JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Tougher Tigers pass test

Richmond's Brett Deledio is chased by Fremantle's Ryan Crowley. Click for more photos

AFL Round 17 Richmond v Fremantle

With eleven wins so far this season Richmond has secured a finals berth after a 27-point win over top-four contender Fremantle at the MCG. The Dockers were handicapped without their key players, Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne. Final score, 12.12 (84) to 8.9.(57). Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

There was rich symbolism indeed in veteran Tiger Chris Newman having the ball in his hands when the final siren rang at the MCG on Sunday.

Next week, Newman, in his 240th game, will equal an unwanted record he will share with St Kilda great, the late Trevor Barker, as the men to have played the most games of football without a single finals appearance.

Finals bound: Chris Newman (right) and Dustin Martin high-five the fans after Richmond's win over Fremantle.

Finals bound: Chris Newman (right) and Dustin Martin high-five the fans after Richmond's win over Fremantle. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

But barring injury, the record will be Newman's alone for only five weeks. Because that same siren also sounded the end of a major drought for the club he has served so well for so long.

Richmond's gritty 27-point victory over an injury-depleted Fremantle has all but made certain of the Tigers' first finals appearance since 2001, the year before Newman made his senior debut.

With 11 wins and a three-game buffer to ninth-placed Carlton, Richmond probably needs only one more win to start organising its finals tickets. It could lose its next four and still pick that up against Greater Western Sydney in round 22. But there's prospects of more than a token finals appearance if the Tigers play their cards right.

Sure, they've got Sydney and Hawthorn over the next fortnight, and Carlton and Essendon in the last three rounds. They will also never meet a top side as vulnerable as were the Dockers, already without skipper Matthew Pavlich, key defender Luke McPharlin and the energy of Hayden Ballantyne, and then the late withdrawal of Aaron Sandilands.

But while the talk all week had been about Richmond needing to bag a big scalp, this was as much a win in which the Tigers battled and managed to defeat their own demons.

No Ross Lyon-coached side, relying heavily on a system rather than personnel, is ever going to lie down simply because it's missing a quartet of its biggest names. In fact, Lyon has shown repeatedly - not only with the Dockers but in his St Kilda days - the bigger the challenge, the more emphatic the response.

So out came the usual weapons. The manic defensive pressure. The predictable clamp down on Richmond architect Brett Deledio by Ryan Crowley. The late releasing of the handbrake. But the Tigers withstood them all.

At least four times, Fremantle came hard at them. And each time, the Tigers passed the test, kicking three of the last four goals of the third term, and again dominating the last after the Dockers had again crept within eight points. That wouldn't have happened last year, perhaps not even earlier this season.

It's becoming a recurring theme, though, the Tigers perhaps trading in some flash for a larger dose of fortitude, their recent wins hardly spectacular but, in a credibility sense, more convincing.

Fremantle's capacity to control the tempo and maintain possession had it a clear No.1 in the AFL for uncontested marks, but the Tigers put on enough heat to comfortably win that statistic, as well as beat Freo for contested ball and nearly double it on the clearance count.

But for one hell of an off day against North Melbourne a fortnight ago, it's that sort of solid, resilient spirit Richmond has shown since it flunked a test against Essendon in round nine. No longer can you foresee things spiralling out of control after some error. And there were plenty against the Dockers.

Some bad misses from Dustin Martin. Some ill-discipline from Jake King. The odd turnover from Alex Rance and Daniel Jackson.

But the latter pair, maligned at times - even recently - for cracking under pressure, poor decision-making, skills, or all three, still ended up among the best handful of players on the ground because rather than letting heads drop, they just shrugged off the setbacks and went again.

As outstanding as skipper Trent Cotchin was, it's the likes of Rance, tremendous in defence, Jackson, whose season out of the box continued with some tough clearance work and a critical late goal, and youngsters Brandon Ellis and Nick Vlastuin whose contributions are helping spread the load.

Enough so that while Deledio was quietened again by Crowley, this time the result wasn't a nail-biting loss such as in round five, but in the end a strong victory.

Top four for Richmond remains an achievable if unlikely prospect given the difficult run home.

