Adaptability key to Richmond Tigers’ dynasty

Secondly, they built a miserly defence by playing numbers behind the ball. In 2018, for instance, Richmond played seven or eight defenders at the centre bounce more than 80 per cent of the time. They would often lose clearances, but win the ball off half-back and attack from there. They played 6-6-6 only 3.4 per cent of the time – the lowest in the competition. By contrast, Collingwood played a 6-6-6 formation at nearly 65 per cent of their centre bounces.

Then, before 2019, the AFL made 6-6-6 compulsory. Recruiting Tom Lynch helped Richmond use a more traditional structure, but even so, it was a major shake-up.

This Richmond side is a Swiss Army Knife: smaller, unconventional, unassuming, but brilliantly designed.

Initially, Richmond tried to manufacture their old system by playing their wingman at the back corner of the square, but it failed. Eventually they stopped trying to find their way around the new rules, holding their wingmen in place, and found other ways to win the ball off half-back. That meant bringing their small forwards very high, so they would be involved in forward handball chains all the way up the ground.

They won the premiership this way, because the 6-6-6 formation couldn’t take away their lethal running power, endurance, and their “red time” dominance.

Their 2019 finals series had much in common with 2017, running all over Brisbane and Geelong in second halves before thrashing GWS in the decider.


Then COVID-19 came along and took “red time” from them, too. Game time reduced by 20 per cent. Breaks between goals and quarters became longer. This was done specifically to make the game less taxing, to allow the AFL to compress the fixture if necessary. It was a perfectly understandable decision, but in a stroke the highest-scoring phase of Richmond’s game disappeared. How do you grind teams into exhaustion in a shorter game with longer breaks? It probably even cost Richmond early on. In a full-length game, they might have beaten Collingwood in round two and GWS in round eight.

But perhaps the most dramatic adjustment came on the eve of the finals. Throughout this era, including 2020, Richmond has been a poor clearance side. That doesn’t matter so much on a ground as vast as the MCG where limited damage is done directly out of the centre. But this year, Richmond would have to play on either skinny grounds (Adelaide) or short ones (the Gabba), which put a premium on clearances. And they would have to get past Port Adelaide and Geelong, the top two clearance teams in the AFL.

So, Richmond suddenly became the best stoppage team in the league. Their centre clearance differential for this finals series was +30, the biggest for any team in any series on record. And on the last day of the season, they stretched and then broke Geelong, whose suite of brilliant, ageing stars probably had most to benefit from the shortened game.

We’ve not quite seen this before. Brisbane was a sledgehammer, Hawthorn was a scalpel. Geelong, with its highly kinetic style, I’d call a jackhammer. But this Richmond side is a Swiss Army Knife: smaller, unconventional, unassuming, but brilliantly designed. And only now are we seeing their full array of tools.

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Focus on Football board challenger has no regrets amid Richmond Tigers dynasty

Hiscock added that the Tigers had ultimately taken on just about every recommendation made by the dissenters.

“When we challenged, I said ‘we’ve got to stop kicking it sideways and stop kicking it backwards, and run in numbers and go to war for the coach.’ And that’s what Richmond’s done ever since,” Hiscock said on Sunday.

Martin Hiscock addresses the 2016 news conference.Credit:Justin McManus

“I honestly think bringing Neil Balme to the club was instrumental. Neil said to us ‘don’t mention at the press conference [in 2016] that you’ve spoken to me.’ We said we’d bring him to the club and [reporter] Tony Jones says ‘well have you spoken to him?’ and I said ‘no.'”

Dr Hiscock said he was happy with the decision to challenge the board, which prompted a long meeting with O’Neal.

“Very glad. It’s not an easy thing to do. We had people ringing up my hospital looking for dirt. I knew that was going to happen. I knew I was going to be sledged in the media,” he said.

“I have no regrets. It needed to be done. We wouldn’t have won the 2017 flag without a challenge. We forced a lot of other changes. Basically everything we suggested, Peggy did.

“People thought it was an attack on the club. It was never an attack on the club. For us it was an attack on the board. We didn’t think that their focus had been on football. I’m very proud of where the club is now and I’m also very proud of what Peggy and Brendon and the board have achieved. Damien [Hardwick] has turned out to be an amazing coach.”

Hiscock also said supporters of other clubs could learn something from what transpired at Richmond.

“Yes. You need to be accountable. A lot of clubs are lingering.”


He floated Collingwood as a club that would benefit from a challenge.

“But who’s going to challenge Eddie McGuire with all that power and media influence?”

