Are the Tigers beatable in September? Picture: Michael Klein
Are the Tigers beatable in September? Picture: Michael Klein

Why the ‘all-conquering’ Tigers are beatable

IT wasn't quite a 'If it bleeds, we can kill it' moment but if you listened to Geelong coach Chris Scott's post-game assessment, it was almost the next best thing.

Scott was a part of the Brisbane Lions team when coach Leigh Matthews borrowed a line from the movie Predator, insisting the all-conquering Bombers were only human and bled like anyone in a famous comment in mid-2001.

That led to a season-defining Round 11 victory that partly smashed the aura of invincibility surrounding Essendon at the time. And Scott was front and centre amongst it when the Lions defeated the Bombers in the 2001 Grand Final.

Fast forward 17 years on, and Scott made some very strong points about Richmond's premiership defence, insisting "they need a lot to go right from them to win it - no question."

The press conference after the Cats' near miss on Friday night seemed as much about planting a seed of doubt in the Tigers' psyche as anything else.

Perhaps it was also directed at his team, to make them dare to dream they can knock off the overwhelming flag favourites.

Geelong and Richmond played out a thriller on Friday. Picture: Getty Images
Geelong and Richmond played out a thriller on Friday. Picture: Getty Images

But Geelong's performance to almost run the Tigers down will also give hope to other contenders that Richmond's vice-like grip on victory at the MCG isn't as assured as some would have you believe.

If it hadn't been for Gary Ablett's miss in the dying seconds, that he would normally kick in his sleep, or for a turnover in the middle of the ground at a critical stage by Jackson Thurlow, Richmond's 19-game winning streak at the home of football might have ended at 18.

As it sits, Friday night's three-point margin was the closest result in that VFL-AFL record stretch of wins at the MCG, and it clearly gave Scott hope that things could be different if - and hopefully when - the two teams meet again in September.

Mind you, the Cats - as good as they can be at times - aren't yet assured of making it.

"We're disappointed but we're not discouraged with the performance. We had our chances to win," Scott said. "I thought we had the better of the game for big parts of the game, so I don't think anyone from our footy club should be walking away thinking that we need to change things drastically to beat them.

"They're the best side in it at the moment, but they need a lot to go right from them to win it - no question."

Gary Ablett leaves the field after Geelong’s loss. Picture: Getty Images )
Gary Ablett leaves the field after Geelong’s loss. Picture: Getty Images )

Geelong looked down and out at times of the game, but drew their way back into the contest. And while Richmond was still capable of holding onto the game when it mattered - something the Tigers of pre-2017 wouldn't have done - Scott seemed increasingly confident they have taken some ground off the AFL's measuring stick - both since last year's qualifying final wipeout and this year's three-goal margin in June.

"They've won 19 at the MCG in a row, they are good, but particularly watching the game last week I thought Collingwood were on top for big parts of the game," the Cats coach said. "When you talk about the juggernauts of the competition of years gone by you were just never in the game against them."

"I don't see that (with Richmond, but) I don't want to overstate it. If we're good enough over the next six or seven weeks and we get another chance to play them - and hopefully we do - we'll give ourselves a really good chance.

Richmond players celebrate their win against Geelong. Picture: Getty Images
Richmond players celebrate their win against Geelong. Picture: Getty Images

"I think there are other teams in exactly the same boat as well. Yeah, they're a good team, but they're beatable."

Damien Hardwick didn't look overly concerned, though he knows his team looked a little flat after a solid two months of competition against the best.

He admitted the Cats had surprised his team with a few alterations to their game plan, but stressed his team would be rejuvenated by the challenges ahead.

"It was a different game, there's no doubt about that. It was a Richmond-like game with the forward-half turnovers," Hardwick said.

"They showed some things that caught us - I wouldn't say off-guard - but they had some things work for them that allowed them to score some goals. They were pretty aggressive with their ball movement through the middle of the ground.

"Once again we got a good look at it and they got some goals as a result of that. It was a different challenge and one I'm glad we came through in the end."

Whatever happens between now and September, we eagerly await the next instalment.

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