Round 4; As you were Tigers

As published by The Footy Almanac, 23 April 2013

One must give kudos to the masochistic Richmond hordes who’ve stuck fat over three decades of cellar dwelling, false dawns and ninthdom. And here they are again at the great Melbourne coliseum, the jungle drums building to another premature crescendo.

Three solid wins over middling to piddling opposition might not sound much, but on the back of gradually improving seasonal ledgers and media luminaries of Hutchy’s caliber predicting top 4, then hell, what’s not to get excited about?

Despite deep seated psychological scars owing to the 1980 Grand Final horror show (my Kevin Bartlett footy card didn’t survive my six year old meltdown), it’s hard to truly hate this gritty club and their resolute supporters. Certainly those armed with self-deprecating senses of humour personified by Mick Molloy, the archetypal Tigers fan if ever there was.

Nearing game time the Punt Road end was bursting with true believers bathed in golden autumn rays. It reminded me of my own mob on a Grand Final day; pale faces rigid with justified apprehension. A pang of empathy was erased by another flashback to poor Stan Magro being made the fool by the wiry, wispy haired little rat. Bah, on second thoughts, stuff ‘em alive those Tiges! Time to join my own bogan brethren assembled in the Ponsford end shadows.

A wondrous and welcome 2.10pm Saturday bouncedown saw Richmond begin as if rising to the occasion of their ‘biggest game in 30 years’.  Meanwhile, to their detriment, the ‘Pies started like it was Round 4. Riewoldt channeled Roach in the number 8 guernsey and hauled in a ripper pack mark. Gradually the Carringbush found intensity but under pressure neither team located their kicking boots, best illustrated by a Graeme Allanesque kick-in from the back pocket which pinpointed Maric, who duly fluffed a sitter.

The second term improved as a spectacle, goals traded several times with the lead. Collingwood’s forward threat was counterbalanced by a backline prone to flakiness. Worryingly, lynchpins Reid and Brown were down to one and a half good legs between them.  At least Shaw had engaged his brain today.

After an underwhelming first half, Swan, Pendlebury, O’Brien and Sidebottom et al called on years of experience getting the job done on the big stage.  Richmond was sliced by their run and spread whilst Rance was diced by Cloke’s imperious strength. Bucks cannily deployed an undercooked Dale Thomas as his sub, twisting the knife in the latter stages of the goal-fest by unleashing the ace up his sleeve. Alas, Lynch’s sloppy goal inducing turnover and another Tiger major before the orange break stemmed the hemorrhaging.

A once 49 point gap was slashed to 22 when Richmond nailed a couple more, breathing life into their old school aggregation of yellow and black flogs and floggers. Considering supply shortages, Riewoldt’s three goals was a reasonable return.  But like most Magpie smalls, Swan also boasts enviable strength overhead, enabling the 200 gamer and Caro’s favourite gossip topic to fittingly snuff out her beloved Tigers’ revival.

ClokeSeveral well lubricated Richmond aficionados subsequently provided Trav some fruity, spit-laden advice as he lined up alongside the fence, outside the arc on his wrong side. Cloke’s colossal kick split the sticks and he duly thanked his well-wishers. Yep, Mick Molly would have appreciated the boys’ sense of comic timing as they hastily exited stage left.

Surprisingly, the finest Cloke to don the monochrome stripes had never bagged 7 before. And as two inspired acts of recycling, old Clydesdales Lynch and Hudson also invigorated the side.

Richmond?  I can only speculate the glum diehards gazing down on the tracks at Jolimont station were mulling over how long Jack, Cotch and Deledio must wait for the requisite support crew to fulfill their visions of grandeur.  Me?  I was just musing whether Dustin Martin cuts his own hair.

Collingwood     1.4        5.8       13.12      16.17.113
Richmond          3.3        6.5         8.6         11.13.79

Goals
Collingwood; Cloke 7, Sidebottom 4, Elliott, Clarke, O’Brien, Swan, Dwyer
Richmond; Riewoldt 3, McGuane 2, Vickery 2, Edwards, King, Houli, Maric

Best
Collingwood; Cloke, Swan, Sidebottom, Hudson, Pendlebury, Lynch, Clarke
Richmond; Cotchin, Deledio, Maric, Houli

Umpires: Rosebury, Meredith, Mollison

Crowd: 81,950

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