Richmond’s hopes of playing finals were all but over after just one quarter in the 55-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
The Tigers coughed up a nine-goal opening term and never recovered in the 19.12 (126) to 10.11 (71) defeat at Marvel Stadium.
Young Bulldog Jamarra Ugle-Hagan proved the difference with a stunning four-goal opening term.
And captain Marcus Bontempelli further cemented his name to the Brownlow Medal chat with an outstanding 32-disposal display – which included three big goals in the third term.
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Miller cops delayed one-game ban | 03:54
But the match was marred by a couple of controversies including Tiger Jacob Hopper’s concussion and Marlion Pickett’s confrontation with a rogue fan who reached out and touched him in the third term.
Hopper was subbed out in the second term – despite being determined to play on, but came to the bench under doctors’ orders on review of his collision with Dog Adam Treloar.
And the AFL is set to investigate the fan incident where Pickett was patted repeatedly on the back by a fan who then gestured towards him.
Fox Footy’s Jordan Lewis was adamant that sort of action is a “no-go zone”, and that the fan deserves a “life ban”.
QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT
When Tom Liberatore opted to go forward at pace, it was the smallest player in the AFL Caleb Daniel who snared the mark over the back and nailed the first goal of the match.
Another Richmond error gifted the Dogs more territory, but Rory Lobb didn’t make the distance from 55m and the Tigers were able to rush it through.
“It’s a nothing kick there,” commentator Luke Hodge lamented.
“Better off going to the top of the square.”
When the Richmond backline couldn’t clear, Marcus Bontempelli pounced and hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for the Dogs’ second goal in a matter of minutes.
“It’s a lightning start by the Dogs,” commentator Brian Taylor said.
A diving Matt Coulthard couldn’t reel in the mark as the Dogs went coast-to-coast when Lobb got out the back and dished off the goal to Ugle-Hagan.
Rhylee West heaped more pain on the Tigers moments later as the Dogs kicked the opening four goals.
Jack Ross finally got Richmond on the board but again Ugle-Hagan proved unstoppable early with his third for the term.
The opening term turned into a horror show for the Tigers as the Dogs piled on the pain to bring up a nine-goal quarter – their best since 2011.
And the night soured further when Daniel Rioli limped off midway through the quarter with an ankle issue.
By quarter time, it was the Dogs leading 57-13 – Richmond’s worst score conceded in an opening term since
Richmond’s horror luck rolled on in the second term when Jacob Hopper had to come from the field after an accidental head clash with Adam Treloar.
Able to get up and play on, Tigers’ medical staff assessed the vision and the call was made for the star recruit to head to the bench.
But it took several minutes to get Hopper to the bench as play continued on. He was subbed out a short time later.
The Tigers were finally getting their hands on the footy – and kept the Dogs goalless for almost 17 minutes as Rioli was able to return.
But they didn’t get the reward on the scoreboard.
When West added his second goal – after cheekily sneaking to the boundary to take the free kick for out on the full – the Dogs were back in control.
There were some concerns for Dogs star Aaron Naughton who dislocated his finger right on the stroke of the main change.
Medical staff were able to pop his finger back in on the field with hopes he’d return in the third term.
By half time, it was the Bulldogs leading 77-35.
With Naughton able to return to the game, the Dogs had other worries with Jason Johannisen down in the rooms.
And when Anthony Scott was hit heavily in a massive marking contest – where Bontempelli bravely went back with the flight to take the grab – he too went off for a concussion test.
Bontempelli was able to push the lead out to 50 points for the first time on the night.
Jack Riewoldt added some respectability to the scoreboard with his second goal, but the Dogs were in total control midway through the third.
An “easy mark” against Marlion Pickett and goal for Bontempelli – his second of the night – saw plenty of applause from the crowd.
“He’s doing it all tonight … an absolute superstar,” commentator Matthew Richardson said.
Pickett made amends immediately through the middle when he stepped two Bulldogs and hit up Noah Cumberland on the lead inside 50.
But the kick for goal let the Tigers down.
“Looked like he had no idea what he wanted to get out of it,” Taylor lamented of Cumberland’s second shocker.
“No set routine.”
Anthony Scott has unable to return to the contest after that Bontempelli collision, becoming the second player of the match to the subbed due to concussion.
By three-quarter time, it was the Dogs leading 103-50.
The final term was simply a formality for both sides, as the Bulldogs climbed to an almost 70-point margin.
