Peter Jackson VFL Round 18
Richmond Tigers vs. Sandringham Zebras
Punt Road Oval, Richmond
12:00pm Sunday August 20, 2017
Last 5 – Richmond: 2, Sandringham: 3
Last Time They Met:
Round 2, 2017 – Sandringham 8.13 – 61 DEF BY Richmond 12.14 – 86
By Nathaniel Sage
While finals remain a faint mathematical possibility, the Zebras will be playing for pride no matter what when they head to Punt Road Oval this Sunday at 12pm to take on the Tigers.
Sandringham should be fresh coming off a bye, while Richmond would have been disappointed not to nail down their spot in the finals after a tough 7-point loss to Geelong.
While only two wins separate the two teams, if percentage is any indication, this will be a very tough game for the Zebras. The Tigers sit in 6th (percentage - 133.4), while Sandringham are languishing outside the eight, currently in 11th spot (percentage - 84.7).
Sandy will be seeking to end their season on a high by playing spoiler to the Tigers, with the Zebras following game against North Ballarat looking like it will be fairly inconsequential.
Looking back at their last game before their bye, the Zebras let a golden opportunity slip in their 10-point loss to Casey. While the Demons are a solid team, Sandy held a 28-point halftime lead and had the same number of scoring shots as Casey, so to be defeated was disappointing.
Jack Lonie had a massive day out and was the pick of the players. He accumulated 34 disposals and slotted 2 goals, and his work rate remained high defensively as he laid 11 tackles.
Ben Long also pressured well with 9 tackles as well as kicking a vital goal, and his highlights can be seen here on the Saints website.
Up forward, Myke Cook, Corey Rich and Jason Holmes all contributed well with two goals apiece.
Sandy would have been frustrated with their inability to mark key Demon players, with Jay Kennedy-Harris, Angus Brayshaw and Ben Kennedy each having 30+ touches.
The Zebras will need to improve on this as they look to limit some key Tigers in this week’s match up.
AFL-listed players Jacob Townsend (#21) and Jack Graham (#34) each produced several clearances for Richmond in their loss to Geelong, but the Cats did not allow them get into a rhythm and their disposal efficiency suffered.
Across the half-back line players like Oleg Markov, Jayden Short and Taylor Hunt each provide quality rebound from the defensive 50. Attention will need to be paid to this area of the Tigers game as it generates many quality forays forward.
Ben Lennon has been consistent all season and slotted three goals against the Cats, while the Tigers also have several small-to-medium forwards capable of converting half-chances into goals.
With all of that in mind, the Zebras will have their hands full as they attempt to steal a win away from home. If you remember back to the Round 2 game between these two sides, Richmond were able to make the most of their opportunities in coming away with a 25-point win.
For Sandringham, the cause for many of their losses has been an inability to convert opportunities. As such, for Sandy to cause an upset, they will need to finish their pushes forward which too often this season have been thwarted either through poor goal-kicking or hesitant decision-making.
Richmond will come out firing at Punt Road after a frustrating loss and will be hard to knock over, but Sandy are coming off a bye so should have a little more in the tank. If Sandy can handle the intensity early in this one look for it to go down to the wire.
Sandringham’s development team travel to Piranha Park to take on Coburg in what could be their last game for the season. The Zebras have a bye in the final round, and – sitting in 5th just outside the finals picture – need to win to have any chance of playing finals. Their game is 11am on Saturday.
Sandringham Zebras Twitter and Facebook are active on gamedays with score updates and stats so be sure to follow them to keep up to speed.
Teams will be posted when announced.