Richmond continued to show some late season form in the second half of Round 18, winning their fourth consecutive game in a tough encounter on the road against the West Coast Eagles. The match was reduced to a scrum at times with rain falling in torrential bursts, but the Tigers were better in the awful conditions and made the most of their opportunities in a game that was never really in doubt after Richmond got away to a solid start.
Nick Vlastuin put the Tigers in the lead early with a goal from a fifty meter penalty. West Coast struck back to take the lead back with goals to Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy, but then the rain started to bucket down. There were times when the field was hardly visible and as a result the play was not pretty to watch. Tyrone Vickery stepped up when he booted a couple of late goals to steal the lead back and take the Tigers out to a seven point lead at quarter time.
Richmond handled the wet weather much better than West Coast. The Tigers were getting the ball clear of the packs with some deft handball and persisted in moving the ball forward. Once the ball got over the 50 meter arc at either end it was hard to clear it again and the pressure on the defense of both sides made the slightest fumble costly. Anthony Miles swooped on a ball that had been left between two Eagles defenders and slotted a handy goal in the confusion. Things got heated when Vickery pole-axed his ruck opponent Dean Cox with what looked like a deliberate roundhouse right to the point of the chin. Cox was rendered unconscious and hit the ground like a felled redwood. Tempers erupted minutes later when Mark LeCras was set upon after giving Vickery a hip and shoulder to even things up. Cox was substituted soon after and Vickery now has a meeting with the Tribunal after the Match Review Panel sent his case upwards due to the serious nature of the offense.
Wet weather football is about gaining territory rather than soccer-like possession keeping. Trent Cochin made a one percent play into a goal when he danced around his opponents after Richmond had kept the ball in their forward zone. His kick in mid-air resulting in an important Tiger goal will feature as one of the goals of the season and it gave the Tigers some belief that they were in the hunt for a win. Coach Hardwick would have been happy with their attack on man and ball in the pouring rain. They were relentless and even managed a goal against the run of play when the ball was kicked out of the Eagles' forward zone and moved up the ground where Dustin Martin booted what was a superb goal given the appalling conditions.
The Tigers’ defensive zone was working well and it was stopping effective transition for the Eagles. Darling gave the Eagles some hope in the late stages of the game when he was on the end of some slick ball movement through the middle of the ground. It was a rare occasion for the Eagles with goals hard to come by all day at their end. The goal lit up the Eagles and they threw everything into the fray as the clock wound down. Despite their efforts they could not make a dent in the scoreline as Richmond dropped an extra defender back to shore up an already tight back six.
It was Jack Riewoldt who put the sealer on the game with a free kick goal from dead in front. Richmond deserved the win with 19 scoring shots to only 12 as they washed the Eagles out of the race for a Top Eight finish. With four games won in a row, their fans may be wondering why it took them so long into the season to finally hit their straps. West Coast fans will have questions around the depth of their list, in particular the midfield engine room which has not fired this season. In Round 19 West Coast will take on Adelaide while the Tigers face Greater Western Sydney.
Scoreboard West Coast: 2.1 4.1 5.4 6.6 (42) Richmond: 3.2 5.6 7.8 8.11 (58) Best Players West Coast: Priddis, X Ellis, Hurn, Mackenzie Richmond: Foley, Martin, Deledio, B Ellis, Morris, Rance
Article last changed on Monday, July 28, 2014 - 9:52 AM EDT