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Round 18
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CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
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WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
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STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
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Round 20
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WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
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NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
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HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
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Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
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Round 24
Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
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Round 25
Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
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Round 26
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FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
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Round 27
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
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Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
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Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
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