Richmond fire up for Carlton blockbuster - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Richmond fire up for Carlton blockbuster

By Roger Vaughan 24/06/2008 07:47:02 PM Comments (0)

History, form and one of the AFL's strongest rivalries have combined to produce a genuine blockbuster on Saturday between Richmond and Carlton.

This will be the biggest clash between these two sides since the Tigers beat the Blues in the 2001 first semi-final.

That year was also the last time either side competed in September - the longest current finals droughts in the league.

Now the Tigers and Blues are again pressing for the top eight and Saturday shapes as a potentially season-defining game, particularly for the loser.

With the round-14 break to follow, it will be vital to build on the encouraging form that the two sides have shown at different stages this month.

Richmond are also using the match to help celebrate the centenary of their inclusion in the VFL/AFL, with a gala dinner the night before.

Richmond have christened the clash "100G At The G", but realistically their best result would be a crowd of around 90,000.

Carlton are 10th and half a game out of the eight, holding eighth spot for only one week before Sunday's loss to Essendon in a thriller.

Blues coach Brett Ratten promptly decreed there would be no more distracting talk of finals at Princes Park.

At Punt Rd a fortnight ago, the dogs were barking again for Tigers coach Terry Wallace after big losses to Sydney and Adelaide.

Now Richmond have shown encouraging signs in wins over Melbourne and Port Adelaide.

They are 11th, only a game outside the eight.

Wallace said his team must learn from Carlton's loss to the Bombers.

"Two weeks ago, everyone was sitting around here asking questions about my future at the football club and where things are going to be," Wallace said.

"All we've done in a matter of two weeks is alleviate that and set ourselves up for some better opportunities in the second half of the year.

"If we can learn one lesson from Carlton, they won a couple of games in a row and then, all of a sudden, fell on the weekend - that's the nature of this game."

Wallace went as far as calling Saturday a "line in the sand" game, due to the week off.

Wallace said Richmond had been "spasmodic" in the last two games, showing some outstanding form, but not maintaining it for more than a quarter.

"If I could ask for one thing, it would be to bring four quarters to the MCG on Saturday afternoon," he said.

The Tigers will draw on their storied history through this week, but Wallace stressed it was also up to this current team to start dragging Richmond out of the doldrums that they have suffered since their 1980 premiership.

He said Richmond had some "interesting" selection quandaries, with captain Kane Johnson, Will Thursfield, Daniel Jackson and Jake King all potentially available as they recover from injury.

Thursfield, if fit, is the No.1 option for rampaging Carlton full-forward Brendan Fevola.

Another potential opponent for Fevola is utility Joel Bowden, who racked up a career-high 39 disposals and took an amazing 23 marks against Port.

Bowden was dropped for four games earlier this season, but Wallace used him as a prime example in a lecture he gave the team about dealing with setbacks.

"I'm absolutely, extremely pleased and I'm about an hour away from giving a sermon to our other players, about not allowing things that you can't control to actually impact the way you handle yourself," Wallace said.

"So many players, whether it's in-game or from selection decisions, get emotionally involved in things that they can't really have any impact on whatsoever.

"That therefore impacts either their next action in a game or it impacts their ability to get back into a senior lineup - and I thought that's the thing Joel has handled better than anything else."

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