If Richmond can maintain their improvement in contested football, not only can they beat Hawthorn, they can be very dangerous in the finals.
Richmond are surging towards September and in many ways their win over Port Adelaide last week was their best performance of the season.
The Tigers won the contested possession count by 30 last week against Port, largely driven by big games from ruckman Toby Nankervis (29 possessions, 14 contested), Dion Prestia (32/23) and Trent Cotchin (31/17).
This was Richmond’s best result of the season and encouraging because they are not renowned as a strong contested ball side. In fact, one of the few teams they rank higher than in contested footy differential is Hawthorn, who come in a diabolical 16th, ahead only of West Coast and North Melbourne.
The Tigers only narrowly won the contested possession count when they beat the Hawks by 23 points in Round 9, but given the dominance in inside 50’s the scoreboard was highly flattering to the losers.
Hawthorn have won four of their last five but they have been flattered by a soft schedule of late. They have struggled against better opposition, with only two wins against the top ten teams on the ladder.
Richmond have too much firepower, and too much to play for, to let this one slip.
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Same Game Multi
Suspect gun Hawks tagger Finn Maginness will go to Dion Prestia, so will avoid him in multis. Ball winning machine Jayden Short has dropped below 20 only twice all year, while Cotchin has 20 or more in eleven of his last twelve.
Opposition ruckmen can often rack up big numbers against the Hawks and Toby Nankervis should be able to clear 15 comfortably.
Ben McEvoy has goals in three of his last four games, and ‘Big Boy’ will be front of mind for targets in light of his retirement announcement.
Mitchell’s biggest rival for most disposals is Prestia, so with Maginness likely to apply the hard tag it should be clear sailing for the Hawks ball magnet, who has had 35 or more in his last five games against the Tigers, except for 2020.