Jack Riewoldt is coming off a seven-goal haul against St Kilda. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Last Five Meetings
Round 20, 2012 – Richmond Tigers 150 d Western Bulldogs 80
Round 8, 2011 – Western Bulldogs 153 d Richmond Tigers 118
Round 2, 2010 – Western Bulldogs 120 d Richmond Tigers 48
Round 11, 2009 – Western Bulldogs 157 d Richmond Tigers 89
Round 3, 2009 – Western Bulldogs 110 d Richmond Tigers 63
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How things have changed in the space of a season. In the four games prior to last year’s match-up in round 20, the Bulldogs had caned the Tigers by an average of 55 points. But as the boys from Melbourne’s west had a season to forget last year, Richmond continued its ascension from the dark depths of the AFL ladder, and by the time the teams clashed late in the season it was the Tigers dominating to win by 70 points .
As the Bulldogs showed in their round one thumping of the Lions, their horror run to end last season counts for nothing right now. After letting Fremantle blow them off the park early last weekend, the Doggies were competitive for most of the match, only going down by 28 points in the end. While the Bulldogs still lack a genuine key forward, they’ve been getting plenty of goals from their crumbers and midfielders like Luke Dahlhaus and Daniel Giansiracusa , something that wasn’t happening much in 2012.
He was kept goalless in the opening round but Jack Riewoldt exploded last week against the Saints with seven goals from just 10 touches. Jumpin’ Jack was a one-man band at times last season, but in round one he was, at times, a foil for Tyrone Vickery , while Luke McGuane continues to develop as a forward and should have produced a better return than 2.3 at the ‘G last weekend.
(Tigers) Troy Chaplin – After the 2011 season, Richmond pulled off an absolute steal in getting Ivan Maric over from Adelaide. It looks like they’ve done the same again to a player from the City of Churches with defender Troy Chaplin standing out in his first two games in Tigers colours. His ability to read the play at the back is very good and his 22 possessions and, in particular, 10 marks last week against St Kilda were vital.
(Bulldogs) Tom Liberatore – When Brendan McCartney came over to the Bulldogs wanting to play a tough brand of football, he must have whet his lips when he saw Tom Liberatore. At just 20 years of age, the son of former Footscray legend Tony Liberatore has showed he can genuinely match it with the best inside midfielders in the game. This season he is already averaging 28 disposals per match, but just as impressive are his defensive qualities, having laid a monstrous 20 tackles in two games. With Matthew Boyd still out, he will be the key to winning the stoppages against Richmond’s gun mids.
The Bulldogs 2013 version certainly looks a lot better than last season’s model, but they still look a couple of years behind Richmond in terms of development. The Tigers’ young stars like Trent Cotchin , Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin look like they’re all on an upward trajectory, and the support cast has lifted, as well. Jack Riewoldt will be hard to stop if he is aggressive as he was last week (and gets plenty of love, again, from the men in white), while Jake King is the heart and soul of the team and proving mighty effective as a small forward. Tigers by 28 points
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