Tigers swat away Saints’ challenge with relish
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After starting the game as warm favourites, Richmond only lead by two points early in the second term against spirited AFL opposition.
This scenario would have had alarming bells clanging last season at Punt Rd.
But all St Kilda did on Sunday with their encouraging start was to poke a team of Tigers, who responded by swatting them off the MCG by 64 points.
After the Saints kicked the opening goal of the second term to trail by two points, Richmond kicked the next six to kill off the contest.
They led by 41 points at the main break and won in wet conditions 17.17 (119) to 8.7 (55).
Coach Damien Hardwick said his team’s greater experience was a big reason for the second-term surge.
He said the players, rather than the coaching staff, responded to the threat.
“The more you put them through those situations, the more times they experience it the better you’re going to get at making quick judgment calls,” he said.
“The great thing about our leaders is that they’re still relatively young.
“There’s still scope for improvement — the guys will learn more as they progress through the ranks.
“But they’ve done a truckload of work to improve in that area and I think they’re ticking a lot of boxes at this stage.”
The win consolidated Richmond’s sixth place, putting them one stop closer to that much-anticipated first finals appearance since 2001.
Ty Vickery was best afield with 11 marks and 16 hitouts, forming a lethal three-man attack alongside Jack Riewoldt and Aaron Edwards.
That trio stood out as the Tigers went up a gear in the second term.
Injury-plagued midfielder Nathan Foley also impressed as he steadily regains form, having returned in round seven from a long-term Achilles tendon problem.
His comeback is particularly important because it adds to Richmond’s growing midfield depth.
The domination of Vickery, Edwards and Riewoldt also highlighted St Kilda’s need for a key defender.
With Sam Fisher and Tom Simpkin missing, Sean Dempster and James Gwilt were overwhelmed.
Saints coach Scott Watters has made it clear his rebuilding club will be one of the key players in free agency and trades once this season ends.
“It was well documented, we went after some players last year,” Watters said.
“We ultimately didn’t get what we want, but we can’t be a club now that just sits around, hoping that a key defender turns up.
“We need to be very aggressive about making sure we fill that gap.
“Our list does need to improve – we have a terrific recruiting staff who have brought some great players into the club over the last 18 months.
“They’re pretty clear on where our priorities are.”