At the time of the challenge, O’Neal strongly condemned the ticket’s move.

“Instability and change equals chaos and I refuse to let that happen to my club,” O’Neal said in 2016.

“We believe there are more constructive ways of effecting lasting change than those outlined today by those seeking to take over this board.”

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Sydney Roosters have what it takes to stop Brisbane Broncos’ dynasty, writes Ruan Sims

He will know better than most the threat posed by the Broncos, having watched them up close last week when the sides met. Feeney didn’t have Simaima Taufa and Hannah Southwell available for that match. They’re huge inclusions this week for the decider.

Watching the Broncos, it’s clear so much of their game revolves around a mobile forward pack. They play with a lot of subtleties, late footwork at the line and offloads when they poke their nose through. The primary support is amazing, there is always a player screaming through looking for a half chance.

Ali Brigginshaw was crowned the Dally M female player of the year on Monday.Credit:Getty

And their ability in broken play is the main reason they have become the NRLW’s most successful side since its inception.

This is where Feeney and his middle enforcers Taufa and Southwell will be so crucial in the expected wet conditions. Those two will add starch to the Roosters’ defence. They’ve got to get in the face of Brisbane’s metre eaters and pressure Ali Brigginshaw every time she touches the ball. If you give her half a sniff, she’ll make you look silly.

I will be fascinated to see how Brisbane coach Kelvin Wright uses Brigginshaw. In the past two games she’s almost slipped into that ball-playing lock role, getting her hands on the ball a lot earlier than the first game against the Warriors, when she stood a little wider of the ruck.

If I was in the Roosters’ defensive line this week, I would want her being forced to run the ball or shovelling it wide early because she’s under so much pressure she has little time to think. It’s the only way you can attack her.

If you can do that, I reckon you’ll also limit the opportunities for Tamika Upton and Tarryn Aiken. There’s got to be constant pressure, all game, on Brisbane’s key players.

I can’t wait to see what Brigginshaw’s opposite Zahara Tamara produces for the Roosters. She’s driven this team the past three games.

What has most impressed me most is her ability to let mistakes go in a way she may not have done in the past. In the first game against the Dragons, she had a couple of slip-ups, but she parked them quickly. In a 60-minute game, you can’t afford to dwell on errors.


Mel Howard deserves another chance at five-eighth, despite how good captain Corban McGregor has been in the role.

The Broncos did a superb job setting up their roster when Paul Dyer was in charge before the 2018 season. It’s been a cornerstone of their success. Everyone in that squad knows their role and executes it well.

But I think the dynasty might be about to come to an end.

My grand final tip? The Roosters to win by four.

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The Tigers are truly roaring heading into the AFL grand final, so are we witnessing a dynasty?

In 123 seasons of V/AFL history, only 21 teams have won at least two flags on the trot. Only eight have won at least three flags in four years.

It’s rare company, and for good reason. When you’re at the top, everyone wants to take a shot.

Maintaining a successful side is about two things: keeping the core together and supplementing it with new talent to stay on top. The Total Player Payments cap and the reverse-order draft actively tries to equalise talent across the competition.

With every passing year, the balancing act gets tougher. This makes reworking on the fly key and reinventing what you do best critical.

Change is inevitable. Father time is undefeated. No premiership side has ever run out exactly the same side they used in a grand final in any future game.

Richmond will likely select six different names from their 2017 grand final side — not dissimilar to the turnover of similarly successful sides.

So will Richmond etch their names alongside the most successful teams in the history of the game?

The Tigers’ mark

Richmond has long been known for the Tiger Trap, but things have changed a little.

Around the middle of this year, 70 per cent of the Tigers’ goals came from intercepts. This was in line with their success in previous years — the notion of attacking through defence.

In the finals, the Tigers have flipped the script. Only 50 per cent of their goals so far in the finals have come via intercepts — a radical change in a short period of time.

During the home and away season, Richmond won more clearances than their opponents just twice. In their three finals, they have won the overall clearance battle twice.

The big change hasn’t happened around the ground, but instead at centre bounces. So far, the Tigers have won 24 more centre clearances than their opponents in their three finals. They’ve been able to kick four goals to one from centre bounces from this advantage.

A big part of this has been player availability and role.

For much of the season, the Tigers have been without Shane Edwards and Dion Prestia, and they’ve used Dustin Martin increasingly in roles outside the middle. Since the finals, these three players have combined for more centre clearances than the three opposition sides combined.

The Tigers have also been willing to do different things around the ground to halt stoppage losses — and even gain a late advantage when the game called for it.

