ESSENDON v RICHMOND
MCG, 750PM FRIDAY
The Bombers bounced back from their narrow 4 point defeat to the Hawks with a thumping 43 point win over the Saints at Etihad Stadium. Like Shania Twain said ‘that dont impress the Wolf much’ and Essendon will still need to defeat both Richmond and Port Adelaide in the closing rounds or they will be on holiday in September.
The major concern is the injury list which now has four of their key players on it. Brendon Goddard (knee) and Orazio Fantasia (hamstring) left the St Kilda game before the final break whilst Cale Hooker (knee) and Adam Saad (concussion) were finished inside the opening 20 minutes.
The Tigers have excellent recent form against the the Bombers, smashing them by 71 points in this season’s ‘Dreamtime at the G’. Whilst Essendon are losing key players, Richmond are getting them back with Bachar Houli (26 disposals and 7 marks) and Dion Prestia (23 disposals and 4 tackles) impressive on their return from injury.
The Wolf smells some easy prey with the line set at just 24.5. When you consider the Tiger’s current form, their impressive record at the MCG and recent record against the Bombers, Richmond are excellent value to cover the line.
STATS THAT MATTER
- Jack Riewoldt’s 10 goals against the Suns are the most kicked in a single game this season. He leads the Coleman Medal race alongside Ben Brown (Kangaroos) with 58 goals.
- Keep an eye out for Zach Merrett who had an outstanding 36 disposals (15 kicks and 21 handballs) and 5 tackles against the Saints.
- The Bombers need to convert their possession into shots on goal. In their last match-up with the Tigers they dominated the hitouts (48-18), had a similar amount of inside 50’s (56-59) but less than half the scoring shots of the Tigers (13-29).
- A career high 5 goals from cult hero Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti against the Saints positions him for a big night against the Tigers. ‘Tippa’ had a couple against the Tigers in their last match but may struggle without Fantasia and Daniher to spread some of the defensive pressure.
- Devon Smith will need to apply his trademark pressure against the Tiger’s elite midfield. With 169 tackles this season (8 vs St Kilda) he leads the competition by +27
WHAT TO EXPECT
The first 15 minutes are crucial. Whilst the Suns were unlikely to ever cause an upset against the defending premiers, it wasn’t until the third quarter where the Tigers really put the foot on the accelerator. If the Bombers are tired and without key players, Richmond may be able to snuff out the fire early by taking a strong lead into quarter time.
Whilst player availability is a big issue for the Bombers so is their recovery to prepare for this crucial match. With so many players injured against the Saints they were unable to rotate in the final quarter which stretched their healthy players.
The Tigers have won 20 in a row at the MCG and enjoyed an easier match against the Suns last weekend. The Bombers at full strength would have made this a 65-35 chance in favour of the Tigers, but the combination of injuries and recovery time makes this more like 80-20 and the Wolf can’t look past that.
HOW IT’S SHAPING UP
Richmond by 36
BEST BETS: Richmond -24.5 ($1.92), Richmond 1-39 ($2.10), Richmond -24.5/Over 166.5 ($3.20), Total Points Over 166.5 ($1.88)