A preview through the Perth media's eyes....Richmond v Fremantle PreviewWill Brodie
May 5, 2011
Two seasons of impressive form have changed the perception of the Fremantle Dockers. Now, we expect them to be dogged, not enigmatic; composed, instead of flighty; and we expect them to embrace being favourites, even when they are on the road.
The Dockers have struggled to beat Richmond anywhere of late, and have lost their last seven straight at the MCG. And the Tigers are as buoyant after consecutive wins, the last of which was an impressive effort to withstand a concerted effort from the spirited Lions.
But the reason the Dockers are better regarded nowadays will be the same reason they will win this match - depth of class.
It has taken a while, but now the footy world recognises that Aaron Sandilands, Matthew Pavlich, David Mundy, Stephen Hill, Greg Broughton, Paul Duffield, Nathan Fyfe, Hayden Ballantyne and Chris Mayne represent a high quality core of Fremantle talent. Add to that dedicated role players such as Matthew de Boer, Jay Van Berlo, Ryan Crowley and Kepler Bradley and you have a team that is very hard to beat.
Richmond is also developing an elite core. In Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin, Nathan Foley, and Dustin Martin the Tigers are gradually assembling an imposing midfield, and the Tigers possess the most exciting key forward talent in the competition in Jack Riewoldt (21 goals). Richmond is a dangerous team if they repeatedly win centre clearances, or are given easy passage from defence. They can score goals in quick succession against the best opposition if not heavily pressured.
With Matthew Pavlich spending much of his time on the ball, Fremantle lacks a tall target with anywhere near Riewoldt's ability. Utility and back-up ruckman Kepler Bradley has been their best tall target up front - small-to-medium sized forwardds Mayne, Ballantyne, McPhee and the midfielders have tipped in the goals.
It is depth of talent that makes the Dockers favourites in this match. The Dockers defence is more stout, with the experience of Michael Johnson and Antoni Grover in key positions supporting the rebounding creativity of Broughton, Duffield, and Roberton. In the secondary midfield rotations, the Dockers can throw in the experienced Garrick Ibbotson, former Rising Star Rhys Palmer and mature aged recruit Nick Lower. For versatility, the Dockers have Ryan Crowley, de Boer and Van Berlo, who can play in defence, in tagging roles or as defensive forwards. The Dockers also look to have more genuine forward options, with Ballantyne, Mayne, McPhee, and Pavlich more genuine targets than their Richmond counterparts.
Richmond have shown great spirit, and better organisation, to win its past two against stragglers the Lions and Kangaroos. They are getting fine service from robust on-baller Dustin Martin (averaging 26 disposals), who appears almost untaggable, and dynamic forward Jack Riewoldt. And importantly for the future of Richmond, some lesser lights are finding ways to contribute more consistently. Derided angry little man Jake King (11 goals, 18 tackles) is revelling in his role as a defensive small forward, and utility Alex Rance has played his best football for the club this year, settled in key roles in defence. Last week he snared 11 marks and had the ball 20 times.
Against stronger, better drilled teams however, Richmond becomes reliant on its stars, not all of whom are as consistent throughout a game as their reputations would suggest.
The primary midfields here are well-matched, and this should be a close match. But apart from its edge in depth, Fremantle has the other trump card in this game. Aaron Sandilands. The biggest of the league's big men will give his on-ballers an armchair ride.
In a 'danger game' for the Dockers, their greater spread of talent, and the Sandilands factor, should tip the game in Fremantle's favour.http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-match-preview/richmond-v-fremantle-20110503-1e5xk.html#ixzz1LMwcaG79