In the final quarter against Port Adelaide, the best clearance team all year, Richmond found a circuit-breaker in a tight and tense preliminary final by dominating the total clearances by twelve. The Tigers took a chance by running aggressively at the ball or to planned space.

While some teams may have been more conservative in the wetter conditions, and looking to soak up the ball on the rebound, the Tigers did the opposite.

The gambit worked to neuter Port’s game in difficult conditions, but having shown this hand to Geelong, it may be risky to try to deploy again.

Earlier this year against the Cats, the Tigers lost the clearance battle 16 to 32. Given their win in that game, and the preliminary final last year, they may instead choose to rely on cutting off Geelong’s ball use instead.

An interesting wrinkle is that Richmond see the second least ruck contests per game in the league, and Geelong the second most. Geelong don’t mind locking it in and resetting their structures, being patient and using stable, steady movement.

Tigers uncaged

If the Cats are a patient team who rely on slightly slower ball movement, the Tigers instead rely on an element of chaos. It’s not totally freewheeling. Instead, they use structured and organised frameworks to control that loose oval ball.

The Tigers have a habit of turning nothing into something special, like turning a spilled ball into a quick chain, with the end result often a kick to one of their key targets.

Richmond has long been unafraid to make a mistake, as long as it at least gains territory.

Richmond is a machine almost always moving forward, and it generally runs into the most trouble when it is held up by opposing sides. Covering their errors, their defence remains one of the best in the business.

At the same time, the Tigers aren’t quite the same ground-based force they once were.

Feeding frenzy

When Tom Lynch came to the club in 2019, it was a signal of a slight change of direction up forward. The intense pressure of the Tigers’ ground-ball attack inside 50 took a slight backseat to trying to isolate three of the league’s best targets.

The triumvirate of Lynch, Jack Riewoldt and Martin are extremely hard to stop one out.

Defences this year played with overloading the defensive 50 to stop leads and one-out action. The Tigers have used some interesting tactics to get their forwards open, from blocks to cross-goal kicks and leads away from goal.

But this has come at a slight cost to their damaging ground-based attack. Once among the standard-bearers for winning the ball inside 50, now they trail the direction of the league.

Geelong’s tall defence is one of the hardest against which to find open targets inside 50. Earlier this year, Richmond were able to find 14 marks inside 50 on the way to a winning score. Working on isolating and positioning up forward might be key.

Deja what?

Richmond has done this before. The Tigers have won two grand finals now, with a lot of the same players and staff. This time they’re up against the oldest team ever. They even beat this team in the finals last year.

There are a couple of new elements this year though. They haven’t won a grand final at night, nor in Brisbane, nor in October. They’ve never had to cope with the seemingly never-ending hub environment. Though, to be fair, no-one has.

But as the ball bounces at the Gabba, all of that history, positive and negative, disappears. Then it becomes real.

One game, for the flag, and for that historical status.

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Dynasty talk on hold for Toby Nankervis and Richmond Tigers

“I don’t think we reflect on that too be honest,” Nankervis said on Saturday. “We are focused on reviewing the game from last night, [then] take some learnings out of that and watching the game tonight [Brisbane v Geelong preliminary final] and focusing on next weekend.

“We just focus on each week. I know it sounds mundane but the competition is so tight and so even. We know we have to show up, give our best effort to give ourselves a chance.”

Nankervis missed a big chunk of the season after round five, one of a host of Richmond’s front line players sidelined this season due to injury or supporting their partner’s through child birth.

The ruckman, Dion Prestia, Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards were top of that list and all had the extra hurdle of completing their paths back to footy through strict quarantine and hub protocols.

“I think we’re all just grateful to get the opportunity to play footy after what seemed [a] pretty difficult time early on,” Nankervis said.

“It was disappointing to get injured early in the season, I suppose with the difficult season we’ve had being away from the group for parts there.

“First couple of weeks, I was back round 14 or 15, it did take me a few weeks to get match fit. I feel like the more footy I have played the more I feel I can run out games, I certainly feel pretty good.

“I am so wrapt to just be backed within the team and give ourselves another chance.

“I still think we are probably as a team starting to play our better footy this time of year but I can’t wait for this week.”


Indeed hitting their best form at the right time of the season has been a feature of Richmond’s 2017 and 2019 premiership wins and the story looks similar ahead of next week’s grand final.

Nankervis praised teammate Tom Lynch, who was booed heavily at the Adelaide Oval.

