Richmond’s gritty Dreamtime at the ‘G win over Essendon and Fremantle seeing off a dogged Adelaide have set up a tantalising Friday night AFL clash.
The Tigers spoiled Dustin Fletcher’s 400-game milestone with a 13-point victory in front of 83,804 fans on Saturday night, while Fremantle had to come from behind against the Crows at Adelaide Oval to remain unbeaten, two games clear on top of the ladder.
Serious questions were being asked of Damien Hardwick’s side at 2-4, and while the coach admitted the Tigers had been winning ugly, they’ve roared back into contention with three consecutive victories.
Now, though, they’re preparing for the toughest task in football against the Dockers at Subiaco.
“It’s exciting – Friday night footy, they’re still undefeated, so it gives us a really good opportunity to see where we’re at,” Hardwick said.
“They’re a quality side, obviously, and they’re very hard to beat at home but we play well there and we travel well.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge – very much so.”
Some doubt still remains over eighth-placed Richmond’s credentials this year but there can be no doubting the merit of their past three wins, however ugly they may have been.
With their season in desperate trouble, the Tigers beat Collingwood for the first time since 2007, then travelled to the scene of last year’s elimination final humiliation and defeated Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval in Kane Cornes’ 300th and final game.
The Bombers had plenty to play for in Fletcher’s big game but couldn’t get over the line and the trend continues this week with Dockers defender Michael Johnson playing his 200th match.
“It’s significant isn’t it – they’re a big challenge,” Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said.
“They’re a momentum team, they’re on a roll but again we’ll accept the challenge, we’ll need to improve.
“But we’re really excited about the football that we’re playing. We’re excited to be playing in front of the purple haze at home – the loud crowd – they’ll be passionate, they’ll be fired up and we accept the challenge.”
Richmond have their bye after the big clash and can throw everything they have at the Dockers knowing they have some time to recover.
It might take more than a week for North Melbourne coach Brad Scott to recover after the Kangaroos gave up a 39-point halftime lead to go down to Collingwood by 17 points.
Scott said he felt shattered for everyone associated with the club after the defeat that left last year’s preliminary finalists in 13th spot with a 4-5 record.
The even nature of the 2015 season continued, however, with the results of round nine leaving just two games separating the Roos in 13th and the Pies in fourth.
Sydney sit in third after their big win over Carlton on Friday night that will be remembered for Adam Goodes’ proud indigenous war cry goal celebration.