Round 7 – Richmond V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

Opening quarter fails to reflect the fighting Anzac spirit

With games against Geelong and Carlton looming, Melbourne could ill afford a loss to the lowly Tigers, in what’s proving to be a highly competitive top six this season.

It was the perfect start for the Dees though. Having won the bounce, Jacob van Rooyen marked inside 50 and converted the 45m set shot.

After the goal, Richmond played some good footy, pressuring the Demons and keeping the ball in their forward half. They failed to fully capitalise on their momentum though and Melbourne retained the lead.

Up the other end, the Dees were off target, as they racked up three minor scores in a row. Richmond finally got reward for effort when Mykelti Lefau was on the receiving end of a hand pass, just outside the square. He was able to skate around Melbourne’s defence and slot from three metres in front.

It was even steven at nine points apiece and it looked to stay that way as the seconds ticked down to quarter time. Then Bailey Fritsch was held just inside 50 and awarded a free kick. He nailed the 48m set shot; not even distracted by a melee between Jack Viney and Marlion Pickett being conducted a few metres away on his left hand side.

Overly cautious sides unable to be separated

After a low scoring first term, Dusty Martin outmaneuvered the Dees’ defence to mark the ball 20m from goal. Martin swiveled round and snapped to again level the scores. Melbourne were finding their opponents more formidable than expected and Richmond’s defence was holding firm in the face of some strong pressure from the Dees.

At the halfway mark of Q2, neither side had found a way to put some daylight between themselves and their rivals. Then finally Melbourne was able to mount a strong challenge through the centre with Christian Petracca taking a hand pass and kicking the ball 55m to find Daniel Turner in the pocket. The young forward marked and ran on, kicking from inside the square to celebrate his first goal as an AFL player.

There was much rejoicing, but what potentially promised to be the start of a Melbourne tsunami, was tragically cut short when Maurice Rioli marked directly in front and slotted his 30m set shot, turning the momentum tide back in favour of Richmond.

Still, it looked to all even again at the end of the quarter, but then Dylan Grimes marked directly in front of goal just before the siren. His kick missed the main target; the defender steering his shot to the right, but his effort put his side ahead by a single point going into the main break.

Melbourne’s class finally reveals itself

After half time, play resumed in the same fashion with neither side showing any great ambition to take the reins and break on through.

Some form of catalyst was required. Then, as has happened so many times before, Captain Max Gawn answered the call. His mark on the behind line allowed him to snap an around the corner set shot kick, reclaiming the lead for Melbourne.

A minute later, Daniel Turner took a diving mark deep in the pocket. His subsequent 50m kick sailed high and long before dropping behind the goal line. Now the Dees were playing with a greater sense of purpose and eventually Turner again marked just inside the 50m line. Again his set shot was spot on, and he had his hat trick.

Star player and new Dad Kysaiah Pickett, made it four in a row for the Demons when he collected the ground ball in the pocket, ran around and snapped the goal.

Just as Melbourne looked to be running away with the game, up popped Maurice Rioli to again stem the Dees’ momentum. The high scoring medium forward marked 30m out, fumbled briefly, then turned, ran and kicked from the top of the square.

Richmond started to build on their new found belief but their accuracy on front of goal continued to let them down and the Demons were able to ride out the storm.

To add to the Tigers’ woes, Cabel Windsor took a brilliantly opportunistic intercept mark just before the siren. His 25m set shot was successful and Melbourne was ahead by twenty three points.

The Dees gallop to the finish line

Despite the hiccup at the end of term three, the Tigers continued to charge forward at the start of the final quarter, with Shai Bolton marking and converting from the pocket.

Bailey Fritsch was having none of it though, snapping his second goal from a 40m running kick on his non preferred side. After the bounce, the ball was back in Melbourne’s forward 50 where Kozzie Pickett marked it just inside the arc. His 45m set shot was successful and the Dees were pulling away at a rate of knots. Next up, it was another debut goal when Bailey Laurie kicked a right foot banana from the edge of the square.

Melbourne was thirty eighty points in front when Laurie slotted his second in a row via an around the corner kick from the pocket. Christian Petracca was having another solid game with twenty two disposals and twelve clearances when he awarded a free kick after being held. His 45m set shot was on target and the Dees had an unassailable lead.

We may be enjoying our top four spot on the ladder but Round 8’s showdown with table toppers the Cats will be anything but comfortable. Geelong haven’t put a foot wrong so far this year, but every cat has a bad day and Melbourne has the depth of talent to punish any complacency from the undisputed league leaders.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!