“He handled it pretty well Lynchy. The crowd provided an amazing atmosphere last night and I think that’s just a minority event,” he said.

“He is a great person, a great teammate and a great friend. One of the nicest blokes.”

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Tigers one win from dynasty after instant classic Preliminary Final

Richmond has won an instant classic and advanced to their third Grand Final in four years.

Rain fell from start to finish adding to what was a game where both teams applied enormous pressure.

This led to a scrappy contest as both teams fought for territory all night. Richmond’s finals experience ultimately proved the difference in the end, with the likes of Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin, Toby Nankervis and Kane Lambert standing up in the final quarter in big moments.

Here’s everything you need to know!

The Talking Point: Richmond one win away from destiny

One bad night in 2018 cost Richmond their three-peat, but this win puts them in a position to get, as Gerard Whateley describes it, the ‘legacy flag’.

The third flag is the difference between an incredible team and a dynasty and the Tigers will be looking to join Brisbane, Geelong and Hawthorn in achieving it this century.

Richmond has been the dominant finals team of the last four years and it showed in the fourth quarter tonight. Port Adelaide’s youngsters made errors, whether it was errant handballs or hack kicks inside 50.

The Moment: Brad Ebert concussed saving certain goal

Brad Ebert wears a helmet when he plays because of his ongoing issues with concussions.

Which made his bravery going back with the flight of the ball to stop what would have been a certain Jack Riewoldt mark deep inside 50 even more heroic.

Riewoldt’s elbow incidentally connected with Ebert’s head, clearly knocking him out.

The midfielder was carried from the ground as Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes praised his incredible bravery.

“If Port Adelaide were to win this, go and do something for this man. He has put his life on the line for them,” Cornes told AFL Nation.

Umpiring receives harsh critique:

Port Adelaide: 2.3, 3.3, 4.4, 6.4. (40)
Richmond: 2.1, 3.3, 4.6, 6.10. (46)

Port Adelaide: Lambert 2, Martin 2, Lynch, Riewoldt
Richmond: Rozee 2, Dixon, Duursma, Ladhams, Lycett

Port Adelaide: Wines, Gray, Rozee, Duursma, Ebert, Jonas
Richmond: Martin, Bolton, Prestia, Balta, Lambert, Nankervis, Cotchin

Reports: Ladhams (Striking)

Port Adelaide: Burton (hamstring), Ebert (concussion)
Richmond: Nil

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Power out to stop Tigers push for a dynasty

Could not have asked for more from that quarter. Just brilliant.

Richmond kicked the first two and the Power fought back to hit the lead by quarter time.

Hamish Hartlett and Duursma in the middle of it with their chat, the crowd absolutely loving it too.

Peter Ladhams was reported for punching Noah Balta in the stomach. Silly, stilly stuff.

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Are Richmond on track for a dynasty?


It would be the clearest signal yet that Richmond are capable of going back-to-back and winning three flags in four seasons.

Two more wins and the Tigers are in the same conversation as Hawthorn, Brisbane and Geelong as the pre-eminent clubs of this century. Imagine thinking that in 2016?

Even just making the grand final, given all the odds stacked against Victorian sides in 2020, would be extraordinary. Travel, living away from home, off-field scandals and heat about their on-field discipline have been biting at the Tigers heels at a seemingly constant rate.

Footy clubs are process driven, and those inside them say their eyes rest solely on the next win.

But the likes of coach Damien Hardwick, Jack Riewoldt, captain Trent Cotchin and chief executive Brendon Gale not pondering the historic implications of back-to-back and three in four years would be hard to believe.

Last time lessons?

These sides played arguably the game of the season in round 11.

Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt and Port’s Tom Clurey in the round 11 clash.Credit:Getty Images

Following a game of high intensity and wild momentum swing the Power piled on three quick goals at the start of the final term to essentially take control of the match. Richmond were missing seven players that played in their semi-final win over St Kilda, including Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia and Bachar Houli. Port did not have Connor Rozee, Brad Ebert and qualifying final goal kicker Steven Motlop.

Interestingly, when asked about Lynch’s misdemeanours, Hardwick has repeatedly not taken the opportunity to denounce his behaviour.

He does say that he wants his players to play within the rules, but from there he continues to encourage an aggressive approach to the game.

That’s no surprise, and internally the Tigers coaches and leaders have implored their players to rein in their ill discipline that leads to 50m penalties.

But it’s been such a feature of Richmond’s season that it is hard to say it will definitely not be part of this preliminary final.

A high-pressure game in a high-pressure atmosphere against a team who are the best around the ball, and the best at locking the ball into their forward half: Things are bound to get willing.

