Tigers Claw Their Way In To Top Eight

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/George Salpigtidis/Sunday Herald Sun
Bachar Houli's ball use is a key for the Tigers. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/George Salpigtidis/Sunday Herald Sun
Last Five Matches

Round 3, 2013 - Richmond 135 d Western Bulldogs 68 at Etihad Stadium
Round 20, 2012 – Richmond 150 d Western Bulldogs 80 at MCG
Round 8, 2011 - Western Bulldogs 153 d Richmond 118 at Etihad Stadium
Round 2, 2010 - Western Bulldogs120 d Richmond 48 at MCG
Round 11, 2009 - Western Bulldogs 157 d Richmond 89 at Etihad Stadium


Form

     Rd 8       Rd 9       Rd 10       Rd 11       Rd 12   
Western Bulldogs    L  W  W  B  L
Richmond   W  L  W  B  W

Hold the phone! The Richmond Tigers may actually be the real deal this season. It’s a hard thing to say, given there have been a few false dawns, but for once the men from Punt Road really stepped up and executed when they were expected to beat Adelaide last weekend. They easily disposed of the Crows by 38 points and it was their fourth win in five starts. Those victories, also over Port Adelaide, Melbourne and West Coast, have come by an average of 38; it’s not exactly the cream of the crop in the AFL, but with matches to come against the Western Bulldogs, Saints, Kangaroos and Suns, the Tigers are well positioned to make a big charge heading in to the business end of the season.

After back-to-back wins over St Kilda and Port Adelaide, the Bulldogs were quickly brought back to earth by Collingwood on Sunday, going down by 34 points . It should have been more as the Magpies led 70-25 at half-time , but failed to go on with the job for the second straight match. There is plenty of fight in this Doggies side, but they haven’t come close to even thinking about toppling a team with top eight aspirations this season.

Hard working midfielder Koby Stevens is out with a shoulder injury, while Dylan Addison has been omitted. Father-son draft selection Lachie Hunter comes in to make his debut, while another rookie, Nathan Hrovat, makes his way back in to the senior team.


Key Men

(Bulldogs) Jake Stringer – At 191cm and 93kg, Jake Stringer is a key forward the Bulldogs will hopefully be able to rest their hopes on for the next decade. The No. 5 draft pick’s AFL career is just seven games old, but already he is showing a bit in a young side. Twice he has bagged three-goal hauls, and against Collingwood he picked up 16 touches, took marks and kicked two goals. Most of his good work was done when the heat was out of the game, but given Liam Jones’s struggles and the fact Lukas Markovic is playing as a makeshift forward, he’s likely to get plenty more opportunities to impress the rest of this season.

(Tigers) Bachar Houli – His name often thrown up amongst the likes of Trent Cotchin , Brett Deledio , Jack Riewoldt and Co. at Tigerland, but Bachar Houli is one of the club’s most important players. Several times against Adelaide it was the little things he did that kept Richmond on the front foot. He hasn’t missed a game since coming over from the Bombers two-and-a-half years back, and his near-impeccable service from half-back with that penetrating left boot of his is a massive part of Richmond’s forward movement.


Prediction

67 points was the difference when the Tigers mauled the Bulldogs in round three, and it was Richmond’s big guns doing plenty of damage. Will Minson easily outpointed Ivan Maric in the ruck, but even so, the Doggies still couldn’t get their hands on the football. The best mullet in football (especially with Taylor Walker sidelined) is working his way in to some good form, so the margin could get big if the Tigers’ blue-chip mids are allowed to run riot. Ryan Griffen and Matthew Boyd can only work themselves to a standstill so often, and even if they manage to break even in the middle, they don’t have anywhere near the punch up forward to make an impact on the scoreboard. Richmond by 55 points .

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