Richmond’s high-scoring, free-flowing gamestyle is winning plenty of fans in 2022.
While it has only won the club one game for the season, it has facilitated the most entertaining game of the round, week after week.
This was once again on show this weekend against the Gold Coast Suns, resulting in a down-to-the-wire thriller which wasn’t decided until the dying seconds.
And though it isn’t good for Richmond’s on field results, it’s certainly good for AFLW viewing.
While it was once again heartbreak for Ryan Ferguson’s side, and jubilation for Cam Joyce’s, footy fans are winning either way when watching the Tigers.
The Round 1 season opening win over St Kilda was praised far and wide for Richmond’s jaw-dropping chains of possession after winning centre clearance.
Gabby Seymour’s winning of the initial hit out, Monique Conti’s silkiness with ball in hand, Tessa Lavey’s hard running and Courtney Wakefield’s expert lead all combined for one of the best passages of play 2022 has seen yet.
There are numerous more examples to choose from in their games so far.
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While they’re not winning these games, the role of the ‘entertainers’ is in part one that doesn’t prove the most conducive to claiming the four points.
Of every team to have played four games, Richmond has the third highest points for, but also the highest points against. The free-flowing style is bringing its best footy, but also the best of its opponents.
St Kilda, Melbourne and Fremantle all kicked their highest scores of the season against Richmond, and while Gold Coast only have three games to pull numbers from, it was only seven points below its highest this year.
This style of play is giving teams more than ample opportunity to look for scores against the Tigers.
The only game Richmond won the inside 50 count was against St Kilda, by four, also drawing level with Melbourne. Fremantle and Gold Coast comprehensively smashed the statistic, by 26 and 20 respectively.
This run-and-gun style also leaves the Tigers prone to turning the ball over once they are in possession, with Lauren Ahrens taking five marks for the Suns, and Aine Tighe, Emma O’Driscoll, and Sarah Verrier combining for 14 for Fremantle.Embed from Getty Images
Perhaps the best part of this style is the Tigers’ penchant for forward handballing – they’re fifth in the comp for handballs, and second last for marks.
But this, like most parts of their gamestyle, also leaves them vulnerable. Against high pressure tackling such as Fremantle (first) and Gold Coast (second), it can be easy to stop.
The Tigers lost the disposal count in both of those games, while losing the tackle count to the Dockers and winning it by eight against the Suns.
They’ve shown they can switch it up and match the intensity, but going down by five points at Metricon, they need to settle when the going gets tough.
Likewise, whether they can maintain the quick, flowing style without two of their key pillars at either end will prove a challenge.
Without Harriet Cordner to cover the ball coming back the other way with her elite reading of the play, and Wakefield to get onto the end of the express delivery, it falls apart a little.
These are questions Ryan Ferguson will ponder before a match-up with the Bulldogs that could make or break their season.
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