AFL fans and commentators have bemoaned the ‘awful’ state of the game after Richmond’s heavyweight clash with Geelong left many feeling flat.
Richmond flexed their premiership muscle to move into the AFL's top with a 26-point win over Geelong on Friday night.
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Ruckman Ivan Soldo’s season is over with what is feared to be an ACL injury, while key forward Tom Lynch failed to finish the match after injuring a hamstring in the third quarter.
Despite the absences, the Tigers were too good for the Cats at Metricon Stadium, claiming a 7.15 (57) to 4.7 (31) win which will sound a warning to their finals rivals.
But a clash that was touted as a potential grand final preview left many questioning the state of the game.
The highest-scoring team in the AFL this season, the Cats only managed to kick one goal in the first three quarters.
Even worse, Richmond only had three at half-time.
Footy fans and pundits flocked to social media to condemn the spectacle, with calls growing louder for drastic changes to be made.
Shorter quarters and the overcrowding of players on the ball have been the main sources of frustration for fans all season.
“Arguably the two highest skilled teams in AFL on a fine evening and its one goal to three at halftime. Yuck,” Dave Hughes wrote.
Journalist Rohan Connolly wrote: “I’m enjoying this match, at least there’s a decent passage of play or two. But anyone who says scoring isn’t a MAJOR issue, come on.”
“One goal in a half from highest-scoring team in comp, the other with three? Scorelines like that will kill the game as a spectacle.”
I'm enjoying this match, at least there's a decent passage of play or two. But anyone who says scoring isn't a MAJOR issue, come on! One goal in a half from highest-scoring team in comp, the other with three? Scorelines like that will kill the game as a spectacle. #AFLCatsTigers— Rohan Connolly (@rohan_connolly) September 11, 2020
Others described the spectacle as “awful” and “hard to watch”.
Pretty awful half, but only 13 points down is a positive #AFLCatsTigers— Oz 👑 (@ozzieh10) September 11, 2020
Absolutely Amanda it’s hard to watch this crap— Paul james (@pauljames1968) September 11, 2020
As a footy fan with an admitted nostalgic bent, I gotta say the game today is tragic shadow of what we had back in the 80’s, 90’s & early 2000’s. Sadly the many supposed fixes have if anything made things worse. #afl— JD (@JeffDowsing) September 11, 2020
The game is not what it used to be.— bombercos (@bombercos1) September 11, 2020
It’s not our job as supporters/spectators to suggest the solutions
I just know that next year I don’t think I’ll be investing time and money in this boring slugfest.
It’s just about dead now. Incomprehensible decisions, continuous rule changes, interpretation changes. Rolling mauls all over the ground, dreadful kicking. Not a lot of enjoyment, pretty boring.— Vicki Watson (@ScorpioGCoast) September 11, 2020
Can’t remember the last time I watched a game end to end beyond my own team. This once beautiful game is dull, defensive and over coached.— Cameron J Owens (@cameronjowens) September 11, 2020
Richmond’s dominance over Geelong continues
The Tigers have now won five of their past six against the Cats and have moved above Chris Scott's team and West Coast into third place with one home-and-away fixture to play against bottom-placed Adelaide next weekend.
Soldo will have scans to diagnose the full extent of his injury but Tigers coach Damien Hardwick confirmed the “significant” knee injury will rule him out of the remainder of 2020.
Lynch will also undergo scans and won't play against the Crows but if his injury isn't too serious, could be a chance to return for the first week of finals.
“I thought all our players stood up at various stages, especially after some adversity too, losing Soldo and Tom throughout the course of the night but it was just pleasing that it was probably a very even team performance,” Hardwick said.
Tigers’ forward Jack Riewoldt made light of Lynch's absence to kick four goals, while returning defender Dylan Grimes had a sensational game in defence.
Grimes showed no signs of rust from his recent injury absence as he claimed 12 intercepts and six marks as the Tigers restricted the Cats to just one goal by three-quarter time.
In fact their half-time score of 1.3 (10) was the lowest for the Cats at the main break since 1957 with that slow start leaving them with too much to do in the final term in Irishman Zach Tuohy's 200th AFL match.
Geelong will need to beat Sydney or hope the injury-hit Eagles lose to North Melbourne to secure a top-four finish.
Geelong also had an injury concern with Gary Rohan (quad) replaced before the game by debutant Ben Jarvis.