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Aussie Rules: Season already on the line for Richmond

Melbourne and Richmond go into Monday night’s clash at the MCG with their premiership hopes on the line following a disappointing start to the season.

The Demons and Tigers headed into the 2023 campaign with high hopes of restoring former glories, but so far it has not worked out like that.

Melbourne won the flag in 2021, while the Tigers dominated from 2017, winning three premierships in four seasons.

But all that success seems a distant memory right now, as both teams struggle to find their form and pick up wins.

It is still early days and you may not be able to win a premiership at this stage of the season, but you can certainly lose it.

Making the top four is crucial and there is plenty of work to be done for Melbourne to get there, while Richmond may already be looking at top eight at best.

It makes Monday’s clash between the two sides even more important.

WhatMelbourne v Richmond
WhereMCG, Melbourne
When19:25 (AEST), Monday 24th April 2023
How to watchChannel 7, Foxtel, Kayo
OddsMelbourne 1.27, Richmond 3.85

Gawn fitness boost for Demons

Melbourne won the grand final in 2021 and, although 2022 turned out to be a disappointing season in relation, they still made a preliminary final.

That is usually a good indicator that a team will be ready to challenge for the flag the year after and there were high hopes that Melbourne would do just that.

However, five games into the new season and they sit 3-2 to keep them in eighth place on the ladder. Not a complete disaster, but not where they expect or want to be.

Their three wins so far have been against the Bulldogs, a struggling West Coast side and Sydney Swans, who are also suffering a grand final defeat hangover.

They have lost to Brisbane Lions, but most alarming of all to Essendon, who beat them 104-77 in the Gather Round.

Coach Simon Goodwin admits that defence and the amount of points they have been conceding is a concern, and they have been working hard in the build up to the game to fix it.

But they are sure to be tested again by a Tigers side who will be on the front foot from the get-go.

Melbourne now have a chance to put things right. After Richmond they face North Melbourne, Gold Coast and Hawthorn - three games they really should be winning.

It is a great opportunity to get on a winning run and build some momentum.

The Demons have been handed a huge boost as they look to bounce back. Influential ruckman Max Gawn has been declared fit to play and will return to the side after missing out against the Bombers.

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Tigers in need of a boost

It has been a tough start to the season for the Tigers, who have slumped to 15th position on the ladder after picking up just one win so far.

The Tigers had high hopes of challenging at the top of the ladder in 2023, but following a 44-point defeat against Sydney in Gather Round, they will do well to make the eight on current form.

There is still a long way to go and coach Damien Hardwick is not panicking just yet. He accepts that his side are not clicking together just now and need to play better.

Richmond have been hit by some body blows on the injury front, losing the likes of star forward Tom Lynch, and things should improve when they return.

However, the captures of Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto on bumper seven-year deals are already being called into question. Especially when the Tigers traded away three first-round draft picks to get them.

In fairness, their numbers are good and like Hardwick points out, it is the failure to gel as a team that is probably costing them.

Richmond have also lost the last two Anzac Day Eve clashes against the Demons and they will be determined to turn the tide in such a big game.

The Tigers have been handed some relief on the injury front with Jayden Short set to return.

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