Traditional rivals Collingwood and Richmond went to war at the MCG last Thursday night in front of a crowd of 58,236.
The Tigers left the MCG turf all smiles, as did coach Damian Hardwick, whose future has been debated in the media over the past year due to the Tigers’ inconsistency on the field. In his post match press conference, Hardwick described the first half especially as “scrappy” and that his team was “lucky to come out with (the win).”
Richmond great Matthew Richardson noted after the game that a big positive for Collingwood was Brody Grundy, who has become a “bonified ruckman,” with Collingwood leading the hit-outs comfortably 49 – 21.
This led to the Magpies winning 3 more centre clearances than the Tigers. They also had 33 more disposals than Richmond, but it was their inaccuracy in front of the goals that really hurt Collingwood. The black and whites’ final score read 11. 14 (80), with inaccuracy from key players such as Alex Fasolo at critical moments ultimately killing the Pies’ chances of taking home the four points.
The forward line was a real concern for Collingwood. Dropping Mason Cox after round one’s dismal performance didn’t help either. The Pies kicked five straight behinds in the second quarter before finally kicking two much-needed late goals. This meant the goals had to come from the middle, through Adam Treloar (two) and Will Hoskin-Elliot (three), but it wasn’t enough to keep the Magpies alive. On paper they should have been much further in front at the main break, which could have translated into enough momentum in the second half for the Pies to win, but this wasn’t the reality.
It seems, moving forward, Collingwood needs to stop relying solely on its key players, Scott Pendlebury and Adam Treloar, to rack up the disposals and produce the scores. Treloar finished the night on 35 disposals and Pendlebury on a lazy 32, both finishing above 30 for a second week in a row, although Collingwood still sits at 0 and 2 for the season. Coach Nathan Buckley will have to go back to the drawing board and think about how they are going to start winning games.
Richmond star Dustin Martin took a little longer to warm up than the previous week, but it didn’t matter as his two final goals sealed the game for his team. Although Martin didn’t seem to enjoy his time down forward as much as the fans did. After Ben Griffiths went down with a head injury, Martin had to sneak up forward, which he described as “frustrating” as he was “away from the play”.
Captain Trent Cotchin was easily best on ground for the Tigers with 26 disposals, 2 goals and 7 tackles. This charge from leadership is something that Richmond has certainly been lacking in recent seasons.
Richmond now sits at third on the ladder after the first two opening rounds and it seems coach Hardwick may have finally found a structured game plan that, if executed well, can take the Tigers deep into September.