And only a romantic would aspire to any more than that for the Tigers.

But the gradual improvement under Damien Hardwick has been far more pronounced in 2013. And this September, Richmond will actually get a taste of the crops they look likely to be harvesting for a few years yet.

14 comments

  • But on Friday Rohan, you said the dockers would beat the tigers, now the poor dockers had too many injuries, not a full team, blah, blah, simple, dockers lost, and they only beat the tigers at home in round 5 by one solitary point. Tigers won't play for a grand final berth but they will play finals.....now just to beat Sydney at home......

    Commenter
    shemp
    Location
    melb
    Date and time
    July 22, 2013, 8:59AM
    • Is this the type of arrogance we will have to become accustomed to if the Tigers continue their ascendancy? The majority of expert tipsters said the Dockers would beat the Tigers, as did the punters, so don't pick on Rohan for that. The only reason anyone tipped the Tigers was because they were playing at home. One win and you think you are the champions!!! It is nice to see Richmond back in the finals but lets not get carried away.

      Commenter
      Thunder
      Location
      the sky
      Date and time
      July 22, 2013, 11:01AM
    • Hey Thunder..."One win and you think you are the champions!!!" Get it right mate, try 11 wins...also I did say they won't be getting into the grand final, and that we do need to beat Sydney at home this week, so still a way to go. FYI, in Friday's Age, 10 "experts" tipped the Tigers and 14 the Dockers, so much for your theory that the "majority" of the tipsters tipped Freo!

      And can you imagine the tiger army when they have a little bit of success? Over 60 thousand members and growing......what's that, the tigers are in the top three teams in the AFL by membership? WOW!

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      July 22, 2013, 11:31AM
  • An important win for the Tiges, and while I like your article, Rohan, you and many others in the media have made much of a perceived 'undermanned' Fremantle side.
    Granted, McPharlin and Ballantyne were major outs, but Freo have been without Pavlich and Sandilands for virtually the whole season and have still played well enough to be on the cusp of the top four without them.
    Richmond won it in the middle and around the stoppages, which would have largely negated Pav's influence anyway.
    Take nothing away from the win. It was courageous, hard-fought and well earned.

    Commenter
    Quack
    Location
    Carlton North
    Date and time
    July 22, 2013, 9:25AM
    • I liked Deledio's game. Was tagged again by Crowley, and spent time forward and back to shake the tag, but it followed him wherever he went. Meanwhile Richmond won the clearances convincingly led by Cotchin and co. and the best Freo defensive mid able to stop this was standing next to Deledio in the back pocket. Win for the tigers on that match up

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Mornington
      Date and time
      July 22, 2013, 9:39AM
      • Tigers are deluded if they think they're getting any further than being eliminated in the first week. Freo were severely weakened yesterday and fielded close to a "B" team. That they got as close as they did was a great effort and there were plenty of times Richmond looked likely to throw it away. Let's be frank, Richmond have next to no chance against Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney, Essendon - or a better Freo lineup for that matter, especially in WA.

        Dream on, Richmond fans.

        Commenter
        janeygotagun
        Date and time
        July 22, 2013, 10:47AM
        • Your comments display a degree of hatred towards the yellow & black. While i agree the tigers are not a top 4 team yet, it'l be foolish to discard them completely..!

          Commenter
          Sonny
          Location
          mel
          Date and time
          July 22, 2013, 11:28AM
        • Richmond being no chance of beating a better Freo side is somewhat Ironic, given they got within 1 point of them over in the west earlier in the year and probably should have won. And I don't know when Richmond looked likely to throw it away this weekend? The game I watched saw Richmond kick the first two goals of the game and answer quickly and definitively every time they were challenged. They led all day and controlled the contest. Richmond aren't aiming for Premierships this year, they're aiming for improvement. So far, TICK!

          Commenter
          Mick
          Date and time
          July 22, 2013, 12:31PM
        • How many B teams does Freo have, round 5 at home in WA (the infamous ball hits umpire and tigers get a point) where they lost by, a point, that was their B team as well?

