Four teams done, two to go in Part One of our Mid-Season Reviews. Now its time to talk about Richmond.
Pre-Season Prediction: 5th
Current Position: 11th
Forecast: A finish between 9-13
Yep. I got my pre-season prediction horribly wrong when it comes to the Tigers. So many including myself thought Richmond were a chance to push on from a solid 2015 season and finally crack the top four. However, things couldn’t be farther from the truth as Richmond have taken plenty of steps back to almost be in a position where a rebuild is necessary.
Apart from a win over Sydney in round 8, there hasn’t been much for Tiger fans to roar about. All their other wins have been expected but their losses to good sides has been concerning. 70 points against North Melbourne, 46 to Hawthorn, 68 to West Coast and 36 to Adelaide. What’s even more concerning is that they haven’t won against both of the sides above them in the bottom ten, losing to Melbourne and Port Adelaide by a combined margin of 68 points.
Richmond are in danger of missing out on finals by a fair margin and come the end of the season, may just be the fifth or sixth worst team in the competition, something that definitely wasn’t envisaged at the start of 2016.
What’s Gone Right
In terms of stats not much, but the Tigers are well positioned in terms of disposal efficiency, going at a rate of 74 per cent, the fourth best in the league and above teams like GWS, Hawthorn and North Melbourne. Effectiveness inside 50 is also healthy, reading at 52 per cent, which is the third best in the competition, only behind Adelaide and Geelong who are both generally high scoring sides.
As a result of those figures, marks inside 50 and contested marks inside 50 are solid for Damien Hardwick’s forwards line ranked 2nd and 5th in the league. These stats show that when the Tigers get the ball inside 50 which is rare, they make the most of their chances which puts the onus on their midfield group to step up their game.
Away from the stats, some fringe players have broken into the side. Shaun Hampson has consigned Ivan Maric to VFL footy, performing well in the ruck. The numbers prove it too, with the Tigers ranked sixth in the league for hit-outs. Richmond have also been rewarded for showing faith in forward Sam Lloyd who has 23 goals in a breakout year for the 26-year old.
What’s Gone Wrong
Plenty. Inside 50 numbers are down to just 48 per game, the third worst in the competition and it shows how things could be so much different had these numbers been up with the aforementioned praise for their forward setup. What is more concerning are the tackle numbers, which have the Tigers placed last in the AFL with just 62 per game. Their also the worst side in terms of one percenters. The last two stats have to be of major concern for Richmond as it potentially shows a lack of effort from the players.
Away from the stats, Richmond’s list management needs drastic improvement. Believing they were in a premiership window, they looked to mature age recruits to improve their list instead of going hard at the draft. Richmond’s best 22 can easily match it with the competition’s elite, but their talent fades away drastically after that for reasons only Richmond will know internally. The fact the haven’t been able to get Chris Yarran on the park makes the pre-season recruiting potentially all for nothing, hence the need to rebuild.
Dustin Martin has been brilliant and continues to develop as a star midfielder if he isn’t already. Martin has spent time in the midfield in previous years, but he has been there on a full-time basis this season with devastating effect. The 24-year old seems to have matured as a footballer and his ability to impact games regularly has been exciting to watch.
Martin has played all 13 games so far this season, averaging 28.5 disposals, 11 of them contested, the best in the side so far. He is also the club’s hardest runner gaining 5514 metres so far in 2o16 from midfield.
His ability to deliver in clutch moments was on show in the club’s last match against the Suns before the bye, racking up 38 disposals and two goals including the sealer in the fourth quarter. If he continues this type of form for the rest of the year, he may be a sneaky chance of being named in the All-Australian side come the end of the season.
Daniel Rioli has shown enough promise to give the Tiger faithful some hope he’ll be a 200-game player. Rioli was taken with pick 15 after showing an impressive combination of aerobic and anaerobic ability at the 2015 draft combine. While he hasn’t set the world on fire in his first ten games, he has been crafty and opportunistic up forward, with his best performance coming against the Swans.
Chris Yarran has yet to play a game for the club and won’t play until 2017 due to ongoing mental health issues returning to Western Australia for the foreseeable future.
Jayden Short has played seven games as a small forward for five goals, Jacob Townsend from the Giants has played just the four games, while 2015 draftees Adam Macron, Nathan Broad, Oleg Markov, Mabior Chol and Callum Moore have all yet to feature.
Second Half Expectations
Richmond’s next two games a tough with a trip to face Port Adelaide this Friday night followed by the Bulldogs at Etihad. All in all, its a tough run home, with the Tigers playing five of the current top eight teams in their final nine games, both Sydney and GWS are away games to make things even more difficult.
At 6-7 and coming off a unconvincing win over Brisbane this past weekend, I can’t Richmond winning many more games. I’ll give them Essendon and Collingwood as certainties, while Port Adelaide and St Kilda are 50-50 and knowing Geelong’s tendency to slip up against bottom ten sides, they could upset the Cats in round 21.
I see them finishing at 8-14 which will probably see them finish where they are at the moment. It remains to be seen whether they’ll stay above St Kilda and Carlton.