Richmond enters this Saturday’s cut-throat VFL semi-final against arch rival Essendon, keen to atone for last week’s qualifying final loss to Williamstown.
The Tigers will be injected with an abundance of class as AFL-listed players Brandon Ellis, Mabior Chol, Ryan Garthwaite and Sam Lloyd have all been named as inclusions for Saturday.
Unfortunately, nippy midfielder, Liam Baker will be an omission after accepting a one-match ban for engaging in rough conduct in a marking contest with Williamstown defender, Peter Faulks.
Richmond and Essendon have met once in 2018, with the Tigers cruising to a 32-point win at Windy Hill.
However, such is the transient nature of the VFL program, the Bombers will be a different proposition this time around.
Essendon enters the game brimming with confidence following last week’s 33-point elimination final win over Collingwood.
The Bombers have found their mojo at the right time of year, as the likes of Josh Green (five goals), Jackson Merrett (four goals) and Aaron Francis were in ominous form against the Pies.
The Tigers clinched the minor premiership in the final round with a victory over Frankston, however this was their only win in the last five weeks, along with three losses and a bye.
Essendon however is 3–2 over the past five weeks.
There’s no better time to recapture the fight and hunger than in a do-or-die semi-final against an old foe.
The Tigers will be looking for a lift in intensity at the contest after last week’s performance against Williamstown.
Richmond was -24 in clearances, -35 for tackles and -34 in contested possessions.
The Tigers’ coaching staff will be looking for a spike in these key areas this week.
Richmond’s midfield brigade is not wanting of class, experience or toughness, so watch for the likes of Anthony Miles, Corey Ellis and Connor Menadue to raise the fight against the Bombers.
Miles and Ellis especially fought tooth and nail to drag their side back from the brink last week, finishing with 28 & 23 disposals respectively.
Of the Tiger cubs, Noah Balta’s first-half performance last week would have surely pricked the attention of the Richmond faithful.
Balta bound around Punt Road Oval like a young colt and looked imperious when the ball was in his area, be it in the air or at ground level.
The carefree nature for which Balta plays with means he’s unflustered by occasion and possesses a mindset that is perfect for finals football.
Richmond had the mantle of being the best side in the home-and-away season, now it’s time to reclaim its moniker as the hunter in this finals series.
RICHMOND v. ESSENDON
Semi Final 1 – 08/09/2018
B: 43. D. Eggmolesse-Smith, 42. R. Garthwaite, 51. S. Morris
HB: 5. B. Ellis, 46. B. Miller, 31. O. Markov
C: 37. C. Menadue, 26. A. Miles, 45. P. Naish
HF: 58. J. Aarts, 36. C. Moore, 52. S. Mannagh
F: 40. C. Coleman-Jones, 38. N. Balta, 44. T. Stengle
R: 47. I. Soldo, 32. C. Ellis, 27. S. Lloyd
Int: 54. J. Ballard, 53. H. Beasley, 41. M. Chol, 73. J. Ernest, 61. J. Fletcher, 56. B. Grewar, 64. T. Silvestro, 57. B. Wood
23P: 60. C. Thompson
In: B. Grewar, S. Mannagh, R. Garthwaite, S. Lloyd, M. Chol, B. Ellis, J. Ernest
Out: D. Butler, L. Baker, D. Coffield