Robinson: AFL must explain Higgins ‘mistake’

It was the night of statements.

Happily, footy was back.

Solemnly, the players took a knee for victims of racism around Australia and the world, and coach Nathan Buckley in the post-match reached out to Heritier Lumumba.

Amazingly, Collingwood and Richmond played out a draw, the first between these two pioneering clubs since 1917, and, in doing so, declared themselves as two of the competition's defensive giants.

Can there be a winner in a draw?

We saw the fighting, pressuring, desperate best from Richmond after quarter-time and an explosive start from Collingwood which was scintillating and clinical but ultimately did not secure victory.

It took a fair dose of substance to withstand the Tigers, mind you.

Both teams were losers ultimately because both teams gave up opportunities to win.

The finals score was 5.6 to 5.6 which prompts a wider discussion.

Is five goals each in an estimated 95 minutes of play good for football?

 

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Richmond and Collingwood players take a knee in a poignant moment before footy’s return.
Richmond and Collingwood players take a knee in a poignant moment before footy’s return.

Or was it simply first-game back sloppiness and overpowering defensive mechanisms?

So much for the blitz footy from two of the competition's highly-regarded teams, which was predicted by so many.

The Pies kicked four goals in the first quarter and one goal in the next three quarters.

The Tigers kicked two goals after halftime and didn't lose, which is incredible when you think about it.

Let's hope it's not a forerunner for the games to come - the scoring, that is.

If you like intensity in your footy, however, you wouldn't have been disappointed.

The final quarter was two behinds to four behinds, which is not exciting football, but what ensued was a fierce battle of wills, wit and desperation.

It was welcomed return to football, but also an intriguing one.

How and who was to dominate in these compressed games was a prevalent discussion during the shutdown.

The first quarter would be crucial and Collingwood was commanding.

They kicked four goals to Richmond's one point, Richmond's lowest score in a quarter since Round 16, 2017.

Jack Higgins celebrates a goal in his first match since undergoing brain surgery.
Jack Higgins celebrates a goal in his first match since undergoing brain surgery.

And it wasn't though the Tigers weren't surprised by Collingwood's brand of football.

What Richmond coach Damien Hardwick didn't expect was sloppy ball use from is team and a lack of defensive pressure.

Three of Collingwood's first-quarter goals came from ground-level takes in the forward 50.

First, Taylor Adams gathered a two-handed tap from Brodie Grundy opposed to Ivan Soldo. That was frustrating enough for Hardwick.

When Adams left for dead opponent Dion Prestia at the stoppage, the coach would've been angry.

Goals followed from Steele Sidebottom and Callum Brown.

The Tigers made mistakes.

Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Jack Higgins turned the ball over, Marlion Pickett bumped instead of tackling which led to a Tom Phillips free kick and goal and Dan Rioli kicked out on the full. Oddly, they also allowed a 45m switch kick in to the middle of the ground, which is so unlike Richmond.

Josh Daicos played one of his best games for Collingwood, helping the Magpies establish an early lead.
Josh Daicos played one of his best games for Collingwood, helping the Magpies establish an early lead.

What to like from Collingwood?

The development of Josh Daicos has taken a monumental step.

He had nine disposals in the first quarter at 100 per cent efficiency and finished with 24 overall.

It wasn't as though it was cheat's football, either. He won the ball in traffic and used it superbly.

And Darcy Moore, Jordan Roughead and Jeremy Howe just might prove to be the lynch-pin behind Collingwood's success this year.

They stop, intercept and mark the ball. Moore's game on Jack Riewoldt was a win, and when Riewoldt had the opportunity to possibly win the game for the Tigers deep in the final quarter, his kick for goal fell short from 40m.

The Pies, too, made mistakes and had issues, namely the being well beaten in clearances after halftime - despite having one of the game's premier ruckmen in Grundy.

 

 

 

 

The score review system will be under stress - again.

Richmond's Jack Higgins took a mark which appeared to be taken over the goal line in the second quarter.

He kicked the goal. It was a mistake, surely, and the AFL will need to explain the decision on Friday.

 

The momentum turned just before halftime and continued to sway in Richmond's direction for the majority of the game afterwards.

The second half was mainly trench football, with moments of regrets and moments of utter and brilliant desperation.

For the first game back, and for its excitement in a tight, bruising contest, it was a tick.

For those who love scoring and a lot more free-flowing football, it was not a tick.

 

 

 

Originally published as Robbo: AFL must explain Higgins 'mistake'

Tom Lynch and Jack Higgins played key roles in Richmond’s comeback.
Tom Lynch and Jack Higgins played key roles in Richmond’s comeback.

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