On a day the banana-benders were officially awarded the grand final, Richmond nearly slipped on a banana peel which threatened to jeopardise their run to the second-last Saturday night in October.
Justin Longmuir's "Dockers Dam" came close to stopping another premiership aspirant in its tracks. Down by 19 points at half-time on Wednesday night at Metricon Stadium, Fremantle – playing off a four-day break and having made the long trek from Western Australia – dominated the third quarter, cutting the margin back to a goal as the Tigers tried helplessly to get their hands on the ball.
Trent Cotchin is collared by Blake Acres.Credit:Getty Images
But Richmond weathered the storm. As they do so well, the Tigers capitalised on Fremantle turnovers, with goals to Jake Aarts and Jack Riewoldt ultimately proving enough to break the Docker resistance. A couple of late majors meant that Richmond came close to doubling Fremantle's score in the final analysis, but this was a scare for the Tigers.
The early stages of the game belonged to Richmond. The Tigers dominated territorially, with Fremantle barely creeping into their offensive half, let alone into their attacking 50, as Richmond had the first 10 inside-50s of the match.
Richmond’s Shai Bolton gets boot to ball.Credit:Getty Images
An early goal to Jack Graham and a second to Tom Lynch made for a handy buffer in little over seven minutes, and for a while that looked like it might just about be a match-winning lead, so rarely were the Dockers venturing forward. Lynch got his second early in the second term, and when Kamdyn McIntosh pounced and snapped truly, Richmond had a three-goal advantage, one they would take into the long break.
The Tigers jumped to second on the ladder with two home-and-away games remaining.
One-on-one match-ups don't get much more enticing than the one which appeared at the first bounce when Nat Fyfe stood shoulder to shoulder with Dustin Martin.
Between them, the pair have won three of the last five Brownlow Medals and two of the last three Norm Smith Medals. But the battle of the champions wasn't quite as good as advertised.
Martin floated in and out of the game and wasn't a huge factor for the Tigers. When he ventured forward, Martin was manned by former teammate Reece Conca, who did a stellar job.
Fremantle captain Fyfe won a lot of the ball but got most of it in defence with his side hemmed in. His clearance excellence helped stem the bleeding for the Dockers in the first half.
Richmond’s Tom Lynch outmarks Brennan Cox.Credit:Getty Images
KEEP TABS ON HIM
He's the star key forward that continues to float under the radar, particularly in Victoria. But Freo's Matt Taberner keeps on keeping on in 2020, continuing a streak in which he has kicked at least one goal in every game, no mean feat in any team but especially playing for the lowly and defensively-minded Dockers.
Taberner proved a major handful for emerging Richmond defender Noah Balta, and threatened to haul his side back into the contest, only to be let down by some wayward kicking for goal. But the Bright product has become a seriously good player. He's due to be a free agent at the end of next year, and a host of Victorian clubs would be mad not to be asking questions about luring him back to his home state.
Meanwhile after two stop-start years, Jesse Hogan played a reasonable game as Taberner's foil, suggesting there could still be plenty of solid football left in the former Melbourne spearhead.
Nick Vlastuin gathers the ball ahead of Fremantle’s Jesse Hogan.Credit:Getty Images
RICHMOND 2.2 4.3 4.4 8.8 (56)
FREMANTLE 1.0 1.2 3.4 4.5 (29)
Richmond: Lynch 3, McIntosh, Graham, Aarts, Riewoldt, Higgins.
Fremantle: Crowden 2, Walters, Taberner.
Richmond: McIntosh, Short, Lynch, Graham, Pickett, Aarts, Balta.
Fremantle: Acres, Fyfe, Ryan, Serong, Conca, Darcy.
Donlon, Deboy, Findlay.
1818 at Metricon Stadium.
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