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BLOCKBUSTER NIGHT by Whispering Jack


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The ANZAC Eve blockbuster between Melbourne and Richmond has become something of a bellwether event for the two clubs. The winner has gone on to collect the premiership flag on four out of five occasions since the Tigers overran an injury-stricken Demons side late in their 2017 encounter. The outlier was 2018 when Richmond dominated the season but like Melbourne, it stumbled at the final hurdle and failed to make the Grand Final.

The 2022 version might turn out be just another game but there’s a fair amount at stake here. The Demons came into last year’s encounter with five wins from five matches but the football experts were as yet unconvinced. It was the win and the ruthless manner in which it was achieved that gave them legitimacy in the eyes of the pundits. It also reversed the roles of the respective teams. Melbourne was not longer the hunter; it became the hunted. Richmond slowly fell away as the season wore on and eventually lost touch with the top eight. Their dynasty was over, our day had come.

Twelve months down the track, it’s the Tigers who are still battling for legitimacy in the eyes of their supporters and the football public while the Demons are riding high. Not high enough to develop complacency because fortunes can change quickly and dramatically in this day and age. However, they do seem to have the wood on Richmond who would gladly welcome back superstar Dustin Martin from personal leave and co-captain Dylan Grimes from a hamstring issue.

Melbourne have developed a high level of efficiency and proficiency in everything it does. Last week for instance, they broke even statistically with their opposition counterparts in the rucks. The number of hit outs was 34 each but GWS “won” the clearances by 41 to 33. But the quality of the clearances that went in favour of the Demons was by far the greater and this allowed them to break loose in that third quarter and apply maximum damage on their opponents. Once they had control of the football, they ran with vigour and I’m not just talking about the player with the football. So much of that athletic advantage can’t even be quantified in terms of statistics, other than the really important one that we see on the scoreboard. The result was a 10 goal quarter that left their prey shattered and gasping for breath. Vanquished.

This is why Melbourne is traveling along so nicely at the moment. The players are fit, focused and invested in a total team effort. Of course it helps to have midfielders like Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney playing at the top of their game with the likes of Angus Brayshaw, Ed Langdon, James Jordon, James Harmes and Tom Sparrow as a sparkling support base.

By way of contrast, Richmond’s very best is a fading memory of the past. Some of the characters are still there but they’re worn down and weary. A few are past their prime but there isn’t the same attacking spirit that we see from Melbourne and they can’t match the iron clad defence that has left opposition attacks frustrated and in despair.

Even so, Nathan Buckley insists the Demons are still not playing the way they want to play.

"They're going to ramp that up over the next couple of weeks, I think there's better to come."

Heaven help the rest of the competition if he’s right and heaven help the Tigers on Blockbuster Night.

Melbourne to win by 45 points.

THE GAME

Richmond v Melbourne on Sunday 24 April, 2022 at 7.25pm at the MCG

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Richmond 107 wins Melbourne 76 wins Drawn 2

At MCG Richmond 72 wins Melbourne 64 wins Drawn 1

Past five meetings Richmond 4 wins Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Hardwick 4 wins Goodwin 1 win

MEDIA

TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides for free-to-air.

Radio - check your local guides.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 12.10.82 defeated Richmond 6.12.48 in Round 6, 2021 at the MCG

The Tigers were out of the blocks early but when the light drizzle turned to rain, the Demons edged past them and with the Christians (Petracca and Salem) and Clayton Oliver all picking up possessions at will, it was Melbourne all the way after half time.

THE TEAMS

RICHMOND

B: N.Broad 35 R.Tarrant 6 J.Gibcus 28
HB: J.Short 15 N.Vlastuin 1 D.Rioli 17
C: J.Ross 5 T.Cotchin 9 K.McIntosh 33
HF: J.Castagna 11 L.Baker 7 S.Edwards 10
F: T.Lynch 19 J.Riewoldt 8 N.Balta 21
Foll: T.Nankervis 25 D.Prestia 3 T.Dow 27
I/C: S.Bolton 29 R.Collier-Dawkins 26 J.Graham 34 R.Mansell 31
Sub: M.Parker 37 Emerg: S.Banks 41 M.Rioli 49 T.Sonsie 40

In: R.Collier-Dawkins J.Gibcus K.McIntosh R.Mansell 

Out: J.Aarts (omitted) B.Miller (omitted) M.Pickett (injured) H.Ralphsmith (ribs)

MELBOURNE

B: J.Hunt 29 S.May 1 H.Petty 35
HB: J.Bowey 17 J.Smith 44 T.Rivers 24
C: A.Brayshaw 10 C.Petracca 5  E.Langdon 15
HF: K.Pickett 36 S.Weideman 26 A.Neal-Bullen 30
F: B.Fritsch 31 B.Brown 50  C.Spargo 9 
Foll: M.Gawn 11 C.Oliver 13 T. Sparrow 32
I/C: L.Dunstan 27 J.Harmes 4 L.Jackson 6 J.Jordon 23  
Sub: T.Bedford 12 Emerg: J.Melksham 18 A.Tomlinson 20 T.McDonald 25

In: B.Brown L.Dunstan J.Smith

Out: J.Lever (H & S Protocols) T.McDonald (omitted)  J.Viney (H & S Protocols) 
 
Injury List: Round 6 

Michael Hibberd - Calf | 1 week
Daniel Turner - Foot | 3-4 weeks
Christian Salem - Knee | 4-5 weeks
Blake Howes - Foot | TBC

PreviewRd062022.png

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