Tigers have midfield to match Blues

Matthew Richardson March 28, 2012, 11:41 pm

After the past two years, this is going to be a much better Melbourne season opener than

in the past when Richmond take on Carlton at the MCG.




After

recent success in the past couple of years, you'd have to go with Carlton to
take this one out. However, if you looked solely on the preseason Richmond are
a strong chance going into this game.


Carlton

haven't won a preseason game, and they've got some injury concerns down back
with three of their first-choice defenders out.


The

challenge for Carlton is whether they can cover Richmond's tall timber in
Tyrone Vickery, Jack Riewoldt, and Brad Miller if he comes up and plays.




But, like

in most matches, the most decisive battles will be won and lost in the
midfield.




Carlton's

engine room is unquestioned with its depth, with stars like Chris Judd, Marc
Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Heath Scotland and Andrew Carrazzo lining up for them.




If you look

at Richmond, though, they are starting to pull together a pretty decent
midfield with young guns Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Brett Deledio getting
a run in there this year.




Richmond's

midfield matches up really well against Carlton, and it will be an extremely
tight contest.




As for the

rest of the season, Richmond have added a competitive ruckman in Ivan Maric
over the summer and this will allow them to set up a bit more offensively in
the middle. I see that as being a real improvement on last year.




But this is

the big season for the Tigers.




They've

made no secret that after two years of development they are ready to challenge
for finals footy. If they can get the same incremental improvement over
the last two years, then they should have what it takes to make the bottom half
of the top eight.




But there

will be plenty of teams in that position and five doesn't go into two finals
spots.




If they're

not still in the hunt for a finals spot by round 20 then they'd have to be
pretty disappointed in that.




Deledio

going into the midfield and Maric coming in as an experienced ruckman will make
a huge difference to their chances this year. And bringing defensive coach Ross
Smith over from Hawthorn has added a bit more steel for their defence all over
the ground.




We've got

some huge games coming up this weekend on 7: There's a massive game in Perth
with Ross Lyon coaching his first game for the Fremantle Dockers since he made
the shock switch from St Kilda.




The big

question mark for me this weekend is Collingwood and whether they have what it
takes to overcome their injury issues and beat Hawthorn.

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