          Commenter
          shemp
          Location
          melb
          Date and time
          July 22, 2013, 12:55PM
      • they were ok but they are a fair way off the top 4.... they could well lose the next 4 in a row without playing badly...

        Commenter
        Wigmus
        Date and time
        July 22, 2013, 11:01AM

        More comments

        Comments are now closed

        Related Coverage

        AFL 2015

        Round 1
        Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
        CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
        Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
        SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
        BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
        WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
        Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
        ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
        FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
        Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        WCE 131 vs CAR 62 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
        GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
        COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
        GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
        PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
        ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
        NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
        Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
        CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
        ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
        SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
        NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
        BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
        Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW 127 vs WBU 57 13:10AS
        GEE 105 vs GCF 96 15:20SS
        WCE 81 vs FRE 111 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 51 vs MEL 83 19:50MCG
        Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK 81 vs CAR 121 11:10NZ
        ESS 49 vs COL 69 14:40MCG
        GWS 119 vs GCF 53 17:40SO
        PTA 99 vs HAW 91 19:40Adelaide Oval
        FRE 74 vs SYD 60 20:45Domain Stadium
        Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
        BRI 65 vs WCE 118 13:10G
        GEE 67 vs NTH 83 15:20SS
        WBU 125 vs ADE 68 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR 45 vs COL 120 19:50MCG
        Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
        RIC 76 vs GEE 85 13:45MCG
        SYD 73 vs WBU 77 14:10SCG
        GCF 118 vs BRI 54 16:35MS
        NTH 70 vs HAW 130 19:20ES
        WCE 120 vs GWS 33 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
        MEL 50 vs FRE 118 13:10MCG
        STK 80 vs ESS 82 15:20ES
        ADE 91 vs PTA 115 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
        Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
        WBU vs STK 14:10ES
        GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
        GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
        MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
        FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
        PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
        Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
        HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
        CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
        SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
        WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
        WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
        RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
        BRI vs PTA 16:40G
        View All Fixtures
        Round 8
        Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
        Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK vs WCE 13:45ES
        GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
        GCF vs COL 16:35MS
        HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
        FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
        MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
        PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
        Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
        MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
        WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
        RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
        ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
        BRI vs STK 13:10G
        COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
        WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
        FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
        GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
        ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
        PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
        NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
        STK vs HAW 16:40ES
        Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        Round 11
        Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
        WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
        NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
        Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
        COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
        STK vs MEL 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
        Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
        GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
        WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
        Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 13
        Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
        FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
        Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
        Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
        BRI vs ADE 16:35G
        STK vs WBU 19:20ES
        Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 14
        Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
        Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
        Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
        GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
        WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
        MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
        Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs STK 13:10ES
        ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
        FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 15
        Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
        Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
        WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
        NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
        WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
        HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
        BRI vs SYD 16:40G
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
        Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
        GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
        COL vs WCE 16:35ES
        SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
        FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
        PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
        STK vs RIC 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
        Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
        ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
        RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
        ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
        BRI vs NTH 19:20G
        Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
        WBU vs COL 13:10ES
        MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
        WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
        Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
        COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
        SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
        CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
        GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
        Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
        ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
        FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 19
        Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
        WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
        BRI vs GCF 16:35G
        GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
        WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
        GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
        STK vs FRE 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 20
        Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
        Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
        NTH vs STK 14:10BA
        PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
        GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
        BRI vs CAR 19:20G
        Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
        WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
        FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 21
        Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
        Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
        GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
        GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
        STK vs GEE 19:20ES
        ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
        CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
        WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 22
        Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
        Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
        HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
        NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
        ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
        GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
        Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
        STK vs SYD 15:20ES
        FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 23
        Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
        COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
        RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
        HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
        GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
        SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
        MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
        BRI vs WBU 00:00G
        PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
        WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        AFL 2015
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Fremantle 5 5 0 0 151.10 20
        Collingwood 5 4 1 0 147.53 16
        Western Bulldogs 5 4 1 0 104.75 16
        Hawthorn 5 3 2 0 149.86 12
        West Coast Eagles 5 3 2 0 145.92 12
        Sydney Swans 5 3 2 0 118.26 12
        Adelaide Crows 5 3 2 0 111.40 12
        GWS Giants 5 3 2 0 102.87 12
        View all
         
        Featured advertisers