Richmond are through to face Port Adelaide in next week’s preliminary final after knocking off St Kilda by 31 points in their semi-final at Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium.
The Tigers were simply dominant from the get go, with Trent Cotchin earning the first clearance of the game and sending a deep ball to the forward pocket that was marked strongly in a one-on-one by Tom Lynch. He converted the set shot, and the Tigers were off.
The Saints were nervous in the midfield, succumbing to pressure with turnovers or poor forward entries, while their defensive structures wilted as well with too many players joining the contest and allowing the Richmond small forward to mop up the crumbs with ease. The second Tigers goal came from that scenario, with Shane Edwards rolling a simple one through.
Shane Savage roosted one from just outside 50 to get the Saints on the board, but Shai Bolton responded with two excellent goals of his own and Kamdyn McIntosh made it five for the term. Dan Butler snuck one back just before the siren, but it was the Tigers by 17 at the first break.
St Kilda came out looking like a different side in the early going of the second quarter, but they couldn’t put it on the scoreboard and the Tigers again made them pay. Edwards kicked his second, which was rubbed out a reply from Jack Steele, before Daniel Rioli, Lynch and Bolton piled it on to make it 31 points at the main break.
The third quarter proved to be a bit more of an arm wrestle. The Saints had a lot of the play, but they missed plenty of set shots to squander the advantage. In the end, they made a dent in the margin through goals to Josh Battle and Dean Kent – but it should’ve been more. Dion Prestia’s goal in between the two Saints majors ensured the reigning premiers would go to the final break with a 23-point lead.
Seb Ross made things interesting with an early goal to start the last quarter, but goals to Jason Castagna and Dustin Martin were enough to put the Saints to bed.
After a week of blistering first-week finals, this semi-final didn’t reach any great heights – although there were a few controversies. Tom Lynch is sure to attract scrutiny from the Match Review Officer after appearing to drop his knee into the shoulder/neck of Dougal Howard after giving away a 50-metre penalty.
There was also a controversial score review decision, after what appeared to be a clear St Kilda goal was ruled a behind due to insufficient evidence to overturn the goal umpire’s original decision.
In the end, St Kilda were left to rue poor accuracy in front of goal, especially in the third quarter.
Richmond will now tackle Port Adelaide in a preliminary final on Friday night at the Adelaide Oval.
Richmond – 5.1 | 9.1 | 10.4 | 12.8 (80)
St Kilda – 2.2 | 3.6 | 5.11 | 6.13 (49)
Tigers: Bolton 3, Edwards 2, Lynch 2, McIntosh, Rioli, Prestia, Castagna, Martin
Saints: Savage, Butler, Steele, Battle, Kent, Ross