Have the Tigers been figured out?
After being outplayed by the Saints on Saturday, the Tigers remain without a victory since the restart of the 2020 season. While they had their moments against the Saints, most notably when they came back to within seven points in the third quarter they were unable to inflict their style on the contest.
Knowing the folly of writing off a champion, though we have now hinted at it two weeks in a row, the Tigers form since the restart has been worrying. While a three game sample size is far too small to make any outlandish claims, what they are producing is nowhere near good enough to compete. Unless they can find form soon, they will be on the outside looking in when the premiership is decided in 2020.
How the game was won.
The Saints came to Marvel Stadium with a plan to deny the Tigers broken play opportunities at all costs and followed it to perfection. Rather than be harassed into error, they took on the tackler preferring to give away a holding the ball free kick than a loose ball for Richmond to feast upon. It also meant that when successful in breaking the tackle, they were presented with countless options and overlaps having played the Tigers zone out of position.
From the games opening bounce, which saw Richmond goal inside 15 seconds, this was the antithesis of the the low-scoring contests we’ve become accustomed to in 2020. The Saints having the better of the term before a few late goals saw their lead reduced to seven points at the first break.
It was a former Tiger who did the most damage with Dan Butler at the centre of much of the damage inflicted on his old team. He would finish the day with three goals and six score involvements in a performance that highlighted the embarrassment of riches at Punt Road in recent season.
Despite being down a rotation, as a result of an injury to Zak Jones before half-time, the Saints answered every Tiger challenge and extended their lead at the last break. They would stare down their opponents again in the final term to record a well deserved 26-point victory.
What the coaches said.
Damian Hardwick refused to blame flatness for his team’s performance. “I wouldn’t say there is a degree of flatness, our players played with enough energy,” he told reporters post match. “We didn’t handle St Kilda’s pressure around the ball well.” Despite this, he was confident his team could turn it all around. “We have been in this situation before. We have dug ourselves out of it, but we have some work to do. We are certainly well off the pace.”
For Brett Ratten, his team’s response to a poor performance was the most pleasing aspect of the afternoon. “I thought our application around the ball and the way we went about it right at the start, it was an area we were poor last week,” he told reporters. “We weren’t going to win every contest but we put ourselves in a position to win every contest and that was really pleasing.
ST KILDA 5.2 8.2 12.2 15.3 (93)
RICHMOND 4.1 6.3 9.5 10.7 (67)
St Kilda: Butler 3, Membrey 3, Lonie 2, Kent 2, Marshall 2, Battle, Hill, Marsh
Richmond: Lynch 2, Bolton 2, Edwards, Castagna, Riewoldt, Stack, Higgins, Nankervis
St Kilda: Butler, Steele, Membrey, Lonie, Billings, Long, Battle
Richmond: Nankervis, Higgins, Prestia, Edwards, Lynch
St Kilda: Ryder (soreness) replaced in selected side by Kent, Gresham (eye), Jones (hamstring)