Tigers finally breakthrough for first win of 2010
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has never doubted he’s on the right track, but only now can he show his players light at the end of the tunnel.
Hardwick’s Tigers broke through for their first win of the AFL season on Saturday, restricting Port Adelaide to their lowest ever score in the process.
Richmond’s slogging 10.17 (77) to 3.12 (30) victory in appalling conditions at AAMI Stadium was their first triumph since round 18 last year.
Driven by ferocious onballers Shane Tuck, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin, the Tigers pulverised Port in a match played in harsh rain and wind.
Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams apologised for his side’s display – their paltry return less than their previous lowest score of 4.8 (32), also against the Tigers, in 1999.
But Hardwick, who played under Williams in Port’s 2004 premiership, was well satisfied with his first win as Richmond coach.
“We are actually on the right track – we still have a hell of a long way to go, but they can see some light at the end of the tunnel,” Hardwick said.
“I know they have probably heard that before but I think the playing group have started to steady themselves, got that steely resolve amongst themselves.”
Richmond recorded an astonishing 140 tackles to smother Port in conditions which reduced much of the game to a rolling slide.
That intensity was best exemplified by Tuck, who was tireless in gathering 31 disposals and 13 tackles.
Tuck’s emerging midfield colleagues of Cotchin (25 touches) and Martin (21 possessions) provided grunt which even impressed their coach: a noted former hardman.
“Those types of players are strong bodied players so I thought it was a real advantage for us, the amount of rain that came down early,” Hardwick said.
“Dustin Martin could have quite easily been guilty of assault a couple of times, he was that hard at the contest.”
The trio helped overpowered Port at the clearances, while Ben Cousins’ collected 20 influential disposals and, as Hardwick said, “looked a class above” the rest.
The midfield dominance was capped by a dangerous forward line led by Jack Riewoldt which defied the terrible weather.
Riewoldt kicked four goals while pint-sized goalsneaks Ben Nason (three goals) and Robin Nahas (two goals) made telling contributions.
“We have improved probably every week in some facet of the game,” Hardwick said.
“Over the last four or five weeks we have started to see some real change in our behaviours and the way we are playing.
“Our commitment to the tackle, our commitment to the contest was very very good.”
Port’s bleak day squared their win-loss record at five all, and was further darkened by dislocated shoulders to Steven Salopek and Cameron Hitchcock.
Salopek returned in a courageous act acknowledged by his coach, and Power forward Brett Ebert also returned to the fray after being stretchered from the ground with concussion in the first quarter.
The Tigers host St Kilda on Friday night while Port try to end their three game losing streak against Hawthorn at the MCG next Sunday.© AAP 2013
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