Richmond Tigers Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Richmond senior coach, Damien Hardwick gives directions during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at Punt Road Oval on April 07, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Continuing their mixed start to the AFL 2021 season, Richmond lost their feline battle with the Geelong Cats, getting comprehensively defeated by 63 at the MCG on Friday.

The result now leaves them in the middle of the ladder and in risk of tumbling out of the top eight. And unless there is a swift resurgence in form, expectations of reaching a fourth grand final in five years look increasingly doubtful.

The first period pointed towards an encounter that could have gone either way, as Shia Bolton produced what could be a MOTY contender, rising high above Mark Blicavs to make a superb catch.

Throughout the first half, Richmond always appeared to have the edge against Geelong, keeping their noses ahead on the scoreboard, before everything completely fell apart in the second half.

Geelong rallied from the third period onwards, as any resistance from Richmond quite literally disintegrated. The Cats had this game firmly by the scruff of the neck, with Cameron Guthrie producing a stellar display, contributing 36 disposals and 11 marks. Tom Hawkins led the score involvement statistics with 16, while Jemery Cameron weighed in with six goals.

The final 63-126 outcome is the worst defeat of the season for the Tigers, who have now lost four and won four to open what has become a hugely frustrating campaign. The Cats couldn’t have asked for a better way to avenge their 2020 Grand Final defeat against the Tigers, when Richmond inflicted a crushing 81-50 defeat on Geelong in the title decider.

Despite this latest setback for the team coached by Damien Hardwick, the outright Aussie Rules betting odds on Richmond Tigers remain positive. Their odds to win the 2021 Grand Final have lengthened to 5.50 after the Geelong defeat, although the Tigers are still joint-favourites with Melbourne. Bookies are also confident Richmond will make the top eight, offering 1.16 odds to achieve that objective.

By comparison, Geelong have seen their Grand Final odds reduced to 7.00 after trashing Richmond, racking up their third win in four games, taking their total for the campaign to five victories and three defeats. Comfortably tipped at 1.14 to cement their place in the top eight, Geelong could also now be genuine premiership contenders.

They may be the reigning champions but Richmond struggling to hit their groove is undoubtedly worrying for the team. While it may still be early in the 2021 season, there just doesn’t appear to be the same level of confidence and resolve. In many respects, this doesn’t look anywhere near the same side that has won three premiership titles and one minor premiership over the last four years.

If there were any positives to take from the humiliation against Geelong, then Jack Graham and Shai Bolton can still hold their heads high. Graham made seven tackles, while Bolton lit up the game with a spectacular MOTY contender, along with his 12 contested possessions. Otherwise, the rest of the team offered a largely forgettable effort. 

The Tigers will need to bounce back quickly from this defeat if they are to match the expectations of supporters, who as always, remain hungry for more success. If there is a team capable of turning things around, it is undoubtedly Richmond, regardless of the wobbly start to their 2021 AFL campaign.

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