While the Tigers showed a little fight late with three straight goals, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan gave the Dogs plenty to celebrate with an equal-career high fifth goal.
By full time, Richmond’s season was all but over in the 126-71 defeat.
THE 3-2-1 …
3. ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ BONT’S BROWNLOW CHARGE
Three votes, M.Bontempelli.
The Dogs superstar continued his brilliant season in arguably his best performance of 2023 yet including putting on his superman cape in a monster third quarter.
He racked up seven of his 32 disposals, four contested with five score involvements and three goals all in the third period in a dominant stretch to shut the door on the Tigers.
Fox Footy pundits were full of praise for Bontempelli, with Hawks legend Jordan Lewis critical of the Tigers for not putting a harder tag on him earlier in the game.
“He’s pencilled in the three votes for this game even with a quarter to go,” Lewis said on Fox Footy at three-quarter time.
“He’s been unbelievable. Played primarily in the midfield, but he floats forward and really challenges his opposition.
“He’s just in hot form … he loves playing against Richmond and he’s had an unbelievable season and they didn’t go to him at the start.
“They tried to (tag him) that quarter and he still dominated.”
Triple-premiership winning Lion Jonathan Brown thinks Bontempelli would be hot on the tail of Brownlow favourite and Collingwood superstar Nick Daicos.
“Making a late charge for the Brownlow Medal after Nick Daicos had a bit of an off night last week,” Brown said.
“Jack Graham went to him as a bit of a matchup, (but) it didn’t help.”
2. DOGS ‘BELIEVERS’ AS TIGERS’ FINAL HOPES COP HAMMER BLOW
The Western Bulldogs consolidated their spot in the top eight in a crucial eight-point battle against Richmond with key repercussions for both clubs.
Luke Beveridge’s side climbed into fifth place on the ladder with just three rounds remaining – facing Hawthorn, West Coast and Geelong in those games – while potentially ending a fellow top eight contender’s season.
The Dogs were fierce from the opening bounce, kicking nine goals in the first quarter alone – four to Jamarra Ugle-Hagan – to take a 44-point lead and mark their biggest first term in 12 years. And really, the game never got close from there on out.
“There was a place in the eight for Richmond up for grabs if they could get over the top of the Western Bulldogs, but it looks like the Western Bulldogs have solidified that spot,” Hawthorn legend Jordan Lewis said on Fox Footy.
Former Melbourne skipper Garry Lyon meanwhile thought the difference between the two clubs was stark, saying the Dogs “look to me like they think they can do something in September and deserve to be here.”
However for Richmond, who played in a tough game against Melbourne just five days prior and opted to manage Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin, Lyon feared their finals hopes were shot.
Andrew McQualter’s side could sit as low as 13th by the end of the round ahead of clashes against St Kilda, North Melbourne and Port Adelaide.
“I think, the way Richmond are going, they’re not really true believers that they’re going to be a participant in September,” Lyon added.
“I reckon the last quarter against Melbourne took it out of them, that was only five days ago. They lose Dustin Martin in that process, then they get jumped by a Western Bulldogs side who are hungry and hard.
“I think this might be the end of them (the Tigers).”
1. GREAT CALLS FOR PRE-GF BYE CONVERSATION
Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge has questioned whether it’s time to introduce a bye between the preliminary final and grand final to avoid a potential heartbreak story in light of Jacob Hopper’s concussion setback.
Hopper came from the ground on doctor’s orders early in the second term and was subbed out after undergoing a head injury assessment following a knock – despite originally attempting to play through the issue.
It was a topical incident given Port Adelaide was handed a significant $100,000 fine for breaching concussion protocols last week, but pundits say “the right system” prevailed on Friday.
Under concussion protocols, Hopper, who appeared to think he was fine to play on, will now be sidelined for the next 12 days, meaning, in theory, he’d miss a grand final if it were played next week.
“If this was a prelim final and Hopper clearly thinks he’s OK to play, (but) he’ll miss the grand final next week. Is this where the conversation gets brought up – do we have the break in between the prelim and grand final for this sake,” Hodge posed on Channel 7.
“There’s some players who will need a week off because they need it, but Hopper is definitely not in that boat in his mind.
“Chelsea Randall missed out on the AFLW Grand Final a couple of years ago for Adelaide, she was concussed.”
Richmond legend Matthew Richardson added: “I don’t reckon the bye before finals helps the top four teams anyway now, it’s worth thinking about moving it around.”
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