Richmond cannot afford to have any mis-steps in this respect on Friday if they want to give themselves the best chance of winning.

Week off woes?

Port Adelaide have played one game in three weeks, the Tigers have played two.

In a season where all teams have had to play a lot of matches in a little time, it will be interesting to see the impact of only playing once in 21 days.

The extra week has given Todd Marshall and Xavier Duursma a chance to recover from injury, while the Tigers were able to keep their legs ticking along in a fairly high intensity win over St Kilda.

Some thought the extra week off bit Richmond in the backside in 2018 when they unexpectedly lost the preliminary final to a momentum-filled Collingwood side.

Charlie Dixon has been a power for Port this season.

Charlie Dixon has been a power for Port this season.Credit:Getty Images

Which big man bites?

Sure, Tom Hawkins won the Coleman Medal, but try picking only one of Hawkins, Charlie Dixon and Lynch for your side if you had the chance.


The impact of Lynch’s fair physicality is often overlooked because he steals the headlines with cheap shots, but don’t underestimate how significant his controlled bullocking can be.

It’s no secret how dominant Dixon is, just looking at him is enough to strike fear into opposition fans.

Port’s defence is underrated but there are still question marks on Trent McKenzie. If he gets the job on Lynch, can he do it? He was lucky that Hawkins’ radar was off in the qualifying final.

Port Adelaide by nine points.

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Kennedy Dynasty On The Line In US Senate Race

A legendary American political dynasty is at stake Tuesday with Joe Kennedy III, the grandnephew of assassinated president John F Kennedy, challenging a savvy political veteran for his seat in the US Senate.

The contentious race, which pits two well-liked progressives with similar political positions against one another, is coming down to the wire in a busy Democratic primary in Massachusetts.

The 39-year-old Kennedy, grandson of slain attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, is part of the family’s fourth generation to carry the political torch, entering the House of Representatives in 2013.

Voters in Massachusetts do not see him purely as the scion of an intensely political clan but as someone who has “thrown everything I’ve got” into the contest, Kennedy insisted.

“Every race I’ve ever run, I’ve made it clear it’s me on the ballot,” Kennedy told AFP as he stumped for 11th-hour votes in Boston, where he wore a mask while fist-bumping police officers and truck drivers and hugging people on the streets.

“You’re not going to get my father or my grandfather or any of his brothers or sisters. This is on me.”

At 74, his rival Ed Markey is a generation apart, a progressive political workhorse who spent 37 years in the House before rising to the Senate in 2013.

He has led Kennedy in recent polling, but “there’s nothing guaranteed,” he told reporters Monday while campaigning in Brookline, the Boston suburb where JFK was born 103 years ago.

For the Kennedy clan, much is on the line. For all but two years since 1947 — nearly a third of the history of the United States — a Kennedy has served in elective office.

A legendary American political dynasty is at stake with Joe Kennedy III, the grandnephew of assassinated president John F Kennedy, challenging a savvy political veteran for his seat in the US Senate
 AFP / Joseph Prezioso

They are the quintessential American dynasty, one of the closest things the country has to royalty.

Like his presidential great-uncle, who once served in the Senate, the lanky, red-haired Kennedy is running on the promise of a new generation.

And he has received the rare endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who in 2018 appointed Kennedy to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

Markey, who has framed his candidacy on an anti-establishment platform, has powerful supporters too.

They include Senator Elizabeth Warren and rising star progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with whom Markey co-authored the Green New Deal on tackling climate change.

“When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts, it’s the age of your ideas,” the 30-year-old lawmaker known as AOC said in an ad for Markey.

Should he win Tuesday, Kennedy is virtually assured victory in November’s general election, but a primary loss would leave him out of Congress come January, as he can not be on the ballot as a candidate for both Senate and House.

The Democratic National Convention last month hinted at a the Kennedy clan’s possible political future though, when it aired a video message from JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy and her 27-year-old son Jack Kennedy Schlossberg.

“We can reach these new frontiers, but only with a president who asks what he can do for our country,” Schlossberg said, echoing his grandfather’s 1961 acceptance speech when he famously said: “Ask not what your country can do for you.”

No Kennedy has lost an election in Massachusetts, and Joe III portrays himself as a champion for the working class and poor.

“It’s being more engaged, it’s giving your heart and soul to the seat,” he told the Boston Globe.

With the coronavirus pandemic prompting record numbers of mail-in ballots, Massachusetts officials warn that the race might not be called until Wednesday.

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